Understanding the Hair Color Wheel and How It Applies to Your Hair

Learn how to use the hair color wheel to find out which shades and hues will work for you.

The hair color wheel generates a lot of confusion among those of us who aren’t beauty school graduates. While you might not consider the hair color wheel as you pick your specific hair color, you may want to have an understanding of how it works so that you can properly maintain your fresh color, post-salon trip. Luckily, the wheel is not hard to master and we’ll walk you through the basics so that your hair care practices and products best reflect and benefit your hair color needs.

hair color wheel brunette
Learn about hair color with the color wheel.

The Basics

Understanding the color wheel will help you have a more realistic expectation of what you can expect from your hair.

The first shade of hair color that you see when you lift the hair with bleach is called the undertone. This comes into play when you bleach or lighten hair, i.e. if you lift dark brown hair, you’ll see its undertone, which is oftentimes a shade of red. From there, the color will lighten first to orange, and then to yellow. Then you can take your hair to different shades of blonde.

Your hair will only go up a maximum of 4 levels for every round of bleach, and you’ll be doing damage to your hair throughout that process. Set yourself up with realistic expectations for how light you can make your hair while still maintaining the integrity of your locks.

This is where the color wheel comes into play. You can neutralize certain tones by going across the color wheel to see what counteracts that color. Analyzing your strands based on the color wheel and finding the right shades of toner will help you balance out those brassy colors and help you achieve the hair color of your dreams.

hair color wheel
Violet is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel, thus is the shade that can neutralize brassy, yellow tones.

Achieving and maintaining a new color can be work. Incorporate a colored shampoo into your regular hair washing routine to balance out some of that fade and keep your color intact.

Colored Hair Care to Keep Your Tones Fresh

To keep yellow tones out of your hair, use a purple shampoo and conditioner.  Purple is across from yellow on the color wheel, making it the perfect neutralizer for blondes. We highly recommend using Nexxus Blonde Assure Purple Shampoo and Conditioner to keep your hair color cool and vibrant.

To keep orange tones out of your hair, use a blue shampoo. Blue is across from orange on the hair color wheel, so a blue shampoo will help keep orangey toned hair fresh-hued and brass-free.

To keep red tones out of your hair, use a green shampoo. Keep your reds out of the fiery zone (unless that’s where you want it!) with the help of a green shampoo or ashy-tinted toner.

hair color wheel hair care
Keep your colored hair strong with the right hair care products.

Keep Your Hair Healthy After Coloring

It’s important to hydrate strands that have undergone chemical processes like these and we suggest using a deep conditioner. Dove Nutritive Solutions Clarify & Hydrate Conditioner is a great in-shower option while TRESemmé Pro Pure Detangle and Smooth Leave-In Conditioner is ideal for women looking for a ‘spray and go’ option. Both are intensely hydrating and will give your hair some much-needed TLC after the bleaching process.

Understanding the hair color wheel is crucial for any hair colorist, but it’s also important for you to have some knowledge, so you can maintain your color after you get it dyed. Now that you have the basics down, you will be able to keep your color fresh and vibrant for longer!

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