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At-Home Hair Color: Biggest Mistakes Women Make

Why You Should Never Go More Than a Couple Shades Lighter or Darker


At-Home Hair Color: Biggest Mistakes Women Make

Coloring Your Own Hair at Home

Stone for Getty Images

Clairol's Nice and Easy Perfect 10 is a popular home kit

At-Home Hair Color: Biggest Mistakes Women Make

Poppy Delevingne

Stephen Lovekin for Getty

When you color your own hair, choosing the perfect new shade or color can be daunting. Here are a few tips to make at-home hair coloring much easier:

Doing It Yourself? Don't Go More Than 2 Shades Lighter or Darker

If you want to go from dark brown to this platinum color, get thee to a hair salon. Don't try this at home. I get so many women writing in wondering how they can fix a bad dye job. Avoid this by using semi-permanent color and never going more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair color.

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Don't Bet Your Hair Color on the Picture on the Box

Pictures on hair color boxes can be deceiving. Go by the color swatches and the descriptions instead. Most boxes will call out the color (blonde, brown, black and red) and the shade of that color (light, medium and dark). There might also be mention of the tone (golden or ashy).

Are You "Warm" or Are You "Cool"

Most of us would like to think we are both warm and cool. But when it comes to hair color, it's important to know which one you really are (and it has nothing to do with your fantastic personality).

You're likely a "warm" if you have golden, olive or dark skin and brown or dark eyes (most Latinas, Asians and African Americans fall into this category). "Warm" women tan easily and the veins in their inner wrists are green.

You're a "cool" if you have fair skin and blue or green eyes, you burn before you tan and the veins in your wrists run blue. If you're confused because you sometimes burn, sometimes tan, you likely skew warm.

Once you know if you're a warm or cool, you'll better know what shades of color look good with your skin tone.

How to Choose the Right Color Tone

If you have warm skin, opt for golden shades such as caramel and bronze in a darker shade than your skin. Avoid jet-black hair which will wash you out. If you do opt for a golden shade, don't go too light or your hair could turn orange and you'll write in to me and I'll send you to the salon. Can you go blonde as a "warm"? Yes. But it is a delicate process and should be done in a salon, not on your own.

If you are a cool shade, avoid colors such as gold, auburn or copper. They will only highlight the ruddiness of your skin tone. Ash blondes and cool browns work best.

When you go to the hair salon, ask your stylist to bring out swatches. First pick out the colors you are most drawn to, then hold them up to your face near a window where natural light comes in. Ask the stylist to help you determine which shades and tones work best next to your skin.

How to Tell if You'd Make a Great Blonde

A basic rule of thumb: People who had blonde hair as children have the right skin tone to be blonde adults. Does this mean you can't be blonde if you didn't have blonde hair as a kid? Nope. You just need the right shade and you should ask a professional for advice.

There are 5 more things to consider before you make the plunge to blonde, find out what they are in How to Tell if You'd Make a Good Blonde.

How to Pick the Right Shade of Blonde

Brassy blonde color or highlights on someone with a warm skin tone can be harsh. Opt for warmer shades instead.

If you have brown hair and want to go blonde, you don't want to go too light or you could look washed out. Opt for contrast: highlights and lowlights. And keep in mind that darker hair will actually complement brown or green eyes better than blonde hair.

If you want to go platinum (see Can You Get Away With Platinum Hair?), keep in mind that you'll look best in this hair color if you're a "cool skin tone" (see above), meaning you're more pink than olive.

Brown Hair is So Not Boring, Here's Proof

Brown hair is one of the easiest hair colors to take care of yourself at home because the perfect, hottest shade of brown right now is your natural hair color, kicked up a bit, according to Allure Magazine. This means going no more than 2 shades lighter or darker -- the rule for at-home hair color anyway.

So how to kick it up a notch? Get inspired and learn how in my gallery of the 20 Most Gorgeous Hair-Color Ideas for Brunettes.

Va-Va-Va-Voom: You Wanna Go Red, But Can You Get Away With It?

Good news! Almost everyone can go red, what's most important is finding the right shade. If you want to go red, I suggest not trying it on your own. Get a professional consultation.

See this photo gallery of gorgeous red hairstyles for color inspiration.

Don't Be Blue, You Can Hide That Gray

Gray hair can be stubborn to color because of its coarse texture. Many women hide their gray hair with blonde color. If you want to stick with your natural color and your hair is less than one-thirds gray, opt for a semi-permanent color that's a shade lighter than your natural color (or matches your color). The gray will blend right in.

Help! I Colored My Hair And It Looks HORRIBLE!!!

This can happen if you try to go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural color. If this does happen, a professional can fix it in mere minutes. Don't try to do it yourself. Fixing a bad dye job is a scientific venture and the professionals know exactly what they're doing. You likely do not.

More on hair care: best hair products, styling tips and frequently asked questions (answered).

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