Q. I would like advice on what hair colour would suit me. I’ve got very pale skin but sallow, dark circles under eyes, though I do blush or colour up easily. My eyebrows and lashes are black, and my natural hair colour is mid- to dark brown with a slight reddish tint. I’m going a little bit grey, and I am 41. I’m in desperate need of a hair colour and make-up to suit. My eyes are grey/blue with flecks of green. Thanks! 
A.  It’s always hard to give concrete advice here without seeing you – much as we’d love to.  Our advice, truly and honestly, is to seek out a colourist at a reputable salon near you – perhaps one recommended by a friend.  You can book in for a free, no-commitment consultation and get their input – and you may feel tempted, as a result, to book in for the actual colour treatment itself.  If you decide to go the at-home route, we can’t recommend highly enough:  CHOOSE A SEMI-PERMANENT PRODUCT!  Not, not, NOT something permanent, because that is the fast-track to tears and tantrums.  In addition, don’t stray more than a couple of shades lighter or darker than your own natural colour, taking the grey into account, as regrowth will be more obvious and upkeep required more often.  When you start to colour, be diligent about using regular hair mask treatments, to keep it in optimum condition.  Again, when it comes to make-up, turn to a pro:  several department store counters in particular offer really wearable, don’t-frighten-the-horses free makeovers, including Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier, in particular, with Estée Lauder and Chanel close runners-up (though tell the Chanel assistant that you want to stick with neutrals – which is perennially our advice with make-up, for anyone over about 20).  We’d love to see a photo of your new look!  A makeover can be a fantastic mood- and confidence booster, and we ‘prescribe’ them all the time.


Q. My hair was/is silvery white all over so I decided to colour it last night.  I used Nice&Easy Perfecto 10 Medium Golden Blonde but would like to tone it down – any suggestions?

A. Although we haven’t tried it ourselves (due to not having had any colouring disasters lately!), we hear very good things about a new product launched by Louise Galvin.  Louise Galvin Hair Colour Remover is a three-part DIY treatment that you mix up to activate, then apply to hair.  The formulas work together to cause the artificial pigment molecules in your hair to shrink to a size where they can be washed out again simply by rinsing the hair..  The third element of the process is a ‘buffer’, which prevents the molecules from reacting with the oxygen in the air and expanding again’.  There’s a useful booklet enclosed, too.  We then suggest that you give hair a few mega-conditioning treatments, and try another shade – or perhaps have a consultation with a local colourist, for advice.  But speaking personally, we love silver/white hair and think women look fantastic with it!  The right cut can show it off beautifully (Jo’s cousin has a stunning pixie cut which is snow-white), and it’s much lower maintenance if you don’t colour.  But it’s your call.

Louise Galvin Hair Colour Remover, £12.96 at www.qvcuk.com – buy here


Q. I have medium brown hair with dark eyes and I’m wondering what would suit be better: black, or bright red hair? Because I don’t like my natural brown tone…

A. Awfully hard to answer this without a webcam linked to your bedroom, but our general rule is not to stray more than two shades away from your natural hair colour, because of the difficulty with upkeep.  (More than two shades makes hair colouring much more high-maintenance, as roots show more obviously.)  Can we suggest that you have a consultation with a nearby hair colourist, in a salon?  These are free.  Obviously, you don’t have to commit to having your hair colour done at the salon, subsequently – but in fact, we believe that if you possibly can, it’s worth investing in professional hair colouring because it does minimise the risks of horrendous mistakes.  Our own hair colourists at John Frieda spend a good chunk of each and every day as if they were in Hair Casualty, putting right mishaps from home colouring, taking clients back to a more flattering shade.  We would suggest that whatever you do, you start with a semi-permanent colour, rather than going straight for permanent – because at least that way, any mistake will gradually become less obvious.  The biggest boo-boos with hair colouring are going straight for the permanent option – and since you’re looking at a dramatic change (we’d call black or bright red a MAJOR change), there’s a very real possibility of not liking the results…


Q. Currently I have brown hair, which is a non-permanent hair dye. I want the colour to be lighter – very slightly. I tried light brown non-permanent, but it didn’t really look light brown. I don’t want a permanent colour so I brought a box today – Golden Blonde.  I understand non-permanent does not change the hair colour, but if I use this colour what will this do to my hair?

A. Your question perfectly illustrates the haircolouring challenges which keep salon colourists in – ker-ching! – business.  We would always, always advise using a non-permanent colour – at least until you are 100% sure the product delivers the shade that it promises on the pack.  So:  have a go.  If the result isn’t right, wait for it to wash out – and start the process of trial-and-error again (and we do understand how frustrating this can be).  Be aware, though, that what you invariably get from ‘packet’ all-in-one products is a ‘uniform’, all-over result.  It doesn’t have the tonal variations of natural hair, or highlighted/lowlighted hair, which is why it can often look unnatural or ‘flat’.  Deep conditioning treatments can help at least add shine and gleam, so light refracts better, for a more ‘realistic’ result.  But miracles…?  Only salon colourists really deliver those, in our experience.  For some recommended and affordable hair masks, try those below (all of which our Beauty Bible Beauty Steals testers have loved).

•  Yes to Carrots Pampering Hair Mud Conditioner, £8.20 for 500 ml at www.victoriahealth.com – buy here

•  Louise Galvin Natural Locks Deep Conditioning Treatment, £9.95 at www.louisegalvin.com – buy here

•  John Frieda Collection Frizz-Ease Miraculous Recovery Masque, at www.boots.com – buy here

•  Tommy Guns Colour Save Intensive Masque, £7 for 200ml at www.johnlewis.com – buy here