How To Find The Right Hair Colour For Your Skin Tone

By Felicity Carter

1 year ago

A hair colour 101

Summer is right around the corner, meaning many of us will soon feel that itch for lighter locks to match the sunny weather. But picking a shade can be tricky. We sought out leading hair stylist Neil Moodie and owner of Neil Moodie Studio, who shares his expert advice for finding the right hair colour for your skin tone – from determining undertones to matching skin tones with hair colours.

How To Find The Right Hair Colour For Your Skin Tone

To determine your skin shade, a top tip would be to wear a white shirt or t-shirt, and stand in natural light in front of a mirror. Look closely at the veins on the underside of your wrist; if your veins are predominantly blue or purple then you have cool undertones, if they’re greener then you’ve got warm undertones. A mix of the two means you have neutral undertones.

We are mainly pale, medium, olive or dark skinned, although some skin tones are warmer than others (although that doesn’t mean you can’t have pale skin with warm undertones and redness, for example). You want your hair colour to complement your skin tone, so ideally the hair colour you go for should be on the opposite side of the colour wheel.

Woman shaking out blonde hair

(c) Maxx Miller, Unsplash

If you have a warm undertone to your skin…

Choose a hair colour that has rich chestnut and cinnamon shades to help balance out yellow or warm undertones in your skin.

If you have warm, golden undertones and your skin tone is darker…

You can choose almost any hair colour, from light to dark browns, reds or blondes. It’s best to have a colour with a warmer base to help accentuate the golden undertones.

If you have cool undertones to your skin…

Warmer coloured highlights or face framing balayage helps to brighten up hair and skin tone. Warmer shades will also add dimension to your hair, especially if it’s naturally darker.

If you have warm undertones with yellow in your skin…

Go for colours that are more chestnut, dark golden brown, auburn or mahogany. You can also add depth and dimension with cinnamon or copper tones. A blonde base colour or highlights will over-emphasize the yellow in your skin.

Two women wearing flowers crowns hugging in a field

(c) Becca Tapert, Unsplash

If your skin is cool toned with pink or blue undertones…

Go for a more intense brown, red or blonde base. Honey or ash highlights will also help to contrast the cool undertones of the skin.

Darker skin with cool undertones…

Cherry, burgundy and other shades of red are good as a base colour or even as lowlights for this skin tone. The cooler red tones can help to give your skin a smooth even look.

For olive skin with a warm or yellow undertone…

Choose a golden colour for your base – think honey blonde, auburn, chestnut or mocha. For highlights and lowlights try a warm red base colour, as this will work better for bringing out the warmth of your skin tone.

For olive skin with a cool undertone…

Pick a hair colour that will highlight the cooler tones, for example: ash, platinum, copper or violet red.

If you have dark olive skin with cool undertones…

Avoid light ashy blonde as this will be too stark a contrast.


You can find out more about Neil Moodie Studio (and book an appointment with the team) at

Featured image: Dominic Sansotta, Unsplash