Before having color done, figure out exactly what you would like your hair to look like. Are you looking for a uniform color, or for a highlighted head? Do you want to go lighter (bleaching) or darker? Also, think about how long you would like the color to last, since there are colors that are temporary, semi-permanent and permanent.
It is useful to figure out what you want so that the stylist or sales consultant can match the picture in your head with real-life products. There are limitations that may apply due to prior chemical treatment or hair type, so be honest and defer to professional opinions to make the best decision.
Hair color looks best when it is either slightly darker or lighter than the natural color. This may not sound very adventurous, but a small change of intensity can actually be quite satisfying and eye-popping. The slight variation is also the easiest to revert to should you desire the old color back. However, a bigger change might be desired. For this, it is necessary to compare skin tones, eye color and general coloring to come up with a complementary shade.
Cool skin tones, which are commonly identified as olive, very dark African-American, or pale and blue-veined, look best with ashy tones, blue-blacks and frosty colors. Those with a natural blush, most African-American tones and reddish skins are known as warm-toned. For them, auburns, warm chestnuts and rich brown-blacks look great.
Other Helpful Tips
When picking a color, stick with your particular warm or cool color family. A color in the opposite grouping will wash out your face and could make your skin look sallow. It may also dull your eyes and draw attention to dark circles and skin irregularities.
To test out whether a color will look good on you, shop for color in a store that has swatch cards with hair samples. If possible, take the swatch card into natural light and look in the mirror. Does the color look lively next to your skin, or dull? Read the box and look at the color name–often, it gives a good hint of what grouping it belongs to. “Winter Ebony” is going to be cool, while “Sahara Sable” will be a warm shade. If there is any doubt, ask before buying to avoid problems.