It’s somehow already September (unclear how that happened), which has us busting out the fall candles and ordering chunky sweaters. But perhaps our favorite way to mark the change of seasons is with a fresh hair color. With salons continuously reopening across the country—hallelujah—maybe this is the first time you’ll be getting your hair done since pre-Covid. Or, maybe you’re just ready to mix it up a bit and try something new.
So, to help get your inspo flowing, we asked top colorists to share their favorite fall shades. From subtle highlights to super-chunky streaks and warm, caramel colors to deep, dark brunette shades, there is something on this list for everyone. And hey, if you’re not yet ready or can’t get to the salon, no stress—these trendy hues aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. For those ready to get your hair dyed by a professional, scroll on and screenshot away before your next appointment.
“This lived-in look is my favorite fall trend,” says Kristen Fleming, color director at Chicago’s 3rd Coast Salon. With more roots showing and subdued highlights that are closer to your natural color, the grow out is intentional but still soft—ideal for these uncertain times when you may want your hair color to last longer, she says. A few brighter pieces can be added through the ends to further play up the grown-out effect, and this actually works on more than just blondes. A similar effect can be created on pretty much any hair color, she adds.
This isn’t a full-on purple shade, but rather a brunette with subtle and muted violet undertones. It makes the brown look rich and chocolate-y, and because violet has both cool and warm undertones, it’s flattering on all complexions, explains Rex Jimieson, color educator and colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. Talk to your colorist to determine exactly how purple you want to go, as it will largely depend on both the base brunette shade you’re starting with and how much maintenance you can commit to.
“Fall is all about warmth. We’re seeing less silver and ashy tones, and more burnt caramels, golds, and coppers woven through the hair,” says Fleming. The other benefit? Warm hair color generally makes your complexion look more youthful and glowy, she adds. The one downside: These tones tend to fade quickly, so she recommends asking your colorist about an at-home color-depositing product to help maintain vibrancy.
Looking to really make a statement with your color? Try this jewel tone, a great pick for those who want an intense, fun shade, says Fleming. A few things to keep in mind: One, it’s best (and easiest) achieved on natural redheads and brunettes. Two, make sure you’re ready to commit; it can be tough to get this red color out of the hair if you’re not entirely happy with it, Fleming notes. And three, be prepared for some upkeep, namely visiting the salon for a color-refreshing gloss every four to five weeks and using a red toning conditioner at-home a few times per week to keep your ruby hue fresh and fiery.
According to Jimieson, this statement-worthy color is making a comeback this season. At the risk of pulling a Captain Obvious, it’s best reserved for those who have naturally medium or dark brown hair to begin with. You can then go one of two ways. Option one: Ask for an all-over, demi-permanent black color. Not only does a demi-permanent dye job look deep and solid, but since it will gradually wash out, it’s fairly low commitment, says Jimieson. Or, to keep the overall look slightly softer, ask your colorist to add in deep, espresso-hued highlights throughout, rather than going completely solid, he says.
Dramatic Face Framing
The ‘90s are back in a big way, and chunky highlights are proof. “A bold and chunky face frame is great for anyone who wants something fun and edgier,” Fleming explains. It can also be done with any color, though creating that stark contrast is key—think dark brown with bright blonde front pieces, or blonde with a unicorn pink face frame. One word on upkeep: Your newly-colored face framing pieces will likely need a little extra TLC, so talk to your colorist about what kind of toning products are best to use to keep it looking fresh, suggests Fleming.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this is the most natural option of the bunch, even more subdued than undone blonde. Ask for very minimal highlights that are no more than a shade or two lighter than your base, says Fleming. It creates a bit of dimension, but requires little to no upkeep, a great move for those who have never colored their hair before, and/or want to drastically minimize trips to the salon. Plus, it works beautifully for brunettes and redheads who may not want to drastically change their color, but do want a little bit of an added pop.
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