The best hair shade for your skin tone
What determines your skin tone and hair color, and just how related are they? There's no denying that some hair colors look incredible with certain skin tones and only so-so with others. And while you probably already know that you should always consider your skin tone and natural hair color when considering a new shade, it helps to find out more about your natural features, how to best describe them, and how to accentuate them.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your natural skin tone is determined by how much melanin your body produces1. If your body makes a lot of melanin, your skin is darker, and if it doesn't make much, your skin is lighter. Outside factors -- such as how much time you spend out in the sun -- can also influence your skin tone, but can't change it dramatically. You can also describe your skin tone as being "warm" (with a yellow or golden "glow" to it) or "cool" (with a pinkish or bluish undertone).
What about your hair? That's also determined by melanin2. People who do not make much melanin have fair natural hair color -- usually blonde or red -- and people who make a lot of melanin have dark brown or black hair. Age can change your hair color, so you may not always have exactly the same shade you were born with
Using the Level System
A beauty industry standard, the level system is a way to pinpoint how dark or light your natural hair color is and predict what a new hair color will look like for you. Level 10 is the lightest blonde (and often goes hand in hand with a fair skin tone), and Level 1 is black (and often goes along with darker skin).
Ash, iridescent, and burgundy tones are best suited for women with cool skin tones. Gold, copper, and mahogany tones, on the other hand, better complement people who have warm skin tones.
The level system can help you interpret how a hair color might look on you before you actually apply it. Most hair colors have a two-digit number, the first digit of which represents the darkness or lightness of the shade, and the second of which represents the warmth or coolness of the tone.
Going Up or Down?
Of course, you can color your hair whatever shade you like -- but the results may not always come out looking the same as they do on the box. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you'll get the best and most natural-looking results by staying within three shades -- up or down -- of your natural starting tone3. Additionally, coloring hair darker rather than lighter is likely to result in less damage.
Color-treated hair can look absolutely gorgeous and vibrant, so treat it as well as it makes you look! Always protect your colored hair from the sun and when swimming, and use shampoos and conditioners (or two-in-one products) that are specifically designed for color-treated hair4.
1. Reference: https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/what-gives-skin-its-color
2. Reference: https://www.aad.org/public/kids/hair/what-gives-hair-its-color
3. Reference: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/coloring-and-perming-tips
4. Reference: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/tips-for-healthy-hair