After a summer sporting sun-kissed highlights, are you ready to go to the dark side? Emily Taylor shows you how.

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Who can wear it: "Almost anyone can go brunette, with the exception of very fair-skinned, naturally light blondes with pale eyes," advises Bronwyn Fraser, national education manager at L'Oréal Australia. "This is because these deeper hair colours can be too high contrast and may make you look washed-out."

What's hot: Fraser suggests letting your skin tone dictate the level of colour to choose. Fair complexions suit honey or caramel shades, cool skin tones work with deep chocolate and icy browns, while warmer or darker skins should select rich toffee hues. If you want an all-over vibrant shade, choose a permanent option; however, if you prefer a wash of colour that will let your natural high/lowlights show through, a semi-permanent choice is best.

Before you colour: Be realistic when choosing your shade, and don't try to make too big a change in one go. "Stay within two shades of your natural hair colour, as this will harmonise with your skin and eye tones, plus it'll be easier to maintain," says Fraser. Preparation is important, so read the instructions fully before colouring, and assemble a few things to help make the process easier, such as an old top and towels, water spray, a large comb and a hairdryer. Also, make sure you allow plenty of time. "We recommend around 90 minutes - it's the average time needed to apply the colour, let the shade develop, rinse and style," adds Fraser.

How to do it: The instruction leaflet will outline how to apply the product, but keep in mind that "if you're covering greys, start at the whitest area first", explains Fraser. She suggests that the easiest way to completely saturate your hair with colour is to part it from the centre of your forehead to the back of your neck, then again from behind each ear to create four even quarters. Next, apply the product to each section in turn, making sure you don't miss any strands, for an even result.

After you colour: Keep your new chocolate hue looking glossy for as long as possible with colour-specific care products, especially those with built-in UV protection, to prevent fading. It's also a good idea to indulge strands in a weekly treatment to promote shine and maintain the colour. And the regrowth? "As hair grows around one centimetre per month, we recommend retouching every five to six weeks to keep the shade looking fresh," says Fraser.

Mistake maintenance: Although nothing can entirely remove a tint that's not for you, Fraser explains the colour can be marginally lightened with frequent shampooing. "A medicated shampoo, such as an anti-dandruff option, can speed up the process," she reveals."

THE HUES TO CHOOSE
We asked L'Oreal Australia's Bronwyn Fraser about the different types of colours available, and when to use them.

  • Temporary: Lasting only one wash, these are best for simply toning blonde or grey hair.
  • Semi-permanent: These endure six to 10 washes, or look for a longer-lasting option that lasts up to 28 shampoos. Great for trying a new look without the commitment.
  • Permanent: The longest lasting, they will grow out of the hair with time. Perfect for achieving a richer, more intense depth of colour.