One of the biggest problems hair colorists see is clients insisting on choosing a hair color that won’t work for them.
“Clients really want a certain look that they’ve seen, but they don’t understand that the shade just doesn’t complement their skin tone, their eyes, or their personality,” says celebrity colorist Estelle Baumhauer.
Instead, here’s a crash course in color theory to help you find the shade just for you.
The color wheel contains the whole spectrum of color choices. The colors that sit opposite each other on the wheel are called “complementary.” So red and green, yellow and purple – these are examples of complementary colors. The basic rule of the color wheel is that opposite, or “complementary,” colors neutralize each other when combined.
The color wheel is further broken down into “warm” and “cool” colors. The warm colors are: yellow, red, and orange. These include gold tones, like golden brown and golden blonde, as well as warm auburn, copper, and chestnut tones. The cool colors are: blues, blue-greens, and violets. These give ash and matte tones to the hair.
Warm and cool shades work in opposites, like the complementary colors on the wheel. Each warm color has a cool color to complement it, i.e. warm red with cool green. When colorists mix up colors, they combine different amounts of each complementary color to produce the exact target color. But they also must take into account the natural color of the client’s hair. This can make a huge difference because the natural hair color may combine with the artificial color.
“A stylist always needs to take the client’s natural hair color into account, since it can make a huge difference in creating the target shade,” says Baumhauer. “Especially if there’s gray in the base color, the color may be lighter than expected.”
If you’ve ever ended up with an unwanted color in your hair, the stylist probably had to add its complement to neutralize it out. For example, if you have unflattering orange/yellow highlights that are the result of stripped dark hair, you can add a dye with blue/violet undertones to neutralize them. On the other hand, if you have red highlights that are way too bright, you can apply a complementary shade of green to tone them down. But it’s important to make sure the proportions of color are just right – otherwise, you could end up with the totally wrong color!
Get the best color solution
The only way to get perfect hair color is by having it custom blended for you by an expert. You could go to a salon and have an expert create and apply your color, but that can get expensive, or you could take the boxed color route, and hope for the best.
Another option is eSalon.com, a new beauty company that offers home hair coloring with the guidance of a trained colorist. Their colorists take all these things into consideration and create a personalized pigment for each client. Right now, they have a special offer for new customers: Get your first custom color kit for only $9.95 (a 50% savings!), with a full money-back guarantee including shipping (what other company does that?).