What color should I dye my hair? It’s an age-old question salon-goers have faced time and time again. Like opting for bangs for the first time or getting that super short haircut you’ve been eyeing for years, changing your hair color is a serious commitment. But, before you take the plunge, hear us out!
We talked to Angel Montague Sayers, British creative director at the Sally Montague Hair Group, to round up the top seven things to consider before your appointment. Whether you're looking to transition from brunette to blonde or try a hue that’s completely out of your comfort zone, expect to find something you love when you follow this guide. Read on to make sure you're fully prepared to make the leap when it’s finally time to head back to salons!
Before you decide on a color, it’s essential to know the base and undertones of some of the most popular shades.
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Platinum Blonde (11P) : The lightest iciest blonde shade with white and yellow undertones.
Light Blonde (10N): A light shade of blonde with neutral undertones.
Photo Credit: @breewonghair
Cream Blonde (9N): A light blonde shade with the perfect balance of cool and warm undertones.
Photo Credit: @b_strong11
Light Ash Blonde (8A): A light blonde shade with hints of gray and cool, ashy undertones.
Photo Credit: @hairbyamberjoy
Dark Ash Blonde (7A): A dark blonde shade with hints of gray and cool, ashy undertones.
Photo Credit: @beeblondor
Honey Blonde (8G): This warm-toned blonde shade is formulated with notes of red and brown.
Photo Credit: @ksenia_nemchaninova
Golden Blonde (7G): A multidimensional blonde shade with warm, golden undertones.
Photo Credit: @jessdomyhair
Dark Blonde (7N): The darkest shade of blonde with a neutral undertone.
Photo Credit: @ joana_martinho_hairartist
Light Brown (6N): The lightest shade of brown with neutral undertones.
Photo Credit: @hairby_gloria
Ash Brown (6A): A medium brunette shade with cool, gray undertones.
Golden Brown (6G): A warm-toned, medium brunette shade with hints of golden blonde throughout.
Photo Credit: @sharonshairstudio
Reddish Brown (7RB): A deep brunette shade with red undertones.
Photo Credit: @jessicascotthair
Chocolate Brown (5W): A rich medium brunette shade with warm undertones.
Photo Credit: @timursta
Dark Chocolate Brown (3W): A dimensional dark brunette shade with warm undertones.
Dark Brown (3N): The darkest shade of brunette with neutral undertones.
Photo Credit: @juliananepo
Black (1N): The darkest hair color with neutral undertones.
Photo Credit: @pacolatorre
Light Red (8R): The lightest shade of red with warm, coppery undertones.
Photo Credit: @bixiecolour
Medium Red (7R): A medium shade of red with warm, coppery undertones.
Photo Credit: @haircolorkilla
Dark Red (5RR): A deep shade of red with warm, auburn undertones.
Photo Credit: @krazy4hair
Red Violet (5RV): A deep shade of red with cool, violet undertones.
Photo Credit: @suetyrrellstylist
How do I know what color to dye my hair?
While your killer hue will ultimately be up to you, use these seven steps to consider what you really, really want—and let your creativity guide you.
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Whether you find inspiration for hair color ideas via your Instagram feed or through your colorist, it’s essential to evaluate whether or not dying your hair is just a fleeting impulse.
“Color choice varies from client to client," Sayers says. "The younger generation is generally guided by Instagram, but more mature women are more open to working with what will suit them and how their colorist can help them achieve this."
Whether you want a subtle change or have been craving a bold, fashion-forward hue, take some time to evaluate whether you’ll feel the same way a month or two down the road. Even a small period of self-reflection can make all the difference.
Photo Credit: @dane_edwardsandco
Before you even ask yourself, “What color should I dye my hair?” it’s vital to think about your skin tone. “It's really important to take suitability into consideration when conducting a successful color consultation with clients," Sayers explains. "A beautiful color can look flawless on one client and unflattering on another depending on their complexion."
What hair color is best for my skin tone?
If you have pale skin with a pink undertone, ashy, cool-toned hues will work best for you. For skin with warm undertones, consider shades like copper and honey blonde to enhance your complexion’s natural sunkissed glow. If your skin is olive-toned or dark, golden blondes and warm reds can look gorgeous.
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When it comes to finding the perfect shade for your mane, you should take your eye color into consideration. Just like the color of your outfit can enhance your pupils, the right hair color can do the same.
Photo Credit: @monarchhairco
Aesthetic preference and sense of style is another critical factor to take into account when looking for hair color ideas. Are you a classic gal who favors natural hues, or are you a daring fashionista who loves wild hair colors? Some of both, perhaps?
“I think it’s great for clients to show their personality through their hair choices,” Sayers says.
Age, on the other hand, should never be a concern—at least according to the pro artist.
“Often, a woman thinks about her age when choosing color options, however, I don't think this should be a part of the equation.”
If you’re unsure, bring several inspiration photos with you to the salon so you can talk through your options with your stylist.
Photo Credit: @lamajbackwards
Hair Type And Concerns
Ultimately, everything depends on the health and quality of the hair you're coming into the salon with.
“Hair type is a factor to work with, not against. Being realistic about what is achievable is crucial to getting the perfect color choice,” Sayers explains.
Simply put: If your hair is very dark, damaged, or overprocessed, don’t expect to leave the salon with platinum blonde hair in one session. That’s why it’s essential to schedule a consultation appointment with your colorist so they can access your hair and your ultimate goal.
Photo Credit: @roci.pankov
Many women opt to lighten up their look in the summer and go darker in the fall and winter months.
“Seasonal trends not only influence what colors we will be wearing but also our hair color," Sayers says. "In autumn, I often get asked for warmer shades—but if they don't suit your complexion, then they aren't going to work."
Photo Credit: @rileyamberhair
Are you a low-maintenance gal who doesn’t want to worry about having to touch up her color every six to eight weeks? If that’s the case, perhaps an ombre or balayage coloring technique is best for you.
“I always ask my clients what exactly they do with their hair from a styling point of view and how often they visit the salon,” Sayers says. “This then gives me a clear indication of if I should base my work around a high or low maintenance style.”
Whatever your color, aftercare is critical.
“A color will never look stunning if the hair isn't in optimum condition. Investing in hair care, treatments, and regular haircuts is as important as skin care is,” Sayers says.
If your color-treated strands are in need of an extra bit of nourishment, add a weekly hair mask like L’Oréal Professionnel Absolut Repair Resurfacing Golden Hydrating Masque. This lightweight formula instantly nourishes and restores weakened hair.
The next time you ask yourself which hair color is for you, be sure to take these seven factors into consideration to ensure you avoid disappointment down the line. Before you think about coloring your hair at home, click here to find out all of the reasons why DIY hair color can go south. You can thank us later!