Clever Colour: How To Achieve a Natural Look When Colouring Your Hair

image0 (4)  Colour by Julie


If you’re a Paul Edmonds Blog regular, you’ll remember our recent hair science lesson on what hair is made of, how it’s structured and how it produces colour.


Hair pigment is produced by melanin and comes in varying intensities of red. The deepest red pigment shows as black hair and then runs through the spectrum to very pale yellow – or light blonde. Hair that contains no pigment cells at all appears grey.


This distribution of pigment causes visible colour – and this is what we stylists refer to as your ‘natural colour’. When we discuss colouring your hair artificially, we use the equivalent of your natural colour as a base.


Remember those shade charts that your technician shows you, with loops of hair in varying colours? Those are split by base-level shades to give you an idea of what can be achieved when you decide to change or enhance your natural colour in the salon. They demonstrate how dark or light a colour can look (the shade) and they enable you to choose from a variety of tones too.


So If My Base Colour Is The Shade, What Is The Tone?

Tone relates to an additional tweak of colour from that original base. Imagine you’re looking at two of your friends’ hair in natural sunlight. They both have a similar shade of brown hair – but one looks golden in the sunlight and one looks slightly blue. This subtle difference is tone (sometimes known as ‘reflect’).


Tones/reflects are unique to the individual. Colour technicians can make brown shades appear warmer or cooler simply by adding molecules of colour into the base formula.  In blonde hair, they can add violet or blue to counteract the yellow or orange tone/reflect in natural colour to create a cooler, ash-blonde effect.


If I Want To Colour My Hair, Do I Have To Have a Base and Tone/Reflect Colour Applied?

Not always – it depends on the shade and tone that you want to achieve, coupled with the distribution of pigment in your natural base colour.


Natural pigment will always affect any new colour that is applied, so your technician needs to take it carefully into account. For example, if you have plenty of natural deep red pigment and you apply a dark blonde over it, the outcome will be different than if you started with orange pigment.


Your hair technician has two decisions to make when planning how to colour your hair:

1. Whether they need to use oxidation to lift your natural base to the right level in order to get the perfect shade and/or;

2. Whether to then apply tones to alter warmth or coolness in order to achieve the look you’re going for.

Your technician will decide which path is suitable and will choose the right colour, the intensity of oxidant, and the pre-mix of shade and tone that will ultimately give you the desired outcome.  It really is an art form!


You Mentioned a Pre-mix of Shade and Tone. Can I Have a Toner/Reflect On Its Own?

Yes, you can. Hair colour formulas are usually a mix of base and tone, but technology has allowed us to replicate the many different shades and tones/reflects that exist in natural human hair colour.


In general, colour formulas that have base shades tend to look heavier because they concentrate on getting the desired shade right. Think of it in terms of make-up.  Foundation tends to be the product that gives you flawless looking skin, covering blemishes and uneven skin tone. You then use highlighters and concealers to tweak and play with tones to alter and enhance your face, or to reduce the opaque feel your foundation gives. They also give your skin a more luminous texture.


Toners are the highlighters of hair colouring. Whilst your technician can apply toners on their own, recent developments in colour technology now enable them to give you the shade you want subtly, whilst emphasizing the tones/reflects. This means that they can play around with those violets, blues, coppers and reds to achieve a more natural-looking colour that doesn’t look too heavy or obviously coloured. It also means that regrowth is less noticeable.


What is this New Colour Technology Called?


Glow is a range of tones/reflects that incorporate a subtle base shade but can be applied on natural hair to change and enhance the existing tones.  As the formula is uniquely tailored towards tones/reflects with a softer base, it gives hair a distinct luminosity that prevents the colour appearing heavy or opaque. It’s a subtle difference with beautifully luxurious effects.

Is Glow Right For Me

This technique is ideal for clients with very light grey hair who have never had in-salon hair colour, or for those who have had colour in the past and want natural-looking results.  It is brilliant at neutralising unwanted brassiness to give hair natural luminosity and shine and will bring contrast and multi-tonal reflects to your balayage or highlights, and with all colour services that you invest in it is important that you ensure using a shampoo, conditioner and masque that locks that colour in for longer, maintaining the shine, hydration and condition,  Shu Uemura Colour Lustre Shampoo, Shu Uemura Color Lustre Conditioner and Shu Uemura Color Lustre Masque is the perfect partner to colouring your hair.


Ask your Paul Edmonds London technician for more details of Glow and the beautiful range of tones available to you as part of your next colour service.  Here is a list of our amazing colour technicians in our Knightsbridge and Battersea Power Station Salons for you to review and book – Paul Edmonds Colour Team.