If you’re a woman who wears makeup and/or colors her hair (I’m going to guess that’s 90% of you reading this, to the other 10%, I’m jealous), then you’ve probably seen products labeled “warm,” “cool,” or “neutral.” These monikers are supposed to refer to the skin tones they complement best, and seem simple enough. Except, I usually end up a little confused. Like, if I have warm-toned skin, should I offset it with cool tones? Or is the opposite true?
To end my inner-turmoil (and hopefully yours) over what tone of hair color I should be rocking, I turned to my personal hair sensei, Nicole Tabloff, the color director at Sassoon Chicago. Here’s what she told me.
Look at your childhood photos.
According to Nicole, we’re born with a certain hair color for a reason – because it’s a natural fit for our skin tone. Though you may not be in love with the hair you were born with, you can still use it as a guide when your dye it. If you’re going in for highlights, for example, Nicole suggests looking at photos of yourself as a kid in the summer. See where those natural highlights appear, and what shade they were, then ask your colorist for something in a similar tone.
Emphasize your best features.
We all have things we love about ourselves, and things we don’t love quite as much. It’s important to consider your best and worst features before you choose a hair color, Nicole advises. In general, warm tone hair colors warm up your skin and add color to your face: a great thing if you’re feeling pale in the middle of winter, but not so great if you’re trying to downplay your red complexion.
Think about where you spend your time.
If you work in an office indoors, there’s a good chance the lighting is fairly cool, which will make your hair color look cooler. Natural light outdoors, on the other hand, is very warm and will thus bring out the warm tones in your hair. If you have brown hair with warm undertones, for example, it might look almost red in the sunlight, but in your office building, it will be a perfectly neutral shade of brown.
Still have questions? Don’t be afraid to ask your stylist, Nicole says! They should be happy to steer you in the right direction.