Dear Color Crew is a recurring blog post where we answer hair-related questions–no matter how hairy they may be–from readers like you. Got a question? Email our team of professional colorists at ColorCrew@Madison-Reed.com.
Dear Color Crew,
I always hear about “levels” with hair color. How do I know what level my hair is? Or what level I want it to be, for that matter? What is up with all the talk about “levels”?
Ah, yes––hair color levels! Understanding your level of hair color is important when coloring hair, so let’s talk about what it is, and how you can determine your own level.
Hair Color Levels
The level system of hair color is a universal system used by colorists, cosmetologists and hair color manufacturers to standardize hair color charts. Level simply refers to how light or dark a hair color is–the lower the number, the darker the hair. The number ranges from 1-12, with 1 being darkest black, and 12 lightest blonde. It is important to speak in “levels” because “medium brown hair” means different things to different people, whereas a level is universal. Knowing your current natural level helps determine the best shade of hair color to use to get your desired result.
To figure out which level you are, take a section of your hair and hold it up, away from the rest of the hair. (Hair always looks darker when it's layered on other hair and no light can get through the section.)
The section should be from as far back in the crown as you can hold up and see (it doesn't have to be as far as the nape). Realize that your hair is always lightest around the front hairline where it is finer and gets the most sun exposure. If you use the roots right along your hairline as your guide, you are likely to think your hair is lighter than it really it is (this could result in your hair color coming out darker than you expect or want).
When answering questions about your natural hair color, you should always look for the shade of hair growing out from your roots that is not gray. Many people think “natural hair color” refers to what they were born with, or their hair color from childhood (before they may have colored it), but hair tends to change color as we age. You want to know what the color is like now so that you can make the right formulation determined by where you want to go from here.
Of course, if you have any questions, need help determining your level or choosing a color, we LOVE to talk hair. Call us at (855) 742-5916.
Happy hair coloring!