Beauty Lifestyle Wiki
Beauty Lifestyle Wiki
Go here if you are looking for the category Hair Tones.
Go here if you are looking for the article Coloured Hair.
Go here if you are looking for Hair Levels.
Go here if you are looking for the article Colour and Shade Glossary.

*Hair colour wheel chart.

Hair tones or undertones, influence hair colour and hair reflect. In correspondence to the Hair Colour Wheel Chart* (shown right) and common "Hair Tone" term usage:

1. Blue (Ash or Greyish-Blue)
2. Blue-Violet (Blue, Opalescent, Ice/Icy/Iced or Crystal)
3. Violet (Purple, Pearl, Opalescent or Iridescent)
4. Red-Violet (Mahogany or Cool Auburn)
5. Red (Red, Burgundy or Auburn)
6. Red-Orange (Bronze)
7. Orange (Copper or Warm Auburn)
8. Yellow-Orange (Golden)
9. Yellow (Beige)
10. 11. or 0. Neutral (Neutral, Natural or Soft)

Traditionally, the colour wheel designates: yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange, red and red-violet as warm; violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, green and yellow-green as cool. Or alternatively: yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange and red as warm; red-violet, violet, blue-violet, blue, blue-green and green as cool. However, when it comes to hair—as noted in this colour wheel chart and other hair colour wheel charts—yellow and violet are designated neutral, and red-violet can be regarded as neutral as well or a cool red. Please do note that hair colour tones may not follow traditional colour theory and may deviate instead to popular trends, pop-cultural and brands own prerogatives.

These tones can compliment skin tone and undertones, eye colour and one's face. This also work in one's disadvantage too, so when choosing a hair colour, remember cooler tones usually will compliment those with cool undertones and warmer tones usually will compliment those with warm undertones. Also, those with olive undertones have their own unique disadvantage with red tones but can be complimented with purple tones or mahogany tones. Neutral undertones have the advantage of usually being able to carry any or all hair tones, however, no undertone is exempt from the fact they may not be able to pull off the tones if they are out hair level range, resulting in either a face looking too hardened or obscure.

Brands often use a numbering system when coding or naming their products. Used with or without letters (usually indicating tone acronym or collection) or add additional numbers (usually indicating a primary and/or secondary hair tone number), within each brands own prerogative because in some cases brands may use a product code that may not follow the above leveling number system and instead use another†‡ (examples below) or forgo using any code at all.

.0 - Natural (the colour number ends with a 0): Choose 0 if you want extremely natural results.
.1 - Ash: To correct brown that has become orange, or blonde that has become too gold, opt for ash undertones.
.2 - Opalescent: If your blonde hair looks yellow, neutralize it with violet.
.3 - Gold: You want to add a bit of warmth to your winter tone or look like you just returned from a beach vacation? Choose gold.
.4 - Copper: If you want a more dynamic brown shade without bleaching it, consider spicing up your look with copper undertones.
.5 - Auburn: Having trouble deciding between red and purple? Why not try exotic wood tones like mahogany or auburn?
.6 - Red: Intense, vibrant reds—from the most pure red to the darkest burgundy—add oomph to a blonde or brunette who needs a change.
.7 - Matte (Green)
.9 - Bronze: Does your brown hair lack ambition? Bronze makes brown look regal.

Below is the list of hair tones, for convenience, have been broken down and explained. This will show how hair tones are decoded: how brands code and catalog their hair colours, what undertones or shades are associated with and lastly some examples. Expect a margin of error even with brands for packaging and images may just be adjusted with image adjusting software for "best likeness". If you are having a difficult time identifying tones either believing an error or no code is provided look at the reflect of swatch, the reflect is the lightest or brightest part of a swatch, mimicking what hair colour will look like when in light or when light reflects on it. The reflect may look warm, cool or neutral, or be unmistakably a tone of one of the below.

