May 14, 2015

The Level System : what in the Hell, Do All Those Numbers Mean?

I am finding there is a lot of confusion, and mixed up definitions of the numbers involved in the Level System coding on the sides of boxes and within the Level System. I'd like to clear up and clarify some of them.

First of all the Level System which is a system: defined "by numbers" is actually meant to be made "easier" by using those numbers. There are many times I feel they have just traded numbers for Letters and it truly hasn't helped much of anything....but I still teach it and feel it is the best tool we have for defining a 'system' for calculating hair color to be used on your hair in the correct manner.

It is referred to as the Level System of Hair coloring, beginning at Level 1 (Black) ---  all the way to Level 12 (platinum)....with all other colors sprinkled and spread throughout the middle of the two.

Here is the chart of a level 1 thru a Level 12 (after high-lift was added to the system)

Level 1 being Black and Level 12 being Platinum colored hair with all the other colors in between in a gradual scale of dark to light, or light to dark whichever way you choose to look at it.
{ this is a Wella chart -- Wella runs a Level darker which means a Level 2 is a Level 1 - basically}

The same holds true in the Tones.
Do you understand the difference between the two?
Levels are the lightness and darkness of hair color

Tones which are created by the way light falls on a object. Hair color tones can be put into three standard categories: warm, cool, or neutral. When I discuss color, or if you are choosing a color from a swatch book, the tones are often indicated with letters.......... standard examples of color tones are:

N = 0 = Neutral. Neither warm, nor cool. 
B = 7 = Brown (neither warm or cool)

Cool Tones

A: Ash............ 1
B: Beige......... 4
B: Blue........... 2
G: Green .......

V: Violet ........ 6
B: Brown........ 7

Warm Tones
C: Copper ( in the red series colors) OR Pearl..... 8 ( pearl means blue-violet based )
G: Gold ........ 3

R: Red ......... 5
( or Blorange) my own assessment of a bleached blond that pulls orangish

(not all company's use the exact same numbers for tones, but I find that each year they are all conforming more and more towards Wella who is really the Grandaddy of all hair color!

 Lets review what a few box ends look like........... so you understand this a little clearer

Here is Wella Koleston Perfect tube & the side of the box.
This color is used for excellent gray coverage, beautiful brow color and an all around beautiful hair color line. I recommend it for hard to cover gray and for battling the Blorange tones, none of us like ( the Matt series /2). Its the only line that does have a MATT series.

The number on the left side of the 'dash' or 'slash'  (EITHER ONE)..... is the Level of color that is in that tube of color. So this tube of color is a Level 6 ....( all colors & tones in this tube are a Level 5 because of Wella running a Level darker than all other lines)

The numbers on the right side of the dash or slash are...........the Tonal qualities within this tube of color. The one closest to the dash is the strongest , the next one being the lesser of the 2 tonal qualities.
Therefore in the above pictured tube is a Level 6 ( my favorite shade of brunette)  with a double shot of just STRAIGHT Brown tone. So no tones, either way no cool no warm....just straight up brown-brown-brown!  Unfortunately hair color has many gray areas that need to be learned by never expect it to be black and white I'm afraid.

Here is the color the above tube will be............. once applied and dried:

This tube from Wella's line Illumina color is listed as a 5/81...............
 So, for this color inside the tube is a Level 5 (I've found that Illumina, runs - only - about 1/2 Level darker)
and the tonal qualities are an "8" which is PEARL in this instance (Pearl has always been referred to as Blue Violet based which would fight any orange/blorange/gold & Brass Tones). Very handy for pretty much all of you! Then Ash which also fights the same tones, so this would be a very beautiful color for those of you with color that is stubborn in fighting those undertones. 
After its been a little while since coloring your hair -- does your hair pull any of those tones:
  • blorange
  • orange
  • brass
  • gold

if so then this is your color. You would want to add it to an appropriate Neutral if gray is also your enemy.

