Feb 27, 2015

How to get a mahogany brown hair color

A mahogany brown hair color suits many people because it is a vibrant blend of red and violet tone that has elements of both cool and warm hair color. Even if you have a cooler skin tone and don't normally suit red hair, chances are that you can pull off a mahogany brown color.

What is mahogany brown hair?

Mahogany shades incorporate rich red tones that are blended with a less dominant violet tone. This gives the shade a similar appearance to mahogany wood, which is itself a deep, rich red color.

As mahogany shades contain violet color, they work well with a cool skin tone, as the violet tone helps to soften the warmth that would otherwise completely clash with your complexion. Essentially, mahogany brown hair is a color that can suit people who wouldn't normally be able to successfully pull off red hair.

The dye process

The dye process for mahogany brown hair depends on whether your hair is already brown or is blonde. A different procedure is required in both cases. If your hair is blonde, you will need to fill it with gold or copper before it can be dyed mahogany. If you already have brown hair though, the process is as simple as applying the right dye.

Dyeing brown hair mahogany

If you have brown hair and have never dyed it before, this means not only can you dye your hair mahogany brown, but you can even lighten it to a lighter shade of brown if desired. If you have previously dyed your hair though, you can't always lighten it further with more dye, but you can still successfully dye it a mahogany brown that is the same depth or darker.

Selecting the right dye

Your chosen mahogany brown dye should be no lighter than your current brown colour if you've dyed your hair before as a lighter shade won't necessarily work and will produce only a subtle change. In this case, choose a dye that is the same level or darker for best results.

Shades that are darker than your current color will not only produce a darker mahogany, but also a more vibrant mahogany brown hair color with more intense red and violet tones. For a lighter shade in previously dyed hair, it is best to pre-lighten with bleach first to ensure the color will take properly.

If you want to lighten your hair and it hasn't been dyed in the past, you can achieve this by choosing a lighter shade. If your chosen shade is two levels lighter than your current color, this means you need to lighten your hair two levels in order for the color to take. To do this, you need to use a higher volume of developer in the color to provide the lightening.

To make the process of choosing a mahogany brown hair dye easier, you can use the chart below to quickly select the right dye for your desired results. The desired shade in the left column is achieved with the dye and developer volume listed to the right.

In this sense, you can see that if you want a mahogany brown that is one level lighter than your current color, you would need to use a dye that is one level lighter, and mix that with 20 vol developer to adjust for the lightening that is required to reach the shade.

Darker colors are all mixed with 10 vol as no lightening is required. Tone-on-tone color, where the level of the dye is the same as your own hair, also requires a slightly higher developer strength, as this is necessary to take out enough of your current color for the new color to appear vibrant, even though you're not really going any lighter.

Choosing developer strengths - Find out how to choose the right developer for the amount of lightening or dye results you want...

Desired shade Dye and developer to use
Same level Same level dye - 20 vol developer
Darker Darker dye - 10 vol developer
1 shade lighter 1 shade lighter - 20 vol developer
2 shades lighter 2 shades lighter - 30 vol developer
3 shades lighter 3 shades lighter - 40 vol or pre-lighten first

Note: To use this table, choose the color result you want from the left side of the table. To get that hair color, use the dye in the right side, with the developer listed. As an example, if you wanted a mahogany that is 2 levels lighter than your current brown color, and you are currently dark brown, you would need to use a light mahogany brown dye with 30 vol as the developer to achieve this.

If you have black hair and want a light mahogany brown color; or if your hair is a darker brown and you want a mahogany color that requires 3 or more levels of lightening, it is often more reliable to pre-lighten your hair with bleach first, because there is no guarantee the dye will be able to lighten hair like this to the extent that is required.

It is also more reliable to pre-lighten your hair if it has been previously dyed, as hair dye doesn't effectively remove artificial color. It will often drive your dyed hair lighter by taking out more natural pigment, but this can't always be depended on. If nothing else, use hair dye remover first to try and strip out as much artificial color as possible before dyeing.



For precise results, apply your mahogany brown hair color using a tinting bowl and brush to sectioned hair. This makes the application both easier and quicker. To section your hair out, all you need to do is part it down the middle and then again from each ear. This gives you four roughly equal sections of hair that are much easier to work with.

When you apply the dye, start at the top of one section, working in thin layers. Apply the dye to both sides of each layer and work your way down until you get to the last layer at the bottom of that section. Continue in this way through the other sections and you'll be done in no time.

Once the dye is applied, it will then need to develop. Processing time is often dependent on the amount of lightening required, and the lighter you want the mahogany brown hair color to be, the longer it will usually need to develop.

This development also varies by brand however, and you should use the recommended processing time for the lightening required and brand being used. Some brands will also allow you to use heat during development for a shorter processing time or to force more lift.

Pre-lightening dark or dyed hair

If your hair is naturally black, or has been dyed a dark color, you'll get the most reliable results if you pre-lighten it with bleach before dyeing it. This produces the lightening required, and then the mahogany brown hair color is mixed with 10 vol developer and applied to finish the color.

As you lighten your hair, the warm base tone is revealed and then a color shift begins to occur. Dark brown or black hair will first start to turn a rusty red color, which then turns a brighter red before beginning to shift to more of an orange color.

