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Ask a Hairstylist: How to Go From Black to Brown Hair for a Softer Look

Sun-kissed is the key.
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Black to brown hair

Q: Greetings from the east coast of the US! I'd love to ask your advice on the best haircut and colour(s) for my wavy mop of hair, that would also complement my complexion and personal style. 

Hair consultation - Monika

Monika wants to find her best haircut and hair colour.

About me and my hair: I'm 5'2", with blue-green eyes. My hair has a medium texture, and there's a lot of it. It's wavy with almost corkscrew curls at the nape of the neck, but nowhere else. It's prone to frizz, takes colour easily, and is on the dry side. 

Hair consultation - Monika

Monika's hair is dry, wavy and frizz-prone.

Right now, I'm colouring my hair at home until I decide what I want to do next. I've used Wella Color Charm in Black Cherry, but it dried out my hair horribly. I switched to a similar shade in One 'n Only Argan Oil Demi Permanent, also with a 20 developer. I tend to wear a lot of darker colours, such as black and navy blue.

Hair consultation - Monika

Monika has been dyeing her hair a black cherry colour.

I really like the concept of a "Life Cut." Bad haircuts give me triangle hair like Roseanne Roseannadanna! I have had some great cuts in the past, but they were too high-maintenance. I'm not very good at styling, but my main problem is that my fingers go numb from blowdrying and flat-ironing. 

Hair consultation - Monika

Monika wants a low-maintenance cut that doesn't require much styling.

The current state of my hair is: sad! Is there any hope? Many thanks and kind regards — Monika

A: Monika, thank you for sending along your request for a hair consultation. I would like to encourage you to change the direction of how you see yourself.

Your hair colour is your crown, but your skin always has to stand out more. With what you're doing now, your skin tone disappears. I should be looking at your skin, not your black cherry or eggplant hair.

If you want to look softer, and to let your skin tone pop out—which is absolutely gorgeous—then you've got to tone down the hardness of the hair. The softer your hair is, the happier your skin will be. 

I suggest you go to a sun-kissed brown. With your light skin, you'll wear it so beautifully. But it will take getting used to, because it's a very big makeover for you, going from Gothic hair into pretty hair. To you, coming from the purplish black hair, it may seem a little orange or red, but it's not. Sun-kissed is the key. 

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I think it will take you about three to six months to be able to achieve this, because it's a lot of work for your hairdresser. (Don't attempt to do this yourself at home.) He or she has to remove all the dark purple and all the blackness out of your hair, and then create the soft colours. Your hairdresser will know what to do, but a level six sun-kissed brown should be the goal.

Your eyebrows are a bit too light right now, so you could also think about darkening them.

Now, let's talk about your haircut. What I would do is give you a soft fringe to the side that lays on the cheekbone, like a side-swept bang. That would look really pretty on your face—it's always about the cheekbones.

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Jessica Szohr at the 2013 Hope for Children Gala.

Your ends have to be more blunt; they're too wispy at the moment. You need about two inches off, so your hair lands on your collarbones. That will give you more of a blunt look, and then you can grow it a bit longer. You should also have a little more layering, from the jawline down.

As for how you style it, you've got to ease up on the straight look and wear it more natural to give your hair and hands a break. That will also help with the frizz. It's frizzy and wispy because your hair is damaged.

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Alexa Chung at the 2014 British Fashion Awards.

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Jessica Alba at the 2014 Experience: East Meets West event.

You've got to moisturize a lot and do some treatments. I recommend doing the Kérastase mask for colour-treated hair on a weekly basis.

Kerastase Reflection Masque Chromatique

Kérastase Reflection Masque Chromatique

You can also do liquid protein treatments at your salon once or twice a month.

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