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Hair Coloring 101: Which Dye Is Right For Me?

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So you wanna dye your hair, huh? Today, we have our pick of thousands of shades, tones, washes, and color rinses to alter our hair. We have rainbow dyes and natural stains, color shampoos, and pastel tints. And what about the application process? Are you in the market for painted streaks? What about chunks or a fade? Maybe an all over saturated wash? The possibilities are endless.

If choosing a new color has your hair up in knots, read on. We asked expert colorist Roxie Darling at Hairstory Studio in NYC to guide us through the many options.

How do I choose the right hair color for my personality?

Coloring our hair is more than just what feels right at the time. It’s about considering our lifestyles. “Ask yourself ‘how is my hair color gonna fit into my world,’” Roxie explains. “How you want to feel and how often you want to feel that way is a big part of it.”

But Darling still thinks that everyone should keep themselves open to possibility. As a colorist, Roxie views her job as simply planting a seed of possibility and awareness in peoples minds. “Though it sounds corny, we are our own canvases and therefore we can manipulate the way we look to stimulate other people’s minds, as well as our own.” A new hair color can open a world of possibility. “Wearing a new hair color can make you feel like a different person, and when you feel like a different person you can make things happen that you never knew you could”.

How do I pick the right hair color for my skin tone?

There’s a science behind finding the perfect hair color, and Roxie breaks it down for us. “It’s a combination of color and light—whatever color you choose to place by your face is going to project itself onto your skin.” Roxie says it’s all about color theory, and the formula is easy: ashy hair colors tend to neutralize pink toned skin while red shades can make it look flushed. Violet shades can compliment a yellow undertone in skin and make it glow, but applying a color too similar to the skin can make a person look sickly. Peach undertones in hair dye can bring warmth to a paler face. If you flunked out of art class, we think looking at the undertones in your favorite cosmetics might steer you in the right direction.

Can I use hair color to enhance my facial features?

There are obvious color tricks one can pull with hair color. For example, you can bring out the green in your eyes with a red or purple hair dye. Roxie has a few unexpected tips to take that concept one step further. “You can actually contour your face by putting highlights in areas of the hairline that accentuate the bones,” Roxie told us. “It’s similar to using highlighter on the face to bring out the bone structure.” She likes to shape the face by placing subtle highlights near areas such as the cheekbones, temples, and the peak of the forehead. “By strategically placing highlights in those areas, you create depth around a person’s face because you’re leaving an area for light and dark, which plays up the shadows and highlights on the face.” Roxie also likes to use color opposites (such as green and purple undertones) to draw attention to the neutrally colored features on the face including freckles or brows.

What style of dye job is right for me?

These days, colored hair rarely means one shade all over. How do we possibly pick from streaks, chunks, dips, tints, or whatever other creative applications we’ve spotted on trendy blogs and runway coverage? For Roxie, it comes down to one word: maintenance. “When choosing a new color, you don’t want to be stressed about maintaining your hair,” Roxie stresses. ”Hair color is an investment we make in ourselves and it comes down to how much time and money we want to invest in how we look and in turn, how we feel.” Roxie’s formula? Different dye techniques yield different maintenance periods. An all over dye job needs a touch up every 4-6 weeks or less while a highlighted or streaked effect can last around two months before it needs a boost. Feeling extra lazy? A dip dyed look is practically made for grow-out and needs to be touched up every few months, if at all. How much time you want to spend on your style will guide to to the dye job that’s perfect for you.