Ever wondered which hair coloring technique would truly look best on you but all of the options of today seem overwhelming? It seems like every hour a new color, style, or process is discovered and obsessed over, just as your learning about the one popularized before it! Fortunately, we’ve laid out some of the best to help you understand exactly what each technique does and if it will work for you.
Choosing the Right Color for Your Skin Tone
Before deciding on the technique you’ll want to use on your hair, you will need to decide which color suits your skin tone best. The easiest way to start is to think of skin tones in terms of warm, cool, and neutral.
If you have cool skin, look for pink and olive undertones in your skin. And, obviously, warm-toned skin is more yellow and gold. The best rule of thumb for choosing a hair color is to oppose your skin color. For pale skin with reddish undertones, for instance, an icy, cool blonde is the perfect shade. Check the veins in your wrist for a foolproof way to determine your skin tone if you’re still unsure. For deep undertones, your veins should have a purple tint. If your skin is warmer, you will have greenish veins, and cool tones have blue-tinted veins.
Choosing the Right Color and Technique for Your Hair Type
Before you hit the salon, it’s essential to identify your hair type and the most complimentary color. With a wide variety of coloring techniques available, never fear, options are endless.
Straight and relaxed hair can usually handle some wild types of hairstyles, especially being a neutral backdrop for tie-dyed hair, but can look silly with drastic techniques like frosted tips. Babylights, sombre, and even ombre give hair with little body dimension and movement without looking too harsh.
The best bet for straighter hair is a freehanded technique where your stylist (or you) can add the details as you choose.
Hair with a subtle wave has the fortunate benefit of maintaining all hair techniques decently. It’s not too busy for dip dye, ombre, or tie-dyed hair, but also has enough dimension to handle even the subtlest of babylights.
Curly hair comes alive when emboldened with highlights and lowlights. Techniques like babylights and balayage let your stylist work precisely with your unique set of curls. Dimension can be added where needed and can work with, not against your hair type.
Popular Coloring Techniques
Still a bit torn on which technique is for you? We’ve got them all laid out so the only question you’ll be left with is where to wear your new hair first!
Ah, the beloved technique for the low maintenance gal! Balayage has been around for a minute but refuses to go anywhere — thanks to its versatility and beautiful effect. It can be applied on any hair color or type but looks especially great if you’re a brunette or dirty blonde looking to incorporate warmer highlights in your hair without any stark contrast between colors. To use this technique, color is swept through small triangle sections of hair to give your mane a natural look and make the transition almost seamless.
If you are looking to take your hair from dark to light, this coloring technique may be your best bet. Highlights are mostly done in a foil form with a sequence of one or more colours, which means it allows you to get higher contrast. At the same time highlights give you a more consistent and formal look than free-hand painting techniques. They are perfect for women with fine hair, since they increase dimension that creates the illusion of volume.
Babylights are just like regular highlights, but are more delicate and spaced much closer together in order to look natural and subtle. The highlights are so fine that there is no line of demarcation at the root where the color grows out. Because babylights mimic natural hair, any color or hair type will work with this technique. However, if you’re someone who hates spending too much time in the salon, babylights might not be for you. All that precious attention to detail has to have a cost somewhere!
Just as highlights involve lightening parts of your hair several shades brighter than your original color, lowlights add a darker depth that brings out shadow rather than light. Every woman who has a beautiful natural base color (except super black hues) is a good candidate for lowlights. This technique works best on curly or thin, less full-bodied locks, as it offers the illusion of volume. Short-haired gals should steer clear of this technique, however, to avoid dark patches that look too stark and awkward.
This is another tried and true technique that is not only easy to wear but works on virtually every hair color and type. Ombre means “shaded” in French, and that is the perfect way to describe this popular style. The look works best on longer strands, as it gives enough room for the color to gradually melt from darker at the roots to lighter at the tips. However, if you appreciate a more subtle and low-maintenance look then you may go for ombre’s close relative…
The Sombre look is all about a softer version of Ombre. The appearance of dark roots is less harsh than before and colour is more seamlessly melted together. This technique involves just a shade or two lighter or darker than your natural color at the root. The look is definitely for the low-maintenance, natural girl, like babylights. Sombre can also work on any hair color and type and is for someone looking to make a more subtle statement.
The nice part about dip dyeing is that it allows you to add a touch of unique hue to the ends without changing the entire color of your hair. I always think of early 2000’s Christina Aguilera’s red hot ends when this technique comes to mind, but you don’t have to choose a bold color like bright red or electric blue. Pretty pastels will create a flattering and more subtle transition. Because the hair surrounding your face remains as it was before, virtually anyone can pull it off.
Tie Dyed hair is not for the average beauty. The technique is just what you imagine; spiraling vibrant colors in to your original hair color. If you’re more bold than bashful this technique is for you! To start this process, first bleach your hair to strip it of color to later absorb the brighter hues. Next, you’ll divide hair into small sections and tie off with bands down the length of each section, evenly spaced. The most important part of the process involves painting shades of dye in each section and blending the color.
