Hair Dye Base Color

Jodie Michalak
Adright
The science of color.

The correct hair dye base color is essential for a pleasing and flattering hair color. Whether you are lightening your hair and depositing lowlights, or are simply coloring your graying hair, establishing a proper base color is the first step in selecting the right hair color to use.

About Base Colors

Hair color is a science that can be complicated and confusing to the amateur. While most people have no problem determining their hair color, a base color is a different matter in the world of accurate hair coloring. A base hair color is known to the professional hair colorist as the foundation color for lightening or darkening the hair.

If you're ready to make a major change to your hair color, you'll need to concoct a color formula that deposits the tones that help to create the desired color of choice. When more than just one or two shades of lightening or darkening is desired, a proper base color selection should be left to an educated professional.

The following situations are classic examples of when a base hair color needs to be added to a color formula for successful results:

  • Going from dark to light: Whenever someone with dark brown or black hair desires to become a brunette with caramel highlights, a proper hair dye base color is needed to lift the hair to a brown shade before highlights can be added.
  • Dealing with gray: If you have gray hair and want to be a redhead with golden or copper highlights, you'll first need to establish a red tone base color prior to lightening the hair and adding the spicy highlights.
  • Adding warmth: A less extreme example of adding a base color is the instance when the natural base is unflattering or washes out the skin tone. Perhaps you have mousy brown hair and want to be a softer blonde with a few highlights? In order to achieve the blonde results you crave, you'll need a lighter blonde base color before adding the warm blonde tones.

Hair color is not an exact science. Depending on the porosity and overall health of the hair, results can vary dramatically. Although some people feel comfortable with at-home hair color, revolving the color wheel and determining base colors is often best left to the professionals. If you've booked an appointment with your colorist, find photographs and pictures of your inspiration so that they can determine the desired result and add the required base color to your formula, ensuring a positive outcome.

Choosing a Flattering Hair Color

In addition to base color, tone and intensity can make or break a flattering hair color. If you want to find a shade that flatters your skin tone and features, you'll first need to determine whether you have cool or warm skin. Cool skin tones look best in blue based and cool colors. Feel free to try out deep brunettes, bright reds, and platinum blondes for a color that is bold and striking. Warm skin tones look best in golden and brunette hues. If you want to go blonde, play with chunks of golden highlights rather than an allover color. If you want to go darker, opt for a warm chocolate brown hair color rather than a cool espresso. If you want a spicy red color, opt for a vivid warm red rather than a blue based tone.

Once your hair color has been established, maintenance is key to keep it looking its best. The best advice in choosing a hair color is to never commit to a process that you can't afford to maintain. While allover color is a popular choice for those with a large percentage of gray, highlights are an economical alternative and require touchups every 6 to 8 rather than 4 to 6 weeks.


Hair color is an exciting way to change your look and flatter your skin tone and palette. When combined with the right attitude and an expert's touch, finding the right hair dye base color is easy science.

Hair Dye Base Color