How to Choose a Home Hair Colour.

The Colour Wheel

How to Understand the Numbering System.

In professional hair colouring, the shades start with the base number. This also applies to home hair colours. In most cases, number one = black and number ten = lightest blonde. The numbers in-between one and ten apply to the shades (levels) in-between black and lightest blonde eg. 10 = lightest blonde, 9 = light blonde, 8 = medium blonde, 7 = dark blonde, 6 = light brown, 5 = medium brown, 4 = dark brown, 3 = darker brown, 2 = darkest brown, one = black. This may differ between colour companies but serves as a very good rule of thumb.

After the numbers one to ten, the secondary numbers then describe the reflect of the colour eg. gold, red etc... The colour wheel makes it easy to understand these reflects although it does not show all of the reflects used in hair colouring. Blue = an ash reflect (.1 or /1). Violet = pearl or soft champagne reflect (.2 or /2). Yellow = a gold reflect (.3 or /3). Orange = a copper reflect (.4 or /4). Red = a red reflect (.5 or /5). The Green is used for corrective colouring only and isn't usually available in home hair colours. An extra reflect is added in its place as Mahogany, which is a cool violet red reflect (.6 or /6 or .7 or /7) depending on the brand of colour. An example would be 8.3 or 8/3 or 83 which = a blonde shade with a gold reflect.

If there is no reflect described or a zero is added, this zero = natural. This means that there is no additional reflect in the colour. If you choose a shade (level 1 - 10) that is the same as your natural shade, this zero will be effective in covering greys without adding reflect. If you choose a shade (level 1 - 10) that is darker than your natural level, this will also cover greys without adding reflect. An example would be 9.0 or 9/0 or 90 which = a natural 9 level shade. It is important to note that if you choose a shade that is lighter than your natural level, this will throw a yellow, gold or orange reflect. This area of hair colouring requires more indepth information. This is where the colour wheel is of particular importance as it shows us how to neutralise any unwanted reflects. 

Some hair companies provide two reflect numbers (the primary number is the base or shade or level), then secondary numbers are split into two categories - being the secondary and tertiary reflect. The secondary reflect will be the first one after the base level (primary) and this is the strongest reflect. The tertiary reflect will be the final number and this reflect is not as strong as its pre-descessor. An example would be 9.34 or 9/34 or 934 which = a light blonde shade with strong gold and subtle copper reflects.

There are always exceptions to the rule and I have observed one company who uses number system in reverse for some of their colours eg. one as lightest blonde and number ten as black. You will know which one this is by the picture on the box.

Lightening Hair at Home will show you how to choose the right hair colour for your target colour.  It was written as a sequel to this information.

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