There's no better time to bring out your inner raven-haired vixen, fiery red siren or chestnut-hued hottie than fall, when nature provides its most vibrant palette for inspiration. Richer shades can warm up your complexion by adding color and dimension to your face. Coloring your hair at home is undoubtedly more convenient and much less expensive than going to a salon, but there are general guidelines to consider before you go for an out-of-the-box experience.
“Only do it if you are staying within two to three shades of your current color, you want to cover grays or you're looking for a slight enhancement,” says Marie Robinson, Clairol color director. “Consult a professional for a dramatic change, such as going from light blond to brown, or if your hair is damaged,” she says. If at-home color is the way you go, here are some tips to ensure your new hue is the best for you.
Consider the Color
The right tone makes all the difference. “It will complement your total look and enhance your skin and eyes,” says Robinson. To help you choose the ideal shade, Robinson recommends thinking about your jewelry. “If you tend to wear silver and have light eyes, go with a cool tone. If you gravitate toward gold jewelry, have dark eyes or an olive or dark complexion, opt for a warm shade. While the front of the color box shows the hair color, the back of the box reveals how your current shade should look after you've applied it, says Robinson.
An all-in-one foam system like John Frieda Precision Foam Color is ideal for novices because it's easy to apply, needs no complicated tools and covers the hard-to-reach hair on the back of the head quickly without dripping. There's a spectrum of rich tones to choose from, including deep cherry brown and dark red brown.
Umberto U Color Italian Demi Color Kit is another option that requires just one step. A sachet packet system contains everything you need: color, developer and equalizer in a gel formula that you apply directly to your hair. It comes in 12 vibrant shades such as golden brown and natural black.
Take It Down a Notch or Two
“Go one shade darker little by little,” says Robinson. “If this is the first time you're changing the color, the contrast can be a bit more than you anticipated, so be cautious by easing yourself into it,” she says. When you want a subtle change or to cover gray, Clairol Natural Instinct Vibrant Hair Color is the perfect choice. It only takes 10 minutes to turn your locks more rich and lustrous, and it lasts for up to eight weeks. The kit comes with a color refresher, which deposits color pigment and shine 15 days after coloring. Shades include dark auburn, medium red, medium redish brown and black.
Do a Strand Test
Before applying all-over color, clip a small section of hair at the nape of the neck (this is where your hair tends to be the darkest) and apply the color, says Robinson. Set a timer and keep track of how it processes over time. Depending on your desired result, you may want to leave the product on for more or less time. Just because you're going darker doesn't mean you need to forgo highlights. Multidimensional color, like L'Oréal Couleur Experte Multi-Tonal Color System, which features two tones—one for your base color, the other for highlights—can brighten and add dimension to your hair. Shades like cherry chocolate mousse, a mahogany brown with auburn highlights, or chocolate macaroon, a golden brown with caramel highlights, are just two of the 15 color options.