Want to achieve your dream shade? Hair levels and tones can help

If you've ever had a specific color in mind that turned out nice, but it wasn't quite what you had envisioned, it may be because you weren't familiar with levels and tones – two essential things to know in hair color.

Level describes how light or dark the shade is, while the tone is all about the hue or tint your hair color gives off. For example, a woman who prefers a cool, ashy blonde won't be satisfied with a warm, golden blonde. Learn more about levels and tones to nail your look every time.

Hair level (or depth)

Level refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of a color. Within each color family, there are light, medium, and dark levels. For example – light blonde, medium blonde and dark blonde. While every hair color brand has its own level numbering system, generally black is level 2, and the extra light blonde is level 10.

Hair tone

Hair tone refers to the "finish" 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 (think terms like "gold" or "ash"). No matter your level of color, you can choose from a variety of tones to help you achieve your color transformation. Read on to help you differentiate between some of the most common tones.

Ash (cool)

A color without red or gold tones and can have a blue, green, or violet hue (will minimize red/gold/brassy tones).

A color with an equal amount of primary colors (balanced). Pro tip: in general, neutral tones tend to look great on everyone.

Beige & champagne

Similar to a neutral but maybe slightly warmer (pink) or cool (beige), depending on the base in color.

Gold (warm)

Color that adds golden highlights/tones to hair.

Red (warm)

Color that adds red highlights/tones to hair.

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