What Color Highlights Are Best for Red Hair?

Nicole Kidman sports blond highlights at the 2011 screening of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Highlights are perfect for adding some sizzle to a monochromatic ‘do. But the complexion of a redhead can sometimes be, well, a little complex! Finding the right shade of highlights for your ginger tresses requires you to take a good look at your base hair color and your skin tones. Once you know the colors that will flatter you the most, you’re well on your way to a head of radiantly colored hair.

Warm or Cool?

Though most redheads have cool skintones, some fall into the “warm” category. If your hair is naturally bright red, and your cheeks turn a vibrant shade of beet red when you blush, you’re probably cool-toned. Cool-toned ladies also tend to have light blue, green or gray eyes. If your natural hair color is golden red, deep auburn or nearly brown, you may have warm skin — meaning you have yellow or peachy undertones. Warm-skinned ladies typically have brown or hazel eyes.

Highlights for Cool Skin

Cool-skinned ladies look best with colors that share their undertones: blue, red and violet. No, you don’t have to streak your hair with lilac highlights to look stunning (unless you want to, of course). Common shades like platinum, ash blond and strawberry blond all contain cool undertones. Stay away from brassy shades with orange or yellow tones — these can wind up looking unnatural against your porcelain skin.

Highlights for Warm Skin

Warm-skinned redheads may have a more diverse array of options when it comes to highlighting. Generally, rich, yellowish hues like amber, gold and honey will blend well with both your skin and hair. If your base color is dark red, opt for darker highlights: Think coppery red or golden brown. Any shade that shares peach or golden tones is bound to look pretty on you. Avoid harsh reds and burgundies, however. Any shade with strong red or blue hues can add a sallow dimension to your golden skin.

Other Considerations

Anyone who opts for highlights, regardless of skin or hair color, should follow one basic rule: Never go more than two shades lighter than your base color. A too-light shade will look fake, and it may possibly wash out your fair skin. Remember, highlights are supposed to accent your hair color, not change it or cover it up. Also, if you’re doing highlights at home, keep them thin, randomly placed and well-blended into your hair. The biggest no-no of home highlighting is painting on chunky, obvious streaks.

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