How to Choose the Best Hair Color For Your Skin Tone

A celebrity stylist gives us some pointers.

Three people with different skin tones posing together
Photo: Getty Images

Typically, when I grow tired of my hair, I switch up my cut or style. But never have I ever experimented with color — until now, that is.

My hair has been dark brown since I was born. And while I've played with a few different weave colors and added extension highlights, my natural color has always remained the same. As a teenager, my friends told me horror stories about their hair dye mishaps, and I think this is what triggered my fear of dyeing my hair. However, I'm finally ready to shake things up.

To get myself ready, I spoke to a few colorists who confirmed that the key to sporting a new hair color — that looks great — is choosing one that complements your skin tone. "Anybody can wear any hair color, but you have to make sure the color is adjusted to suit your skin tone and hair type," says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. "I've made Beyoncé super blonde over the years but I use a honey blonde that works well with her skin tone, rather than a baby blonde."

Ahead, Hazan shares more tips to keep in mind before choosing your next hair color.

Finding Your Shade

Know Your Undertone ...

To get a general idea of what hair color will suit your skin tone, it's best to start by determining your undertone. Undertones, as the name suggests, are the colors underneath the surface of your skin. Knowing where you fall in this spectrum and choosing a hair color to complement this tone, will give you the best results and vibrant color that enhances your overall appearance.

Most people fall into one of three categories: warm, cool, or neutral. If you're not sure what yours is, there are a few simple ways to find out. Hazan suggests looking at how your skin reacts to the sun. "Those who burn easily in the sun usually have cool undertones, and those who tan easily usually have warm undertones," she explains.

Another way to find out your undertone is by looking at your wrist. If your veins look greenish, then you have warm undertones. If your veins are blue or purplish, you have cooler undertones, and if your veins appear colorless or match the color of your skin, you have a neutral undertone.

... And Skin Tone

Now that you know your undertone, choosing a hair color to suit your skin is a much easier task — and your colorist should be able to show you different options.

"Honey, toffee, and caramel tones work well with darker skin tones," says Hazan. "The lighter your skin the blonder or more platinum you can go." She also suggests looking at images of people who have your skin tone and hair type, to get an idea of which colors will suit you.

"I'm Egyptian, if I look at an image of a white girl, I know the color will not be the same; a different hair texture and different ethnicity will result in a different color altogether," she continues. "Look for people of the same race and pick a color that works for them that you like."

If you want to start with a subtle color change, Hazan recommends staying close to your natural color and going a few shades lighter. "A lot of brunettes have issues with getting brassy," she says. "If you are a brunette, it's best to keep your natural color in a light brown category and make it blonder with highlights."

Consider Where You Live

Different seasons and where you live also play a big part in what hair color will suit your skin tone. "If you live in a warm climate like California, you can continuously be blonde and it will suit your skin tone," she says. "But if you live somewhere like New York, where there are four seasons, you'll want to change your hair color to suit each season, this can be done by going warmer in the winter and lighter in the summer."

Post-Color Maintenance

"Make sure you use products for color-treated hair, they help to lengthen the life of your color," says Hazan. "No matter what happens, it's natural for your hair color to fade. It's similar to when you first get a manicure, it starts off shiny and the color is bright but towards the end of the week, it gets dull because of natural oxidation."

Hazan explains that she always uses Rita Hazan True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss on her clients to enhance their color, so it stays balanced with their skin tones. "Using a gloss in the shower between shampooing and conditioning is like applying a top coat to your hair, it helps to keep the hair shiny and revitalizes the color," she says. "Glossing is the salon secret to keeping your color vibrant and your hair as shiny as the day you got it colored."

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Hair Color Inspiration

Below, Hazan shares a few examples of how she adapted various shades of blonde on different celebrities to match their skin tone.


Beyonce with long, wavy bronde hair
Getty Images

"This is a great way to go blonde for more olive complexions," the stylist says. "Her base color is a bit lighter, more of a milk chocolate with honey highlights to give her the effect of being blonde without washing out her skin tone."

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson with long, wavy baby blonde hair
Getty Images

"This baby blonde is perfect for lighter skin tones with brown eyes," says Hazan. "It works great for Jessica's complexion and it's still sun-kissed to give her a beach vibe. Since Jessica has darker hair, she needs a more buttery blonde tone to look natural and pretty."


"This color is great for a lighter skin complexion with hazel eyes," Hazan shares. "For this look I kept her hair a rich chocolate brown and added very natural highlights to add dimension, keeping her warm but not brassy brunette."

Kat Deluna

Kat Deluna with long, straight blonde hair and dark roots
Getty Images

According to the celeb stylists, "This is a great way to be blonde as a Latina. She has darker roots to give her depth combined with a honey blonde color."


Solange platinum afro
Getty Images

"This works because it's a warm tone platinum," says Hazan. "The warmth in it works well with her darker complexion and keeps her looking glowy, not sallow."

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