What is the Hair Color Wheel? Why Do Hairstylists Refer to It?

by Brianna Thompson

As you sit in a salon chair, eagerly anticipating your hair transformation, have you ever wondered what your hairdresser is doing behind the scenes? I know I was always curious to know the science behind hair color and the formulations mixed behind the scenes before I decide to indulge in the hair business. Well luckily, I am here to fill you in on a very important tool for hairdressers like me, the color wheel! Today we will talk about what the color wheel is, why hairdressers rely on it, and how it helps them achieve their guests' desired hair color. We'll also discover how this invaluable tool aids in corrective color services, rescuing hair color mishaps. So, let's dive right in and unlock the secrets behind hair color.

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Understanding the Hair Color Wheel

At its core, the hair color wheel is a visual representation of colors used by hair professionals to identify and manipulate various hair shades. It consists of twelve main colors, arranged in a circular pattern, allowing stylists to easily comprehend the relationship between different hues and their corresponding undertones.

Why Do Hairstylists Rely on the Hair Color Wheel?

Hairdressers utilize the hair color wheel as a fundamental tool for formulating and achieving the desired color goals of their guests. By understanding the color wheel's principles, they can create stunning hair transformations while ensuring that the chosen shade harmonizes with the individual's skin tone, eye color, and personal style.

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Formulation Made Easy

When formulating a hair color, stylists refer to the hair color wheel to identify complementary and contrasting shades. Complementary colors lie opposite each other on the wheel and, when combined, neutralize one another. For instance, if a guest wants to neutralize unwanted brassy tones in their blonde hair, the stylist may recommend using a toner with purple undertones, as purple is the complementary color to yellow on the wheel. By neutralizing the unwanted hues, the hairdresser can achieve the desired cool, ashy blonde look. Once you learn the ropes it's pretty easy. 

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Creating Harmonious Hues

The hair color wheel is also an essential guide for achieving harmonious hair color combinations. Analogous colors, which are adjacent to each other on the wheel, create a sense of harmony and unity when blended. Hairdressers often use this principle to create multidimensional looks, such as highlights or balayage. By selecting hues that are closely related on the color wheel, they ensure a natural and cohesive end result that beautifully enhances the guest's features. Watch this little gif for a quick color wheel lesson. 

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The Role of the Hair Color Wheel in Corrective Color Services

Hair color mishaps can occur, whether from at-home experiments gone awry or a misunderstanding of the desired outcome. In such cases, the hair color wheel becomes an invaluable ally for hairdressers, guiding them in correcting the undesired tones.

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Understanding Undertones

When correcting hair color, professionals turn to the hair color wheel to identify the underlying undertones that need to be counteracted. For instance, if a guest's hair has turned overly orange due to a previous color treatment, the stylist may opt for a toner with blue undertones. Blue, being the complementary color to orange on the color wheel, effectively neutralizes the undesired warmth and helps achieve a more natural, cooler result. Of course the idea of the color wheel is always manipulated to achieve a custom result, as following the rules too much may not give you what you want. This is where the stylist gains their creative side to counteract brass while still achieving a complimentary tone that reflects light. 

Little Secret: Ash absorbs light while warmth reflects light, which means warmer tones appear brighter than ash. This means it is probably good to have a tone that has both warmth and coolness to create balance! 

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Customized Color Correction

The hair color wheel not only aids in understanding undertones but also enables stylists to formulate customized color correction solutions. By identifying the precise undertones causing the imbalance, hairdressers can determine the appropriate color products and techniques needed to restore harmony to the hair. Whether it's a gentle color shift or a complete transformation, the hair color wheel serves as an essential guide throughout the corrective color process.

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Final Thoughts

The hair color wheel is more than just a tool; it is a hairstylist's companion in their quest for creating breathtaking hair colors. By referring to this essential guide, professionals can confidently formulate and execute personalized color. If you are looking for a color specialist that can transform your hair or correct any previous undesired results send me a DM on Instagram @themanebri and let's book your hair transformation today! 


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About the Author

Brianna Thompson

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