It's an interesting alchemy that's often overlooked: the effect of your hair color on your complexion. But believe it or not, the right color can brighten your face, even out skin tone, make it look as if you're bathed in candlelight (rather than harsh fluorescents). To prove it, we rounded up four gorgeous women whose hair color wasn't doing their skin any favors. We brought our recruits to Frederic Fekkai's Fifth Avenue New York City salon and introduced them to Frederic and his creative director, Tammy Sherman. The two quickly pinpointed where each woman hd gone wrong with her hair color and set about to make things right. Find out how the process worked—and how to make it work for you.
Donna Bunte, 48: Coppery Brown
The Challenge: Donna characterizes her natural hair color as "mousy brown"; she dyes it to get a deeper brunette, sometimes gilding it with golden highlights. Her current color may once have been a lovely hazelnut, Frédéric mused, but it's taken on an unflattering copper tinge. "Over time, especially if you're in the sun, hair color turns red," he explained. "This can make warm, olive skin like Donna's look sallow."
The Makeover: Sun-Kissed Chestnut
The Fix: To reduce the redness, Tammy gave Donna an allover mocha base color. "The depth of the warm shade will make her skin more radiant and her eye color more intense," she said. She wove sun-kissed highlights around Donna's face to keep the color from looking flat. As Donna admired her new look, Tammy doled out some take-home advice: "From now on, use a styling product that offers UV protection, and for days in the sun, protect the color under a hat."
Makeup Prescription: Donna's new hair color is so vibrant, she should avoid a lot of additional color in her makeup. "Anything too bright could look garish," cautioned Rebecca Restrepo, who did the makeup on these pages. She focused on Donna's eyes with a bronzy amber shadow (Guerlain Ombre Eclat Duo & Liner in L'heure Brune) and dabbed corals on her cheeks (Max Factor ColorGenius mineral blush in Peaches) and lips (M.A.C. Slimshine Lipstick in Missy).
Susan Hersh, 45: Flat, Lusterless Gray
The Challenge: When Susan stopped dyeing her hair more than 15 years ago ("I was coloring it platinum—too much upkeep"), she was surprised, not unpleasantly, to learn that she had a shock of luminous silver at the center of her hairline. She never looked back, and let that patch gradually grow into a salt-and-pepper mix. The problem is that white or silver hair that's still sprinkled with dark strands often creates a drab hybrid that can make your skin look dull.
The Makeover: Sparkling Silver
The Fix: "A new cut alone will brighten Susan's hair color, illuminating her complexion along with it," Frédéric said. He trimmed away her darker ends and created layers in the back that blended the white and dark strands into a radiant silvery hue. A clear gloss added shine and softness (hair that has lost pigment tends to be more coarse).
Makeup Prescription: When the hair that frames your face fades to white, it can also sap the color from your complexion, leaving you looking wan and tired. On the plus side: "You have a blank canvas, so it's an opportunity to play with color," said Rebecca. For Susan, she chose a pearly pink lipstick (CoverGirl TruShine Lip Color in Rosy Shine), a rosy blush (Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Blush in Precious Pink), and navy eyeliner (Urban Decay Smoke Out Eye Pencil in Mary Jane).
Katrina Spencer, 32: Stark, Too-Dark Brown
The Challenge: Katrina likes her lush hair to fall well past her shoulders. Depending on her mood (or her time constraints), she'll leave her curls loose or straighten them into a silky, swinging curtain of hair. But the thicker your hair, the more intense your natural color looks—which isn't always a good thing; in Katrina's case, her deep, dark brown has become almost inky. The shade is severe against her skin and does nothing to enhance the honey tones in her complexion.
The Makeover: Lustrous Tortoiseshell
The Fix: Highlights that are too bright look unnatural against dark hair and skin, but ribbons of caramel and cinnamon, woven through the ends of Katrina's hair and around her face, bring a soft golden glow to her skin. A gloss will keep the highlights from turning brassy over time (its effects should last about six weeks).
Makeup Prescription: When your hair and skin have deep color, keep makeup shades understated. To enhance Katrina's skin, Rebecca used bronze tones with a hint of peach—on eyes (M.A.C. Eye Shadow in Honesty), cheeks (Wet 'n' Wild Bronzzer Compact in Medium/Dark), and lips (YSL Rouge Pure Shine Lipstick in Sandy Beige).
Lisa Cooper, 52: Bleached-Out Blonde
The Challenge: Lisa colored her hair for the first time in her 40s. "The blonde was starting to look flat, and I wanted to put some sun back in it," she recalled of her decision to start getting highlights a few times a year. But "Lisa's color has now gotten so blonde that it's almost white," said Frédéric. And that bleached-out look emphasizes the redness and uneven pigmentation in her pale skin.
The Makeover: Shimmering Gold
After Frédéric trimmed away a couple of inches (the ends are always the most faded), Tammy wove different hues of rich gold highlights through Lisa's hair. She uses the balayage technique, painting the color free-form on large chunks of hair rather than using foils and creating many small streaks. "Lisa used to have a lot of very fine highlights, which created a monotone color," explained Tammy. "Thicker highlights mean increased contrast in the hair, which is more flattering to every complexion."
Natural blondes usually have very light lashes and brows, but the pros don't advise dyeing them—the result can look harsh. Instead, to bring out Lisa's eyes, Rebecca darkened her brows a couple of shades with a pencil (Maybelline Expert Eyes Twin Brow & Eye Pencil in Blonde). On her lashes, she topped black mascara with a coat of dark brown for a defining, but not too dramatic, effect. Rebecca used her favorite apricot lip gloss and cheek color (both from Three Custom Color Specialists and dubbed, in her honor, Rebecca's Favorite) to complete the low-key look.
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