Color Theory: A Crash Course in Hair Color Basics

  • Learn about the different types of hair color, how they work and which formula is right for you. 

    Colorants and Developers

    Your hair color box always contains two key ingredients: a colorant (usually labeled step 1) and a developer (step 2). When mixed together, the developer works as an oxidizing agent and activates the color. By reacting to the developer, color can penetrate the hair’s inner layer and easily bind to each individual hair. That’s the secret to gorgeous color! It usually takes between 20-30 minutes for oxidization to complete, so never skimp on processing time.

  • Level

    Hair color ranges from black (level 1) to lightest blonde (level 10). The further you move away from your natural color, the more dramatic your results. That means your roots will be noticeable sooner. For more time between colorings, stay 2 levels lighter or darker than your natural color.

  • Tone

    Tone is measured in warm, cool and natural. If you want to add warmth to your hair, go with golden, chestnut or bronze tones. Or, keep it cool with icy, ashy or smoky shades. Shades with “natural” in their name allow your natural color to show through the result and provide the best gray coverage.

  • Gel

    Hair color comes in 3 different forms: Gel, crème and mousse. A silky gel formula provides a luminous, translucent color result. It’s our longest lasting color, defying fade-out for up to 8 weeks.

    Try: Superior Preference®

  • Crème

    A crème formula provides maximum gray coverage and it is perfect coarse, dry or fragile hair.

    Try: Healthy Look® Crème Gloss

  • Mousse

    If application is your biggest priority, try an easy-to-apply mousse formula for gorgeous color without the fuss. It works like shampoo – just pump and lather.

    Try: Superior Preference Mousse Absolue

  • Retouch

    When touching up always apply color to your roots first and process for the full time. Apply color to the rest of your hair for only 10 to 15 minutes to ensure even color results (check your instruction sheet for exact timing). If you want to go lighter, select a shade slightly lighter than the shade you applied last time. Apply color to your roots only to encourage your ends to fade and match your desired shade.

  • Highlights

    Want to brighten your overall look with highlights? You can lighten individual pieces of hair using two different methods. A pull-through cap offers easy, precise application and perfect if it’s your first time working with highlights. If you want a more custom look, a paint-on method allows you to create symmetrical or asymmetrical highlights.

  • Non-Permanent

    Non-permanent hair color lasts 28 shampoos and naturally blends away grays. It can either enhance your color or make it darker and leaves a less obvious root line than permanent color.

  • Permanent

    Permanent color on the other hand, does not wash out and lasts until your hair grows out or is cut. It allows you to go lighter, go darker or cover 100% of grays. Keep in mind, if you like the idea of a permanent color, but you’re undecided on a shade select the lighter shade first. It’s easier to make your hair darker if you have a change of heart because hair color cannot lighten hair color.

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