Whether you’re a dye-hard DIY colorist who needs a little refresher or an at-home amateur with first-time jitters, we’ve got you. The right shade is here for you – you just need to know how to find it. So, let us break it down for you to make sure your results look absolutely salon - gorgeous!

Levels and Tones:The Basics

Hair color is all about levels and tones

Hair color is all about levels and tones—so if you want to find your made-for-me shade (and honestly, who doesn’t?), you’ve gotta find the right combo of both.

View our shade chart
Hair color is all about levels and tones mobile

Levels represent how light or dark a shade is and are indicated by numbers.

Tones represent how warm or cool a shade is and are indicated by letters.

Ready to dive in a bit deeper? Put on your swimsuit, here we go!

On The Level From Dark To Light

The level system is a range of hair color shades from dark to light. This system of levels is used by hair color manufacturers to communicate the darkness or lightness of a shade. Better Natured hair color levels range from 1-10, with 1 being the darkest (black) and 10 being the lightest (lightest blonde).

Why You Should understand the Language of Levels

When you’re talking hair color, it’s important to understand the language of levels—because “level 4” means the same thing as “medium brown hair” and “level 7” means the same thing as “medium blonde hair” making it lot less vague when selecting a shade. (And nobody wants vague when it comes to hair color.)

Knowing your natural level (or, if your hair is already colored, your current level) helps you figure out the shade you need to get the results you want. Many people think “natural hair color” refers to the shade you were born with, or the shade you were as a hair color virgin. But hair tends to change color as we age, so be sure to go by your current natural hair color.



To figure out your natural level:

  • Grab a section of your hair and hold it away from the rest of your hair. (Hair always looks darker when it’s layered against other hair, so pulling a section out is more accurate.) The section should be from as far back in the crown as you can hold up and see (no need to go as far as the nape).
  • Then, match what you see with the closest number on our chart above, and voilà! You’ve found your level.

FYI: Your hair is always lightest around the front hairline where it’s finer and gets the most sun exposure. So, using a section from your hairline roots may skew your results to be darker than expected. (Hard pass on that!)

know your grays


Knowing the amount of gray in your hair is super helpful in finding your starting level. Colorist refer to a percentage range to determine the amount of gray (white) hair, the more the gray (white) hair the higher the %. know your grays Using our chart provided to determine your % of gray (white) hair.
  • 25% of gray(white) hair 25%
  • 50% of gray(white) hair 50%
  • 75% of gray(white) hair 75%
  • 100% of gray(white) hair 100%

DID YOU KNOW: Those hairs aren’t actually gray? Gray color is an optical illusion caused by the white hair living side by side next to the natural color hair that makes it appear gray.


Once you know your natural starting level, decide which way you want to go from here.

Going Lighter? Know Your Limits

Better Natured Permanent Liqui-Crème Color with 20-Volume Developer lifts 1-2 levels, depending on the shade you choose.

Going Darker?
What You Need to Know to Be Safe

Darken your hair gradually over time rather than going all out, all at once. (There’s such a thing as too much drama.)

Looking to keep grays at bay?

We hear that. Better Natured delivers impeccable gray coverage and that gorgeous color will last for up to 8 weeks!
(You’re welcome.)

TO EACH HER TONE about hair color tones

Now let’s talk tone! We’ll start with a quick science lesson:

Every natural hair color is some combination of black, brown, yellow, and red.

Tones range from warm to cool, and are represented by a letter. For example, in the shade “8G,” the 8 stands for level 8 (Blonde), the G stands for tone (Golden).

Underlying Pigment

When coloring your hair lighter, warm tones are naturally exposed during the dyeing process, colorists refer to these naturally exposed warm tones as “underlying pigment”. You can choose to enhance the underlying pigment by choosing a warm tone shade or neutralize the underlying pigment by choosing a cool tone shade.

View our color wheel

achieve tone perfection:Check out your complexion – warm tones can help enhance color, while cool tones can take redness down a few notches. When in doubt? Go the natural route.


A few everyday color scenarios to show how level & tone work together for your optimal hair color shade.

Scenario 1

I feel my hair is dull & too dark…. I want to be lighter & brighter.

First, using the guides provided I figure out my natural hair color is a natural level 3 (Dark Brown) and I am less than 25% gray.

Next, I figure out how light I should go, I count-up two levels from level 3 to level 5: Level 5 (light brown).

Since I want my hair to be brighter, I am going to choose the G (golden) tone to enhance my underlying pigment for a warm color result: Tone G (golden).

My Color Selection: 5G Light Golden Brown

Scenario 2

I want my hair lighter, but I hate seeing any warmth, or brassy tones in my hair. I want my color result to be as cool as possible.

First, using the guides, I figure out my natural hair color is a level 6 (Dark Blonde) with no grays.

Next, by figuring out how light I should go, I count-up two levels from level 6 to Level 8: Level 8 (Dark Blonde).

Since I don’t want any warm tones in my hair I am going to choose, BA (Blue-Ash) tone to neutralize my underlying pigment for a cool tone result. Tone BA (Blue-Ash)

My Color Selection: 8BA (Blue-Ash)


Study these 7 quick tips and you’ll pass any hair color quiz with flying colors!

1. Hair Color Newbie?

When dyeing for the first time, take it one step at a time and try going only one shade lighter than your current color.

2. Ash Shades

Ash (A) shades kick “ash” and neutralize warm, brassy undertones— when going lighter, but don’t pull them through porous ends, the color will end up more drab than fab.

3. Grays, Grays, Go Away

Natural (N) shades are the ultimate gray-slayers, and gold (G) shades give great gray coverage, too.

4. Want To Add A Bit Of Warmth?

Go with our warm beige series to add just a touch of warmth to levels 5 - 7.

5. Use Only Better Natured® Developer

Better Natured® Crème Developer must be used with Better Natured Hair Color to make it work correctly and achieve your desired result. You shouldn’t use another brand’s developer with our color as we can’t guarantee the final result.

6. Intense Colors

Intense red (RR) and violet (VV) shades are extra-pigment-packed for extra-vibrant results. When using a true red or violet shade on over 50% gray, mix with a Better Natured Natural (N) shade of the same level for maximum gray coverage.

7. Are You Bold Enough To Go Blue?

When using our 1B shade on over 50% gray, mix with equal parts of our 1N shade for maximum coverage. When using our 8BA shade on over 50% gray, tone down the blue by mixing with equal parts of 8N