Should I dye my hair lighter or darker? A pro hair colorist helps you decide

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  • To decide whether you should go lighter or darker, a key factor to consider is whether you’re willing to undergo an aggressive process such as bleaching.
  • If your hair is dark and you want to lighten it, you will have to bleach it, and it’ll suffer the process. If your hair is light, you may apply dark hair dye without any problems.
  • You also have to consider your skin tone and hair type. I’ll give you a detailed guide to know exactly when to lighten or darken your hair.


To lighten or to darken, that is the question.

However, in hair matters, Shakespeare’s poetry doesn’t always answer your questions.


The first thing you have to consider is that  if your hair is dark (black or dark brown), and you want to lighten it two or three shades, hair dye alone won’t help you do it. 

Tone-on-tone hair coloring doesn’t lighten the hair. What should you do?


To bleach your hair, which is a very aggressive chemical process.

If you’re willing to bleach your hair, there’s still one more step you have to consider, which is whether your hair is healthy enough to stand the process.

On the one hand, if your hair is weak and brittle, frizzy, or rough to the touch, you won’t be able to bleach it.


On the other hand, you should think about your expectations regarding lighter or darker hair color.


So much lies beneath the decision to lighten or to darken your hair! It seems to be simple, but it isn’t.

Therefore, and to help you make a decision, I’ll tell you:

  • How to decide whether to lighten or darken your hair according to your skin tone.
  • Coloring your hair lighter or darker according to your hair type.

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Are you ready to take the, possibly, most important decision in your life?


How to decide whether to lighten or darken your hair according to your skin tone

There are three skin tones: warm, cool, and neutral. How can you know what your skin tone is to decide whether to lighten or darken your hair?

It’s very simple: through observation.


  • Warm skin tone.


Look closely at the veins in your wrists. If they’re green, your skin is warm. And, as you probably already know, it tends to get a tan quickly under the sun. You must consider those when deciding on a lighter or darker color.


I advise you to choose warm colors for your hair.  For example, if you have black hair, you can go for lightening it into the browns, such as chocolate or caramel   instead of mahogany brown.

If your hair is brown, you could lighten it with gold or even dark blonde highlights.

If your hair is light-colored, try to avoid colors such as blue, purple, or jet black.


  • Cool skin tone.

cold skin

When you look at your wrists, are your veins blue? Does your skin turn red when you’re out in the sun for long?


Then, you’re cool-toned. It means that  you have to look for cool colors for your hair. For example, mahogany or brown,  will be your best bet.

If your hair is light, you can choose a burgundy color or ash brown highlights, but avoid gold colors.


  • Neutral skin tone.

subtle waves

If you notice that your veins are bluish with a greenish shade or greenish with a bluish shade, your skin tone is neutral, and it’s excellent news because you can both lighten and darken your hair.


If your hair’s light, you can go for a dark brown and  add a few honey highlights to enhance the shine in your hair and benefit your skin tone. 

You may also get a few dark highlights to add volume and depth to your hair without giving up your light color.


Would you like to darken your hair without coloring it all?

You may go for ombre, i.e., the hair color is darker on top and lighter at the ends.


Choosing a darker or lighter hair dye according to your hair type

dark roots and light ends

When choosing whether to lighten or darken your hair, you must consider two factors: the color adapts to your skin tone and hair type.

Do you want some general tips?


  • If your hair is damaged, avoid very light colors because the coloring and bleaching process could damage it further.

Also, damaged hair is more porous. So, it’ll possibly suck up the dye pigments better, but it’ll also expel them easier.


  • Dark and warm colors tend to last longer in naturally dark hair.


  • If your hair is fine and dark, go up to two colors lighter. Otherwise, too many bleaching sessions may make the hair fiber thinner and, finally, break.


  • If your hair’s curly, light colors emphasize the rebel texture. You can choose darker colors and combine them with light highlights.



To decide whether you should lighten or darken your hair, you must define if you’re willing to put your hair fiber under aggressive chemical processes, such as bleaching.

You must also consider your skin tone for your new color to benefit your features and conceal your less attractive areas.

Now, tell me, will you lighten or darken your hair?

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