How To Use The Color Wheel To Formulate Your Perfect Hair Color
Would you like your own personal hair colorist standing beside you as you color your hair? A color wheel is the next closest thing. Designed to visually show how primary, secondary and tertiary colors interact with each other, it also shows how colors either complement or counteract each other. In this regard, the color wheel is the perfect foundation for home hair color.
As hair lightens, "underlying pigment" or undertones appear. Look at the chart above. Across the top are the 10 identifying "levels" of hair color. Underneath each are the undertones that appear as hair is lightened to that particular level. As it happens, the underlying pigment chart simplifies and illustrates the helpful information the hair color wheel so badly wants you to understand.
Warmth Appears As Hair Lightens
Hair always lightens to warm tones. More often than not, home hair colorists turn to the color wheel as an aid to "counteract" strong undertones. Follow the steps below to get the most benefit from the hair color wheel:
1) Determine the hair color you want to achieve.
2) Looking at the underlying pigment chart, find the level of that color.
3) Note that color's' underlying pigment.
4) Find the underlying pigment color on the color wheel.
5) Trace your finger directly across the wheel to find its counteracting tone.
- Here are the descriptive terms used for hair color's:
- * "Ash" is the descriptive term associated with green-the counteracting tone for red hair. Levels 1,2, 3 even 4&5-black, black brown, very dark brown, & dark brown. (Personal note: Level 5 hair color is often called a medium brown-I disagree. I strongly feel that it is much closer to a dark brown than a medium brown.)
- * "Smokey", "cool", "beige" and yes, sometimes "ash" refers to blue. Blue based hair colors balance orange. Brassy orange tones appear as medium to light brown hair (levels 6 & 7 ) is lightened.
- * "Platinum", "icy"" champagne" and once again, "ash" is purple based which counteracts yellow. (When counteracting yellow, be sure that the hair is actually yellow- (level 9 or above) not light gold-( level 8,8 1/2). Why? Look at the color wheel in the picture in the video above. Purple is made up of of red and blue. The red half of purple will intensify, not counter the gold undertone. A strand test is so vital to determine which counteracting tone (i.e. hair color) is best to use.
Use The Color Wheel to Cool Down That Warmth
Even when you've successfully put together the right formula, there are times when the color wheel doesn't seem to be the color expert you've been led to believe it to be. Why? This is Laurie. Below are several examples of the challenges her hair has experienced:
1) Sometimes Laurie's hair might have an abundance of a particular undertone-particular to the level she's trying to achieve. Slightly darkening Laurie's hair color would be the perfect solution to balancing the brassiness. Darker than you would like? Add a few highlights to give the illusion of lightness.
2) Laurie may have lightened her hair more than two shades resulting in stubborn undertones, seemingly unwilling to budge. See above.
3) When/if Laurie continuously "refreshes" her hair ends with the permanent color formula used on her roots, the porosity of the hair is destroyed, making her hair unable to hold the hair color. Shortly after she's colored her hair, it fades to a dull, brassy color".
Laurie first needs to recondition her hair. Neutral Protein Filler will help to even out the porosity issues with Laurie's hair. The next time she color's her hair, the filler should be applied to her ends per the directions. Then each time afterwards, added to her color before refreshing the color.
Mixing your hair color can fine tune it or "double up" to add impact to the counteracting tones. Following is a formula for Laurie's hair that would avoid this brassy color.
Mix: 1/2 oz 7.1 Dark Ash Blonde Preference Liquid Creme hair color
1/2 oz. 7.1B Medium Ash Blonde Preference Liquid Creme hair color
1 oz. 20 Volume peroxide
Looking at the color wheel (above in my video picture above) level 7 undertone is orange. Straight across from orange on the "wheel" is blue. Blue is the undertone of beige. That's the "b" in this this formula and is a doubling up along with the ash in this formula.