Nothing looks better than rich, natural coloured hair, but if your natural hair colour is 'dead flat mouse', or you've been playing fast and loose with the colour chart of late, you might need to take control of the situation. So, how do you achieve that timeless, must-have, 'as nature intended' look?

We've said it before but it's worth repeating: the most spellbinding coloured hair doesn't look that different from your original, natural hair colour. Or, let's put that another way: don't be tempted to stray too far from your natural colour when choosing a new colour – a shade or two different is fine.

Follow your skin tone
That's a good general rule for all home colouring. Why? Because nature usually gets it right. When Mother Nature gave you your skin and your hair, she knew what she was doing. She designed your colours to complement each other. The thing is, beyond a bit of fake tannery, you can't change the colour of your skin so, when colouring your hair, make your skin tone the starting point. The baseline. Of course, there's always room for a dramatic statement – the bubblegum pink hair we always dreamed about at 13 for example – and we certainly don't want to hold you back from your destiny, but most of us grow out of that. If revolution or anarchy is your aim, we'd advise a visit to a professional salon colourist. Maybe warn your mum, too.

So where were we? Ah yes, natural hair colour. In many ways, it's the dream. We all want to love our hair and we'd secretly (or not that secretly) quite like to wow a few friends and colleagues along the way, but we're not out to shock the neighbours or make people think we're having an identity crisis. Most of us, truth be told, are fairly happy with our natural hair; we'd just like to be ecstatic about it. A little less grey, perhaps; a little more vibrancy, definitely a little more luxury and nuance.

You see, natural looking hair is timeless. It always looks good and always looks stylish – when did you ever hear of natural blonde or natural brunette going out of fashion? Never.

So which shades will suit you best?
Let's start with blondes. Golden blonde is a classic colour that plenty of celebrities have made iconic, from Bardot to Aniston, Witherspoon to Willoughby. Very few people have naturally light blonde hair, but you can create the look with sun-kissed honey highlights or by colouring your hair blonde. 'Natural' blonde locks are perfect in the summer months when that carefree, just-back-from-the-beach look fits right in, even in the city – "Wow, where has she been, St Barts or St Ives?" – and the great news is, it can suit both warm and cool complexions.

Auburn is one shade of red that will never go out of fashion. Beautiful, natural-looking, deep gingery-red locks have always been a hit on the stage and the screen. Think Rita Hayworth, Julianne Moore, Julie Roberts, Emma Stone – alluring is the word you're looking for. But again, exercise caution. Add depth to your natural colour with shades close to your base colour and don't imagine vivid scarlet will 'blend in' over time. It won't.

Where do we start with brunettes? There are so many different natural looking shades, from chestnut to dark mahogany brown. In some ways, brunettes have an easier choice when faced with a rack of hair colour. Whether you have a cool or warm complexion, brunette is always a winner, whether you're sporting a short pixie crop a la Hepburn, Hathaway (circa Les Miserables) or Watson (circa 2010), or the classic longer tresses of the Duchess of Cambridge. Try Garnier Nutrisse Crème 4 Dark Brown Permanent Hair Dye for a rich, natural hair colour that suits every skin type.

For those of you with naturally black hair, which can suit pale, medium and dark complexions, you probably don't need to do too much to keep it looking gorgeous. Maybe it's more a question of keeping the grey in check – in which case, stick very close to your natural shade – or getting a fab new cut. Courtney Cox, naturally black-haired, has looked amazing with an A-line bob, with long, wavy hair and long, straight hair in her time. Rihanna looks incredible whatever style she chooses. And she chooses a lot!

Our top tips for natural-looking hair
Natural hair colour is not perfect or uniform. Go for highlights or a hair dye with a multi-tonal formula to replicate your hair's natural tones. Highlights add texture, shine and depth, and help your facial features stand out.

Don't over-highlight. It can make your hair look unpleasantly artificial. Avoid chunky streaks, too. Natural highlights tend to be thicker at the tips and thinner at the roots. Lowlights, highlights, balayage and ombré are all great ways of achieving that natural look we all aspire to.

Nurture with nature
Use natural hair dyes or dyes containing the least chemicals. Not only will this be less damaging for your hair, it will look less artificial. With natural dyes, your hair's condition can visibly improve and you can retain your hair's natural shine. Coupled with hydrating treatments and targeted products, your hair can look healthy and natural in no time.

In summary, consider your complexion, try to replicate the natural tones in your hair and opt for a natural hair dye. Like Mother Nature, trust your instincts.

GARNIER TO THE RESCUE!

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