What Colour Should I Dye My Hair? Your Questions Answered

If you fancy a change of hair colour, but are unsure which shade to choose, we don’t blame you. We’ve probably all had a hair colour disaster before; too dark, too light, uneven or just plain brash – it’s impossible to tell which colours will furnish your face with life and which will sap it away until it’s too late.

But, there are a few guidelines that can keep you right. Read on for our guide to the pros and cons of every colour, plus expert advice from top hair pros. Happy colouring!

Should I go blonde?

The pros: The obvious choice after a certain age, as grey nestles so nicely amongst ashy blonde – far easier to cope with than the jarring contrast between dark hair and silver regrowth. If you’re pale-skinned, burn easily and suit silver jewellery, then cool Scandi-style blondes will suit you. If you’re medium or olive skin-toned like warmer accessories and make-up, you’ll suit warmer, golden blondes.

The Cons: Highlights or balayage can be time-consuming and expensive, and this is a shade you really need professional colourists to work on, as all-over home dye blonde can look pretty naff if you’re not careful. Trickier to get a shine on and prone to yellowing.

The expert tip: “Talk your blonde through with a professional colourist first,” says Nicola Clarke, Creative Colour Director at John Frieda. “Bring photos of hair colours you like, choose images of similar skin tones to you, also let your colourist know a little about your lifestyle (for example, how often you can visit the salon, or how you style and wear your hair), as it will help to determine which shade would work – really big colour changes require much more maintenance.”

Should I go brunette?

The pros: Ever noticed shampoo ads always seem to feature brunettes? That’s because brown hair is pretty much always the healthiest-looking colour and easiest to get a lovely shine on. Brown is also easy-peasy to chuck a temporary toner on for the weekend, say aubergine, without worrying about your hair hanging onto it for months. There are so many different shades of brunette you are bound to find one that works for you, from light caramel to warm mocha or deep raven. As a general rule the deeper your skintone, the darker you can afford to go.

The cons: Can look a bit ‘flat’ if it’s all one colour, which is easily remedied with a bit of balayage to lift specific sections. The risk of going too dark, which can wash your out if you’re fair-skinned. 

The expert tip: “It’s all about Bronde,” says James Galvin, “A mutli-tonal balayage effect that’s much more warm and subtle than all-over flat brown. If you’re adding different tones to your hair, go to a salon. That way, you avoid patchy roots from overlaying new colour each time.”

Should I go red?

The pros: You’ll be something of an original, with only around 4% of the European population boasting red hair. Red is great for any blonde who fancies a change and works well on grey hair, as it conditions and camouflages coarse texture. If you’re worried about dull skin this is a great option as extra warmth in your hair gives energy back to your look.

The cons: Red can fade quickly so is reasonably high-maintenance to keep your colour vibrant and lovely. Certain shades can look a bit brash or unnatural, so it’s super important to get this right, plummy shades in particular can look a tad retro. 

The Expert tip: “Blue-toned reds such as berry and claret are great for cooler skin tones,” says Redken colour ambassador, Lisa Shepherd. “If you’re dark or olive-skinned, then mahogany or gold apricots would look amazing. Ideally, you want a variety of tones to create light and shine. I would never recommend just using one tone, as that would look fake. If you see me colouring, I will be surrounded by about ten mixing bowls at one time!”