I grew out my natural hair color from late '09 to summer '13. I never knew how many facets it had until it was grown out fairly far. At the same time my natural color also seems to be undergoing changes, meaning it is turning more red.
What is surprising, and I think you only see this in natural color, is that my hair can look veryy different depending on the light. Sometimes it looks very dark brown, but in other light almost dark blonde or very orange/ copper. But then other light will make my hair look red enough for people to assume I use a henna gloss or red temporary color of some sort. But my hair is not just auburn, it can look cooler, ashier too or even very pale. Interestingly, my skin color also changes much depending on the light. I can look very pale, but I am not really. More like a really, really light beige.
Why did I grow out my natural color?
With all the extravagant artificial hair colors available, one may wonder why on earth someone would make the effort to grow out a natural brown for years. I started dying my hair early, at around 12 years of age I began experimenting with sun in spray, I tried reddish semi temporary color, and I had a black to very dark brown phase. During that last phase I started questioning my choice to get my hair dyed every month...the roots look especially ugly compared to the dyed hair. Without any make up the color looked harsh, too dark and just too saturated for my skin tone. It was like my hair color was taking attention away from my face and out shining it.
2006 I tried to grow it out and did not dye for a whole year...but the difference between the roots and dye bothered me. I was thinking of trying a more gradual approach by dying it dark brown with henndigo...but it ended up almost black and I was right back where I started. Until 2008 when I ran out of Indigo and gave pure red henna a try. And I loved the result! It made my hair look lighter in a way and evened out the differently colored sections from different dye colors. Over years, I grew out the black dye while using red henna. It gave my hair a dark burgundy color, which I got many, many compliments on...people always asked me what I do to achieve that color.
So why did I not stick with Henna right? ^^ In my late 20's I started thinking about the fact that I had never seen my natural color on my adult face (!!!)...and this thought made me a bit sad. Many of my friends already had plenty of greys and dyed because of that. The natural color is something we only get to enjoy for a limited amount of time. It is a sign of our youth.
Also, Henna was not always a fool proof way to great hair. The red color turned out different depending on the batch of henna, the time I left it on etc. Leaving it on for too long resulted into dry hair for me....not the usual smooth, glossy red.
Henna red was better for my skintone than almost black hair, but to be honest, it did not look "real" either. Especially since it always turned out burgundy for some reason, meaning my hair looked a bit darker.
After much consideration (and a LHC hair color poll! :D ) I decided to just leave my hair be and grow out natural before I go grey.
Natural colors more flattering?
At the time this was a theory I entertained and I believe it is generally right. Your natural hair color will be the most flattering to your skin tone and facial features. Here is why: Nature, God or whatever you believe in, matched our hair, eye, skin, lip and blush color to harmonize. Everything is created in the same color range for example. If you have ash blond hair, your eye lashes and eye brows will look similar, your skin my have cool undertones, your eyes a greyish blue, and your cheeks may be a light rose color. This is a common type in Germany...but you don't see it often. Because women here, don't see the beauty in it. They long for a saturated tan, unusually dark or light hair, a look that is exotic to Germans. So they transform themselves into very different looking women, and sadly often it creates a disharmony. Most often you can see it is not real and to balance out a harsh hair color, they need to add tan, and a good amount of make up.
It can even make a woman look aged in my opinion.
But what happens if a woman embraces this natural look...and well "rocks it"? We see this in many models, that wear undyed, and unstyled hair. It gives the impression the woman is naturally beautiful, without effort. Natural colors are paler, or as I said change with the light. So your hair and skin color will always have just the right amount of contrast depending on the light! Since your hair color is more muted, your eyes and lips will stand out more. Lighter types have lighter eyes and lips! That can literally disappear with too much tan and hair color.
Natural does NOT mean boring
I think this is a popular misconception. But I find it to be very untrue. If you have a great style, no matter if casual or elegant, just a distinct style, wear lovely make up and hairdos, there is no way in hell someone will call you "mousy" just because your hair is not dyed. And don't forget that natural hair usually means healthier hair too! Subtle highlights and lighter ends can look charming in updos. If your natural color is black, your face will glow with the contrast. It really works for every color.
Now I don't want to say dye is bad, no one should dye their hair. As with everything there are exceptions to the rule and if we do it right, it can look good. The same goes for haircolor. There will be colors that can suit you that are not your natural color, BUT it is easy to grab the wrong shade or color. So if you don want a change there are some things you can watch out for.
