Author: Diana Pemberton - Sikes

Given all these choices, the biggest question women now face is What is best for me? But before taking the leap consider this: Select a colour to match with your eye colour and skin tone.

In general, cool skin and eye tones are best complemented with cool or ash shades. Warm, golden skin and eye tones look most natural with warm hair colours. Any colour can be warm or cool, depending on its primary base.

Natural colours
If you prefer a natural look, stick with a few shades of your natural hair colour. Go a bit lighter or darker. Also, the father you move away from your natural hair colour, the more obvious your roots will be as they grow out.

As for colour categories, temporaries wash-out, semi-permanent shades slowly fade in four to six weeks and permanent colours are just that. So, if youre certain you like the colour, only then choose a permanent one.

The condition of your hair also matters. If your hair is premed or relaxed, semi-permanent colour is an advantageous choice because its gentler on hair thats been previously exposed to chemicals.

The semi-permanent or long-lasting semi-permanent colours - the newest colour category, combine gentleness with long- lasting shades providing one of the best choices. And if youre just experimenting, sheer or slightly tinted colour glossers add a healthy sheen and shine without noticeably altering your natural colour.

Read hair colour instructions carefully, if youve made a mistake, dont hide under a hat for months. Salons have colour removers that take you right back to where you started, where hopefully, history wont repeat itself.

Understanding basic hair colouring
Most unwanted hair colour disaters are due to the lack of understanding of the basic hair "laws" of colour and application.

Rules of hair colour
Hair colour is not hair paint. Colour as we perceive it, is actually the reflection of light off the coloured pigments in the hairshaft. This reflection is what we see as colour.

The shade of colour is made of different combinations of reflections of light off the coloured pigments. This is why hair colour appears different under fluorescent lights than is natural sunlight whether it is natural colour or from a bottle.

Types of hair colour
There are several types of hair colour: Permanent hair colour. This makes a permanent change in the pigment of the hairshaft. It does not wash out. It will fade in time, but it cannot be simply removed to bring back your natural colour. All hair that has been coloured in this manner has the natural colour pigments irreversibly chemically altered. The altered hairshaft pigments can be correctively coloured back close to the original colour.

Single process colour
Single process means that the colour is lifted and deposited in one step.

This type can cover grey and goes darker but cannot lighten. It lasts for varying lengths of time depending on the product.

Deposit only colour
This deposits colour into the hair. There are many varieties in the market for the home user. These are user-friendly and usually condition and colour in one step. Glazes or translucent colours are among the easiest to start with. Most use very low peroxide to activate them.

Do your homework before you colour
You must be perfectly honest to yourself before venturing into this exercise and study the facts about hair colouring. If you are very dark-haired and want to be a blonde, forget home colouring.

Always do a strand test
A strand test is the only reliable way to preview the new shade. At this time adjustments can be made to the hair colour formula by either adding or subtracting colours to enhance or cancel different undertones in the test strands.

Do not be afraid of doing more than one test strand and always do it on uncloured hair. The length of time that the colour mixture is left on can also be varied to change results. Always thoroughly dry the test strand to check for proper colour and breakage/damage. Do not attempt to colour hair that has had henna or metallic dyes used on it.