Discover How the Hair Colour Wheel Works and How to Use It

Hair colour wheel: The secret hair tool your colourist couldn't live without...  

A hair colour wheel is a handy tool that is important to know about when dyeing your hair. Following the colour wheel theory, the wheel features 12 shades, with contrasting hues that are opposite each other. The colour wheel basically works to show which colours harmonise together and which don’t, which is important when you’re looking for the perfect hair colour.

We know all too well the pain and effort that goes into choosing a new hair hue. Sifting through endless Instagram posts and keeping up with celebrity colour changes can be enough to drive anyone raving mad – but that’s where a hair colour wheel can come in handy.

Any good hair colourist will be familiar with the hair dye colour chart and will regularly refer to it when considering the colouring for their clients, being a quick and easy way to pick the right shade.

Now, if you want to understand how it all works, our guide is all you need.

How Does the Hair Colour Wheel Work?


ath colour wheel


Now don’t be intimidated by the sight of the colour wheel, as it really isn’t all that complicated to decipher. Split straight down the middle, the colours can be categorised as either being cool or warm in tone – much like it is in hairdressing.

The purpose of the hair colour wheel is to show the relationship between certain colours, which is important in hairdressing as it can be used to formulate the best hair colour for you or even neutralise any unwanted tones, by looking at the colour opposite on the wheel. For example, to lift a brassy look from blonde hair, a purple shampoo or a violent toner can be used to counteract and correct unwanted yellow tones.

Below we’ve broken things down even further with a whole host of incredible celebrity and Instagram inspiration, to help you pick the hue that will become your new BFF. Which will you choose?!

Warm Hair Colours

The basics: Made up of a mix of soft yellows, burnt oranges, primary reds, and deep purples, warm-toned colours are great for (you guessed it) adding warmth. Think sunset skies and red velvet that can be worn with any base tones or hair texture!


side view of woman with yellow orange long wavy hair
Striking yellow-orange hues. Credit:

As tertiary colours (a mix of primary and secondary shades), yellow/orange hues are one of the fieriest shades of hair colour available. Make full use of the colour by going for an ombre finish, transitioning from a burnt of orange at the roots and sunflower yellow tips. Credit: @teasesalonoc


slick woods orange buzzcut
Slick Woods shows us how it’s done. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

A secondary colour, orange hues are one of the most replicated shades of hair on the market, with a whole host of looks available from the hair dye colour chart. Seriously, all the cool girls are rocking this bright and bold hue!

From Slick Woods (above) to Bella Thorne (and the originator, Dame Vivienne Westwood), it seems like everyone has tried the orange hue at some point.


woman with orange red shoulder-length
Warm toned orange/red hair looks fab. Credit:

This tertiary colour is like the bold big sister to true red hygge hair. Warming and cosy, orange/red hair is loved by Emma Stone and Christina Hendricks. Credit: @justmaryismyname


bella hadid red highlights runway medium length hair
Peekaboo red highlights. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

From Rihanna to Kristen Stweart, this red primary colour is hugely popular and surprisingly versatile. But if an all-over colour is a tad too daring for you, copy Bella Hadid and add red highlights through your tresses for a runway-inspired ‘do!


woman with deep red long wavy hair
Red/purple hair? Yes please. Credit:

Mixing red and purple, there are a host or deeper shades to experiment with when it comes to this tertiary colour. From red velvet to burgundy, use the hair colour list to find your perfect shade. Credit: @arianna_hairbyvivian

Cool Hair Colours

The basics: Comprising of more vivid purples, oceanic blues, and citrus greens and yellows, cool-toned colours have the ability to calm and soothe. Cast your imagination to underwater expanses, fragrant lavender and refreshing summer cocktails…


Justine Skye purple medium length wavy hair with bangs
Purple hues will turn heads. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Out of all hair colours, this secondary colour is surprisingly wearable. From Justine Skye (above) through to Katy Perry, purple hues fall under the cool section of the colour chart and work on many different skin tones. And since it is Pantone’s Colour of the Year, now is the ideal time to give it a whirl!


side view of woman with shoulder length blue violet hair colour
Adoring this blue/violet shade. Credit:

From 2017’s much-loved denim hair colour trend to 2018’s purple mania, blue/purple shades have been popping up on all our social channels and the tertiary colour is the perfect fusion of cool colours to shake up your style. Credit: @hairroinsalon-la


woman with blue medium length hair and fringe
Backstage blue hair. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

The final primary colour of the wheel, blue hair has been given the thumbs up by the likes of Demi Lovato and Nicole Richie, both of who have been spotted wearing the hue and totally slayed!


halsey blue green pixie cut
This blue/green shade looks amazing on Halsey. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Thinking of trying the pastel hair trend we’ve seen, well, everywhere over the last few months? Then you need to consider this blue/green tertiary colour. Singer Halsey wears it best with a cropped pixie, but we also love Rita Ora’s unicorn-inspired ponytail, too!


kylie jenner green straight medium length hair
Colour chameleon Kylie Jenner with green hair. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

2017’s Pantone colour of the Year meant that green hair was the hue to be seen wearing. From ombre styles to Kylie Jenner’s shadow roots, we expect this secondary colour to continue flooding our social platforms for 2020.


woman with yellow green bo length wavy hair
Highlighter hair as we like to call it. Credit:

How do you like your G&T, with lemon or lime? When it comes to your hair, who said you had to choose? Make this tertiary colour your stand out hue (even if it’s just for festival season). Credit: @sandradelvermehair


rita ora yellow side fringe updo
Rita Ora added yellow through her side fringe. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

One of 3 primary colours, a bumblebee yellow falls under the cool category on the hair colour wheel, yet is also boarding on warm.

Thinking of trying yellow as your next hair hue? Choose from Kylie Jenner‘s all over shade to Rita Ora’s quirky yellow fringe for inspiration. Either way, you’ll have an on-trend hue worthy of your fabulous mane!


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