You can use the color of your hair to determine when to remove the bleach and then apply the dye, as the lightened color of your base tone can be used to give an approximation of the level.

Desired level Bleach hair to:
Dark mahogany brown Red
Medium mahogany brown Orange-red
Light mahogany brown Orange

To use the chart above, choose the mahogany brown hair color you are aiming for from the left column, then bleach your hair to the color listed in the right column before applying your mahogany brown dye.

How to bleach your hair - Need more help mixing, applying, and lightening your hair with bleach? Find out how to use it before you continue...

Filling blonde hair

Dyeing blonde hair to mahogany brown is a slightly different process. As the base tone for brown hair color varies from orange to red, and this is missing in blonde hair, simply applying a darker dye can cause a strange result rather than what is intended.

Often, a mahogany brown hair color will turn out bright but lack the richness it is meant to have, and will fade quickly. Other times, especially in very light blonde hair, the violet tone becomes dominant and you will end up with bright purple hair instead of a true mahogany color.

The easiest way to get around this is to fill your hair first. To do this, simply add the missing base tone back in for the color you want to achieve. You can use the table in the previous section to determine which color is needed.

Filling can be achieved using either a protein filler or a demi-permanent dye. If in doubt about what product to use to fill your hair before dyeing it mahogany, leave a comment for more information that fits your own hair goals.


Hair color maintenance

Hair dye fades, regardless of whether it is permanent or temporary. While a temporary color will generally completely wash out over time though, a permanent mahogany dye will simply fade until it becomes a duller red-brown color. This is largely unavoidable, but there are things you can do to keep your hair color for longer. The use of color refresher shampoos and semi-permanent dyes for toning is one of the best ways to combat fading.

How to decrease fading - Discover more ways to slow down fading in your new mahogany brown hair color, from your shampoo to retouching.

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Feb 26, 2015

How to color hair

Hair dye is one of the best ways to change your look and create a brand new style.

Whether you dye your hair a few times in your lifetime, or you change your color every chance you get, you'll get the best results if you learn how to color hair before applying the dye.

Level and tone

Your hair color is a combination of two different qualities: level and tone. Understanding these qualities is the secret to coloring hair at home for a salon result.

The level is a scale from 1 to 10 which represents how dark the actual color of your hair is. Hair that is a level 1 is black, whilst hair that is a level 10 is nearly white.

Tone, on the other hand, describes the actual color that is present. This can be either a cool or warm tonal direction. The different tones include:
  • Ash
  • Pearl
  • Natural
  • Beige
  • Golden
  • Copper
  • Red
  • Mahogany
  • Violet

There are also many different combinations that can be made up by blending these tones together; such as honey or caramel colors which utilize both gold and copper tones. Beige and mahogany are themselves blends of two different tones. Beige is a mix of ash and golden tone, to create a softer gold, whilst mahogany is a mix of red and violet.

The exact colour of your hair can be described using this system, and you can choose the correct shade of dye for your intended result by understanding how depth and tone are separate. This is crucial to learning how to color hair.

Hair dye levels - Discover how to use the level system and how to decipher hair dye shade codes when choosing a shade of dye...

Choosing a shade

Choosing a shade of dye is an important process. You need to look at both the level and tone of the dye to get the exact result you want.

If the colour you want is lighter than your current color, it is also best to choose a cooler tone as lightening reveals the warm base tones underneath the color in your hair that you can see. A cool tone like ash neutralises this warmth as it lightens. Choosing a dye that is too warm can result in red, orange, or yellow hair.

Similarly, when you dye your hair more than 2 - 3 levels darker, the tone of the dye used can become too dominant and vibrant, giving a strange result. The best way to combat this is to either fill your hair first or use a balanced natural tone which contains all three primary colours so that it ends up a neutral shade.

Lightening hair

If you want to lighten your hair, this also has special rules that need to be taken into account when learning how to color hair. Permanent hair dye can reliably lighten natural hair up to 3 levels. If you want a lighter color than this, or your hair has already been dyed, it needs to be pre-lightened with bleach first.

The component of hair dye that drives lightening, as well as development is developer, and this needs to be chosen based on how much lightening you need. Box dyes don't allow you to choose the developer strength, and this can lead to mistakes if it is too low or too high. The developer in a box dye is the liquid in the applicator bottle and is pre-chosen and measured.

For more control, use salon dye to lighten hair, and choose the correct developer for your desired result.

Choosing developer - Find out how to choose developer to tone, darken, or lighten your hair with dye...


For precise application while coloring hair at home, it is best to use a tinting brush and bowl. This allows you to get a more even and consistent application compared to using a bottle like in box dyes.

Furthermore, sectioning out your hair is also necessary and makes the process both quicker and much easier. To do this, part your hair directly down the middle, then part it again from ear to ear and clip each section together.

This gives you four quadrant sections and application is as easy as taking layers of hair from the top of your head, applying dye by brush to both sides of the layer, and then working your way down to the end of the quadrant. Once finished with one section, move onto the next and continue like this until your hair is covered.

After it is applied, let it develop and then rinse out, shampoo with a gentle cleanser, and then condition your hair before drying and styling as usual.

How to dye your hair - Need more help with application? Discover how to apply and use dye properly...


All hair color fades, regardless of whether it is permanent or temporary. If you choose a vibrant color, this is far more prone to the effects of fading simply because the bright color starts to look dull after a shorter time frame.

