Nothing makes a more noticeable difference in how youthful hair looks than color. And it’s not just because hair color can cover grays - even if you still have your natural color, that color gradually fades with age as the production of melanin (the pigment that gives hair its depth of color) declines. Once production of melanin decreases to a critical level, hair begins to turn gray.
The Cold, Hard Facts By age 50, half of us will be 50% gray. And that fading comes with side effects. When melanin is present, it absorbs UV rays; in its absence, your hair’s protein absorbs them, which damages and weakens strands. Melanin also boosts shine; less of it means duller hair.
The right hair color can reinstate that natural vibrancy, taking years off your face; the wrong color, though, can have the opposite effect, so careful selection is key. “Really dramatic colors tend to look too severe,” says Rita Hazan, owner of the eponymous New York City salon. “The contrast ages you by highlighting every flaw.”
Color-Selection Tips Darkness against a light scalp makes thinning more visible; plus, when grays make a sudden appearance, dark shades make them seem even more prominent. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible to go too light. Light blonde shades can wash out your complexion, requiring more makeup to brighten your features. If your hair has always been dark, now is the time to go two or three shades lighter with permanent color, opting for a warm hue.
For example, if you are naturally a cool, dark brown, choose a creamier chocolate instead. Adding in a few highlights around your face can help warm things up, too. If you are (or want to be) blonde, a bit of contrast can give your skin a healthier glow. Add in some deeper, caramel lowlights and choose a color that’s brightening.
If you’re going auburn, the same rules apply: stay within a few tones of your natural shade. The only caveat: auburn may require more upkeep. Red dye’s small molecules leach out more quickly than those of any other hue.
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