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Colour Correct: how to score a perfect W-Day hair hue

MERRIN - 1950's vintage lace wedding dress

I once worked for an Editor who couldn’t understand, when I pitched an idea, why anyone would want to dye their hair before their wedding! Because she wants to look and feel her absolute best was my reply (!!!!!) I added how hair colour wasn’t just a confidence booster, it left hair feeling thicker and smoother with a mega-watt shine. Who wouldn’t want that?

But colour mistakes do happen. And right before your wedding has to be the worst ever time. Cancel the photographer, ban all phones and hot foot it to the bridal shop for a white balaclava! This post is all about scoring perfect colour – and keeping it looking (and feeling) it’s best, no matter what your budget. Here goes….


Book in with a pro at least four months before the big day. Discuss the colours that best suit your skin tone, eye colour and even your dress shade. Avoid salon jargon too. ‘Honeyed’ and ‘capuccino’ streaks might mean something entirely different to the colourist. Just chat normally about what you want, e.g. ‘natural-looking highlights that aren’t too stripy.’ Take along pictures of hair colours you like – and ones you don’t – and be realistic with the advice you’re given. I loved how a really top hair colourist once told me that ivory frocks can make certain hair shades look dirty. Don’t let that be you! * shudders *

Book in for your first colour treatment when you’ve still around three months to go. That way you’ve got time to make some tweaks. Use intensive conditioners regularly to get your hair into mint condition then have your final colour done a week before the wedding.

Don’t be lead by your current root colour – chances are your hair has got darker. The shade you were born with is your most flattering so dig out your baby snaps. Expect lots of ‘aww, weren’t you adorable’ comments…

Finally, if your heart is set on an updo, for goodness sake make sure the underneath layers that’ll be on show look good too. Take photos to make sure you’re 100% happy with your back view. You may discover you need to fork out for a full head of highlights after all.


Home dye kits come in two camps of colour – warm and cool. To work out which will suit you best, hold two cloths up against your face. One light blue (cool) and the other peach (warm.) You’ll quickly see that one will clash and the other will flatter. What you’ve discovered is whether you have a warm or cool skin tone. That will then tell you whether you’re best off buying a warm or cool hair colour. Clever eh?

A trim is always advisable if you’re a B2B but it’s especially worthwhile pre colour. So is trying to make your hair the softest and strongest it’s ever been via regular smothering of intensive conditioner. Oh, and most important of all, do a strand test. A bad reaction doesn’t bear thinking about!!!!

Follow the instructions to the letter. Do put the gloves on, do put vaseline around your hairline and tips of ears and do apply the colour in sections rather than piling it on the top and rubbing it around. Start at the roots and work through to the ends so you get seamless results. And don’t keep it on for longer than advised. 

If your hair is longer than shoulder-length or quite thick, it might be worthwhile using two boxes of colour, otherwise you might end up with an odd ombre effect. Actually, if you find a home dye job you love, I’d recommend you buy a few boxes. Years ago I was hooked on a Nicky Clarke plum shade (showing my age) then suddenly it disappeared from the shelves. Not a risk worth taking with your wedding on the horizon.

So, do you DIY or go pro? Or…. are you staying au naturel like my former Editor believed? Please share your thoughts

Sarah x

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dress featured: Merrin 1950’s lace wedding dress


  • DON’T get your hair coloured abroad!!!!!!!!!! That is, unless your somewhere where there’s a John Frieda salon! Chrissy x

    5 years ago : Chrissy