If the color is permanent, one of the best ways to tone or refresh it is to use a semi-permanent dye in between hair coloring touch-ups. This adds vibrant tone back in but doesn't cause any damage, so it can be used as often as necessary to maintain a bright hair color.

Semi-permanent dye - Find out how long this kind of dye lasts and how to keep the results vibrant for longer...

Other options include the use of color refreshing shampoos like De Lorenzo's Nova Fusion line. These shampoos come in intense reds, violet, brown, blonde, and various other shades. Other brands sometimes also make products like this, but De Lorenzo is the most extensive.

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Feb 23, 2015

Benefits of a keratin hair treatment

A keratin hair treatment is a type of hair straightening treatment that is rather unique in what it can achieve and how it works. These treatments can not only smooth and straighten hair to a completely pin straight result, but also do this without damage, unlike relaxers.

In fact, they actually repair existing damage and can greatly improve the condition of your hair, leaving it feeling better than it did before using the product.

How do keratin treatments work?

Hair is made of a protein called keratin. This protein forms the strong yet elastic structure of hair and gives it all its natural qualities, including causing it to look straight or curly. This natural texture is due to chemical bonds between keratin in your hair.

Keratin itself, as a protein, is comprised of amino acids. An amino acid called cysteine forms disulfide bonds with other cysteine molecules. The more bonds that are present, the curlier your hair becomes as these bonds attract keratin molecules to each other.

A keratin hair treatment works by introducing more keratin into your hair, as well as different kinds of keratin. This extra keratin is set into your hair in a way that temporarily changes the texture and smooths out curls and waves because the combined structure of the natural keratin and added keratin interacts differently.

This process prevents bonding from occurring in a way that produces curls and your hair becomes straight as a result. The effect is temporary and over time the keratin that was added to your hair will wash out, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Keratin treatments vs relaxers

Keratin treatments produce the same results as a relaxer, but they are fundamentally different in terms of how they work. Whilst a keratin hair treatment creates new bonds without actually removing the existing bonds in your hair, a relaxer intentionally destroys bonds.

A relaxer works by reducing the bonds in your hair, which breaks them down. Once the bonds are broken, the hair is smoothed out and exposed to oxidation to reset the bonds in the new straight texture.

The relaxing process is permanent as the former bonds no longer exist, whereas a keratin treatment doesn't actually destroy the natural bonds in your hair. This is also predominately why a relaxer causes damage. A keratin hair treatment doesn't cause damage because it doesn't change the structure of your hair.

Keratin straightening treatment
  • Straightens hair
  • Non-damaging
  • Repairs damage
  • Lasts up to 3 months
  • Can be used on colored or lightened hair

  • Straightens hair
  • Results are permanent
  • Very damaging
  • Can't always be applied to colored, lightened, or naturally weak hair

Keratin hair treatment cost

A keratin hair treatment takes quite a bit of time as the hair needs to be washed, dried, and set with a flat iron. As such, the treatment can be expensive if done in the salon.

Most hairdressers will charge at least $300 for the treatment. Keratin products like shampoo and conditioner are a separate added cost after the service. These products help the treatment last longer, and whilst they will benefit your hair and keep the results for longer, they do increase the amount you will spend in total.

Applying a keratin hair treatment yourself however, is extremely cheap for the results, costing anywhere from $30 - $100 for the actual treatment product, and other products that maintain the treatment. Without being too difficult to apply, this is a better route for anyone on a budget.


The first keratin hair treatments contained formaldehyde, and this was potentially detrimental to health when the fumes are inhaled. Luckily, this is a non-issue these days as the great majority of keratin hair products don't contain any formaldehyde.

As there are still a handful of these original styled products likely remaining on the market however, you should always be sure the treatment you're using is formaldehyde-free for peace of mind. If you have it done in the salon, ask your hairdresser what they use. If you apply the treatment at home, read the ingredients.

How the treatment is applied

In order to apply a keratin treatment, your hair needs to be shampooed first to remove any buildup of product and conditioner or natural oil. This is necessary for the keratin to penetrate your hair properly, and important for the setting phase as the hair needs to be clean so that it can be left unwashed while the treatment sets.

Following shampooing, the treatment is applied to your hair while it is still slightly damp, and then massaged and combed through to ensure it is evenly distributed. Then your hair is flattened out and blow dried straight to dry it with the keratin still in your hair.

Finally, the keratin treatment is then set into the hair and properly activated by using a flat iron at high heat. It needs to be straightened flawlessly in order to get perfect results. Once it is straightened, it is then left for a number of days to finish setting.

During the resting phase, you can't wash your hair or otherwise allow it to get wet or else you will ruin the results. You also need to ensure that your hair remains completely straight as any kinks or curls that are allowed to develop in this time can set into your hair.

Once the wait is over, you can wash and style your hair as usual and benefit from smooth, straight hair. Keratin shampoo and conditioner will help the treatment last longer, whilst you should avoid any product that contains cooking salt (Sodium chloride), as this will leach the treatment out of your hair.

If you look after your new treatment, your hair will remain smooth for up to 3 months depending on the brand of the treatment and how serious you are about avoiding salt and using maintenance products.

