Basics of Hair Colors

Posted by HaircolorChameleon on Tue, Mar 14th, 2006
Learn about the basic information of hair colors and hair highlight.

If you know the color wheel color becomes easy...

It may sound a bit odd but your hair is a mixture of 3 colors; red yellow, and blue. These are the primary colors. Secondary colors are orange, green, and violet. If you look at the "wheel" a color opposite (directly across) will "negate" that color. This means if your hair is a orange color - blue will make it a brown/black color. If you hair has a yellow tone, violet will cancel it out.

One of the most important elements of haircoloring is determining the hairs' "underlying pigmet" (the hairs' natural color.) When you chose a color in a swatch book, your hair may not come out that color because of the underlying pigment in your hair.

Underlying color + Artifcial color = Final result

Levels of Hair Color

  • 1=Black
  • 2=Very Dark Brown
  • 3=Dark Brown
  • 4=Brown
  • 5=Medium Brown
  • 6=Light Brown
  • 7=Dark Blonde
  • 8=Light Blonde
  • 9=Very Light Blonde
  • 10=Light Platium Blonde

Types of Haircolor

Temporary - color lasts from one shampoo to the next and is deposited on the outside of the hair shaft.

Semi-Temporary - color lasts up to 4-6 shampoos. Usually contain no ammonia and does not have a developer.

Demi Permanent - color usually contains little or no ammonia and utilizes a low peroxide developer (under 10 vol.) the color lasts about 6 weeks and fades gradually back to the natural shade.

Semi-Permanent - color usually contains some ammonia and uses a deloper of 10 to 20 vol.

Permanent - color formulas change the natural hair color. They require maintenance to new hair growth after 4 to 6 weeks. (For the purposes of this guide we will be discussing Permanent colors and methods of processing only.)

How it Works

Before any permanent color can be deposited into the hair shaft, the cuticle, or outer layer, must be opened. The insoluble formula then reacts with the cortex, or middle layer, to deposit or remove the color. The color is available in a variety of forms; creams, gels or tubes, or shampoos. These will not permanently change the hair color until they are part of an oxidation chemical reaction.

The Oxidizing Agent or Developer is hydrogen peroxide in one of various forms and strengths. lt is the catalyst or cause of the chemical reaction which allows the formula to permanently alter the hair's color. The strength of the developer - is determined by the desired results and the manufacturer's directions.

  • 10 Volume - Color deposit with only slight lightening.
  • 20 Volume - Maximum color deposit as for gray or white hair with lightening 
  • 30 Volume - Strong lightening action with less color deposit. 
  • Bleaching Boosters - can be added to increase lifting action. 
Consult manufacturer's instructions . Too much developer and the color may not have good highlights, cover poorly, not lift to the correct level and fade more quickly.


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Posted by stacy steinbrook on Sun, Oct 9th, 2011
How long should you wait after coloring hair before you put highlights in?
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Posted by seb14 on Wed, Nov 4th, 2009
umm I have achestnut brown hair color. what colors should I put in my hair. Just haighlights though.
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Posted by Rianna on Sun, Nov 1st, 2009
hi, i need some advice,
i have naturaly blonde hair and have permanently dyed it black, i want to put light brown and red foils in it what ratio will i use?
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Posted by Amanda on Tue, Oct 13th, 2009
I need advice on how to acheive a dark brown with subtle violet tones (I want the violet tones to appear more in the sunlight, and be subtle in regular light).    I am naturally about a level 3 brown, my current color is very dark auburn). I was thinking about mixing a 2N with a 2V.    What ratio brown to violet should I use?
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Posted by Willette Haines on Wed, Aug 5th, 2009
I was looking for advice to what color to highlight my hair to want a weave with a lighter color I am a brunette want a few lighter colors unsure what that color might be suggestions???
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Posted by DCR on Fri, Nov 14th, 2008
You get 30 volume.    10 goes max of 10 and 30 goes max 30.    No need to use the 10 it will not increase the 30.    The max number is the volume you get.
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Posted by Daniel Glover on Wed, Sep 17th, 2008
If you mix 10 volume developer and 30 volume developer do you get 20 volume or do you get 40 volume.
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bgfe on Tue, Sep 22nd, 2015
Magnificent web site. A lot of useful information here.
I'm sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your sweat!
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