Understanding Hair Colours

Hair colours are a lot more complex then just thinking of them as a simple light brown or dark blonde. All hair colours have an undertone which makes it appear a warm or cool colour, it’s important to understand and know about the tone of your own hair if you’re choosing to colour it yourself. (This only applies to natural hair colour, if you’re choosing to change the colour of already processed hair dramatically its best to get some expert advice first.)

To establish what hair you’re natural hair colour is stand in front of a mirror in some natural bright light. Hair colours range from the darkest black to the lightest blonde.

Once you have decided what shade your natural hair colour is it’s time to look at the tone. Hair colours with a warm undertone will have hints of red, orange or yellow while those with cool undertones will have hints of blue, green or violet.

You may be wondering why all this is important but if you’re thinking of colouring you’re hair it could save you a lot of money spent on colour correction after a colouring disaster!

Tone and shade doesn’t necessarily matter when your going darker unless you’re naturally blonde, in this case if you’re not a warm golden blonde you’re hair is likely to have lots of cool ash undertones.

You must always apply a darker shade with warm red undertones to avoid you’re hair turning an unsightly green. As long as you remember to add warmth you should be fine.

When lightening you’re hair unless using a bleaching kit you’re not very likely to get a home box colour that can lift you’re hair more then two shades. Although box colours are not very good at lifting hair they are great for adding tones and darkening.understanding hair colours

If you do wish to bleach you’re hair (very carefully as it can lead to serious damage if left on to long or put on the scalp) you may be left with some undesirable tones in you’re hair.

If you’re hair is dark and has warm undertones and you wish to go light brown or a blonde it will need to be bleached and then coloured to neutralize unwanted under tones.

Besides blue black and ash brown dark hair that’s lightened will normally be left with either red, orange or yellow tinge which is sometimes seen as a disaster. However don’t panic, this is where box colours or toners come in.

If you’re hair has been left with a red undertone using ash toner will neutralize the red, orange tinged hair should apply a blue toner whilst yellow golden tones should be neutralized using a purple toner.

Toners can be bough from hairdressing ware houses, some beauty store and online they are simple to use and don’t do much damage to the hair. They should be applied after shampooing out the bleach but before conditioner, beware not to leave a toner on to long as it can take all pigment out of very blonde hair and turn it grey.

It may seem a bit daunting at first but once you’ve got you’re head around it you will be on you’re way to having shimmering shiny locks bursting with fabulous colour.


  1. Hi!! really good article, but not sure which toner will be best for me yet!

    My natural hair is dark brown/ black, with warm undertones I would say… I bleached as I wanted to go light brown/ dark blonde. It was a mix of colors: my roots were yellow, and the rest was red, orange (i also had ombre before! and quite long hair). Today I dyed it with Loreal preference Havana 6.35 and now looks more even but it is pretty much ginger (specially on top!!) Now.. I dont know what to do.. Should I use an ash tone? blue? green? And, toner is the same as a dye box? Sorry such a long post, I dont really understand!! Please help!!!!!!

    • Exact the same question I wanted to ask…I went through similar, now Im at the point that I ordered T18 and 20 Developer and Im not sure if I should apply it or not!

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