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Ask a Hairstylist: The Best Light Hair Colours for a Dark Brunette with Pale Skin

Copper tones are not your friend.
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Hair colours for dark hair pale skin

Q: I want to liven up my hair and my look, but I need some help with figuring out the best colour for me. I have always had dark (black/brown) hair and pale skin. 

Hair consultation - Dina

Dina's natural hair colour is a deep brunette.

Recently, I got tired of looking like a vampire, and dreamed of being blonde. So I had the whole thing dyed a medium brown and loaded with highlights. 

Hair consultation - Dina

Dina recently lightened her hair to a medium brown with highlights.

I liked the change, but was not completely satisfied. I want something completely "me," but I don't want it to come out too orange or bronzey. 

Hair consultation - Dina

Dina doesn't want her hair to look orange or bronzey.

My hair is naturally thick, curly-wavy and frizzy. I just want to know my options and what would look best on me. Please help! — Dina 

Hair consultation - Dina

Dina wants to know which hair colour would look best on her.

A: Dina, you definitely suit the lighter hair. So I totally agree with you about going lighter. But here's the problem. The tone you have right now is too red for your skin. 

That is what you're hating about it. Your skin and hair are fighting, and the hair will always win!

I think you should stay light, but go to a cooler tone. Your skin suits more of an ashier colour. It's that copper pigment that has to go.

You would look so natural with an ash brown or dirty blonde as your base. 

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Elizabeth Olsen at the 2013 Elle Style Awards.

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You could even do a little bit of a JLo look, but on the cool side. 

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Jennifer Lopez at a 2014 promotional appearance for "True Love."

Fixing your base to get rid of the copper will be quite a bit of work. 

You need to ask your hairdresser to keep your hair at the same level you have now, but to add a toner at the very end to turn it into an ashier tone. You're probably a level six or seven right now, and you have to go to a level seven double ash. Your hairstylist will know what that means. 

That will probably hit it on the nail, but if it doesn't, your hairdresser will have to use another toner on top of the double ash. Not to darken the colour, though; you need to keep it at a level seven, but turn it towards a cooler tone.

I would steer away from adding highlights right now, because there's a lot of work that needs to be done to fix your base. It might take two or three visits for your hairdresser to get it right.

But later on, you could add some highlights. They should be warmer, though, like a golden, sun-kissed look. 

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Sutton Foster at the 2018 Critics' Choice Awards.

If we're being really technical, I recommend cracking (lightening) your eyebrows as well. Right now, they're too dark. Your hairdresser will probably have to use a level 8-1 ash plus a 10 volume peroxide for about 10 minutes just to crack them by half a shade. This will help your look to be in sync.

For your cut, ask for soft, long layers, which will work whether you wear it curly or straighten it. You look good with the straight hair. 

But you need to moisturize so that your blow-dry doesn't frizz up. Masks will help you wear your hair down. The Kérastase masks are really good.

Kerastase Maskeratine

Kérastase Maskeratine

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