What Hair Color Is Right for Your Skin Tone and Undertone

portrait of women with different skin tones smiling

There are several things to consider when contemplating a new hair color, including how much maintenance you’re willing to put up with, which hue best complements your cut and the current condition of your tresses. Equally, choosing the right hair color for skin tone is essential. If you can nail this down, you’re well on your way to understanding which hair colors will look the most flattering. 

Let’s look closer at the different ways to determine your skin undertone and the variety of hues that best suit each. 

Understanding Skin Undertones

Skin tone refers to color, determined by how much melanin (pigment) is in your skin. On the other hand, skin undertones are the shades within each hue. Since those with the same skin tone can have different undertones, that’s what we’re focusing on when choosing a flattering hair color. The three types of undertones are: 

  • Warm: golden, peachy, or yellow undertones
  • Cool: bluish, red, or pink undertones
  • Neutral: a mixture of both warm and cool undertones

Hair Colors for a Warm Undertone

If you look at the veins on the underside of your wrists and they’re greenish, gold jewelry flatters your skin, and you tan easily, those signs point to a warm undertone. Read on for some hair color options that work best with your undertone.

  • Golden Blonde: If you want to lighten your look but are worried about the damage that often comes with very light or light blonde hair, go golden instead. It’s easier to achieve and causes less wear and tear, yet it’s a striking hair color for a warm skin tone.

curly hair model

  • Golden Brown: Another flattering way to lighten up brunette locks with minimal damage is by adding face-framing golden blonde or brown highlights. It adds depth to the hair while highlighting warm undertones. 
  • Strawberry Blonde: As the name suggests, strawberry blonde is a beautiful combination of red and blonde. Whether you go pale or dark, it’s a brilliant hue that flatters warm, cool, and neutral undertones. Go for a multidimensional look by adding red highlights to blonde hair or blonde highlights to a red or strawberry blonde base. 
  • Mahogany: If you’ve always wanted to experiment with red but aren’t ready to commit fully, go for mahogany. Much like the color of the wood it's named after, it’s a beautiful blend of red and brown and partners up perfectly with warm undertones. 
  • Ginger: Ginger is a softer orange-red and can be lighter or darker, depending on your preference. Visually, it’s somewhere between strawberry blonde and a bold red. 
  • Auburn: There’s a reason why we keep mentioning colors with shades of red. This fiery hue is one of the hottest colors of 2023. Auburn is a complementary hair color encompassing several light and dark red shades of red that possess ginger and brown undertones. 
  • True Black: While black is a hue almost everyone can pull off (yes, really), those with a warm undertone look best with a classic, true black versus a shade that leans on the blue-black side. 

Hair Colors for Cool Undertones

If the veins on the underside of your wrists are blue or purplish, silver jewelry looks good against your skin, and your skin tends to burn, you have a cool undertone. Here are some hair color options to choose from:

  • Platinum Blonde: Platinum is a striking pale blonde with silver, metallic, and ash tones. It’s an excellent hair color for a cool skin tone if you want to get noticed. Remember that home care is vital for maintaining the health of heavily lifted tresses. 

  • Dirty Blonde: This medium to dark blonde hue is named after its “dirty” wheat and brown tones. It’s a desirable choice if you’re looking for a low-maintenance color that still provides dimension to the hair. 

  • Sandy Brown: Brunette hues can be challenging because they don’t typically complement a cool undertone. However, sandy brown is a flattering classic mix of brown and blonde with cool tones that simply work.

curly hair model
  • Classic Red: While individuals with a warm undertone look striking with several variations of red, as noted above, those with a cool undertone can successfully pull off a classic red hue. It’s fiery, it’s bold, and it’s guaranteed to make a statement. 

  • Rose Gold: This showstopper hue combines gold, orange, and metallic pink tones seamlessly. The goal is to create a shade reminiscent of rose gold jewelry. While it can seem like a risky color, it’s more subtle than you think and remains on-trend.

  • Shades of Purple: The ’90s are back, and various shades of purple hair come with this decade. Soft lavender complements cool undertones just like rose gold, resulting in a glowing complexion. If you want to go a darker shade of purple, you can’t beat eggplant because its subtle red undertones add dimension to the hair.

Hair Colors for Neutral Undertones

You’re not exactly sure what color your veins are on the underside of your wrists. You can pull off both silver and gold jewelry, and your skin tans easily. Those are indicators you have a neutral undertone. 

As you have a hybrid of warm and cool, you can get away with wearing almost any hair color for a neutral skin tone – lucky you! Regardless, here are a few shades that will make your hair look anything but ordinary.

  • Beige Blonde: Beige blonde is an excellent hue for neutral undertones because it’s a perfect hybrid of warm and cool. This pale and sandy blonde is neither too ashy nor too golden, so it’s flattering for all skin undertones. 
  • Espresso: One of the most desirable aspects of this coffee-inspired, cool-toned hue is that it makes skin with neutral undertones appear flawless and luminescent. If you’re worried about the color falling flat, make no mistake — this is not a boring brunette hair color. Espresso is an alluring deep shade that will give your hair rich dimension.
  • Bronde: Here’s another hue that made a statement in the ’90s and is currently making a resurgence. It’s a smoky hybrid of brunette and blonde — much like a dirty blonde — but is elevated with blonde highlights over a darker base color. 

Achieve Salon-Worthy Color at Home

While you can take these ideas to a colorist, Zotos Professional believes everyone can achieve salon-worthy results at home, so we’re here to back you up. Decided on a color but need the know-how? Take our hair color quiz for an expert match!

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No matter the reason, the season, gender, or age, it’s never a bad idea to switch up your hair color and try a new look. If you’re still unsure what your ideal hue is even after determining your skin’s undertone, take our hair color quiz or chat with a specialist today. Our expert team is here to help you achieve salon-quality hair like a pro.