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Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice: 4 Steps to Get the Perfect Fall Look

Caryn VanDerBilt

November 04, 2016
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In Chicago fall has begun. The leaves have changed, the smell of cinnamon is in the air and our hearts are warmed everywhere we look. And with chilly weather and holidays fast approaching, we all look forward to the season’s guilty pleasures: leather jackets, leggings with tall boots, cowl-neck sweaters, and of course, pumpkin -just-about-everything. Fall is an opportunity for us to deem ourselves layering and accessory experts. We take pride in the number of ways we can successfully wrap a scarf— personally, I know six. We beam with excitement when we find our perfect autumn bag, hat and scarf. But the one accessory that completes a look like nothing else is truly gorgeous hair!

While inspiration for hair color trends is everywhere, the hottest trend for this fall and winter hails from our favorite fall beverage: the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The colors we’ll see emerge from this seasonal trend are rich, beautiful tones: think deep cool reds, brilliant coppers, and hints of gold. While achieving this look isn’t as easy as ordering through a drive-through window, an educated conversation with your colorist can make it just as attainable. Knowing what to ask for, how to best adapt it to your skin tone, and what kind of maintenance will be required are just some of the things you should be prepared to discuss. Here are the four steps to choosing your perfect pumpkin spice hair color, and my secret tips to keep it looking great all season long.

pumpkin spice redhead hair service

1. Find Your Skin Tone

Photos of things we like are great! However, while an article of clothing or a hair color may look striking in a photo of someone else, it may be all wrong for you. So many of us have never thought about the undertone of our skin, let alone whether the flecks in our eye color are warm or cool.  We love our favorite blue sweater while a burnt orange might better suit us. So many factors can determine what will really enhance your own beauty.  When choosing a new hair color, knowing if a light, dark, warm or cool tone compliments you best, can make an enormous difference. 

An easy way to determine which would truly suit you best is to simply hold those colors near you. Grab some items from around the house in different colors, some light and some dark.   Try a mustard sweater, a green scarf, a blue blanket, even a light pink and a dark red piece of paper. Hold these items up to your face one at a time and watch how the appearance of your features is transformed.  Try this in different lighting, or take a selfie with each item so you can compare them back to back.  If you find that you like a yellow and mustard best, then you should lean toward a warm hair color.  If a blue, green, or even gray is more appealing to you, then cooler hair color might be right up your alley. Does something light wash out your features? Maybe a darker hair color will make your features really pop.

Photos are great references, but know what would look best on YOU when searching through photos instead of what looks great on someone else.

pumpkin spice lovely hair

2. Understand Hair Service Options

There are an endless number of techniques that can be used to create this favorite fall trend.  With so many hair color trends and techniques on social media these days, sometimes it’s hard to keep them all straight.  Asking your colorist for a certain technique with your new pumpkin spice hair color can be more easily achieved if everyone is speaking the same language. 

A base shade, for example, is a look that will give you a lived in feel.  This is a great way to add a layer of depth and dimension in a modern way.  An ombré will leave you lighter and brighter toward the ends, which can create softness or add a pop of color.  Color melting is a beautiful technique used to melt two or more colors seamlessly, or soften the intensity of one tone as it melts away.  Balayage, also known as freehand painting, has become an incredibly popular technique because of the soft, natural look it can produce. Then of course, there are an endless number of foiling patterns and placements to add dimension to your color.  Bowls, brushes, bottles, foils and cotton are just some of the tools your colorist may choose to use to create your look.

Any or all of these techniques and tools can be used together or alone to achieve a beautiful result.  As long as there is a clear understanding of the desired result, there is no approach that is right or wrong.  Just keep communication open, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Trust that your colorist will know what is best for your hair type specifically, and suggest the look that is right for you.

Pumpkin spice skin tone

3. Fall in Love with Your Hair Color

The color of pumpkin spice can mean different things to different people.  That is the great thing about this trend!  There are a wide variety of looks to choose from.  The shade of pumpkin spice can be anything from rich red-browns to bold coppers and golden blondes.

If you’re someone who likes a more natural look, try to stay close to your current level and tone.   Enhancing your existing hair color with a gloss that gives a small tonal shift adding tons of shine may be enough change for you.  If you’re someone who loves change, go for a more dimensional look.  Try veils of different colors that layer on top of each other.  If you enjoy bold fashion hair colors, go for a bright shade all over with vibrant panels of a contrasting color that peek through.

In your consultation with your colorist, communication is key. When explaining the hair color you are looking for, reddish hair color with blonde highlights may be too vague.  Is the red more cool and violet, or is it copper? Are the highlights warm, dark blonde or cool platinum? When speaking to your colorist, try to use words that are undeniable. Describe things that most people immediately picture in their head, like honey, cheerios, or a penny for example. This will help keep the picture of the end result clear for both you and your colorist. And bring photos!

When it comes to adding rich, seasonal tones to the hair, my go-to is Matrix Color Sync Demi-Permanent Hair Color.  As a colorist, I know the key to beautiful hair is healthy hair.  Not only is Color Sync hair color rich and shiny, but when my clients leave the salon I know their hair has the needed conditioning to stay shiny until their next visit. My personal go-to color shades to achieve the trendy Pumpkin spice hair color are:

  • Color Sync 5WN at the base and 8G on the mid-lengths and ends for a soft brown melted into a golden ombré
  • Panels of Color Sync 6RC next to 8RC create red copper richness with subtle dimension
  • My ultimate favorite Pumpkin Spice shade: an all over gloss of Color Sync 7CC+ for a shimmering copper hair color.
Pumpkin spice redhead

4. How to Make Your Hair Color Last

Taking care of your color at home is just as important. Think about it, you would never wear new suede boots this fall without protecting them from the elements, would you?  So don’t  forget to protect your color as well. Shampooing and conditioning with cool water using any of our Matrix shampoos which are suitable for color-treated hair is a great place to start.  My new favorite choice is Biolage R.A.W., the natural origin hair care line by Matrix leaves your hair feeling amazing. Another great tip: turn down the heat on your blow dryers and hot tools and use a styling product with built in heat protectants. Matrix Style Link Heat Buffer and Blow Out Curvy Queen are two I use most often behind the chair.

Remember, your hair is one of your greatest accessories, and it is yours alone! It is also an investment, so protect it. Do your research. Find a Matrix salon near you, where they can help you stay educated about your hair type and what looks best on you. Have fun with the latest trends.  And keep in mind, hairstylists like Pumpkin Spice Lattes too ;-)



Caryn Vanderbilt is a published editorial hairstylist and makeup artist from the Chicago area. Her passion for the arts began at an early age as a musician. She found her creative outlet in colorguard as a performer, choreographer, and program designer where hair and makeup design was a huge part of bringing performances to life. She not only enjoys her work behind the chair, but shares her passion for the industry as a Matrix Educator. Caryn appreciates the support she gets from her husband, friends, and family while she grows her career.

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