More information:

Have a question about the keratin hair treatment, or wondering whether it is right for you? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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How to get platinum blonde hair

Platinum blonde hair is beautiful, although it can often be a difficult color to reach. This is because in order to get a platinum blonde hair color, your hair needs to be lightened quite a bit. In fact, it has to be a very pale yellow shade before it can be properly toned to platinum.

What is platinum blonde?

Platinum blonde hair is a pale silvery blonde color. In order to achieve this color, your hair must be effectively lightened to close to a level 10, which is the lightest hair color possible. This results in pale yellow hair that is the color of the inside of a banana peel.

Of course, this banana color isn't what is normally considered platinum yet, and toning is required to neutralize the small amount of remaining warm pigment. A pastel violet toner is used in this last step to correct this warmth and produce a sleek frosty blonde color.

The dye process

The process for dyeing your hair platinum entails two separate stages:
  • Lightening your hair
  • Toning your hair
Lightening is achieved by using bleach in most cases. If your hair is naturally blonde and hasn't been dyed, you may be able to lighten and tone in one step with either a regular permanent dye or a high lift dye in an ash shade depending on how dark your hair is.

Lightening to platinum blonde hair with dye like this is really only reliable if your hair is naturally medium blonde already. If your hair has been previously dyed, or if it is naturally darker, you can't use a method like this and it absolutely needs to be pre-lightened with bleach to ensure a good result.

Using high lift dye - Find out how to mix, prepare, and apply high lift color, and whether it is a viable method for your desired platinum result...


Should you go platinum blonde?

The first step to getting your hair to platinum blonde is to lighten it using bleach. This should only be done if your hair is in good condition.

If you have hair that is darker than light brown or that has already been dyed previously with dark hair colors, chances are that one bleach will not be enough to take it to the shade of blonde that you want, and this needs to be factored into your decision to dye your hair.

Successive bleaching means more damage, as well as a longer time span to reach platinum blonde hair. It also means that regrowth may not lighten fully in one treatment, and maintenance is more complicated than it otherwise would be if your hair is light enough that you only need to bleach once.

If you've taken all of this into account and want to go platinum however, it's possible to achieve this regardless of how dark your hair naturally is. As long as you are careful with the condition of your hair, and sensible in taking the process slowly, your hair can be dyed platinum.

Pre-lightening hair


Your hair needs to be pre-lightened with bleach to achieve platinum blonde hair. For the best results, this bleach should be a high quality salon powder, as these products produce better lightening and less damage than generic powders do.

This needs to be mixed with peroxide developer in the correct ratio for your particular brand. Most bleach powders use a 1 to 2 ratio of powder to developer, but this does vary and you will get the most reliable results by using the ratio that your own brand recommends.

You will also need to be able to apply the bleach as quickly as possible and preferably to properly sectioned hair for an even result. Any unevenness in the application will translate to the lightening, resulting in darker and lighter patches that will affect your later color result.

This means instead of sleek platinum blonde hair, you will end up with a platinum that has patches of darker brassy hair, and other patches that have been lightened past the pale yellow stage where significant damage begins to occur, leading to breakage and frizz.

None of this is meant to scare you, but rather to illustrate the effect that an uneven application can have on your hair when the intent is to go this light. The lighter you intend to go with bleach, the more noticeable any application mistakes will become.

If you're confident in your application skills however, and ready to achieve platinum blonde hair, you can begin applying bleach to sectioned hair. This can be left to process only for the maximum processing time as directed by the brand of bleach you are using.

Leaving bleach on for longer than this time doesn't produce much more lightening as most of the reaction has already completed, but what it does do is result in extra damage. The added time that your hair is exposed to the alkaline pH of the product increases damage past the benefit of this minimal lightening.

If you haven't reached a pale yellow colour after bleaching, you will need to bleach your hair again at a later time. It is generally best to wait at least a week before doing this as it can take this long for your hair to build up moisture again and start to feel normal. The longer you can leave it, the better condition your hair will be in once you get to platinum.

How to bleach hair - Need more recommendation about how to mix, apply, and use bleach, as well as how to properly section out your hair for application? Find it here, as well as after-lightening care.


Toning hair to platinum

Hair that has reached the pale yellow stage is the colour of banana flesh. It's very light and there is only the faintest yellow tone left. This is how light your hair needs to be in order to actually be toned to platinum.

Darker yellow, or gold hair, can also be toned to blonde, but it won't look platinum regardless of toning, as platinum is a result of depth rather than just tone. You absolutely must reach a light enough shade for it to look the way it should.

To finish the colour and tone it to platinum, you need to use a pastel ash blonde toner. This ash should be violet-based as the violet tone neutralises yellow. Most professional dye brands use a code like 'T' or 'P' to specifiy a toner product, like in the case of Indola's P.01 toner, which is a pastel ash.

With other brands you will need to use a regular permanent dye instead if they don't have pastel toners. Dyes like Igora Royal 9.5-1 or Goldwell Colorance 10V will produce a platinum result in pre-lightened hair. Wella's popular at-home color line, Color Charm, can also be used in T18 to get platinum blonde hair. For specific shades in your desired brand, feel free to leave a comment and ask.

Apply your toner quickly and evenly to sectioned hair. It only needs to be left until it has effectively toned out the last traces of yellow in your hair. Leaving it longer than this can lead to your hair gaining a violet tinge and it won't look platinum.

