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How to puzzle out a hair color chart and pick a flattering shade?

How to read a hair color chart and how to choose a perfect shade?

A hair color chart may seem like something completely alien to you. Don’t worry, you are not alone when standing in a store and feeling somewhat confused with their choice of dyes. Choosing a hair color requires some unscrambling (see those letters, numbers, or both on the boxes?), understanding hair color names, and even exploring yourself. But we are, as always, here to break it down for you.

Hair Color Levels

When picking your new perfect look, start with identifying your base color also known as color level. Since hair experts don’t recommend going more than two levels lighter or darker in a single session, you should opt for something within four levels of your current base.

Generally, hair color numbers go from jet-black (1) to the lightest blonde (10) with dark, medium, and light levels of brown and blonde in between. However, some brands assign up to 12 bases to their products, so make sure to check with the particular chart.

Hair Tones

While the level is printed first on the box, the next thing to look for is the tone number, which is usually separated by a dot or slash. Yet, some brands encode their hair shades with letters, making deciphering a bit trickier. Anyway, the code shows whether you are getting a cold or warm hue along with your main color.

Gold, copper, and red add warmness to hair, while green, blue, and violet cool it down. There are also neutral tones with gold and ash undertones balancing each other. The problem is that many brands stick to their own labeling systems, so you will need to carefully explore their charts before grabbing a box.

The 4 Main Hair Colors

Actually, reading a hair shade chart is a bit more complicated since the manufacturers often add other codes to describe their products. There may be some third number or letter to identify a secondary tone supplementing the main one. You may also find symbols showing color intensity, i.e. their capability to cover gray. And how all that corresponds to those “vanilla blondes” and “sable browns” we see across Instagram and fashion blogs? Well, everything boils down to 4 main colors, and we are going to explain each of them.

1. Blonde Hair Color Chart

When picking among shades of blonde hair color, proceed from your skin undertones – if you want to bring them out, shoot for the same cool or warm hair color palette. But when you feel that your complexion is too pale or, vice versa, has excessive redness, go in the opposite direction. Fortunately, we have plenty of options to choose from, starting from neutral blonde and up/down to icy or dark blonde:

– To mitigate warm undertones

Silver blonde, champagne blonde, sandy blonde or ash blonde hair color would be cool enough to balance red in pale skin.

– To brighten up cool skin tones

Strawberry blonde, golden blonde, caramel blonde, or honey blonde hair color works fine for girls with olive skin.

– To complement your skin undertone

Choose beige hair color or something from the first pack when having blue or pinky veins on your wrists (cool tone), and opt for the second list if they are green (warm tone). If looking for a more natural blonde with no slides towards brassy or ashy tints, think of dirty blonde – it looks great on fair to medium complexions.

2. Brown Hair Color Chart

The above principles can be perfectly applied to selecting shades of brown hair color:

– Warm

Chocolate brown, mocha brown, or chestnut brown hair color can add a creamier tint to medium complexions. Light brown hair color with golden splashes will emphasize deep skin tones.

– Cool

Mahogany brown, cinnamon brown, or light golden brown hair will flatter those with light olive skin. But if your skin is on the fair side, go for ash brown hair color.

– Neutral

Coffee brown is a perfect choice to keep the balance between warm and cold. However, you can switch to dark brown hair color and turn on a porcelain effect in medium skin. Reddish brown, in its turn, brings some glow into deep complexions. If your skin is fair, try copper brown.

3. Black Hair Color Chart

Do you believe that shades of black are not that versatile as blondes? Oh làlà! Here are our tips on rocking black:

– Pale

Jet black hair color is capable of creating a stunning contrast on those having fair skin. If you are not ready to go that dramatic, ash black hair color is also a good pick for cooler tones.

– Medium

If your skin is neutrally-toned, illuminate it with blue black. Both cool and warm complexions may benefit from black cherry flares.

– Deep

Brown-black hair color fits any dark complexion but if you want something more vibrant, try on maroon-tint colors of black hair.

The term brunette hair includes all shades of brown and black. However, there is one more term that describes only black hair – noirette.

4. Red Hair Color Chart

In fact, it’s quite tricky to tell where blonde or brown hues end and various shades of red start. Yet, we’ve tried:

– Fair complexion

Light red shades like dark strawberry or muted copper hair color make pale faces shine, but you can add even more liveliness with bright red hues, for example, ginger, crimson, or even orange.

– Medium skin tone

Various tints of auburn hair color can give the required balance of warmness and coolness to any undertone within this range. If your skin is on the lighter end of the spectrum, you can don dark red shades like mahogany. Blue-red or bronze hair color works better for darker faces.

– Deep complexion

Cherry red or red-purple will be a nice pick for tan skin, but red wine hair color will chime up even better with deeper undertones. Maroon or burgundy hair color can enhance a golden tint in your skin.

Gray Hair Color Chart

Oops, we almost forgot about our gray hair color list:

– Pale skin

You don’t need extra blinks of gold, so opt for clean white hair or add the faintest yellow hues.

– Medium complexion

Silver hair and platinum hair color do the job perfectly here.

– Dark undertones

Don’t you want to pull off a salt-and-pepper look? It would be a great idea!

Colorful Hair

Our hair color guide would be incomplete without different in-between hair colors, as the it-girls love them so much! So, meet some unusual but so pretty hair color swatches:

Pink hairrose gold, light pink, dark pink, peach hair shades

– Green hair – dark green, emerald, neon green, mint green hair colors

– Blue hair – teal, indigo, dark blue, light blue, midnight blue hair shades

Purple hair – lilac, plum, lavender, violet colors

– Rainbow hair is a mix of several bright hair shades

– Unicorn hair is a pretty combination of pastel hair colors

– Mermaid hair is a cute mix of pinks, blues, and purples

Hair Color Wheel

First of all let’s check out the 10 hair color levels and their accompanying undertones. How to read it? For example, if you have black hair, you will get red or orange tones after bleaching, etc.

How to neutralize them? Hairstylists use the hair color wheel for this purpose. Colors which are on opposite ends neutralize each other. That’s why blondes with yellowish hair use purple shampoos.

We hope our hair color guide will navigate you through hair dye colors charts of modern manufacturers, and you will be able to choose a hair color that is truly flattering to your complexion.

Featured Image: freepik –

by Donna Sullivan
Donna is a hairstylist with 8 years of experience. Ask her about any hair-related problem (haircuts, hairstyles, colorings, hair care) and get a pro advice!