How to Have Healthy and Shiny Dark Hair

Dark hair shades can be like precious gemstones — with the right cut and color, they look understated and still dramatic. While brunette and black shades might be lower maintenance than blondes and reds, dark hair colors do require some upkeep to maximize shine and dimension. Follow these expert tips to keep your rich hair color looking like a jewel.

Stay Dark and Lovely

While fading isn't as much of a concern as it is for other shades, dark hair can suffer some washout. "Oxidation is inevitable, but there are some things you can do to keep brunette shades deep and rich for as long as possible," says Kyle White, lead colorist at New York City's Oscar Blandi Salon.

Start with a color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner, like ARTec Coco Bean or Blue Orchid. And keep your hair covered when you're out in the sun. "Nothing fades dark hair color faster than sun exposure," says White. "Fifty hours of sun is equal to 30 minutes of bleach, so I say protect your hair year-round."

Color Without Fear

The upside to going dark is that it doesn't require damaging ammonia and peroxide to lift the cuticle (the outer layer of the hair), as going lighter would. Dyeing your hair a darker shade can even leave strands healthier than before you hit the bottle, because the color often contains conditioning ingredients that strengthen hair, says Jet Rhys, the owner of Jet Rhys Salons in San Diego.

"Opt for a vegetable dye or semipermanent hair color with emollients and proteins for hydrated hair that shines," says White. Use a product specifically tailored for brunette and auburn hair, such as Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color.

Create Contrast

Prevent dark hair color from overwhelming your complexion by adding a few subtle highlights around the face. Creating the effect of sunlight hitting strands will prevent deep hair color from looking too heavy. "Stay within three shades of your natural color," advises celebrity colorist Jennifer J. This means brown and amber tones should be highlighted with dark caramel and honey tones, while black hair looks best with cinnamon and deep brown highlights. Try L'Oréal Paris Touch–On Highlights to create subtle dimension.

Seal the Deal

"Brunettes have a lot of shine already, but a color-enhancing gloss adds even more enviable shine and seals in color so that it stays fresh longer," says White. Rich gloss shades like espresso, chocolate brown, and mahogany add depth and dimension as well. Try John Freida Clear Shine Luminous Glaze or Redken Color Extend Shine Enrich.

Slay Grays

If dark hair color has one buzzkill, it's gray hair. These pesky strands look more obvious in the middle of dark hair, and thus require diligent touch-ups. "Before each coloring," says Jennifer J, "decide whether you can apply color just to the roots to cover gray, or whether you need to pull the color through to the midlength or ends for an overall refresh."

Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-Up has been a longtime favorite of stylists for covering gray roots, or you might like an on-the-go product like Gray Away Root Concealer or Generation Klean Gray Disappear.

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