1. Stay in the same color family, or a similar warmth. Don't stray too far from natural. If you have light brown, ashy hair and want to go darker, do this carefully and consider sticking with an ashy color so it still matches your complexion. Truly ashy colors are hard to find in the world or hair dye! Most carry too much red pigment The best thing is to do some research on brands and go to see a hairstylist. Ask for samples of the color, try the shade as temporary color first if possible before you commit.
If you don't want ashy, but a warmer hair color, try to stick with a fairly light, natural red with some orange tones. Most should avoid a purple or burgundy hue.
What about gold? Golden tones will look flattering to many light complexions, but should not be overdone with yellowish or olive skin as it will make it look sallow.
Colors that are far, far from nature, are also a possibility. An actual purple or lavender can look great or even blue. It can look like an intentional color change. But just like with natural colors cooler or warmer tones matter.
Last but not least, less saturated, less opaque colors can look more natural no matter what shade you chose.
Will I dye again? It is a possibility in the future. For now I am enjoying my natural color though. Should I go for a change I would not alter it much however. I have thought of using Henna, diluted with Cassia which would result into a color that is just a tad more red than my own, but Cassia could add golden tones to it to avoid it looking burgundy. I have also thought of giving manic panic color a try since it supposedly washes out completely, but I'm wary because it may leave a tinge I don't want ;).
I have not used anything on my hair at all these past years. Not even Cassia for the conditioning effect because I'm afraid of a yellow tinge ^^.
Have a look at my natural color in all sorts of light. There seems to be hardly any rule for what makes it look a certain color. Red reflexes can be seen indoors and on cloudy days, but also in sunlight and flash...but in can also look a cooler shade with all these factors ;) Generally both colors are present at all time. Even though my hair looks lighter in some light, it truly is a medium to dark brown.
Remember that my hair or skin color was never changed in these pics, it is the effect of different light. I don't use bronzer or foundation.
flash / flash / no flash
Red tones stand out against black
Cooler color and very pale skin / flash red / golden- neutral and more tan looking skin
Late afternoon red / cloudy afternoon red
sun neutral dark / sun reddish / sun golden neutral
Cloudy day auburn / evening auburn / evening reddish
Afternoon dark neutral / noon pale neutral / afternoon dark auburn
afternoon neutral / noon super pale and cool / afternoon very cloudy day red
Early noon reddish / cloudy day very pale and warm brown / noon neutral and beige skin
You see I get different colors at the same time of day or even from that same angle. I think in general it just has to do with how my hair captures light at that moment.
Natural color and Henna between 2007-2012
2007 Pre Henna, first attempt at growing out. I got to about jaw length.
2009, Henna looking darker in some light and more red in other light, weird selfie sorry ^^
Early 2010, messy roots with orange, yellow and burgundy colors/ roots all grown out
Oct 2010 thinned from hair loss #1/ Spring '11/ colorful bun
Spring 2011, natural shoulder length / summer 2011. I find my haircolor looks much more neutral here, less warm.
2012, my hair color seemed to be getting warmer
It seems my hair has gotten redder over the past years. The change was gradual and surely part of it was due to the sun, but even my roots and hair that hasn't seen much sun is reddish, and just turns into a lighter, more coppery to golden tone towards the ends. My hair was reddish when I was a kid. I started dying at 12 years of age so I don't know when it changed, but if definitely looked like a more neutral color in 2009-2011. As you can see a great deal had already grown out. There were reddish reflexes, but much less. I would not have called my hair auburn then. Now I think it fits into the category "auburn" or maybe "auburnette", which is used for brunettes with darker, reddish hair.
I have a few theories as to why it changed. It could be hormones for example. Whether it has to do with pregnancy or not I don't know. It did change after pregnancy however and continued to change after, so I'm really not sure pregnancy was a factor. I used to be on oral contraceptives like the pill in the past, nowadays I'm not taking anything.
Another guess would be that my change of diet has to do with it. It seems to be common that eye and hair color change. It is assumed this happens due to different nutrients and a reduction of toxins. My eye color has also changed slightly, some blue is coming through (I had blue eyes until I was about 4 1/2 years old, then they changed to green) and there are just changes to the Iris. Some reduction of brown hues.
If you think about it my nutrients in the past came from grains mostly...Pasta, Bread, Rice, repeat. Some dairy, a few veggies. I hardly ate meat or fruit. Now my diet is rich in meat and I eat a moderate amount of fruit and veggies. No dairy, no grains. I always ate organic btw. So not much changed there, but I have done several detoxes and continue to detox from time to time (supplements and herbs)
Well, I will continue to observe it :)
You can also check out this old post I made on the subject: