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If you’ve never colored your hair before, read below for a Hair Color 101. You’ll get the lowdown on levels and tones, how to find the right hair color shade, and tips for maintaining your new shade.

Hair Color 101

Hair color is categorized by Levels and Tones to make choosing a shade easier to identify!


“Levels” refer to how dark or light the shade is. Level 1 refers to Black while level 11 refers to Extra Light Blonde. Most permanent hair colors only lift your hair 2-3 levels, while bleach can lighten strands up to 7-8 levels. 

Hair Color Needs New to Hair Color Content Block Shades

Select Your Shade

For the most natural look with less maintenance, it is important to stay within 2 levels of your natural hair color. The further you move away, the more dramatic your results will be, meaning your roots could be noticeable more quickly than if you had stayed closer to your natural hair color. Nutrisse, Olia, and Color Sensation are designed to lift your hair up to 2 levels so that you can go from a dark brown to a light brown or from a light brown to a blonde, for example, but not as far as a black to a blonde. For more dramatic change, look for our High Lift Brown shades or Blonde shades in Nutrisse Ultra Color, our highlighting kits, and our Platinum kits. 

Pro Tips

Before you buy your color, always check the box to make sure the shade will give you the result you’re looking for. There are pictures on the side of the box with before and after results. Match the shade at your roots (not your ends) to the “before” picture and you can expect a color result shown on the after side. Another pro tip? Once you color your hair, another box of hair dye will not lighten your hair without bleach, so make sure you’re committed to that Black or Dark Brown before you take the plunge! If you’re debating between two shades, it may be best to try the one that is slightly lighter so that if you do decide you want to go darker, you can reapply later.

Hair Color Needs New to Hair Color Content-Block Pro Tips


“Tones” are referred to as warm, cool, red, or natural. Picking the right tone is key to achieving the best shade for you.

Hair Color Needs New to Hair Color Content Block Tones

Select Your Tone

"Warm tones can brighten your entire look, while cool tones counteract brassiness, especially if you are lightening your hair. Red shades can be either cool or warm. “Mahogany,” “burgundy,” or “violet” are more on the cool side, whereas “copper” shades will be warmer. Natural or neutral tones are not too warm or too cool, and are easily identified by having no tone descriptor in the title, such as “dark brown.” Natural tones are a safe bet to provide the best gray coverage."


How often you should refresh your color depends on how fast your hair grows, how much gray you have, and how far from your natural color you have dyed your hair. 

Hair Color Needs New to Hair Color Content Block Maintenance


Generally speaking, you’ll need to touch up your roots every 4-6 weeks. For an on-the-go, temporary root concealer, for those times in-between coloring, our Express Retouch can be used as needed. And don’t forget to use a shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for color treated hair. We love our Fructis Color Shield, our Whole Blends Cranberry Blend, and our Fructis Color Vibrancy 1 Minute Hair Mask with Goji Extract.

Everything You Need to Know About At-Home Hair Color

Whether you need help choosing the right shade, want to know how much time to budget or would like to learn how to make your color last, these tips and tricks can help. They simplify the process to make coloring hair at-home a breeze.