Dark Hair and AgingQ: I hear a lot of people say that when you're older having dark hair ages you. Is this really true because I think it has to do with a person's skin tone. Someone for example who has a natural tan complexion wouldn't dark hair be the best choice for hair?
A: You are correct in that the proper shade of hair color for an individual is ALWAYS dependent (at least in part) on his or her skin tone. However, the truism regarding the way dark hair makes a woman look older holds true. It's all relative.
You see, as we age, one of the natural effects of aging is that our hair color grows lighter. This is as a result of the hair follicles producing less melanin to color the hair. This is not to be confused with the hair turning gray (which is caused by the hair follicles ceasing melanin production altogether) although gray hair interspersed with naturally pigmented hair can lighten the overall look of the hair color.
When an individual has some of the other, typical signs of aging (lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes and mouth) an individual who tries to keep his or her hair the same dark, rich color that he or she had in younger days will only make these lines and wrinkles appear more pronounced. Most hairdressers will advise using a haircolor shade two to three levels lighter than the original shade worn in younger days, or suggest implementing highlights to soften the color effect.
The specific shade suited to an individual is, of course, determined by a number of factors - including his or her skin tone - but should generally be lighter as the individual ages.
Hair tips to look younger
How to match hair color to your skin tone
The changing hair of older women
Hair colors and our color palette