Skip to Content

Is Level 2 hair black?

When it comes to hair color, there are many different levels and shades. One common question is whether Level 2 hair is considered black. To properly answer this, we first need to understand the hair color level system.

The Hair Color Level System

Hair colorists use a standard numbering system from 1 to 10 to classify shades of blonde, brown, black, and red hair. This system is useful for hair color formulation and communication between stylists and clients. Here’s a quick overview of the levels:

  • Level 1 is black
  • Levels 2-3 are dark brown
  • Levels 4-5 are medium brown
  • Levels 6-7 are light brown
  • Levels 8-10 are progressively lighter shades of blonde

Within each level number, there are additional letters used to indicate the tone or undertone of the hair:

  • A = Ash or green undertones
  • G = Gold or red undertones
  • N = Neutral undertones

So a level 6N hair color would be a light brown shade with neutral undertones. As the level number increases, the hair becomes lighter. Now let’s look specifically at Level 2 hair colors.

What Does Level 2 Hair Look Like?

Level 2 falls within the darkest brown to black range on the hair color scale. It is a very dark brown that can appear black in some lighting. Here are some key facts about Level 2 hair:

  • Level 2 is not pure black, but an extremely dark brown.
  • It reflects very little light, so can look black unless examined very closely.
  • Natural level 2 hair is common in Asian hair and darker complexions.
  • When colored, level 2 hair dyes contain warm tones to add dimension to the dark shade.

To visualize Level 2 hair colors, here is a color chart with examples:

Level Tone Example
2 N – Natural Photo of level 2N natural black brown hair
2 G – Gold Photo of level 2G warm black brown hair
2 A – Ash Photo of level 2A cool black brown hair

As you can see, Level 2 hair is not a pure jet black, but more of a very dark espresso brown with different warm and cool undertones depending on the tone. It is easy to mistake Level 2 hair for black unless you examine it very closely in bright lighting.

How Dark is Level 2 Hair?

To understand how dark Level 2 hair color is, it’s helpful to compare it to other shades:

  • Level 1 hair is pure black with no warm or cool tones added.
  • Level 3 hair is still a very dark brown but reflects slightly more light than Level 2.
  • Level 4 hair is classified as a dark brown rather than black brown.

So Level 2 falls right within that upper end of the darkest brown shades. While not as inky and opaque as Level 1 jet black hair, Level 2 reflects so little light that it appears black in most settings.

What is Near Black Hair?

“Near black” is a descriptive term sometimes used by hair colorists for darker brown shades that appear black. This includes Level 2 brown hair.

Some examples of near black hair colors:

  • Natural dark brown hair, around a Level 2.
  • Colored hair dyed to a Level 2 brown-black shade.
  • Off-black hair dye on hair that lifts to a Level 2 result.

Near black hair dye is formulated to deposit very dark color while still keeping undertones that add dimension. So in summary, near black refers to the darkest shades of brown hair that verge on looking black while still containing warm or cool tones.

What About Jet Black Hair Dye?

When people want to achieve a true black hair color, they often use jet black permanent or semi-permanent hair dye. Jet black contains no warm or cool tones and deposits a Level 1 solid black color.

However, most natural hair cannot easily be colored to a Level 1 jet black. Hair’s underlying pigment level needs to be lightened first. So when applying jet black dye to virgin medium to dark brown hair, the result is often a near black or Level 2 hair color.

Can You Dye Hair From Brown to Black?

It is possible to dye natural medium to dark brown hair into a black shade, but the process involves careful timing and often multiple steps.

Here is a typical process for dyeing brown hair black:

  1. Fill the hair first with a color similar to the current shade.
  2. Apply a darker dye immediately after the filler, increasing depth gradually.
  3. Rinse thoroughly and then apply a true black shade like Level 1 jet black.
  4. Maintain the color with black hair dye every 4-6 weeks as the shade fades.

Without pre-filling and gradually intensifying the color, black dye on top of brown hair can result in dark roots and brassiness along the lengths. The multi-step process helps build up the color slowly for an even, natural-looking black shade.

Can Black Hair Turn Brown Over Time?

Yes, natural black hair can begin to lighten and turn brown over one’s lifetime due to age and sun exposure. This happens in a gradual ombre fashion with the roots remaining darkest.

There are a few reasons black hair can turn brown:

  • Production of melanin decreases as we age, resulting in some natural lightening of hair from black to dark brown.
  • Sun exposure over decades can also oxidize the melanin in hair, fading the color.
  • Previous color treatments can continue to leach out slowly over many years.

Permanent black hair dye can help prolong a jet black shade. However, for most people with naturally black hair, allowing their hair to gradually lighten to a dark brown is perfectly natural.


In summary, Level 2 hair is not a true black shade but rather an extremely dark brown that borders on black. Hair colorists would classify natural Level 2 hair as a “black brown” rather than pure black. When dyeing the hair, lifting and pre-filling allows darker hair to accept black dye for a richer shade.

Over time, black hair can fade to darker Level 2 brown tones due to aging and sun exposure. But permanent black hair dye or repeat coloring can keep hair an opaque true black for longer. So in the end, Level 2 hair is more accurately described as an espresso brown “near black” rather than jet black.

With this understanding of the hair color level system, you can better communicate with your colorist to achieve your perfect shade – whether that’s black, dark brown, or anything in between. The numbering and lettering system acts as a roadmap to help navigate all the shades of the hair rainbow.