How To Find The Perfect Ash Hair Color For Your Skin Tone

Hair Color Ideas and Inspiration

How To Find The Perfect Ashy Hair Color For Your Skin Tone

22 August 2018
photo of woman with ash hair color
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Emily Arata

Senior Editor, Hair.com

As an employee of L’Oréal, Emily works with celebrity stylists to make finding the right cut, color, or style easier than ever before. She's previously written for Allure, Elite Daily, and First We Feast.

When fall comes around the corner, we find ourselves leaning into cool tones. There’s something about an icy blonde or brunette that can light up the complexion, highlight any remnants of a tan that are left over, and help you pretend to be a runway model.

However, some nerves can arrive like unwanted visitors directly before your hair appointment. To many, ashy hair color is uncharted territory! Relax—that’s what we’re here for. We tapped Sean Godard, Redken brand ambassador and celeb-beloved color guru, to help you learn the ins and outs of trying an ashy hair color.

Strap in—you’re going to want to learn this.

What is ashy hair color?

We always like to start with the fundamental questions and build from there. Godard describes ashy hair colors as shades that incorporate influences from cool colors rather than warm ones.

[Ash] means tones that range from green to blue to violet and are used to cancel natural warm orange to red tones that are encountered when lifting darker hair levels.

Sean Godard

While ash has always been an option in the world of hair color, it’s only become tremendously popular within the last decade. Up until then, celebrities and influencers requested bright, warm tones for their manes.

How do you choose the right shade of ash?

Skin tone is the number one factor to consider if you’re thinking about opting for the ashy life. Godard carefully gives his clients the eye during consultations. If their skin reads very cool (think lots of blue veins under the thin skin of the wrist), he knows they’re the perfect candidate for icy, ashy shades.

It isn’t just skin tone determining your perfect shade. Interestingly, the pro stylist also recommends ashy shades for women with textured hair.

“Usually darker, coarser hair types tend to love ash because of how much warm the hair pulls and always feeling ‘brassy,’” Godard explains. When in doubt, we recommend Redken’s Shades EQ Natural Ashes. They boast an acidic pH to ensure gentle processing for outstanding conditioning and shine.

It’s also important to consider the health of your hair. If you’re reeling from a bad color service, make sure your stylist knows that ahead of time.

“Hair that is overly porous grabs ash pigments, so make sure the stylist applies clear or lighter levels to the formula to prevent any over-deposit that may happen,” the stylist adds, noting that ashy shades can read up to one level darker than they actually are.

Worried about freaking out the first time you see yourself with an ashy color? Just start slow. Godard recommends beginning with very light ash to let the client’s eyes adjust to the new look. If it doesn’t feel dramatic enough, you can always go darker. It’s not quite as easy to try and lighten a too-dark shade. For his part, the stylist loves to start with pale balayage or ombre to achieve a bright finish.

What is the maintenance like?

With every new hair color, there comes a new routine. How time-consuming yours is will likely depend on whether you’re working with deep brunette ash or a pale blonde.

For starters, you’ll want to establish a regular salon touch-up schedule with your trusted pro. A gloss service can help adjust the shade and pH of your hair, leaving you with vibrant ashy color and hair that feels more beautiful.

“To keep maximum coolness, glosses may have to be done every two to four weeks,” Godard advises. “Heat styling and sun can remove ash tones, so hats and less washing and styling will help.”

At home, maintain your cool shade with a salon quality shampoo and conditioner system like Redken’s Color Magnetics line.

Now, you’re armed with everything you need to know about going ashy. Let that new hair color provide you with a fresh outlook on style.

For customized ashy hair color, use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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