brunette and blonde models in white robes backstage at fashion week

The definitive guide to updating your hair colour

Our handy how-to will make picking your new colour a breeze

By Shannon Wilson, 12 April 2016
The definitive guide to updating your hair colour

Know your bronde from your sombré and your ombré from your balayage? Let’s face it – picking a new hair colour can be a bit of a minfield. With spring in the air it’s high time to update your 'do, but where should you start? From skin tone to eye colour, our handy guide will help you find the most flattering hair colour to suit your complexion – minus the stress.

The colour of your veins can also help you to determine if you have cool or warm skin tones. If your veins look like they are blue, then your undertone is cool. If your veins look greenish, then your skin tone will be warm.

Rule 1. Start with skin tone

Skin tone is one of the biggest indicators for which hair colour will suit you. Hair colour should not only compliment your skin tone, but work to bring out your natural colouring and enhance your complexion.

But first need to determine your skin tone. Fear not - there are a number of different ways to do this:

1. Without makeup, stand in natural lighting against a neutral backdrop while wearing neutral or white coloured clothing. Looking closely at your skin: determine if it has warm, yellow or reddish tones, or cooler, neutral or pink undertones. There may be slight variations in your tone, but remember you are looking for the dominant one.

2. Roll up your sleeves and look at the inside of your wrists. If your veins look like they are blue, then your undertone is cool. If your veins look like they are green, then your undertone will be warm.

3. Lastly, you can determine your skin tone via a paper test. To do this, you will need a piece of paper in yellow, red, white, green, silver and blue. One at a time, hold each piece of paper next to your face. If your skin looks better with the red and yellow sheets of paper then you are warmer toned. If your skin looks better with the white, green, silver and blue sheets of paper then you are cooler toned.

Once you’ve discovered your skin tone, you might be tempted to match your new hair colour directly to your complexion. However, although this can work, it can often leave you looking washed out. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Aveda Colour Expert at the Aveda Institute in London, Bruno Ellorrioroz says to add life to your look by contrasting your hair colour instead. So if you have a warmer skin tone, go for the opposite and introduce cooler tones into your hair. If you have a paler skin tone, go for warmer undertones. 

Rule 2. Consider eye colour

Generally you should select your hair colour using the same tonality as your eye hue. For example, if you have rich brown or hazel eyes, darker more rich undertones such as mahogany reds and gold should suit you. On the opposite side, if you have blue or grey eyes, hair colours with cooler tones like light gold or ash could work well.

Rule 3. Try it with make-up

A great hack is to turn to your make-up for inspiration, as your make-up will provide vital clues as to what colours will suit you. For example, do you usually go for pink or coral blush, or do you prefer a golden bronzer? Does black eyeliner make you look more goth than chic, or do you like to branch out with colourful eyeshadows? How each of these products suit your face will determine how they will suit your hair. You can use this trick to 'try out' a new colour before you buy, by painting your nails or using a similar shade as eye shadow or lipstick. You might not be able to replicate a colour exactly, but this is a handy hack for seeing if a certain shade or tone suits your complexion.

Rule 4. Consider the full spectrum of your hair colour


The pros: Brown is a great colour option for most people as there's a shade to suit almost every skin type, from auburn and caramel to chocolate expresso. As a colour, brown is ideal for those seeking a more low maintanence do, as no matter your natural colour, brown shows less regrowth. Brown is also a great choice for damaged hair as it reflects light well, helping your hair to look fuller and healthier. Magic!

If you have cool tones, opt for a medium brown or brown with red undertones.

If you have warm tones, go for medium or dark shades of brown like caramel or chocolate.


The pros: Red is a really versatile statement colour that is great for making your skin the star of the show.

If you have cooler skin, opt for a lighter red with golden or copper undertones like a strawberry blonde.

If you have warmer skin, choose a medium shade like a fiery auburn.


The pros: Blonde hair is a great choice if you have a cooler or medium skin tone, as it really helps to brightens your complexion and stops you from looking too washed out.

If you have cool tones, opt for golden undertones to stop you looking washed out.

If you have warm tones, caramel hues can look lovely, as can ashy or lighter shades. 


The pros: Black hair can look fantastic on warmer skin tones. Choose this colour if you really want to make a statement.

If you have a cool skin tone, opt for a very light chocolate black otherwise your risk looking wiped out.

If you have warmer skin, blue or purple blacks can really pack a punch. 

Rule 5. Less is more

Trends are all well and good, but don’t feel ruled by them as they don't suit everyone. Instead, introduce new shades slowly with softer looks such as 'sombré' (soft ombré) and 'cinnamon swirl'. That way, if you love your new hair you can add more next time, but if you don’t then you can always go back to your original hue with less hassle.

Can't wait to get started? Check out Asda's great selection of home hair colour kits.