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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Let's Talk About... Hair Colour


I know this is a little different for my blog but I'd like to take this time to talk to you about this little thing known as hair colour. Now when I say hair colour I mean the chemicals you mix together and throw in your hair to change its natural colour.

Now I know my focus has been mainly around makeup but I've spent the last seven months or so of my life learning about more than just makeup. I would like to share that knowledge with you guys. My main love will always be makeup but who says that's all we have to talk about?

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. What is hair colour? It's a process that changes your hair's natural level and tone to an alternate level and tone. This can be darker or lighter and can be achieved a number of different ways.

This series aims to educate on hair colouring and how it works to allow you to use professional grade products or simply get a better result out of drug store brands that you may use on your hair. It's also a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have on hair colour!

There are two main ingredients when colouring hair. First there's the actual Colour itself. This is the pigment that is deposited in to your hair. Then there is the Developer. This is the activator for the colour, which will help lift your natural colour level to deposit the pigment.

There are different types of Colour and Developer and I'll cover these types in this series of posts.

Next there are some terms we need to learn when talking about hair colour. The first one we're going to learn is Level. The level refers to how light or dark the colour is. Level 1 is pure black, Level 10 is Platinum blonde. The second term we're going to learn is Tone. Tone refers to the type of colour. There are three common tones. Ash, Neutral and Golden. There are several other tones that are used in colours as well, such as Red, Violet, Blue and even Copper. These tones are often referenced just by a letter following the level.

Now that we now what Level and Tone are, you can get an idea of what a colour will look like from the description that's used in professional colours. For example a 5N is a light neutral brown, a 10A is a very light, ashy toned blonde and a 1B is a blue black.

Lightener, sometimes known as Bleach, will lift your hair higher than a developer can. This is especially useful for those of us dark-haired folk who want to achieve the blonde look or those of us who have coloured hair already. More on that in a minute.

Lift is another term you should familiarize yourself with if you have interest in hair colouring. Lift refers to how many levels of 'lift' a developer or lightener will give to your hair. How much lift can be achieved depends on the state of your hair. If your hair is virgin hair (Uncoloured, unlightened), you can use a developer to achieve lift for your desired colour result up to 4 - 5. If you hair is already coloured (even if it's been a year since you coloured), or you wish to lift more than 4 or 5 levels on Virgin hair, you will need to lighten your coloured hair first if you wish to go lighter than the colour you currently have.

Make sense?

Here's a review of what we've learned so far.


  • Colour and Developer are your two main ingredients. 
  • Level and Tone dictate the type of colour you will end up with in your hair. (For example, 8A, light blonde ash) 
  • Lightener, sometimes known as Bleach, will lift higher than developer alone. 
  • Lift is how many Levels the developer/lightener will lift your hair.
  • IF you have Virgin (uncoloured) hair, you can use a developer to achieve up to 4 - 5 levels of Lift.
  • IF you have Coloured hair, Colour and Developer will only be able to maintain or deepen your hair. It will not be enough to Lift your hair to a higher Level. Lightener will need to be used to achieve a lighter Level than your current colour. 
That's all we'll cover today but keep your eyes open for blog posts on Permanent Colour, Lightening, Demi-Permanent Colour, Semi-Permanent Colour and Colour Theory