Once it has toned, rinse the dye out and you can now enjoy your new platinum blonde hair. Regular toning is often still required as the color fades out over time, but this can be done easily with violet shampoo. The right shampoo negates any need to use anymore dye or more intensive toners to maintain your color.

More information:

Have a question about platinum blonde hair? Wondering whether your hair is in good enough condition, or what dye to use as the final toner? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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Feb 22, 2015

Choosing a new hair color

A new hair color can mean many things. It can be change, a whole new style, or even reflect the movement into a different stage of your life. What is consistent however, is that the choice itself needs to match your features and work within the bounds of what you can realistically achieve.

Choosing your new color like this is the best way to not only get a color that looks great on your hair against the other features of your appearance, but is easier to maintain and less prone to mistakes.

Matching hair color to features

The most important factor in your choice of a new hair color is the appearance of your other features like your skin tone and eye color. A color that isn't matched to these features can create too much contrast. Whilst this contrast can sometimes work in your favor, it is more often harsh and just looks odd.

Your skin tone has the biggest effect on your overall appearance, and a new hair color should be matched primarily to this. Warm hair colors look best when matched to a warm skin tone, and cool colors look best matched to a cool skin tone.

The darkness of your complexion also has a smaller secondary impact on the depth of color you can successfully match. The darker your skin is, the better it will look with a darker hair color, whilst paler skin is best matched to lighter hair colors. You have a lot of leeway here and this rule can be broken sometimes depending on how vibrant the color is or whether there are highlights or lowlights involved.

Eye color also has an effect on your hair color choices, but this effect is fairly minimal. The best color matching requires blue and green eyes to be matched to a cool hair color; whereas hazel or brown eyes should be matched to a warm hair color, but this rule can be disregarded as long as your color matches your skin.

How to tell if your complexion is cool or warm

Having trouble telling whether your complexion is cool toned or warm toned? One of the absolute easiest ways to identify the tonal direction is to look at the appearance of any veins that are visible on the inside of your wrist.

Cool skin has violet tones that cause it to look pinkish. This results in veins that look blue. Warm skin contains gold or peach tones though, and these colors blend with the color of your veins to cause them to look green when you look at your wrist.

Choose realistic goals


Even if your new hair color matches your features perfectly, this is all a moot point if your chosen shade is out of reach or just difficult to achieve.

For the easiest and most reliable results at home if you don't have a great deal of experience dyeing your hair, choose colours that are no more than 3 levels lighter than your natural color. Hair colors that are lighter can't usually be achieved with regular dye and require the use of professional high lift dye or pre-lightening with bleach.

You should also take the warm underlying pigment in your hair into account. When you lighten your hair, this is revealed. If the dye used to lighten your hair doesn't contain enough cool tone to counteract this warmth, the final color looks to warm, or can even look red, orange, or brassy.

To avoid this, use an ash tone if lightening significantly. You can also use a natural tone instead for warmer results, or mix small amounts of your desired shade into an ash or natural shade to produce the desired shade without the excess warmth as the cool tone in the other dye will drab this out.

When choosing a color that is darker than your current color, you also need to take into account the tone of the dye. If you apply a darker dye, the primary tone present becomes very intense on your lighter hair.

This means that dark ash dyes give very greyish or even blue results, while warmer tones like golden or red shades can also turn out too vibrant. Using a natural tone can help avoid this, or you can leave a comment at the end of the article detailing the color you want for specific help.

Dyeing your hair no more than 2 - 3 levels darker is also one of the ways you can help minimize this kind of problem and avoid it. The darker you go, the more overwhelming the primary tone of the dye can be on your lighter hair.

More information:
  • Getting better dye results - Application and color choice tips for better color results when you dye your hair...
  • The different kinds of hair dye - Discover the many different types of dye that can be used to color your hair, how long they last, and which are the most damaging...
  • The hair color wheel - One of the most useful tools for creative and corrective hair color. You can use the wheel to more accurately choose and use hair dyes...
  • Hair color ideas - Discover the different modern techniques and styles available and take dull color to amazing color...

Have a question about choosing hair colors or finding the perfect new hair color for your own features? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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How often should you dye your hair?

Some people dye their hair once every few months. Others seem to change their colour every week; but how often should you dye your hair?

To keep your hair in the best condition possible, while also maintaining or changing your colour, you need to look at the type of dye, as well as what your hair has already been through in the past.

How often can dye be applied?

There are several different types of dyes available which vary in terms of whether the colour washes out over time, and how long this takes if it does. Permanent dye is the most durable and lasting kind of dye, whilst other forms of dye like semi-permanent and demi-permanent dye eventually fade out.

Hair dye can also vary in whether it is damaging, and how much damage it causes. Permanent dye is damaging as it requires oxidation to work properly, whilst temporary and semi-permanent dye are non-damaging. The demi-permanent dye process also usually requires oxidation to work, so it too can be mildly damaging to your hair.

In deciding how often a dye can actually be applied, you need to look at whether the particular type of product is damaging, how long it lasts, and the condition of your own hair. The non-damaging dyes can be used as often as necessary, whilst permanent products can only be used so many times on before the condition of your hair begins to deteriorate. There is a trade-off between longevity and damage.

