Hair color has become so multifaceted that it's impossible to settle on a shade anymore. To make it more complicated, instead of straight up brown hair, now there's tiger eye, deep sable brown, and even chocolate mauve if you're vying for a tinge of rose gold. But the balayage, highlights, and smatterings of color are just part of step two. It's step one you need to settle on first: the base color. Although, trying to decide on that can keep you up at night, too.
To help make the selection process a bit easier, we spoke with master colorist Gio Bargallo of Rita Hazan Salon in New York City to compile the ultimate hair color chart for brunette, red, and blond shades. Peruse the colors below, study up on their undertones, and bring your new hair inspo to the salon. Keep scrolling to get started!
Platinum blond (pictured above on actress Kristen Stewart) is the lightest of all the blond shades. It has a white/yellow base, but you'll need to work closely with your colorist to make sure you're a good candidate. (Avoid trying to achieve this color on your own—doing so can yield more yellow than you bargained for.) Because this color is so prone to yellowing, be sure to use a toning shampoo like Beauty Protector Protect & Blond Toning Shampoo ($23) to keep it looking fresh and lustrous.
Macadamia nut has a bit more of a golden tint to it than platinum blonde does. It works beautifully with skin that has blush undertones and is especially striking with light eyes: green, blue, and hazel (or like actress Kate Bosworth's, a combo!).
Champagne blond is exactly as you'd imagine—it's got the slightest hint of rosé, which is almost undetectable, except for when the light hits it just right. This shade works exceptionally well on those with fair skin and light eyes, as evidenced by actress Amanda Seyfried, above.
Beige blond has a bit of a darker base with lighter highlights worked in throughout—Bargallo describes it as "ginger ale and cream soda," adding, "It complements medium and olive skin tones and both light and dark eyes," like that of actress Jennifer Aniston.
With a darker base than beige blond, dirty blond has similar facets: caramel and golden highlights against a deep blond or brond hue. As seen here on model Hannah Jeter, dirty blond can also look quite sophisticated.
Strawberry red is great for fair and neutral skin tones like actressJessica Chastain, but if your skin is deeper, aim for a red hue with hints of brown (see below). Otherwise, your skin may appear a bit green with this color.
Bronze hair color has warm red and golden undertones. This color works well with dark eye colors and pink and olive skin tones, as evidenced by actress Eva Mendes.
Auburn leans more toward brown than strawberry red locks. It's quite versatile, too, in that it works well with both fair (like that of actress Emma Stone) and olive skin tones.
While sangria or pomegranate hair isn't a natural red, it's fiery, warm, and daring. Because of the purple undertones of this hair color, it works especially well with dark skin tones (but we'd argue fair skin like actress Ashley Greene's, above, also stuns in this hue).
Light Natural Brown
Light natural brown (pictured here on actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba) has a bit of ash to tone down the golden hues. It's a neutral color, so it works well with all skin tones.
Supermodel Jourdan Dunn's spicy hue is a rich brown shade with a hint of copper and earth tones (think acorn)—beautiful for caramel and deep skin tones.
Medium brown hair like supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio's is similar to light natural brown in that it also has a bit of an ashy, neutral undertone, making it wearable for any skin tone.
Bargallo says this rich brown hue has "a shimmer of a cocoa bean or an espresso feel." This hue is striking on olive/golden skin tones and dark eyes à la actress Mila Kunis.
As seen here on actress Kerry Washington, jet-black hair should look akin to "black licorice polish," says Bargallo. Keep it looking sleek and shiny with an Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 Treatment ($28) once a week.