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Ash Blonde vs. Ash Brown: Which "Cool" Color Is For You?

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How to tell if ash blonde or ash brown is for you

Cool down.

With fall just around the corner, there's no better way to beat the end-of-summer blues than by updating your look with a trendy new haircolor. Even if you don't want to take the plunge and go from light to dark (or vise-versa!) there's a subtle way to change up your look that can give you dramatic results. Take a cue from the weather this season and cool things down, opting for an ashier version of a hue you already love. But between ash blonde and ash brown, which is best for you? Let us help you decide.

The 411 On Ashy Tones

Ashy-when we're talking hair-refers to the undertones of the haircolor, as opposed to how light or dark the shade is. Whether your hair is the darkest brunette or the palest blonde, if it's ashy it lacks the warmth present in golden-toned haircolors and instead, gives off hints of steely blues, violets, greys, and even greens when in direct sunlight. Simply put, cool hair looks best on cool skin tones. (Side Note: The usual indicators of a cool skin tone are bluish-tinted veins and skin that looks best with silver jewelry.)

Now that you've determined whether or not ashy tones are for you, it's time to make an appointment with the pros. When it comes to ashy tones you'll want an expert to make sure you walk away with hair that has zero brass but lots of shine. Since ashy tones can often fall flat and appear to be dull, adding a little texture care of a curling iron and giving it a little TLC with hair oils and deep conditioners is key.

Now, for the main event. Blonde or brown?

The Haircolor: Ash Blonde

From ice to champagne, ash blondes give off that same cool vibe of silver haircolor without having to commit to going grey. Unlike buttery blondes, which look amazing on tanned skin, ash blonde pairs well with the paler complexion you may have come fall and winter. While beautiful, ash blonde requires daily care. Taking out warmth from blonde hair can be drying, so you'll want to make sure you keep hydrating shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair on hand. Plus, to keep brassiness away, reach for purple toners like Vitamino Color A·OX Color Corrector. This color-depositing cream can be used in place of your conditioner and helps to protect ash blondes from yellow tones and brassiness, leaving your hair cool and bright.

To get the look, celebrity hairdresser and L'Oréal Professionnel Artist Jason Backe says you can go one of two roads: "The old school double process route or you can bleach and tone over the hair with a hint of violet." He recommends asking your hairdresser about Pro Fiber to help maintain the integrity and health of your hair when going ashy. Note: It's easier to achieve and maintain ash blonde if you already have a lighter base color.

The Haircolor: Ash Brown

Ash brown is great for brunettes who want to cool down some of the warmth from the summer and try something different without drastically changing their haircolor. Just like ash blond, ash brown can be as dark or as light as you like within the spectrum of the base color. The common denominator here is that there are no reddish undertones or tints-which can be difficult to achieve as copper naturally exists within a strand of brunette hair. This is why it's best to trust your haircolor to the professionals. Not only can the pros ensure that your brunette is ashy and cool-toned, they can also work with you to find the best shade of brown to play up your features. For added movement ask your hairdresser to add long layers to your haircut or even to add a few lighter highlights throughout your hair to break up the universal color.

To keep the brassiness at bay, experts suggest reaching for purple toners-yes, those same must-have conditioners for blondes-and using them once a week. To amp up shine, use weekly deep conditioning masks that can keep your hair hydrated and consider booking glosses in between single process appointments. "[Glosses] are a great way to color-correct quickly, since they are neutralizers," explains hairdresser and L'Oréal Professionnel Artist DJ McGinley.

The Verdict: If you have cool undertones in your skin, you almost can't go wrong when picking from these "cool" colors. Ashy tones lend well to some of the season's best makeup trends-think: striking currant-colored lipsticks, bronze smoky eyes, and bold brows. If you're looking for a subtle way to change your look for fall, ask your hairdresser for ash!

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