                                            This tube of color would look similar to this photo:

 The last tube is Color Touch 8/81 :

Color Touch is a Level 8 - 
8 = Pearl Tone
1 = Ash Tone

This is a great Toner in a Level 8 (7!) use either a 6 or 13 Volume which you would apply to a blond with brass or Blorange tones to it to BOTH...............
remove the annoying Tones 
and to add shine and strength to blonde's

which would look like this photo:

9 comments on "The Level System : what in the Hell, Do All Those Numbers Mean?"
  1. Thank you so much for this interesting post! May I ask a question, please? If my natural color is a level 6 (a really dark blonde with ashy undertones) it would be a level 7 on the Wella chart? Is that correct?

  2. What I am referring to is their hair color....not your hair.
    But, if you have Level 6 hair color and want it to remain Level 6 you would purchase a Level 7 hair color, which will give the Level 6 results.
    Make sense?
    Its been this way so long I bet they can't alter it now or it would throw too many people off !


  3. Hi! I just discovered your blog and I love it!
    I have a question, I recently dyed my hair purple. The lady had trouble getting there; first she bleached it then (I'm hispanic and she tested three strands with diff purples with no luck )she colored it red then purple, but after two weeks its starting to look red and I don't like it, what level tone do you recommend I buy to make it purple again??
    I will really appreciate the advice!

  4. If she Bleached it underneath...??? is it white or at least light blonde under the crazy color? If it is and you want to be purple - use Joico INTENSITY in INDIGO - it is PURPLE.
    try to get the red out of the hair there is no reason she should have red underneath purple,
    I mean red + blue equals purple.....Did she put red then blue on???

    Sounds weird, if you want to mix crazy colors you mix them in a bowl first, then apply them to the hair....
    make sense???
    Can't explain 'her' unfortunately. . . . .

  5. Okay I just found your blog and I'm loving it. Even followed on Pinterest! But unfortunately I dyed my hair before reading. :( And now I feel like such a dummy. Ok, I had a 5A in (wella color charm 5/246) and it had already washed out so I had this funky red color going on. I decided to use the same color again but I ended up with hot roots. Yellow hot roots!! My natural color is like a 4. I desperately tried to darken my roots by applying darker shade...but now I'm left with uneven color and its washing out...and leaving me with yellow patches. I have fine hair, shoulder length. Do you suggest a full color correction? I would like a lighter color than a 5 - should I just go platinum and start fresh? I know I'm totally damaging my hair 😞

    1. Wow, that is a whole lot going one paragraph....
      First of all you need to stop doing what you are doing, you are not hinking before you are coloring your hair and you are making mistakes that you know better from ...I can tell by the way you talk you are smarter than you are acting.
      A lot of you do this one thing that drives me crazy...and I will bet it is what YOU did.............

      YOu color your hair a "certain color"..............beCAUSE you happen to have it at home ! !

      Not because it is the color you want, but because you don't have to order it online or drive somewhere....Usually you cannot drive somewhere to get ''quality hair color''
      Remember that as one of my Rules.
      "If you can Drive to Point A.....B.....or ''C'' for hair color, then THAT hair color is super shitty and you better think twice about using it.

      Quality Hair color ONLY comes to you via an Online order, I will assure you ! ! !

      I can tell your hair is important to you...., don't be silly and create more of a problem than you already have, Stop and Color Correct. Join the group ( do you live in America?).
      I can even help there, get it straightened out.

      its much too complicated for a 2-3 sentence answer I assure you!



  6. Hello-

    I am American Indian and I have dark brown hair with 50% gray (stubborn) hair. Which Wella color should I use to get good gray coverage? I would like to keep my hair dark brown with some gold in it.

    Many thanks!

  7. Hello-

    I have dark brown hair with 50% gray that is stubborn. Which Wella color would you recommend that will give me good gray coverage with some gold highlights. In the past I have used Wella Koleston Perfect Color 4/0 Medium Brown/Natural 2oz.

    Many thanks,

  8. I have just added a QUICK CONSULTATION to our store, where you can answer 14 questions and choose either a 5 minute SKYPE or a 5 minute phone call to get your solution. This one is completely different than previous versions . Before purchaisng you MUST have the Killer 14 questions answered and emailed in to stores email ( ). Then 3-5 photos of your hair if you choose the phone Call VERSION MUST be emailed to that same email..Just go there and you can get your answer quickly and for a reasonable price... KC

    quick Consultation to our store if you o


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