The table below illustrates the relative damage caused by bleach and the different varieties of dye available. This can be used to decide how often you should use the dye. Dyes which are slightly damaging or more damaging should be used only sparingly every few months to keep your hair healthy; especially if dyeing over previously dyed hair.

Dyes which cause only mild damage or no damage, however, can be used every 2 - 4 weeks without compromising the condition of your hair too much. Semi-permanent and acid based demi-permanent dyes can be used as often as required because they cause no damage at all.

Type of dye Damage
Bleach - 20 vol Most damaging
High lift dye - 40 vol More damaging
Permanent - 30 vol More damaging
Permanent - 20 vol Slightly damaging
Permanent - 10 vol Mild damage
Demi-permanent - 5 vol Very mild damage
Demi-permanent - Acid-based No damage
Semi-permanent No damage

Retouching colour and roots

Hair colour fades over time, often even when the dye is permanent. This means that to keep it looking vibrant and the correct shade, it needs to be maintained by retouching with more dye.

Regrowth is another problem that you may also face, depending on how much darker or lighter your dyed colour is, compared to your natural hair colour. As your natural hair colour grows out, it will become more noticeable over time and need to be retouched to keep your colour looking great.

The less of a difference there is between your regrowth and length, the less noticeable it is, and the less likely you will need to dye it as often to keep it looking nice. If you have dyed dark hair to blonde, or dyed blonde hair dark however, the contrast can be stark and it needs to be dyed more often to keep it looking its best.

The type of result needed also plays a part in this. If your natural colour is brown or black, and you're maintaining blonde hair, the product needed to be used to lighten it will either be bleach or high lift dye in most cases.

This is more damaging than other dyes, so it is best to retouch your roots when they are long enough to avoid overlap, but not before the regrowth becomes too long or it won't lighten as effectively and will need to be treated more than once, increasing damage.

In most cases, the best length for retouching regrowth will be about half an inch (about 1.2 centimeters). This is generally about 4 weeks of growth, depending on how quickly your hair tends to grow.

If your regrowth is lighter than your current colour, the treatment required to darken it is significantly less damaging and you can dye it as often as required as the regrowth becomes noticeable to you. You should still be careful to avoid overlap if using permanent dye for this though. In general, dye lighter regrowth every 4 - 8 weeks to keep it looking good and avoid excess damage.



The type of dye used when toning hair is very important, because this is what determines how long the results last, as well as whether any damage occurs. Permanent dye shouldn't be used, where possible, as although it is only mildly damaging when used for this purpose with a weak developer, there are non-damaging dyes that achieve the exact same result without stressing your hair.

If you are using permanent dye to maintain blonde or bright colours like red however, try to only use the dye sparingly, at least 6 weeks apart, and only if your hair is in good condition. When using semi-permanent dyes, the question of how often should you dye your hair becomes irrelevant because these dyes don't cause any damage.

You can use temporary dyes like this as often as necessary to maintain the exact colour you want. This can be every time you shampoo your hair, once a week, or once every few weeks depending on how vibrant the colour needs to be.

Changing your colour completely

If you're changing to a new colour, and you do this often, the main rules for how often you dye your hair depend on the type of dye being used and the condition of your hair.

If you're using non-damaging dyes that wash out over time and you like to change the colour as soon as it washes out, this is perfectly fine. You can dye your hair like this as often as you want.

If you're frequently going between lighter and darker colours which require more damaging treatment though, you should only do this as often as the condition of your hair allows. If your hair is becoming weak and damaged, it is best to slow down with colour changes and choose more conservative colours until it recovers.

More information:
  • Hair colour developer - Find out how to choose the correct developer for your dye and the results you want to achieve...
  • How to get better colour results - Tips for getting salon quality results at home with your next hair colour...
  • How to get healthier hair - Find out how to care for your hair, treat damage, and avoid the common problems that can make your hair look and feel less healthy...

Have a question about hair dye or wondering how often should you dye your hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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Feb 19, 2015

Shades of brown hair

Brown hair can be just as diverse as other more vibrant colours like blonde and red. There are many shades of brown hair available and there is always going to be at least one that suits your complexion and other features. There are even bold vibrant fashion shades if you want a colour that is unique and somewhat different to the usual brown colour.

The many shades of brown hair

Brown hair shades can vary across both tonal families. This means that you can choose from shades that are either cool or warm. Cool shades are better suited to cool features and can include ash and pearl browns, as well as violets and neutral colours.

Warm shades, on the other hand, are best suited to a warm skin tone and vary from beige browns, to honey, golden, and copper colours. The different shades available include:
  • Ash brown
  • Natural ash brown (Pearl)
  • Natural brown (Neutral)
  • Beige brown
  • Golden brown
  • Honey brown
  • Copper brown
  • Burgundy
  • Violet and violet brown


Matching brown hair to your features

Whether your features are cool or warm depends on what tones are present in them. With your skin tone, cool tones like blue and violet give a pinkish appearance. Gold or peach tones in warmer skin can give a complexion that is golden or olive. Blue and green eyes are both cool colours, whilst hazel, or brown eyes are warm.

One of the easiest ways to get an idea of whether your features are cool or warm is to look at the inside of your wrist. A cool complexion will look pinkish and this is visible from the veins of your wrist looking more of a blue colour. A warmer complexion comes from gold tones which blend with the colour of your veins to make them look green.