Remember, when you are looking at hair colouring products—if a brand has a number for a hair colour the first number is almost always the Hair Levels but in some cases it is second, then acronyms (in some cases it proceeds the hair level) and finally the 1-3 numbers after are usually hair tones. Usually if there is two numbers the first number is the primary hair tone and second number is secondary and less prominent. Also note, some brands or instances have no known order to the codes and in that case is best guess compared to similar shades.

Ash Tones[]

Ash, Crystal, Ice/Icy/Iced, Cool or Greyish-Blue.

Number(s): .01 or .8*, 1†‡
Acronym(s): A, AA, NA
Colour Wheel: Blue
Undertone(s): Neutral, Neutral-Cool, Neutral-Warm
Shades(s): Black, Blonde, Brunette

Hair dyes that include the word "Ash" in the name typically means the hair dye is more cool-toned. They consist of green, blue and pale violet undertones. These cancel out any unwanted red, orange, brassy, gold, and yellow undertones. Ash tones unfortunately get the reputation of being "boring" because people associate so much excitement with red tones and purple tones. However, ash tones are very flattering, especially on certain complexions.

Ash tones often have a blue or green (matte) base, but this doesn't mean that the hair looks blue or green. Instead, they simply negate any red tones or bronze tones in the hair. Ash tones can combine with golden tones to look quite pretty. Some people think this looks a little more like beige tones.

Blondes are almost always more flattering when they are neutral or have ash tones. This is because most people with the coloring that can pull off blonde either have neutral toned skin or cool toned skin. Ash tones especially ash blondes, look fabulous on fair skinned people with cool undertones and light eyes, whether blue or gray.

L'Oreal Paris tends to assign blue (ash) tones and blue-violet (blue) tones into the same number code, however, unlike neutralizing ash tones these are icy, cooling or cool ash tones. With black shades this may mean ash/blue tones are harder to differentiate, ash tones may look more neutral or neutral-cool, and blue tones are very cool, blue black or simply blue.

Ash colors also tend to look more natural, since most people's natural hair colors are either neutral or have ash tones.

Beige Tones[]

Beige or Warm Ash.

Number(s): .07*
Acronym(s): B, BB, NWB
Colour Wheel: Yellow
Undertone(s): Neutral, Cool, Warm
Shades(s): Blonde

Beige tones are not commonly found in drugstore colors, and when they are, it is almost always in blonde shades. However, beige tones are very flattering. They are a combination of ash tones, golden tones and neutral tones, so they suit a wide variety of people.

Blue Tones[]

Blue, Cool Ash, Indigo, Iridescent, Crystal, Ice/Icy/Iced or Opalescent.

Number(s): .8*, 2, 1
Acronym(s): B, BB, BA, IN
Colour Wheel: Blue-Violet
Undertone(s): Cool
Shades(s): Black, Blonde

Also regarded as cool ash, indigo, opalescent or iridescent tones commonly used in black shades, sometimes used in fashion blue shades and can be a base or toner for cool ash toned blonde shades. L'Oreal Paris tends to assign blue (ash) tones and blue-violet (blue) tones into the same number code, however, unlike neutralizing ash tones these are icy, cooling or cool ash tones. Garnier seems to assign violet (purple/iridescent) tones and blue-violet (blue/opalescent) tones into the same number code.

The difference can be simplified as follows, ash (blue) tones neutralizes copper (orange) tones, blue (blue-violet) tones neutralizes golden (yellow-orange) tones, and purple (violet) tones neutralizes beige (yellow) tones. So a ash to purple (blue to violet) tone range is commonly used to counter brassy (yellow to orange) range or used to create bright, bold or intense blue, violet or purple type shades.

Bronze Tones[]

Bronze or Chestnut.

Number(s): .063*, 9
Acronym(s): BZ, RG, NRG
Colour Wheel: Red-Orange
Undertone(s): Warm
Shades(s): Brunette

Bronze tones are not commonly found in drugstore colors, they are a mix between golden tones and red tones and are found in brunette shades. Bronze tones basically only flatter people with warm toned skin, as they look too orange on anyone else.

Copper Tones[]

Copper, Orange or Warm Auburn.

