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How to Determine Your Hair's Undertones

Your underlying pigment should guide your colour choices.
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Welcome to our Hair Consultation column. To request an online hair consultation from celebrity hairstylist Tony Chaar, follow the instructions here.

Q: Can Tony elaborate a bit more about how to pick the appropriate shade given your current hair and the colour on the box? It's hard to determine sometimes when you’re standing in the hair colour aisle. — Alana

A: Alana, this question is all about knowing your own underlying hair pigment, and also what colour you want to achieve.

There are two important things to remember:

1. If Your Hair Has Orange or Yellow Undertones

If you’re naturally a dark mousy blonde, then your underlying pigment is mostly orange and yellow.

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If you want to lift to a golden blonde shade (a level eight or higher), then you should be using a sandy blonde colour to neutralize the orange. That way, you will be able to achieve a nice gold.

The hair look at Gianfranco Ferre Spring 2011.

2. If Your Hair Has Red Undertones

If you are naturally a dark brown, then your underlying pigment is red.

If you want to go to a couple shades lighter, to a lighter brown, then you should choose an ash colour (two shades lighter with ash -1) to neutralize the red.

The hair look at Burberry Prorsum Spring 2011.

Those are the basic principles, without getting into the more complicated green and blue (cool-toned) concentrates, which you need to be more careful with.

Tony Chaar is one of Canada's top celebrity hairstylists and the owner of Tony Chaar Salon at 140 Avenue Road in Toronto. Call 416-920-9965 to book an appointment.

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