Cool shades


Shades in the cool tonal family are based on blue or violet tones. This gives them a neutral to silvery appearance that can look sleek and match cooler features like a pinkish skin tone and blue or green eyes.

Ash brown is the coolest shade available, and this colour tends to look greyish brown to slightly silvery depending on how light the brown colour is. The colour works well on anyone who has lighter skin and a cool complexion and eyes, but it can also look a bit dull and boring in many cases.

A natural shade is on the cool side of neutral and is a much softer cool tone than ash. This colour can sometimes even suit people with a slightly warm skin tone who can't pull off stronger colours like ash.

A natural ash, also known as a pearl or iridescent shade, is the best of both worlds. Cooler than a natural, but warmer than a full ash. This gives it more complexity than ash brown hair and can help deal with the dullness issue and prevent your colour from looking boring.


Warm shades

Warm shades of brown hair offer much more complexity than their cooler counterparts because the tones used can be either subtle or intense. Golden or copper browns can be predominately natural brown with a touch of warm tone, or they can be intensely toned. This gives you a lot of flexibility to create your own unique colour.

Beige tones are the middle ground between a natural and gold tone, whereas honey colours are a blend between gold and copper. This ease of blending makes these kind of colours more diverse. Even small amounts of red can be incorporated in the form of auburn shades to create even more warm shades.

Fashion shades

Like with blonde or red hair, fashion shades also exist for brown hair. These shades are bright, intense, or have an unnatural appearance. They can be anything from a bright violet brown to a richer burgundy, an intense gold, or a rich copper.

These shades can either be cool or warm and it is important to match them to your features if you want the colour to look its best and not clash with your own appearance. Unlike shades that are more subtle, they also require much more upkeep as fading is a significant issue.

This maintenance needs to be factored into your decision when choosing a colour as a shade that requires toning and other upkeep will require you to buy more product for maintenance, as well as use up more of your time.

More information:
  • Red hair shades - Discover the different shades of red, and how to match these colours to your complexion and eyes...
  • Blonde hair shades - Love blonde hair? Find out how to choose the correct shade and get the best colour...
  • Hair colour levels - A level in hair colour refers to how dark the colour is. Discover how to read and use levels to choose the right dyes every time...

Have a question about shades of brown hair, or need help choosing a colour or matching your colour to your features? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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Hair color developer

Hair color developer is a crucial component in hair dye that drives the chemical reaction that takes place during development. It is also the ingredient in hair dye that lightens your hair, and choosing the correct developer to use for your desired results is crucial to getting the color you want.

What is developer?

Developer is a solution of hydrogen peroxide, water, and other ingredients like conditioning agents. It is the hydrogen peroxide in this solution that creates an oxidative environment when combined with permanent hair dye, allowing the dye to work.

This oxidation is necessary for the color to develop, and causes it to gradually change into the intended shade after the dye enters the hair shaft. It's a chemical change that forms bonds in the dye molecules, allowing it to become permanent. Without developer, permanent hair coloring wouldn't be possible.

Developer also lightens your natural pigment, causing your hair to become lighter. How much lightening occurs is determined by the developer volume. This is a way to describe the strength of the hair color developer based on how much oxygen it produces, and this can be converted into a percentage of peroxide. Either measurement can be used to choose the right developer.

Volumes of hair color developer

Developer can be divided into specific strengths that are commonly used in hairdressing. These strengths are:
  • 10 vol developer (3%)
  • 20 vol developer (6%)
  • 30 vol developer (9%)
  • 40 vol developer (12%)
A 10 vol developer is used for toning, darkening, or any other kind of coloring where minimal lightening is required. Higher concentrations of hair color developer are used to produce lightening, as well as develop the dye.


20 vol developer

This volume of developer can be used for a variety of different purposes. Most importantly, it provides 1 - 2 levels of lightening where necessary. This means you can use it in conjunction with your dye to lighten and dye your hair up to 2 levels lighter.

It can also be used to dye resistant hair to a darker color. Resistant hair doesn't take color very well and fades easily. A higher volume of developer like this helps to penetrate the hair shaft and properly develop the dye for better results.

The same sort of scenario takes place in grey hair, which often needs a stronger developer to produce longer lasting results, as well as lighten darker strands of hair if the grey is a salt-and-pepper shade to produce a more even result after coloring.


30 vol developer

This strength of developer is used to provide up to 3 levels of lightening with permanent dye. It shouldn't be used if you are toning or darkening your hair, as it is more damaging than a weaker developer.

When using blonde dyes to lighten and dye your hair blonde, this is the developer that is generally used. In combination with the greater ammonia content of blonde dyes, this gives even better lightening. However, more ammonia can also increase damage, even though it benefits color penetration and lift.

40 vol developer

This developer volume is the strongest that should be used, and even then it has limited uses. You can mix it into any brand of permanent dye that allows its use, but some brands do not recommend using it. This is because many dye brands won't benefit from such a high strength hair color developer due to their formulation. High lift dye, on the other hand, is designed to use it properly.

You also shouldn't mix it with hair bleach in most cases. The use of a hair color developer this strong in bleach is very damaging to your hair, and can even be dangerous for your scalp. The few brands that allow it to be used, generally only recommend using it for off-scalp highlights where the product won't touch your skin.

