If your skin has yellow undertones, you should choose warmer colors; if your skin has pink undertones, go with cooler colors. We've heard this rule of thumb a hundred times, but what does it really mean? If you've had one too many cocktails at the neighborhood potluck, your skin looks yellow. If you just went for a jog, it looks pink. If you spend any time out in the sun, your skin gets darker. How do we really know?
The elusive answer to that question explains why we see so many people with an ill-suited hair color. Here's a trick that will narrow down your options: Look at your arm in natural light. If your veins look blue, you favor cool colors. If they look green, warm colors suit you better. If your veins look black, get to a hospital.
Once you have some idea what your skin tone is, you have to decipher which hair colors are warm and which are cool. A consultation with a professional is advisable, but a lot of help is available right at your fingertips. For example, lorealparisusa.com has an interactive website dedicated to helping you determine the color that's best for you. Virtual hairstyle websites allow you to upload a photo of yourself so you can try out different hair colors.
You could even try a wig in the hair color you are considering. See if it enhances or detracts from your looks and how your friends react to it.
Pick out a color that won't make you look like a corpse and take an honest evaluation of how much upkeep you're willing to do. Can you afford sitting in the salon every four to six weeks, or will you be doing maintenance yourself? A dramatic departure from your natural hair color is going to require more diligence on your part to avoid the dreaded landing-strip look when your roots start to grow out.
Many of us are of mixed ethnicity, so the whole cool/warm rule of thumb is more of a guideline. Kate Linington, who worked at a high-profile cosmetic counter in Beverly Hills, says, "Every color for every woman. Rules were made to be broken."
We love that adventurous attitude. After all, it's only hair. If you try something brave and it's a flop, you can try something else or cut it off, grow it back out and try again -- just one of the many things that is crazy fun about being a woman.
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