Ask a Hairstylist: The Best Hair Colour for Olive Skin and Brown Eyes

Warm up your base.
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Best hair colour for olive skin

Q: Hi! I am writing you from Mexico. I am impressed with your eye for colour. There are very few like you out there! 

That is why I am writing you. Where I live, I have been struggling to find good advice for achieving the right hair colour for my skin tone. I want a colour that makes my eye pop and my skin glow. 

Hair consultation - Monica

Monica is searching for the right hair colour for her skin tone.

My skin is very sensitive and prone to redness and I also have dark circles under my eyes. While I love dark hair, and a professional colour analyst recommended a neutral deep brown, I found it made me look harsh and accentuated the dark circles. 

However, when I go lighter, my hair is prone to brassiness. So I am in a dilemma.

Hair consultation - Monica

Monica finds that dark hair colours look too harsh on her.

My hair is fine, straight and in good condition. Would you please recommend the perfect shade for me? Blessings — Monica 

Hair consultation - Monica

Monica's hair is prone to brassiness.

A: Monica, hair colour should be the biggest gift to the skin. Your skin tone is olive with strong yellow undertones, but the dark hair is not doing anything for it.

Having so much darkness around your face—around your cheekbones and your eyes—is accentuating the dark circles that bother you, and even the little red freckles on your skin. Everything feels too claustrophobic and closed in.

I think you should go lighter. Creating lightness is going to open up your face and eyes. It's actually going to create the illusion of stretching out the eye area and will give you a little lift around the eyes.

A warm honey base will be key for you. It will be soft enough to complement your skin tone, and will work beautifully with your brown eyes. In your eye colour, there are honey tones. So we're just going to go a little bit warmer.

Natalie Portman, Academy Awards, 2011

Natalie Portman at the 2011 Academy Awards.

Now, here is the most important thing about your colour. Your base should be two shades lighter then what it is now. Tell your colourist not to go rusty, but instead warm honey. It will take more than one visit to achieve, using ash and gold to get the warm honey. Your colourist is going to need to watch the formula as it develops. Too much ash, and it will be too flat; not enough ash, and it will be too brassy. 

Speaking of brassy, you mentioned that your hair goes brassy when you lighten it. This is a natural behaviour from your under-pigment. Your under-pigment has to be controlled—that's why it's going to take a few times for your colourist to be able to do it. If he or she has any questions, ask me.

Kate Middleton, London Natural History Museum, 2012

Kate Middleton at the 2012 London Natural History Museum.

Adding golden highlights will create a soft spark and texture, and give your hair dimension. The two tones, gold and honey, will bring harmony between your skin and hair. 

But it's very important that the highlights are not too light. They should only be two shades lighter than the honey base—no more than that. And they have to be more on the golden side with a touch of honey.

Miley Cyrus, Party in the USA video, 2010

Miley Cyrus on set for her 2010 'Party in the USA' video.

After the highlights are done, your colourist needs to use use a toner. The toner should have double gold with just a touch of copper. 

That touch of copper is important because it's going to turn the highlights into a honey, for a tone on tone effect. Otherwise, you will come out too yellow and brassy. 

For your cut, you need a little drama. It should be to the collarbone. Try a long, sideswept fringe draping across the cheekbones, with long layers starting at the cheeks and lip area. 

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Mad Max Fury Road premiere, 2015

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the 2015 premiere of 'Mad Max: Fury Road.'

The back should not have many layers, only some texture created with scissors. Only layer the top area at the front.

Style it loosely with your fingers or a brush. You can add product to enhance the texture. 

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