Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What Do Those Numbers On Your Hair Colour Mean?

I was eyeing up hair colours as I quite often do the other day and I was looking at the shade numbers on the boxes. It got me thinking, what do all these numbers mean anyway?

A picture of Nutrisse Hair Dyes

I had vague knowledge of what they mean from working in my shop but staring at all the hair dye boxes and not being sure exactly what the numbers and shades meant I decided to do some research and thought I'd share my findings with you.

First thing first, there is a system known as the International Colour Chart (ICC) which most companies use but many use their own numbering system. For the purpose of this post though we'll use ICC. 

So for an example if we take Garnier Nutrisse colour 4.3 Dark Golden Brown.

Nutrisse 4.3 photo

The number 4 indicates the level of colour (how light or dark it is) and in this instance it's Dark Brown. The numbers after the decimal point .3 indicates the tone of colour, in this case the tone is Golden. Confused? The charts below might help


1. Black
2. Darkest Brown
3. Dark Brown
4. Medium Brown
5. Light Brown
6. Lightest Brown
7. Dark Blonde
8. Medium Blonde
9. Light Blonde
10. Lightest Blonde

Manufacturers name colours differently but you get the general gist and some also go higher up in number to signify extreme blonde colours.   


.1 Blue Ash      - Cool
.2 Purple Ash   - Cool
.3 Gold              - Warm
.4 Copper         - Warm
.5 Mahogany    - Neutral
.6 Red               - Warm
.7 Khaki            - Cool
.8 Pearl Ash     - Cool
.9 Soft Ash       - Cool  

So the tone of the colour changes its appearance to look either warm or cool. Ash usually means a colour is cool and golden usually means that it is warm, these descriptions can help when looking at your hair colour.

It does get more confusing than that when two numbers come into play after the decimal point. If we take Garnier Nutrisse colour 4.15 Iced Coffee. 

Nutrisse 4.15 photo

The first number after the point is the primary (stronger) tone and the second is a secondary (weaker) tone. The .1 is the primary tone which if we use the chart above is a cool, blue ash tone and the 5 is the secondary tone which is neutral mahogany (neither warm or cool, this surprised me as I thought mahogany would be warm but its not).  

So the colours below are all the same depth level (4), but the tones running through give them a different appearance (.3 gold and .15 cool mahogany

a photo of different shades of brown

I hope this sheds some light on the subject, this is only a basic summary but it interested me so I thought I would share. It definitely opened my eyes, who knew there was so much to it?!

What's your favourite hair colour?

Thanks for reading,

Wench x

*This is not sponsored and these are not a product placement it just so happened Garnier had the best examples for me to use at the time :-) 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me a comment!