HAIR COLOR Hair Color 101: Finding Your Level and Choosing Your Tone

by Better Natured

< All Posts

If you are thinking of coloring your hair for the first time ever - or for the first time at home - congratulations and welcome to the club! There's no quicker way to transform your look, or return to looking like yourself (bye-bye grays!), than coloring your hair. And thanks to advances in hair color science and experienced salon pros, it's never been easier or gentler on your hair with Better Natured™ Liqui-Creme Hair Color.

Better Natured™ Liqui-Creme Hair Color is permanent hair color that delivers vibrant, salon-quality results including 100% gray coverage. The line is highly nourishing, too, with formulas infused with ultra-moisturizing natural ingredients including coconut oil, and the line's signature triple plant-milk blend of Tahitian Palm Milk, Coconut Milk and Orchid Milk. The results: radiant color that feels luxuriously soft. Why wait? Let's find your shade!

On The Level

First things first. The salon industry uses a rating scale of 1 through 10 that is designed to measure the level of hair color darkness. Level 1 indicates the maximum depth of darkness (darkest black) and Level 10 indicates the least amount of darkness (lightest blonde). An easy rule for remembering the level system is: the lower the number, the darker the hair.

When choosing your perfect Liqui-Creme Hair Color shade, step one is determining your natural hair color level. Think about hair color as a journey. You need to know where you're starting so you can plan your destination!

If the hair on your head has never been altered by any chemical service, you have what's called natural hair - or “virgin hair”. Salon professionals refer to it as your Natural Starting Color Level. It's a baseline that determines how much lighter or darker you can go with one hair color application.

OK, but what if your virgin hair is a distant memory? If you've colored your hair before you will see a noticeable contrast between the new hair growing from the scalp and the hair that was colored previously. We call this the “line of demarcation”. The new hair growing from your scalp to the line of demarcation is your Natural Hair Color Level. Sometimes determining your natural level by yourself can be tricky, especially if your hair is infused with a lot of grays (which is totally normal and can begin to happen at any age #blamegenetics). Here’s a tip to make it easier.

Using a comb, find your natural part, move over one inch in either direction and create a new part. (Why? Because the hair on top of your head tends to be lighter due to sun exposure.) Using your phone, take an up-close photo of the very top of your head, making sure to capture this new part. For the most accurate results, try your best to find a place with natural light! Zoom in to the new hair, closest to your scalp, and crop out the previously colored hair. Next, compare the color in your photo to the model images below (representing each natural level on the 1-10 rating scale) to determine the closest match. This is your Natural Hair Color Level. If your photo falls between two levels, select the darker of the two as your natural starting level.

Watch Your Tone!

Now that you know your natural color level, let’s talk about tones. Tone refers to the “finish” appearance of a shade—its degree of warmth or coolness. Tones are categorized as warm, neutral or cool, and are usually part of the shade description (like, Light Ash Brown or Golden Blonde). Warm tones often are referred to as golden or copper, while champagne or ash are typical descriptors for cool tones. Neutral tones are usually referred to as 'natural'.

Better Natured™ Liqui-Creme Color tones are indicated by a letter in the shade name, as follows:

N = Natural
WB = Warm Beige
G = Gold
A = Ash
R = Red
B = Blue
V = Violet

So now that you know your level and understand your desired tone, let's put it all together. Permanent hair color like Better Natured™ Liqui-Creme allows users to lift color up by to two levels max, and darken color by going down by two levels max. So, if you are a natural level 6, Medium Brown, follow the 2-step rule. The darkest you can go is down two levels to 4 - Darkest Brown. The lightest shade you can achieve is two levels up to 8 - Dark Blonde. For a more subtle result, choose a shade that is one level up (slightly lighter) or down (a bit darker). Whichever way you go, you can count on total gray coverage! 

Take our hair color quiz to find the hair color that's best for you!

Putting It All Together

One you know your desired level, the last thing you need to determine is the tone. Returning to our natural level 6, Medium Brown example, let's say she wants to cover a few grays and punch up - vs fully transition - her current color. Choosing Better Natured™ shade 6G Dark Golden Blonde will deliver a hint of luminous gold that enhances the underlying medium brown color, while covering every last strand of gray. Say she wants to make more of a statement, and prefers a cooler tone to complement her skin and eyes. In that case, an excellent option would be Better Natured™ shade 5A Light Ash Brown. It would deliver a chic, smoky brown without any hint of chestnut warmth.

Here are some additional tips & tricks from Better Natured™ hair color expert, Melessia Wade-Smith:

Cover grays to match your Natural Starting Level of Hair Color:

All Better Natured™ shades deliver beautiful, complete gray coverage. Better Natured™ N (Natural) series, WB (Warm Beige) series and G (Gold) series are your go-tos when you want the most natural-looking gray coverage without changing the shade of your natural hair color level. To ensure that your color doesn’t go too dark choose a Better Natured™ shade that is one level lighter than your natural hair color level.

Changing your natural level to a darker shade:

No grays, no problem! When going darker, Better Natured's shade palette offers a range of rich color options. Remember, you need to choose a shade level at least 1 number below your natural level. But from there you can experiment with different tones - from a luxurious dark chocolate brown to a dramatic blue black. Or for something completely different, why not opt for a head-turning red or intense violet? The possibilities are endless - and the results are seamless, even and brilliant.

ShopThis Post

  • better-natured®-hair-color

    Better Natured® Hair Color


Related Posts


    How to Keep Hair Color From Fading

    When we cover those dark roots and flat hues, we literally brighten our reflection and our spirits.  How do we protect that gorgeous hair color in between colorings?


    Ammonia & Hair Color: Separating Fact From Fiction

    Some may be surprised that Ammonium Hydroxide is among the ingredients listed for the Liqui-Crème Hair Color: Ammonia.  Why in the world would we ever put that noxious substance on our heads? What about the ammonia-free hair color we’ve all heard advertised?


    Colorista Chronicles: Gray Coverage for the Home Colorist

    Don’t let grays get you down. With these professional tips from Better Natured™ Ambassador and Celebrity Stylist Marcus Francis you will be gray-free and back to your ‘real self in no time!