3:45 PM / Tuesday September 29, 2020

2 Nov 2013

Hair color options for African American women are wide-ranging and numerous

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November 2, 2013 Category: Beauty Posted by:

Sun Hair Spotlight on: Hair Stylist Carlton L. Humphrey

Specialties: Free-lance master stylist specializing in Color, Cutting, Weaves, Natural Hair and offers service for those transition from relaxed to natural hair 

Appts: Book appointments at Carlton’s website 

Contact: Telephone: 610-839-3334 / Email: [email protected]

 Website: / carlton.humphrey



By Leah Fletcher


You are looking in the mirror and examining the face that is staring back at you. Upon further examination, you begin communicating with the visage about the desire for a new look. You ask the question: Is the answer new makeup, a new hairstyle, or a new hair color?  Hair becomes the focus, and a new color seems to be what that person staring at you needs.


Today, more than ever, African American women have a wide-range of options when styling their hair. However, hair color is increasingly becoming an option that offers change and enhanced beauty.     Women of color have various natural hair colors, but they may also elect to change their hair colors as well.  “To make the most complementary choice in hair color, consider your complexion and hair texture,” opined Philadelphia hair stylist Carlton L. Humphrey, who believes the best results will be achieved by consulting a professional stylist. 


Humphrey’s, an industry insider, is no stranger to cutting-edge trends. He has plied his craft at some of the city’s most upscale and high-end beauty salons, with stints also in New York and Los Angeles. Humphrey honed his craft is the specialties of hair coloring and cutting at the Vidal Sassoon and Toni and Guy Academy, a sister organization to Sassoon.


Changing one’s hair color is not a decision that can or should be made in a vacuum, according to Humphrey.  He believes the following factors are important to consider: skin tone, eye color, job, lifestyle, personality, level of investment and the status of the hair at the start of the process.


“For instance, in most professional environments, a candy apple-colored hairstyle is not a match,” explained Humphrey, who believes the “flamboyant” and “exuberant” message being imparted is not appropriate for most work environments.   


The current trends encompass intense shine and colors in the black color line for this season. “Shine is for all women,” said Humphrey, “They all generally want vibrant, shining, moisturized hair that is healthy,” he added.  


Keeping it in the red family 


Reddish hair colors can be flattering to a wide range of women. You can try subtle red shades that are reddish blonde, reddish bronze or auburn. You also can choose bright vibrant red shades that are close to the primary color red. Red tones look good on medium light or medium brown skin, noted Humphrey.


To color naturally black or deep brown hair, the process to achieve a red shade isn’t as harsh as it is to achieve blonde color. Brown hair can usually be colored in one process, while black hair may need to be stripped of color first before depositing the red dye.


Going bold and blonde 


Dying African American hair blonde can be very delicate, especially if it is not your natural color. “If the natural hair is chemically straightened and/or naturally black, the lifting or stripping process required to get a true blonde shade is too harsh for relaxed, chemically-treated hair, “explained Humphrey.


If your hair isn’t chemically straightened, Humphrey advises that you select a blonde color, but golden shades look better with warm skin tones. You complexion can range from light to medium for the most flattering look. However, if you skin tone is very dark, a short blonde haircut can be very dramatic. 


He noted, blonde hair colors that look good on African American hair should be richer in color and advised choosing from shades like golden bronze, bronze and honey blonde.   He also believes you should consult with your stylist to select a color and a contrast that is not so extreme that it makes you stand out in an unflattering way. 


Opting for darker colors 


 If you want to darken you hair or if it is already dark and you simply want to and some shine, you can choose deep brown or black hair color. Jet black is often too harsh for many African American women. It only looks natural and complimentary if the complexion is very dark. Otherwise, choose to stay with brown or natural black


Choosing flattering highlights


If you don’t want to completely color your hair, consider highlights. If your hair is brown, light red, bronze or auburn, blonde highlights will look good on top of it. For deep brown or black hair, choose medium brown highlights. Highlights should be placed around the face and on the top of the head for the most flattering and realistic results.


Maintenance is key   


Humphrey held that because many women also chemically straighten or curl their hair, they are layering one chemical process on top of another. “Relaxers and permanents use chemicals that break down the protein bond in the hair shaft,” explained Humphrey.


This breakdown, he continued, leaves the shaft in a vulnerable state. When applying color to the hair extra maintenance is required to restore moisture and suppleness that has been lost, according to Humphrey.  “When applying hair coloring it robs the hair of moisture, but handled correctly it will not cause irreversible damage,” he added. 



In retrospect, Humphrey opined, “It is important to make good decisions about our hair because the decisions made today will impact the condition of our hair in the future.”   



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