Number(s): .4 or .04*, 4†‡
Acronym(s): C, CC, NC
Colour Wheel: Orange
Undertone(s): Warm
Shades(s): Red, Reddish-Blonde

Copper tones can be intense or natural, are an enhanced mix between golden tones and red tones into a nice fiery tone and are often found in red or ginger shades.

Golden Tones[]

Golden or Gold.

Number(s): .03*, 2†‡
Acronym(s): G, NG
Colour Wheel: Yellow-Orange
Undertone(s): Warm
Shades(s): Blonde, Brunette

Golden tones are warmer than beige tones, gives nice warmth to the hair but before getting too copper or red toned and can provide superior gray coverage. In some cases, it can turn brassy and become more of a red-orange undertone.

Green Tones[]

Green, Matte (Mat) or Neutral Ash.

Number(s): .01*, 7†‡
Acronym(s): GN, TL, NA
Colour Wheel: Green
Undertone(s): Neutral, Cool, Neutral-Cool
Shades(s): Brunette

Green tones often referred to as matte are generally used to neutralize red tones, however, in some cases they are used to make some more unconventional hair colours. Neutral or Neutral-Cool, for this tone refers to how subtle to how true green and less blue-green the tone is, in a similar way how red tones may be regarded. Even though true (natural) or pure (neutral) red tone shades may be on the warm side of the colour wheel you do not require to be warm toned. It is similar for pure green tone shades, they may be on the cool side of the colour wheel but do not require you to be cool toned. However, if overly blue toned or teal, it may compliment cool toned skin more.

Note the examples below range from Matte-Ash, Matte-Blue and Matte.

Mahogany Tones[]

Mahogany or Cool Auburn.

Number(s): .05*, 5†‡
Acronym(s): M, RV, RP, VR, NRV
Colour Wheel: Red-Violet or Violet-Red
Undertone(s): Neutral, Neutral-Warm, Neutral-Cool
Shades(s): Black, Brunette

Mahogany tones are a mix between red tones and purple tones, neutralizes deep red to orange undertones into a nice cool red undertone, usually creating true burgundy shades. However, burgundy is considered a red shade, whereas mahogany can be found in brunette or black shades and tends to be more universally neutral. This shade can often paired with a secondary tone such as red or blue, which can lead to miss assigning to either a purple-burgundy or a violet tone. To avoid this confusion just remember mahogany is always a brunette shade (or a black shade) and is neutral with only a chance of slightly neutral-warm or neutral-cool undertones.

For olive toned skin this is the most likely the reddest—or more red influenced—colour you can wear and still compliment your skin tone but be sure to select a true neutral mahogany and not a slightly warmer-redder mahoganies.

You might notice that mahogany tones are never blonde, however, there are what looks like red-violet or warm purples in fashion blonde shades and pastels. This may mean that red-violet or warm purples in fashion blonde shades and pastels, are umbrellaed under purple tones instead.

This shade is also often used as a secondary tone. Brands tend to use burgundy, auburn and mahogany very loosely when naming their products and with that many colours labeled mahogany may not even have any purple tones at all or may indicate there is a mahogany secondary tone but the primary tone changing the shade to be more cool or warm, red or copper, etc. Examples:

  • .15 (1 = ash, 5 = mahogany) Neutral-Cool Brunette Shade
  • .25 (1 = purple, 5 = mahogany) Neutral or Neutral-Cool Brunette Shade
  • .35 (3 = gold, 5 = mahogany) Neutral-Warm Brunette Shade

Neutral Tones[]

Neutral, Natural or Soft.

Number(s): .0*, 0†‡, .8, 00 (or no number at all)
Acronym(s): N, NN
Colour Wheel: Neutral
Undertone(s): Neutral
Shades(s): Black, Blonde, Brunette

Neutral tones or natural tones are great for almost all complexions and the most widely available. People with olive toned skin look best with neutral toned hair. Neutral toned hair also looks great on people with cool toned complexions. It flatters those with warm toned skin, although a golden toned hair color is usually better for them.

