Don’t be Afraid of the Hair Dye Aisle

May 2, 2009 by Jennifer Belleau  
Published in Hair

For those of us who dye our hair at home, we are sometimes faced with disastrous results. Here are some suggestions for how to avoid conundrums with at-home hair color.

Right now I can tell you never to go to a salon, or at least not if you would be going to a cheap one.  Cheap salons are great for cutting hair but people try to make you believe that DIY haircolor will always leave you with green or orange hair.  Not true!  I have dyed my hair over 40 times in 4 years, all different colors.  And I’ve come to some conclusions about how to make sure you get that perfect color.

Levels- First, you need to understand the levels of hair color.  You will see a number on the box next to a letter.  The number usually ranges from 2-10, sometimes 11.  The lower the number, the darker the color, and the higher the number, the lighter the color.  Any color marked “11″ is a light blonde with extra lightening power.  So if you have dark hair and dye your hair with an 11 hair color, it will bring your hair even lighter than a 10 would, even though the color on the box may look the same.  But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.  Rarely will you find a “1″ as a hair color.  Usually it starts at 2, which of course, is black.  A 3 is a soft black, or darkest brown (black with some brownish undertones).  A 4 is dark brown, a 5 is medium brown, 6 is light brown, 7 is dark blonde, 8 is blonde, 9 is light blonde, and 10 or 11 is very light blonde.  Reds can be anywhere on the color spectrum from 3 (reddish black) to 9 (light reddish blonde).  Identify your natural color (mine is a 4-5) and then see what you want it to be.  Oftentimes, on the side of the box, they will show you what your natural color will turn out like.  Generally, hair dye will end up darker than it seems on the box, so if you are choosing between a darker and lighter color, choose the lighter color.  It is easier to correct too-light dye than too-dark.

Tones- Now that we’re comfortable with levels, let’s get to tones.  Often, you will see a letter after the number on the box.  Examples are A, G, R, C, N, and B.  However, there are many others.  These letters usually stand for the tone of the hair color.  G can stand for “golden”, whereas A can stand for “ash”.  Now how do we know which tone we want for our skin?  I like to separate the tones into four categories: warm, neutral, cool, and red.  Look at the veins on the inside of your wrist.  If they are green, your skin is warm-toned, and you will look good in warm or neutral shades.  (Look for G, N, W, or anything with the words “warm”, “golden”, “caramel”, or “natural” on the box).  If the veins are blue, you are cool-toned, and should gravitate towards “ash”, “champagne”, “beige”, “natural” or “cool”.  Some of us have veins in between blue and green.  Those people are called neutral-toned, and they can pull off any color.  As for red hair tones, they can work on anyone depending on the tone of the red.  Burgundy, violet-based reds are for cool-toned skin, and golden or coppery based reds are for warm-toned skin.

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