Finally, a perfect option for shorter ‘dos! Unlike ombre or sombre, frosting hair involving bleaching or lightening hair several shades brighter than its original color only at the tips of the hair. This look is ideal if you have a choppy haircut. Frosting the ends of hair adds dimension and a bit of interest to an otherwise monotone color job. Keep in mind, with this technique you can cause damage and breakage to your ends, so leave this color process to the professionals.
Taking Care of Dyed Hair
Now that you’ve dyed your beautiful locks, it’s essential to maintain your hair’s health so that new color looks healthy and vibrant.
- Trim your hair on a regular basis. Color-treated locks are more susceptible to drying out, so getting a trim every 8 weeks will combat split ends and keep hair looking thicker and healthier in general.
- Avoid frequent hair washing. Try every other day or even every few days if you can. If you must, rock a ponytail on your third or fourth day. And remember to use dry shampoo sparingly! It is also drying and isn’t meant to be used as a substitute to hair washing.
- Be gentle on your hair. Color-treated hair can break more easily, so never rip through your hair. When brushing, start from the bottom up. When hair is wet, use a wide-toothed comb or wet brush to prevent any pulling.
- Always use a conditioner. Conditioning adds back any moisture that is lost after a washing and will keep your hair from breaking off. In fact, you should be using a deep conditioning treatment every week as well.
- Check the labels on your shampoo. Many contain harsh sulfates that dry out colored hair. Consider switching to a more natural alternative. Also, washing hair with a color shampoo (like a purple toner for blondes) will help you maintain that brilliancy for longer – going easier on your hair, and wallet!
- Follow up your shower with a post-washing treatment like oil. A little goes a long way, but oil works to seal the cuticle, lock in moisture, and make combing wet hair an easier process.
Some of the best ways to take care of dyed hair involves using products you have lying around the house. One of the best is a natural Pre Poo involving coating hair strands in coconut oil and letting it sit for at least 3o minutes. Coconut as an oil is far too heavy post showering, but it works wonders as a treatment to be washed out.
Retaining hair’s strength along with moisture is an excellent way to treat colored hair. Try mixing an avocado with an egg white for a protein-packed, softening punch.
Apple cider vinegar is most likely already in your cabinet and possibly your health and beauty routine. Rinsing color treated hair with it is known to remove brassiness and restore limp and dried out hair.
If you plan on heading to the beach or pool, it’s essential to protect hair from harsh chlorines and that abundance of drying salt. All you have to do is rinse hair with tap water first, making it harder for damaging water to penetrate the pores of hair.
Finally, an easy way to protect hair at home is by installing a humidifier. Air in the home, especially in winter, can be very drying. A humidifier will keep the moisture in the air, protecting your hair, as well as skin, from over drying.
The Best Products for Color Treated Hair
If you’re looking to keep brassy color out of your hair, whether you’ve gone blonde or a rich shade of brown, look no further than Shimmer Lights by Clairol. The upside is it’s unbelievable price per quality. The only con most beauty buffs can conjure on this one is the way it leaves hair a bit dried out. Also, don’t use a purple shampoo/toner every day. Doing so will not only dry out hair but will make new hair growth that much more obvious at the roots as your ends will be a brilliant blonde or light color and the roots will contrast rather darkly. Always have one more shampoo for highlights and colored hair that may be used on a daily basis.
A more luxe option for color treated hair is the Bain Chromatique Riche shampoo by Kerastase. The highly rated shampoo is as great on thick, coarse hair as it is on fine, thin hair. It polishes the hair fiber and protects hair from UV exposure all while maintaining the vibrancy needed for color treated hair. Keratase remains of one the best names in the hair game.
Vitruvian’s Beauty Advanced Repair Treatment is the ultimate triple threat for color treated hair. This miracle product acts as a leave-in conditioner, detangler, and split end repair treatment. It provides UV protection and is sulfate and paraben free to top it all off! Some people have complained of a feeling of build-up left behind in hair, but it’s important to apply liberally to damp hair.
With 4.5 stars on Amazon and rave reviews across the Internet, Arvazallia’s Rejuvenating Hair Mask is not only affordable but its essential oils provide much needed moisture for hair treated by color and highlights. If you have any sensitivity to fragrance, you may need to steer clear of this option (check out the home remedy section of this article for a safer alternative).
One of the most reliable products on the market for color treated locks is Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics shampoo and conditioner. Sans harsh sulfates, this set is not exactly cheap, but the quality is worth its price. Women with brilliant blonde to bright copper and even lilac all agree that this line does an incredible job at helping hair maintain its color. There is still some fade, thanks to old fashioned time, but on the whole this line is pretty fantastic.
As you can see, hair coloring techniques aren’t so complicated once you break them down. Whether you want a subtle and natural sombre or a crazy tie-dyed mane, there is a technique out there for you. Moreover, once dye comes into play, your beauty routine is no longer just about sustaining healthy strands. With proper care you can keep your color-treated hair looking shiny and vibrant.