This Two-Shade Color Rule Is the Secret to the Perfect Hair Style

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When you hear the term “washed out,” you can almost guarantee someone is not dishing out a compliment. When you hear it describing your skin tone, it’s time to do something—stat.

I recently heard the term to describe my complexion a few times from a few different people. (I run with an honest, borderline critical, crowd.) I was getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, didn’t feel a cold coming on, and I actually had the tiniest of tans—what the heck could it be?

“It’s your hair color,” said super sleuth Alaina Manibog, stylist at the Benjamin Salon in Los Angeles. “It’s good color, it’s just not good for your skin tone.”

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As Manibog explained, my hair color and my highlights were both a little too warm, which was making me look somehow “redder” and more “washed out” than usual.

“There’s a ‘two-shade color’ rule,” Manibog says. “When coloring your hair, you should ask your colorist for at least two shades darker or lighter than your skin tone. This creates a contrast that’s very complementary. When your skin and hair color are too similar in tone, it’s very easy to look washed out or dull.”

Mind. Blown. I had been schooled the link between skin tone and hair color and all that good stuff, but had no idea there was an almost-formula to it…and I definitely had no idea I was making a mistake when it came to the two. So what’s the solution?

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“The right colorist will be able to look at a client’s skin and decide if they have cool or warm skin tone and help decide which tones will flatter their face,” explains celebrity colorist Heather Cie of Cie Sparks Salon in Malibu. “For example, if a client’s skin tone is very golden, choosing a solid golden blond wouldn’t be the best choice for a client. Instead, opt for an ash blond.”

Of course, if you aren’t a trained colorist, all of this can get rather confusing. “Clients should consult with a colorist so a realistic common outcome can be achieved,” Cie says. “Clients should be made aware of what colors and/or shade will and will not go well with their skin tone. Remember that colorists have gone through extensive training in order to achieve the best results for each client. Going too light could possibly wash out a client’s face, as well as going too warm with their color could bring out undesired red/pink undertones.”

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