Skip to main content

The Styling Edit only recommends products we think you’ll love. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Ask a Hairstylist: How to Fix the Wrong Hair Colour for Your Skin Tone

The right shade makes all the difference.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Welcome to our Hair Consultations column. To request an online hair consultation, follow the instructions here.

Q: Hello, I've got awful, long hair. It is neither curly, nor straight, nor wavy. I've been dyeing it for eight years now, and it's pretty damaged. 

From The Styling Edit Archives

Mija has been colouring her hair for eight years.

My hair is fine (although it doesn't look sparse) with greasy roots and dry ends. Even if it looks fine after drying it, as soon as I go out, it becomes sloppy.

Mija's hair is naturally fine, but damaged.

I would like a shorter cut, but everything I imagine looks like a nightmare with this hair. Do you think I should stop dyeing it? Could you suggest anything? I'm tall and have got a long and thin neck, but I'm not skinny—I have a pear body shape. Thanks — Mija

Mija wants a shorter cut, but can't imagine one that would suit her.

A: Mija, my first observation when I look at your photos is your hair colour. 

There is nothing wrong with the colour—it's how it frames and suits your face. I'll use clothing as an example. If I wear brown against my skin tone, I look dull and not my best. But if I wear a white shirt between my skin and the brown garment, I look more radiant.

The two colours I am seeing here do not frame your face well or suit your skin tone. I would rather see you wear a deeper brown around your face, and any other colours you fancy on the ends for the drama. I like this severe look for you as well:

Valery Kaufman at Versace Spring 2015.

Here is a lighter brown that would also suit you, with no gold or red at the top, just a bit at the bottom:

Adèle Exarchopoulos at the 2013 Cannes photocall for 'La Vie d'Adèle'.

This cut has skinny ends and a bit more volume at the top, which would make your hair more modern. Shaggy cuts and a messy texture are on the hair radar currently.

I am a fan of long thin necks; there is something really elegant about them. Here are a couple of shorter cuts that would suit you quite well, one with a fringe and one without:

Karlie Kloss at the Target Feed collaboration launch in 2013.

Light brown bob for fine hair.

Use a curling iron to add texture to the one with the fringe, and a flat iron to smoothen out your hair for the other cut. Using these appliances will help your style to last throughout the day.

If you want to keep your hair long, this non-committal fringe would work quite well with the shape of your face:

Alexa Chung at the Elle/Next Spring 2013 show.

Now, to answer your question about whether or not you should colour your hair…

To me, that is always such a personal choice. If you are having fun and don't mind the damage, why not colour it? 

Edgy hair often looks better with colour for texture or shine. For texture, use an ammonia-based hair colour and for shine, use a non-ammonia colour.

Then there is the feel of the hair. If you want soft hair for you or someone else to run their fingers through, then I would suggest staying au naturel.