Used in conjunction with a high lift, it is possible to achieve anywhere from 3 - 5 levels of lightening, though this will vary depending on how resistant and dark your hair is. This can be less damaging than bleach, but it can't always replace the necessity for hair bleaching, and it's more common to see up to a maximum of 4 levels of lift from it.

Other developer strengths

Whilst the four listed hair color developers are the most common and generally standard, others do exist depending on which brand you're using. Many salon brands like Wella produce their own formulations to work better with their own dyes and bleach, as well as encourage you to buy more of their products.

Other times you may encounter strengths below 10 vol which are used with demi-permanent dyes. These strengths are very mild and are used to oxidise the demi-permanent color and help it penetrate without leading to a completely permanent color result or causing as much damage.

More information:
  • How to use salon dye - Professional dye always produces a better and longer lasting color than other alternatives. Find out how to use it...
  • The color wheel - Discover a useful tool that can help you tone your hair or correct an unwanted color...
  • Tips for coloring hair - Want salon results at home? Here are the best practices to ensure that you're applying your new color properly for the best results...

Have a question about hair color developer or how to properly use it for your own hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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How to use temporary hair color

Temporary hair color is one of the different kinds of dye that can be used to change the look of your hair. Unlike permanent dye, these dyes will wash out over time and thus can be used whenever you want a hair color that isn't going to last longer than a few days up to a few weeks.

What is temporary hair color?

Temporary hair color is any hair dye that is intentionally designed to wash out of your hair over time. As well as fading out, it is also completely non-damaging because it doesn't contain ammonia or peroxide.

Unlike permanent dye, which penetrates deep into the inner parts of the hair shaft and works through oxidation, temporary dyes merely stain the hair. It is this stain on the outside of the hair that gives it the dyed colour and shampoo will gradually remove it.

Types of temporary hair dyes

Temporary dyes can also be divided into two sub-categories:
  • Semi-permanent color
  • Rinse dyes
Semi-permanent color is longer lasting than a rinse and produces more intense results. A rinse on the other hand is the most temporary kind of dye and can be used to tone or darken hair slightly during washing.

Color rinse

A color rinse is the least permanent kind of hair color available because it will usually wash out completely in 1 - 3 shampoos. This kind of color is also easy to use and quick to apply. Application is as easy as massaging it into your hair after shampooing.

Your hair needs to be shampooed first for two reasons. Firstly, shampooing opens up the hair cuticles and strips off the layer of natural oils that normally coats your hair. All of this means that the dye will be able to better stick to your hair and give a more vibrant and reliable colour result.

More importantly however, if you were to shampoo your hair after applying a rinse, that would wash out most of your new colour and make the entire treatment pointless. Shampoo washes off stains and even fades permanent dye over time and will take your rinse out quickly.

After adequately shampooing your hair, take your desired shade of color rinse and apply to damp hair. Rinses are liquids and the bottle will allow you to easily squirt it where it's needed. You can use your hands to do the rest, massaging the rinse into your hair as you apply to ensure an even and consistent application.

Once it has been applied, it needs to be left for a short amount of time to stain your hair. This time frame varies based on brand, and you should use the recommended processing time for your particular brand for the best results and the most vibrant color.

When processing is complete, rinse it out with water and then condition your hair to seal the cuticles and protect your rinse color. Conditioner has the opposite effect to shampoo and will lock in color, helping it to last longer and softening your hair.

After dyeing, your color will last from 1 - 3 washes depending on how porous your hair is and how dark and intense the rinse was.

Semi-permanent color

Semi-permanent color is another kind of temporary hair color because given washing and time, it will completely rinse out of your hair, unlike a demi-permanent or permanent color.

Like a rinse, this dye is also applied to damp hair that has previously been shampooed. It can also be applied to washed, dried hair though. If you do this, it will give you a more intense result because the color isn't diluted down by the water in your hair.

To use this kind of dye, first decide whether you want to apply to damp or dry hair. Following this decision, wash your hair and either dry your hair or begin to apply your dye.

Like a color rinse, these dyes can also be in the form of a liquid, but they are most commonly a cream consistency, gel, or foam. This thicker formula helps the color grab better and also keeps it held in place in your hair as it needs to be left in for a longer processing time.

Depending on the particular product, you may find it easier to apply by hand, bottle applicator, or tinting brush. Thicker dyes are better applied with a brush, while thinner color is harder to pick up by brush and can be applied more reliably with a bottle or simply by using your hands. Massage the color in at the end and this will ensure an even result regardless of application method.

After application, the color should be left for 10 - 20 minutes depending on brand, but leaving it for longer can make it last longer and doesn't have any negative effects. This kind of dye can actually condition your hair as it has a conditioning base.

Once the color has finished processing, rinse it out and apply further conditioner if needed. If you have dry hair, the light conditioning of the color may not be enough, whilst those with naturally oily hair may find the color itself gives enough conditioning that you don't need to apply a conditioner afterwards.

More information:
  • How long can semi-permanent color last? - Find out how long this kind of dye lasts and some of the best ways to keep it vibrant for longer and prevent fading...
  • Types of dyes - Discover the different types of dyes available for coloring your hair...
  • Tips for coloring hair - Want better color results at home? Here are the most important tips for getting salon quality color at home...
    Have a question about temporary hair color, or wondering how to get a particular shade of color in your own hair using it? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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