Here's *Exactly* What Highlights You Should Get Based on Your Coloring

A mathematical formula of sorts.

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

Deciding to highlight your hair is a big step. Deciding what kind of highlights you want is another big step. But sometimes, when you sit in that salon chair with a stylist rifling through your hair as if there are, in fact, actual secrets hidden in there, you can become flustered—and confused. Suddenly caramel could mean honey blonde and honey blonde can translate into bleach and oh god, what DID YOU JUST DO? To prevent the worst from happening—and get the best, head-turning highlights ever, we caught up with Tre Wyrosdick of Marie Lou and D salon in Soho for the *exact* formula for peak highlight perfection. Praise.

cognac milk chocolate

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

"For people who have a deep skin tone and darker hair color, it would be wise to keep the color on the deeper, richer side," says Wyrosdick. "It is often quite tricky to achieve a lighter and cooler color on these deeply hued strands, as they tend to pull red as you lighten them." For warmer complexions, go for cognac, maple and milk chocolate. Plum is also a great choice. 

butterscotch caramel

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

"Medium complexions usually have the most versatility as they sit in the middle of the spectrum and encompass the most shade diversity," says Wyrosdick. "Eye color and complexion play a key role in determining the perfect pairing. For women with a warmer skin tone, hazel or green eyes and deeper hair color, maple, butterscotch, honey, and caramel tones play really well with their complexion and make their eyes appear brighter."

red copper coffee

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

For those with warm medium skin and olive complexions with dark hair and eyes, coffee hues are best. "For the daring, red and coppery red can be an amazing life-changing option," says Wyrosdick. 

beige blonde

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

"Medium complexions that lean towards the cooler side do well with beige blondes, taupes, and sandy blondes," says Wyrosdick.

peachy golden

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

"Ladies with warmer skin tones tend to have a lighter natural hair color and look great in flaxen shades of soft natural golden, beachy blondes and peachy or apricot blonde," says Wyrosdick.


(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

Different shades of honey look great in dark hair with a warm fair complexion. 

platinum vanilla

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

"A cooler complexion with blue or light eyes can really pull of icy shades of blonde like platinum and vanilla that are often difficult to achieve with warmer skin and eye color," says Wyrosdick. 

soft red

(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

While honeys and cognacs could work, for those with an inclination to go red,  lean towards crimson and cranberry to offset your cooler skin tone. 

But while hopefully this gave you the blueprint to amazing hair, don't be afraid to yes—actually talk to your stylist. "A good colorist should always take the time to discuss the shade suitability and maintenance with every client to ensure her desired color fits her lifestyle," Wyrosdick emphasizes. "Some shades, especially red or lighter shades on darker bases, require more salon visits and more frequent maintenance. Great hair color can make your complexion brighter and more youthful."

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Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.