Coloring naturally dark hair isn’t always as easy or straightforward as it is for lighter hair. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on trendy hair colors and color trends. Hairstyles like ombre, balayage and pastels are so flattering on a dark complexion. You just need the right knowledge, tips and products to achieve these looks on dark hair. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, we’re here to help! Our colorists tell us the trendiest hair color ideas for dark skin — plus how to maintain your color-treated natural hair ahead!
If natural hair isn't dyed correctly, it can affect the overall health of your hair and the texture of your curls. Once the curl pattern of curly hair gets damaged, it becomes susceptible to breakage. So before coloring your natural hair consider things like the current condition of your strands, how long it may take to get your desired hairstyle, the best colorist for the job, and how to care for your hair in between color appointments. When it comes to choosing the best hair color for your dark skin, the most important thing to consider is your skin tone. Take a look at the inside of your arm and find your veins. If they appear more blue, you’re cool toned If your veins appear more green, you’re warm toned. If the color is somewhere between blue and green, you’re likely neutral-toned.
These tips will help you prepare your natural hair before bleaching or coloring it.
Avoid washing your hair with shampoo a day or two before bleaching or coloring. The natural oils in your scalp act as a protective barrier between your skin and the harsh chemicals. Shampoo washes this barrier away.
Deep conditioning your strands before coloring adds an extra layer of protection to the hair. Hair is made of keratin protein and deep conditioning minimizes protein loss and strengthens the hair. Start deep-conditioning with a hair mask two weeks before you plan to use bleach or hair dye.
Heat styling tools like rollers, flat irons and blow dryers strip moisture and damage your hair. Avoid them starting two weeks before bleaching.
Your hair colorist needs to know everything about your hair before your appointment. Including how you treat it, your hair color history, the frequency of chemical and color treatments, and any other hair experiments. This helps them to understand your hair and adjust the formula accordingly.
Ash is one of the most popular highlight hair colors for dark skin. The coolness in the ashy blonde neutralizes warm undertones in the skin. This color looks best on dark skin tones with red or orange undertones. Ask for a platinum, cool blonde. You can get this color all-over or with highlights.
Dark red is this season’s color trend. And dark red highlights that blend seamlessly into even darker hair really pop against dark skin. Decide with your colorist whether a warmer or cooler red is right for your skin tone. If you want a bolder hair look, go for a full head of dark red. Stay subtle with a few balayage highlights.
A lilac hairstyle compliments a dark complexion perfectly. If you’re looking for a soft and pretty hair color, try this hue. This color can pull warm or cool so decide with your colorist what is best for you — lilac also happens to be one of the best hair colors to make you look younger.
Think you can’t pull-off platinum with dark skin? Think again! Platinum looks amazing with dark skin, as long as it includes gold undertones. The biggest difference between platinum on fair and dark skin is that darker skin tones should stick with warm undertones and avoid cool. But remember that textured hair is more fragile; getting to this level of light blonde takes a lot of processing that can compromise longer ends.
From subtle highlights to all-over gray, this pastel shade is having a moment. And it’s so flattering on dark skin. If you’re looking for a way to add some edge to your look, consider coloring your hair gray. The trendy hue is perfect for people with darker skin tones.The stark contrast really makes the color pop. Use a purple shampoo to keep your gray vibrant.
This dark berry shade of red will look different depending on your starting base shade. A natural brunette is a great base for burgundy because its warm underlying pigment will contribute to the color’s vibrancy. Those with dark skin and lighter hair can also have fun with this hue, the burgundy will just appear more vivid. The lighter your starting base is, the more dramatic your results.
If you're searching for an all-over color that looks natural, try chocolate brown. This shade is pretty on nearly everyone and perfect for any season. Chocolate brown brings out green, hazel, and brown eyes; not to mention it looks gorgeous with dark skin. You can keep it one dimensional with a dark all-over shade, or play around with lighter pieces throughout the hair.
Purple is the it-girl shade for dark skin tones this season. Purple is a major color trend right now, especially for those who want to step away from the traditional hair colors. But this shade isn’t for the non-committal. Purple pigment can take a few sessions to remove depending on the next hair color you choose. But the pretty hue is so worth the commitment!
Blue is a trendy, low-maintenance jewel-toned color that suits dark skin. But your undertone really comes into play when choosing blues and greens. If you have a golden undertone, go with warmer versions of these colors. If you have a cool undertone, go for ashier shades. If you have an olive undertone, we recommend staying away from greens as they aren’t as flattering on your skin tone.
Although natural hair is coarse and thick, it’s actually one of the most fragile hair types. Textured hair strands have undulations along the length of the hair, causing weak points easily prone to breakage. Bleaching the hair removes the pigments in the hair shaft, making the hair color lighter. The darker the hair, the harder it is to pull out the pigment. It could take two applications to achieve the color you want. That means more exposure to bleach on already fragile strands. So is bleach safe for natural hair? Well bleach and lighteners are very strong chemicals that can make natural hair more fragile and prone to breakage. The alkalinity of bleach not only strips the cuticle layer but also removes the natural pigment from your hair. And while this process is necessary to achieve high-lift permanent colors like blondes and reds, it's harsh and can be extremely damaging. Bleach contains hydrogen peroxide, which interferes with keratin and can cause breakage. You should bleach your natural hair sparingly.
If you use hair dye or bleach to alter your natural hair, it’s important to follow a proper hair care routine to prevent color fading and maintain strong, healthy strands. Keeping your color vibrant in-between visits with your colorist relies on the products you use at home. These are a few of our favorite stylist product picks for color-treated hair.
A protective shampoo for colored hair that gently cleanses, protecting the color and keeping it shiny for longer.
Hair mask to repair bleached, permed or relaxed hair, restoring hydration, body and nourishment.
A leave-in treatment for blondes that provides hydration, shine, and heat protection, giving elasticity and vigor to the hair fiber, helping to extend the duration of the blow-dry.
For advice on choosing the best hair color ideas for dark skin, book an appointment with a professional colorist in your area. No matter what hair color you decide on, maintain it with an at-home hair care system formulated to intensify all hues. All of our stylist product picks are free of harmful toxins, use natural ingredients, and are made with renewable energy and packaging that minimizes the environmental impact. Our hair care isn’t just good for your hair, it’s good for the planet.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor