Hair color, as we know it in the Philippines, used to be one thing for the longest time: follow your skin color. Typically, the "parlor," as it is customarily called where we're from, will dictate what box color we should crack open today to slather onto our stubbornly dark hair. Box says honey blonde? Sure, lay it on thick, sis. If it looks good on Jessica Alba, it will look good on you. But times are changing, and we want to be more experimental with our colors. And, we're now aware of the power of bleach and that you can actually, seriously go proper blonde. And also, we're discovering that, no, not all brown-skinned people are alike in undertone…and everything else. So as we now crack open bottles of at-home pastel dyes and new-and-improved box color formulas (now in bubble shampoo formula!), let's go back to beauty school basics and review: how to pick a hair color for your skin tone—medium, specifically—according to basic color theory. Shall we begin?
First things first, we already know what spectrum we are on the skin color zone, and it's medium. But for every skin tone, there’s also an undertone profile. If I could draw it in a chart, I would. Just for context, the skin color spectrum goes from light to medium (that’s you) to deep. Medium gals usually tan well, or if you're a lucky one, you get the "I love your tan" compliment year-round. Congrats on winning the genetic lottery! In any case, all of us medium girls aren't the same! We all also fall under specific undertones, which is what can specifically dictate what color hair we should do next. We'll go into detail for each undertone, but whether you may be cool, warm, or neutral, remember an oft-forgotten rule of thumb when it comes to choosing a hair color: go for a shade that balances out your undertone.
Hair colors for cool-toned medium skin
You're tan but with a little beige-y, even pinkish undertone and most "medium" foundations may look a little yellowish on you so you tend to mix with lighter shades. This means you have medium skin with a cool undertone—rare you may be, but FYI, you can wear a loooot of fun hair colors out there.
If we're talking a regular brown hue, it has to be cool or neutral at most. A deep blue-black will look awesome on you without ageing you too much, unlike if worn by another skin tone. If you want to go a warm, choose a rich chocolate brown: just the right kind of warmth and depth for your skin tone.
Your color allows you to rock a platinum blonde, although you might have to work harder with the makeup as it can wash you out a bit. If you want an easy to wear light hue, go with an ash blonde on the deeper side. Whether you’re going icy or ashy, make sure to keep a bottle of purple conditioner in your shower to keep the brassiness away. Unlike your light-skinned counterparts, orangey hues don’t necessarily work for you as you have a deeper base color.
More fun choices can be an eggplant-hued violet or burgundy. Luckily you can choose a lot of fun shades from teal to magenta to green because it works well with your undertone. Always choose something in the blue-purple-green spectrum.
Hair colors for neutral-toned medium skin
Olive skin is the middle of the medium skin spectrum, and most people in this section have an olive undertone. It’s a greenish tint that tans pretty well—not Shrek green, but think a color that’s tan but not naturally warm. Typically, people born with olive skin may have dark under eyes as well.
Work your skintone using warm shades and avoiding icy blonde or blue colors. Copper tints may not work so well with your skin as they may bring out the green in your skin, making you look a bit too pale. Try a neutral or ashy blonde with a deeper base color.
You can play around with a lot of brown hues as they compliment your skin the best. A cool dark brown works best for you. Play around with ash blonde highlights for a beach-babe look.
Because you have a particular skintone, you can avoid looking too harsh with a crazy color by doing an ombre with your natural hair color or balayage with a deep brown as base. With that as your canvas, you can play around with purples or blues, or any color actually—you’ll just have to work harder with your clothes and makeup.
Hair colors for warm-toned medium skin
Those who look like they have a year-round tan are the warm-toned gals! Go for contrast if you have this undertone of skin as they let your color really glow more than it already does.
Go for darker hues or a balayage with brown undertones—going one-dimensional in the blonde department may make you look a bit washed out with all the uniform color going on. Either go light with coppery blonde or a dark brown-blonde balayage, but not ash blonde. Think of a Beyoncé or Jessica Alba blonde.
You can play a lot with this section, as is usual with medium skin-toned people. Just avoid blue, gray, or outright black hair as it can age you or make you lose that natural warmth. It's also a bit unnatural on your coloring, and not in a good way. If you want to go a bit warmer with a bit of caution, try a dark auburn.
If you have a true warm tone, copper will work best with your skin. A strawberry blonde might look a little too light, but go with deep rusty hues or deep ginger hair. You can absolutely wear a lot of crazy fun hues, but stay away from one-dimensional color—no DIY for you, sadly, if you want it to look good. Ask for a colormelt—a sort of cross between ombré and balayage that will work best with the most natural base color for you and highlight with all the fun colors such as greens, reds, magentas. If you do choose to go mermaid hair, stay on the darker side of the pastel spectrum.