Many blonde shades sold at the drugstore have neutral tones. You will usually find 3-4 neutral brunettes shades—sometimes labeled as "chocolate" or "mocha" a rich, medium to deep neutral colour and perhaps 1-2 neutral black shades—often labeled natural or soft. Red shades are never neutral unless neutral refers to as natural-looking or true reds, as all red shades have red or copper tones and is on the warm side of the colour wheel but may have neutral secondary tones.

Purple Tones[]

Purple, Pearl, Opalescent or Iridescent.

Number(s): .22, .2 or.02*, 2†‡
Acronym(s): P, V, VV, NV
Colour Wheel: Violet
Undertone(s): Neutral, Neutral-Cool, Neutral-Warm
Shades(s): Black, Blonde, Brunette, Red

Purple tones are hair color tones most often found in blonde (regarded as iridescent) or brunette and black as dark or bold intense shades. In blonde shades—in some cases—is achieved by purple shampoo, toners or other colour depositing products, usually creating neutralized blonde and light brunette shades. For black and brunette shades it is used to create intense violets and purples. They are also found in red shades, to neutralize or cool red tones to red-violet (mahogany) toned variants. Intense purple tones are very hard to pull off. Olive toned people tend to look striking with these tones.

You might notice that red-violets or warm purples seem to be found here, yet red-violet is considered mahogany tones. Mahogany tones are never blonde, however, there are what looks like red-violet or warm purples in fashion blonde shades and pastels. This may mean that red-violet or warm purples in fashion blonde shades and pastels, are umbrellaed under purple tones instead.

This tone is also widely used for pearl (iridescent + blue tones) blonde, rose gold and pink pastel shades.

Red Tones[]

Red, Burgundy or Auburn.

Number(s): .6*, 6†‡
Acronym(s): R, RR, A
Colour Wheel: Red
Undertone(s): Neutral, Cool, Warm
Shades(s): Black, Brunette, Red, Reddish-Blonde

Red tones maximizes red to orange undertones to create beautiful red tones and are best for people with the natural skin tone of a redhead. Having said that, they can also work on people with cool tones to their skin, in the case of a neutral, true or cool reds like Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme True Red 66 (Pomegranate). They can also work on people with warm toned skin, if the reds have a more coppery or warm auburn tone to them or with slight golden tones to flatter a complexion with yellow undertones.

Olive toned people should stay away from red tones in their hair, unless the tones are very dark with purple tones like dark cool burgundy or mahogany tones. This is because olive toned people have muted, green undertones, which can clash with red shades, especially a lighter or brighter red.

Polychromatic Tones[]

Polychromatic tones are combination of two or more colours, usually in hair tones meaning two or more hair tones of listed in this article, resulting in what some hair brands may refer as dimensional or multi-faceted. Common polychromatic combinations are golden and mahogany, purple and mahogany, red and mahogany, red and copper, purple and ash, ash and golden, neutral and any other tone, etc.

If you will set aside for a moment, that secondary colours are the combination of primary colours and instead focus instead on the colours made with primary and secondary colours. Mahogany is a commonly used polychromatic tone because it itself is a combination of two colours already red-violet and inherently a neutral tone easily used with cool, neutral or warm tones. Golden (yellow-orange) and blue or cool ash (blue-violet) are also already polychromatic, golden being the warm and blue being the cool. These three polychromatic tones are often used with themselves or with other tones in hair dyes often with very attractive results. In many cases this can bring shades to the border between neutral-cool, neutral-warm or make it an intriguing rich neutral.

Bronze (red-orange) is another warm, neutral-warm or rich polychromatic colour. In some brands they choose to create their bronzes with red and golden tones or other combinations instead of assigning it's own code. It also doesn't seem to be used in the same way as another polychromatic combinations like the mentioned above. Instead bronze is often considered a result of other hair tone colour combinations and can be mentioned in the name of the shade as "bronze" or "bronzed".

Polychromatic tones are also used to create unusual colours in bright and bold shades, dark intense shades and pastel shades.

* Joico Numbering System [1]
Ganier Numbering System [2]
L'Oreal Numbering System [3]

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