08/06/2013 12:12 EDT | Updated 10/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Colour change: Tips on selecting the right hue and protecting your hair

TORONTO - A new hue or highlights offer the promise of an instant hair makeover, but the vast range of colouring options may make whittling down the choices a challenge.

Luis Pacheco is a Clairol consulting colourist and founder of Hair on the Avenue in Toronto. He shares tips on selecting the right shade and achieving a popular colouring technique, and offers advice on safeguarding your dyed 'do in the summer months.

1. Take your skin tone into consideration. "Skin tone is the deciding factor as far as tones go," said Pacheco. "Warm skin tones, warm hair colour, cool skin tones, cool hair colour, and then take it from there.

"After three months of a long Canadian winter, hair tends to go a little dull and ashens a little bit due to lack of sun," he added. "Warming up your hair colour with gold tones, just like those nice, rich golden tones will help you get out of that seasonal funk."

So how do individuals assess whether they fall in the warm or cool category? Pacheco said a quick glance at the veins on the inside fold of the arm can help make the determination.

"If they show green, then you're a warm skin tone, and if they show blue then you're of a cool skin tone."

According to "Know Your Starting Hair Colour & Tone" an online guide from Clairol, there are a number of different skin tone and eye colour combinations that fall into the warm colouring category. They include: golden olive skin with black hair and brown eyes, golden brown hair with fair skin and hazel eyes and golden blond hair with fair, peachy skin and blue eyes. Redheads also tend to generally fall into the warm colour category.

Those who look better in peach than pink and gold jewelry versus silver are also likely warm, the guide said. Keeping an eye out for words like "golden," "bronze" and "copper" may be beneficial in determining if the shade in question will complement your warm colouring.

According to the Clairol guide, individuals who have dark hair with fair skin and blue eyes, blond hair with fair, rosy skin and blue eyes and dark to black skin with black hair and deep brown eyes are in the cool category.

Individuals who look better in navy versus camel hues and silver versus gold are also likely cool, and best suited to colours in the blue/violet family. The guide said words such as "ash," "platinum" and "champagne" are helpful in determining if specific shades will complement cool colouring.

2. Seeking shade? Consider ombre. The dip-dyed look of ombre — a gradiation or colour from dark to light — remains a hot hair trend for those seeking eye-catching accents for their locks.

Pacheco described supermodel Gisele Bundchen as "probably the epitome of ombre perfection" with her "effortless and natural-looking" head of hair, distinctive for its lengthy, sunkissed waves.

For those seeking a more subtle approach to ombre, Pacheco offered his take on a technique dubbed "Colour Tapestry."

He recommended sectioning the hair from the middle of the forehead to the nape of the neck, taking vertical sections and spinning them in spirals. Then, apply a colour that's about three levels lighter than the hair's natural hue to the outer layer of the locks roughly two-thirds of the way up the length of the hair (or to the desired height). Allow the colour to process within the twisted, spiralled sections, then wash out.

"By just applying the colour to the outer layer of that curl, when that curl unfolds, you would get that spiral of hair colour as well," he said. "You'd create a degradation of hair colour from top to bottom."

3. Safeguard your hair. Looking to lengthen the life of your coloured locks? Be conscious of time spent soaking in the rays.

"Being outdoors, the longevity of your hair colour will lessen because exposure to the sun will cause quicker fading, so be mindful of the amount of exposure," said Pacheco.

"With that said, go out there and have fun. You don't have to go out there and walk around with a parasol or anything. But that would be the biggest complaint, I guess, when it comes to hair colour."

Wearing a hat while outdoors and less frequent washing are also ways to help preserve colour, Pacheco noted. Also, consider applying conditioner to your strands prior to taking a dip into the lake or a chlorinated pool to help create a certain level of barrier against the elements, he suggested.

Individuals may also want to dial back on use of styling tools during the warmer months.

"Summertime is a great way to take advantage of our humidity — yes, I did say take advantage of the humidity," said Pacheco.

"If your hair is curly, embrace it. Try not to heat-style it, blow dry it, straighten with curling irons and all that.... Just really embrace what your hair looks like naturally. And by doing so, you will avoid any of the consequences that come with excessive styling."



Hair on the Avenue:

Clairol Guide: Know Your Starting Hair Colour and Tone: