Understanding your natural hair color and undertones can be confusing. Chroma refers to the intensity and saturation of your natural hair color. Knowing your chroma level helps determine what hair color products will look best on you. This guide will explain how to identify your chroma and choose flattering hair colors.
What is Chroma?
Chroma indicates how rich, vivid, and intense your natural hair pigment is. Hair colorists use a chroma scale from 1 to 10 to classify hair color saturation. Lower chroma levels have faded, ashy tones while higher chroma is very concentrated and saturated.
Level 1 chroma is nearly colorless. Level 10 chroma is extremely intense and vivid. Most people fall somewhere between levels 4-8.
Here is an overview of the 10 chroma levels:
|Level 1||Nearly colorless, lightest wash of color|
|Level 2||Extremely low saturation, hints of color|
|Level 3||Very diluted color, pale tones|
|Level 4||Low concentration, muted tones|
|Level 5||Medium saturation, some vividness|
|Level 6||Moderately saturated, decent intensity|
|Level 7||Rich color, good vibrancy|
|Level 8||High intensity, very concentrated|
|Level 9||Extremely saturated, maximum depth|
|Level 10||Incredibly vivid, opaque coverage|
Determining Your Chroma
You can identify your natural chroma level by observing your hair color closely in natural lighting. Here are some tips:
- Look at the ends of uncolored hair near your neck for most accurate reading
- Analyze sections of hair throughout your whole head
- Assess how sheer or opaque the color looks
- Determine if your color is warm, cool, or neutral-leaning
- See how highlights look against your natural shade
Lower chroma levels usually have muddy, faded out tones. You may see a lot of grey, beige, or brown hues mixed in. Higher chroma is much more vivid. The color looks glossy and rich in saturation.
Impact on Hair Color
Knowing your chroma level helps you pick hair colors that enhance your natural pigment rather than fight against it. Here’s how:
- Low Chroma: Avoid shades that match your level but have more saturation. They may overpower your hair. Try colors one level darker or lighter to create dimension.
- Medium Chroma: You can wear a range of shades. Stay within two levels lighter or darker for best results.
- High Chroma: Your hair acts like a color sponge and absorbs pigment easily. Stay close to your natural level and adjust tone for fun looks.
There are products available that can help increase the saturation of your natural hair pigment. This adds vibrancy and helps hair color last longer. Options include:
- Gloss treatments: Clear semi-permanent glazes that enhance shine and richness.
- Color-depositing shampoos: Gradually build up chroma with each wash.
- Demi-permanent color: Adds a hint of color while nourishing hair.
It’s best to get a professional chroma-boosting service to avoid uneven results. Ask your colorist for a demi-permanent glaze or toner in a shade close to your natural color.
If your chroma level is off, you may need some color correction. Here are some common issues:
- Too ashy: Use a warm demi-permanent gloss to cancel out grey tones.
- Brassy orange: Apply a blue-violet toner to neutralize unwanted warmth.
- Too dark: Do an all-over color one or two levels lighter.
- Too saturated: Try a diluted semi-permanent color close to your natural shade.
It’s best to book a color consultation and formulate a step-by-step correction plan. Drastically altering your chroma in one service risks damage.
Some key factors to keep in mind when selecting complementary colors:
- Skin tone: Warm and neutral skin looks great with warm reds, golden blondes. Cool skin loves ash browns, platinum.
- Eye color: Brown/amber eyes suit caramels. Blue/green eyes pop against shades like violet.
- Current color: Stay within 2-3 levels of your natural base at first when going lighter/darker.
Doing a test strand before committing to a new hue is highly recommended. See how the color develops on a small section in the back before applying to your whole head.
Preserve your new chroma-enhanced color by:
- Using sulfate-free shampoo and cold water washes
- Skipping clarifying shampoos
- Limiting use of hot tools
- Applying weekly conditioning treatments
- Avoiding chlorine, sun exposure
- Getting a gloss refresh every 4-6 weeks
High chroma colors require extra care and maintenance. Invest in professional-grade products to keep your color vibrant and true-to-tone.
Understanding your natural chroma level is key for selecting flattering hair colors. While only a trained colorist can officially analyze your chroma, you can look for clues in your hair’s saturation, warmth, and dimension. Boost low chroma with semi-permanent glosses and enhance high chroma with complementary tones. With the right knowledge and maintenance, you can rock hair color tailored perfectly for your unique chroma.