Best Hair Colors: Which One Is Right for You?

How to tell if you'd make a better blonde or redhead

Hair dye swatches
Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

When it comes to hair colors, you may wonder if you'd make a great blonde or redhead. If you're a brunette, you may wonder what your options are for jazzing up your blah brown. And as for the grays, you may be curious what the best ways to cover them up may be.

Choosing the right blonde, brown, black or red should always be based on your natural hair color and your skin tone. I always recommend trying on wigs to determine if a color would look good on you, and then research and fine-tune the color from there with the help of a professional.


Here's your basic guide to finding your best hair color.

Brunette? No More "Blah Brown"

Every since Kate Middleton stepped into the spotlight, brunette hair color has become more popular than ever, rivaling the always popular blonde. Gone are the days when brunettes dyed their hair blonde just because they felt it was the most popular color. In fact, many of the most famous women today keep their brown locks brown. See my gallery of Famous Brunettes for proof.

"Blah brown," however, is never gorgeous. The key here is to kick your brown hair up a notch. You can do this a number of ways including:

  • Coloring it a gorgeous auburn color. Auburn is the hottest brown hair trend of the moment (think Kate Middleton).
  • Copper highlights are gorgeous via the balayage method. Face-framing color can really flatter your skin tone.
  • Try out the trendy "sombré" trend or become a kinda blonde -- a trend known as the "bronde." 
  • If you have super pale skin and brown hair, consider going lighter or at least having some highlights painted or foiled in. Super dark shades can wash you out and even make you appear older.

See some of your hair color options in Brown Hair Color: Year's 20 Hottest Hairstyles.

How to Tell If You'd Look Better With Darker Hair

Eva Scrivo in her book Eva Scrivo on Beauty gives a great tip on how to tell if you'd look better with dark hair.

Since wet hair is naturally up to 3 times darker than dry hair, you can do the wet hair test. After you wash your hair in the shower, do your makeup and then comb your hair so it falls along both sides of your face. Take a picture. Once hair is dried, take another picture. You should instantly see if your face looks brighter with darker hair, says Scrivo.

So You Wanna Go Blonde? How to Tell if You Should

Very few adult women have naturally gorgeous blonde hair. As we age, even natural blondes will turn darker, ending up with a version of "dishwater blonde hair."

The good news is dishwater blonde makes a great base for highlights or balayage. If you aspire to blonde but have darker hair, keep in mind you may have to make a couple trips to the salon to fully lighten hair. And not all brunettes are like Linda Evangelista and look great as blondes. Find out if you would in How to Tell if You'd Make a Good Blonde.

More on blonde hair color:

  • My Best Blonde Hair Tips and Tricks 
  • Should You Dye Your Own Hair Blonde?
  • Famous Blondes 

Time to Go Platinum? 

I'm talking hair here, not records. Platinum blonde hair is more popular than ever as blondes are opting to go even lighter, losing the golden honey tones for more icy, lighter shades.

Keeping hair this blonde is high maintenance, however, and won't suit all skin tones. Platinum hair, for example, looks best on women with cool skin tones.

Find out what cool skin tones mean plus how you can tell if this is a good look for you in Can You Get Away With Platinum Hair?. And don't miss my gallery of favorite platinum blonde hairstyles.

Can I Go Red?

Almost everyone can go red, what's most important is finding the right shade of red. If you want to go red, I suggest not trying it on your own. Get a professional consultation. You won't believe the number of emails I get from women whose hair turned out orange when they went the box route.

More for redheads:

  • Photo gallery of red hairstyles
  • Famous redheads
  • How to Pick the Right Shade of Red

Gorgeous Black Hair

African-American women have many options when it comes to coloring hair.

You can tint your hair, add highlights of color or try wigs and weaves to change it up without having to opt for permanent-never-washes-out color.

More for black hair:

  • Black hairstyle trends

Gray Hair

Many women with gray hair choose to dye their hair. If you are all gray, you may choose to go blonde because blonde is easier to achieve (and maintain) than going dark. More and more women with gray hair are actually learning to embrace the grays (see She's 55 & In Love With Her Graying Hair). And it's no wonder. Grays and silvers are gorgeous colors, so much so that a few years ago, young models were coloring their hair gray and it was a trend of the moment.

For inspiration, see this gallery of 20 gorgeous gray hairstyles.

Should You Do It Yourself?

Home-color kits have come a long way in the past few years. They are perfect for busy people and those who want to cut the cost of professional colorings. (We know of a couple top fashion editors who color their hair themselves). But if you plan to color your hair more than 2 shades lighter or darker than your natural shade, you should head to a pro.

For 12 tips on do-it-yourself coloring, see Should You Color Your Own Hair? and don't miss At-Home Hair Color: The 14 Biggest Mistakes Women Make.

Should I Get Highlights or Full Color?

When it comes to hair color, you basically have 3 options: highlighting, single-process color or double process. In this article, Should You Highlight or Get Single Process Color?, I share a few tips to help you sort out the best option for your hair.

Liked this article? Check out 20 Great Hair Color Choices to see gorgeous hair color.