Offering the highest standard of salon consultancy, salon coaching and skills development

The international hair colour chart.

Welcome to BACK2MYROOTS B2MR: Regular postings of fresh new topic’:

 The international hair colour chart.

mike vallance

Designed for Salon owners,stylists,hair industry professionals.Created as a source to offer advise on all things related to the education knowledge skill experience. A place to share thoughts post comments and idea’s. As a salon owner are you and your staff trained to a high enough level. Do you have the skills and training. The knowledge and qualification to give you that edge.

Technical colour wheel

The colour hair chart

How to read and understand the chart and the colour wheel.

The understanding of the technical skills needed for hair dyeing, understanding hair colour levels. These skills are key for us as professional stylist  to having salon success. This skill however is only one small part  of one’s overall skills and talents as a hair stylist and hair colour technician.True success is found as we develop and constantly up date all the skills we need for success. Both as a hair stylist but also as a team member ,managers, or salon owner.


The colour chart is a system used to both asses. The clients  natural hair colours level also provides a guide to choices of colour shade and tone. Depending on ones target colour.

Why is all this so key? lets consider colour families shade and tone:

This is how we can start to apply this to our shade chart and so have an understanding of the basic’s of hair colouring.

I have included  this versions of the colour wheel because it is my experience that simple is the best way to pass on process information in different ways. This diagram shows the break out of primary colours in the centre working out through secondary into tertiary.

Quarternary colours are all the other combination’s of colour, including all the colours the eye can see

So onto the Eight colour families: and how they then relate to out colour chart.  We have what is know as an international colour code system. The number denotes lightness and darkness. The letter denotes shade and tone. Using the knowledge we have gained from the colour wheel, we are ready to move forward.

The N series is normally calibrated to control the warmth exposed at any given level working with up to 2 levels of lift. An example of this would be a natural level 6 would have enough Blue/Green to control the Red orange exposed in the under pigment at that level. [colour wheel] think opposite.

Note the N series is neutral a perfect blend of the primary colours at any given level 1-10.

Now we are starting to see how these colour rules/laws work in conjunction with our shade chart.

Lets look for example at Nc natural copper

So this would sit on a colour wheel around level 7

It is a perfect balance at that level of our primary colours with secondary colours

red+yellow= orange

So NC or 7NC natural level 7 with copper.

At a level 7 as soon as you lift the hair the first pigment exposed will always be warm and always have an orange undertone.

Finally the last piece of the puzzle.

level refers to how dark or light the shade of hair.

These shades are divided into levels. note were level 7 sits!

 Depth                                                Tone

*1 blue black  = blue base               /0 natural

*2 black                                           /1ash

*3 dark brown =violet base             /2 cool ash

*4 medium brown =red violet base  /3 honey gold

*5 light brown =red                          /4 red

*6 dark blonde =red orange             / 5 purple

*7 medium blonde =orange             /6 violet

*8 light blonde =yellow orange        /7 brunette

*9 clear blonde = yellow                  /8 pearl ash

*10 extra light blonde = pale yellow / 9 soft ash

Therefore a colour which has a number of 6/1is the depth of dark blonde with ash tones, so it would be a dark ash blonde.

Lets take a look at our N series on our scale of 1 to 10 being as suggested Black 10 being the lightest

the most natural light level is a 9.

high lift blondes


Once we understand the N series we can  the different colour families from. Ash to Gold to Copper and Reds.

As we look at the shade chart we can see the families laid out N for Natural A for ash and so on  so for example a level 6 with Ash would be 6A or 6.1  level 9 with Ash would be 9.I or 9.1 on this bases a Copper Chat level 6 would be  6C or  6. 04 if it was a Copper Red at our level 6 it would be 6CR or 6.45 the first letter or number is always the lead or strongest pigment.

Finally the more high fashion shades .the high lift Blonde tones and cool Violet tones in this instance lets look at V shades less choice because as the shade gets lighter it would become to pink .

Less shade choice only at levels 4 and 5 or 5.07 on the number system.

in closing the colour chart is read down the side scale for shade dark to light across the top for tone most from Ash to violet  lead by  either A.G .C R V .

I hope this has shed a little light on the shade chat any question please post i will as always respond or contact me via e mail on the web site.  To be a master colour technician takes skill and technical knowledge. To be a successful hair dresser in ever aspect of our industry takes time commitment and hard work.

The ‘Three R’s’ 
”Reputation. Recommendation. Retention”. 
It’s not built on that constant looking for new clients it’s looking after what you have! It’s investing in your self and your business and those around you.


This journey, this career, is wonderful – challenging, inspiring, and yes, hard work.

Our industry is in constant change and is sometimes criticised. For lacking vision in some areas. However there is an ever growing body of professionals. That have a firm commitment to our industry, they have a passion for change, to raise standards through education and sharing. Leadership, education and team incentives.Will over time and with commitment give any individual that ability to do exceptional work and to be more creative. Leadership and management help create an amazing work environment for all concerned. So key for success for all concerned.
This journey. This career, is wonderful – Challenging. Inspiring and yes can and will be hard work. but the rewards are worth all the effort.
Thank you all for letting me share some thoughts with you today.These are inspirational, passionate, industry professionals.They have a vision. These are the people I want on my bus to learn from, share with, take a journey with. Get inspired. Connect with driven motivated industry professional. challenge your self. invest in ones /your self 

Are you driver or passenger !

 There are no guarantees in life and ones career and career choice is no different thing happen and its how we deal with them that defines us. Jobs change relationships come and go the one thing that remains after training is our skill both hands on creative and the ones we learn about people and communication about caring about being a team player. Constantly developing new skills staying current is so very important.

I also think that we need to always look at the WhyAsk the question Why are we in business whats it for? OrWhy do we want to go into to business what is success? Why do I suggest this I think by asking and exploring the why we get to the motive behind why we want to be in business what is true success. Why the will also help us to understand our true values this in turn helps us to follow the path to the success we want  and desire. It will help us to surround ourselves with the right team those who share our values and vision.


Remember. Salon success. Stylist success. Business success are all linked together it’s Team success. Its never about any destination only ever about a journey taking the right people on that journey makes it enjoyable maybe even fun!

Mike B2MR

The salon and the S word now available in book and e book format for links to purchase and reviews Click here or on the image.


The Salon & the ‘S’ Word

 Written by Mike Vallance

My web site is Back2myroots: B2MR feel free to check in

You can also find me here on

LinkedIn on Twitter MikeB2MR and Facebook Back2myroots B2MR




One Response to “The international hair colour chart.”

  1. Sonia Rogers says:

    Love How you took something that can seem so complicated and created something that is clear and concise!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.