As a beauty editor, my finger is perpetually on the pulse — so, naturally, I’ve had my eye on raven black hair for a while. Icy platinum and ’90s-era Pamcore blondes have had their moments recently, but for dark-haired girlies, ‘tis the season to go even darker. Some of the most stylish stars in the game are donning their own versions of the soft black hair color — like Kylie Jenner, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, and Megan Fox, to name a few. Their strands are all tinted a glossy onyx that gives the appearance of perfectly-sleek glass hair.
I’ve been a super-dark brunette my entire life (save for a brief blonde balayage phase that I’d prefer to block from my memory), so this color trend tempted me immediately. However, I was hesitant to bump up the contrast even further — I worried the ultra-dark shade would look too witchy or wig-like on me. But when my husband made me watch the 1990 classic The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan’s sexy black hair sealed the deal — and off to the salon I went.
“Being this strikingly dark is having a major moment right now,” Olivia Casanova told me as she tinted my hair the natural-looking shade of black. Casanova, an influencer-favorite colorist at IGK Salon in New York City, says that more of her clients have been requesting the goth-chic shade than ever before. And for good reason — my hair is way shinier than it was when I was a brunette, the raven shade is flattering against my fair skin, and it makes me feel like Cher circa 1973. So yeah, consider me a black-haired girlie from now on.
If you’re also considering dabbling in the uber-dark hair color trend, read on for everything you need to know about achieving and maintaining this utterly cool shade of black, courtesy of top colorists.
What Is Raven Black Hair?
This color trend isn’t your run-of-the-mill black — which is largely why it’s so alluring. Despite being extremely dark, I was pleasantly surprised by how natural it looked on me. The gorgeous sheen is equal parts dramatic and sophisticated. “Raven black differs from other hair colors because it’s pretty much the only ‘natural’ black shade,” says Casanova. “It’s neither an artificial blue-black nor the absolute darkest brown.”
Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, adds that the color features an emphasis on shine. “It’s a soft black that uses shine to create more movement rather than it being dark from roots to ends with dimension,” she says.
Raven also happens to be a cool hue, not warm, which also sets it apart from certain dark brunettes and blacks with red tones. “It’s the darkest neutral cool black,” says Jonathan Colombini, a L’Oréal Paris style and color expert. “There are a lot of other tones showing, which keeps this color very natural-looking.”
What To Know Before Dyeing Your Hair Raven
Going black is obviously a bold move, so take your natural hair color and skin tone into consideration — your colorist can help you there. “The raven trend is best for those with olive to darker skin tones,” says Casanova. “It can also suit fair-skinned individuals, as long as they have a rosy/pink undertone. That can give romantic, Snow White vibes.”
If you’re fair with yellow or green undertones, however, the hue could wash you out. In this case, Valdes recommends trying a darkest black-brown. “Most people can [go raven], unless they need more warmth and brighter colors,” she explains. “If your skin would do better with a different variation than the soft black, you can modify a dark brown by adding different underlying tones.”
If you’re looking to achieve the hair color at home, be sure you buy the right shade. Look for a natural black and avoid anything with a blue or burgundy tint. Casanova actually recommends asking your colorist for a natural black gloss or using a professional at-home color kit like IGK’s permanent 00:00 Almost Black.
From there, Colombini says to apply the color only to your roots. “After the processing time is up, comb the color down about two inches,” he said. “If you want to pull it through the ends, only leave it on for five minutes max.” This will ensure it looks as natural as possible, not flat. This is the technique Casanova used on my own strands for a flawless finish.
That being said, Casanova notes that black dye is something you should be careful of using at home. “It’s extremely hard to remove from your hair if you ever do decide to change your color.”
How To Maintain Raven Black Hair
You’ll be happy to know that maintenance is pretty easy. “It usually doesn’t fade quickly,” says Casanova, who notes that you’ll need a touch-up every six weeks, give or take, based on your natural hair color.
To keep that color as fresh as possible, color-safe shampoos and conditioners are key. To keep this shade vibrant, I’ve relied on the Kérastase Chroma Absolu Shampoo and Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair and only wash my hair every three or four days. As a result, my color still looks super vibrant two weeks after my salon appointment.
Casanova adds that you could also wash with pigmented products meant for dark brown or black tones, such as Davines’ Alchemic Chocolate Shampoo and Conditioner. “These will add pigment to your color with each wash, helping to prevent it from fading,” she explains.