While changing our hair color doesn't come as easily as changing our clothes (nine hours in the salon will prove that to you), it's a fun update that can help refresh your look (and your soul) for the New Year. So rather than let you google "winter hair colors" for the next few weeks, we took all the guesswork out of it. Because while there are so many colors to choose from, there are a few that are particularly popular right about now—and no, they're not the usual boring options.
Below, find popular shades for you to try while the weather is cold, as explained by two of the best colorists in the biz. They break it down by shade ideas, the products you'll need to achieve the look, and how to explain it to your chosen colorist at the salon. That way you won't have to do much of anything other than choose your favorite and bring it with you to your next appointment. Keep scrolling for all your winter hair color inspiration.
If you have an ombré, try icy blonde. "This is a great complement for a dark winter wardrobe and works with both warm and cool skin tones," says celebrity colorist George Papanikolas. "Ask your colorist for very pale highlights, and, if your hair tends to go yellow, ask for a violet-based toner like Matrix Color Sync to neutralize and make the color its whitest and brightest. The pastel toners are like pantyhose over your hair in that they neutralize any unwanted warm tones."
As for aftercare? "Going from dark to light requires using a violet shampoo, a weekly hydrating mask, as well as conditioning treatments like Matrix Bond Ultim8 Step 3," he adds.
Copper gold is a nice option for those with buttery blonde strands. "This is a great way for blondes to really switch up their color if they don't want to go too crazy," says Papanikolas. "It's flattering on fair skin and looks natural and believable if you have freckles. "You will want to ask your colorist for a soft copper gold. Your colorist should use your underlying warmth to assist in this color," suggests Papanikolas.
These copper-gold tones are present and are in almost everybody's hair color. Root touchups and glosses are usually needed about every four to six weeks and a color-safe shampoo like the Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed Shampoo is mandatory to preserve the delicate copper tones." He continues, "At home, use a cool water rinse with a hydrating and nourishing mask." We love Tresemmé's Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydration Masque ($5).
If you have brunette hair, you may want to try dark espresso with caramel highlights. "It's a great way to go dark for the winter since it's such a rich, sultry color," says Papanikolas.
"The highlights give the hair some brightness and add texture to it. Ask your colorist for a dark base that pairs well with your skin tone and dark highlights that are subtle and about two shades lighter," he suggests. "There are three parts your colorist should focus on: the face frame, the ends, and your natural part. Key for brunettes—you do not need a lot; less is more because you want the overall base to be darker and stand out more. Highlights should just accent the cut."
If you have heavy highlights, try solid platinum. "You're daring and committed; I love it," says Matt Rez, a celebrity colorist at Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills. "Push the envelope and go for solid cool-tone colors—if you're heavily highlighted, I'd suggest you don't attempt bleaching your entire head; tone it to a cooler shade. However, don't mistake 'cool blonde' for gray or drab tones. Make sure your colorist knows the difference."
As for maintenance, Rez says, "Keep in mind that the winter climate is drying on the hair and so is pushing it to these lighter levels. Make sure to use anti-breakage products like Olaplex's Hair Perfector No. 3 ($20) and moisture repair masks like Shu Uemura's Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Treatment ($68)."
Brunettes can also opt for a bronde hue. "It's universally flattering," says Papanikolas, "and it can be adjusted warm or cool depending on your skin tone. It's a great way for blondes to go darker in the winter or for brunettes to go lighter without the drastic color change."
"Ask for delicate highlights at the roots, gradually getting thicker and heavier toward the ends for an evenly balanced tone," recommends Papanikolas.
If your roots are grown out, try nude blonde. "A nude buttery blonde is on trend for the season, and the shade pairs well with fair skin," says Papanikolas. "Ask your colorists use a neutral blonde toner to create the look."
"If you're a neutral—not reddish—medium brunette with a variation of brown, hazel, or green eyes (and don't want to commit to anything too specific or long-term), I suggest adding minimal highlights framing the face and perimeters of your hair," says Rez. "I'd explain to your colorist to stay off the root and start at right above eyebrow level. They should bring in the gradation of golden brown mid-lights that melt into lighter golden strands. The balance of these golden pops against your neutral base will complement your eyes and winter color palette."
If you're a light brunette, try red hair. "Keep it orange-based if you want a natural outcome," explains Rez. "Orange undertones exist in natural redheads. Violet or blue undertones do not—so make sure your colorist doesn't mistake that extra copper kick for burgundy. You can go as vibrant as you want and still keep a natural feel to the color, as long you embrace those fiery tones."
He continues, "With my natural light brunettes or darker blondes, we opt for more strawberry outcome; with darker brunettes, we go for the more copper realm. If you don't want to stay red for too long, don't commit to a permanent red base switch. Instead, have your colorist highlight you light enough to be in the red spectrum you want to be, and gloss you with demi-permanent red gloss. I love Redken's Shades EQ Gloss Processing Solution ($17) for this."
Give rich brunette if you're a medium brunette. "I love rich brunettes for winter," gushes Rez. "The warmer the better. Embracing pops of warm red undertones of a dark chocolate brunette makes this color so special."
He also added, "This is the only time in the 'brunette world' that I feel keeping the tonality between the base and the ever-so-delicate auburn or cinnamon babylight works with the rich chocolate base. Warm on warm has never looked so good."
FYI: Here's how our editor salvaged her bleached hair after a disaster at the salon.