A woman looking at the color chart to pick her new hair dye at the salon.

Dyeing your hair is a quick and accessible solution when you want a change – whether you’re just craving a new look or searching for something deeper. But choosing the right hues could be more challenging than therapeutic. Do you know what you can do? Apply the color theory to find your ideal shades.

Going for the wrong color won’t just cost you money and stress. It can take a toll on your hair. After all, you can’t simply correct the problem by re-dyeing right away. Knowing your way around the color wheel can turn a bold "blorange" into a subtle ash blonde.

The Basics of Color Theory

The color theory is a fundamental guide for every artist, including hair colorists. A color wheel puts the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors side by side so you can see how they work together. Hair experts use this theory to check which shades go together (analogous) and which ones contrast (complementary).

Playing with color combinations is a simple idea once you understand it. If you want something bolder, then you can go for complementary colors – like purple and yellow. In theory, if your hair turns brassy after bleaching, use a blue-based toner to neutralize the tint.

How to Use Color Hair Theory to Your Advantage

Whether you’re having your hair professionally done or you’re , do your research and understand color theory to achieve your hair goals. One quick tip is to use colors arranged near each other for your over- and undertones. For example, brown hair has a reddish undertone and pops with a honeyed blonde highlight. This sets blonde hair apart from more chunky highlights.

1. Choose the right base for your skin tone.

Know your skin tone by examining your wrist, particularly the veins. If your veins are green, you have warm-toned skin. People with a cool undertone usually have blue or purple veins. Still not sure? Grab a color wheel and ask your friend to check if your complexion looks brighter in warm hues (red, yellow, orange) or cool hues (blue, green, violet).

Folks with a warm undertone look good with reddish or yellowish tints, like strawberry blonde, cinnamon red, mahogany brown, and . On the flip side, a cooler skin undertone works best with blue or . Opt for platinum blonde, burgundy red, ash brown, or jet-black hair.

2. Tone the hue if needed.

Lifting your natural hair color requires patience, especially if you have a darker shade. Bleaching exposes the undertone of your hair. As you lighten it in stages, your dark brown hair will turn red, orange, then yellow. Instead of repeatedly to have that blank canvas, neutralize unwanted tint using a toner. This is where the color theory comes into play.

Green counteracts the redness of brown hair, often the result of using box hair dye. Meanwhile, you can easily fix the infamous "blorange" with a blue-violet toner. Your hairdresser might also recommend a purple shampoo like TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Blonde Brilliance Shampoo to maintain your golden locks. It has built-in Micro Conditioning Technology with a violet pigment that keeps your blonde hair radiant and smooth.

3. Bring dimensions with highlights or lowlights.

If you’re looking for a more modest look, opt for analogous colors. Stick to a highlighter shade that has similar traits to your base. Make sure they share the same undertone too. Give your striking new hair color a more distinct look with lowlights two shades darker than your primary dye.

If you are a to emphasize your glowing skin, check out Sofia Andres’ mocha hair with caramel blonde highlights. For something rock n’ roll, steal Vanessa Hudgens’ red highlights that give an edgy flair to her sweet chocolate hair. 

4. Proper hair care for colored hair.

Keep your dyed hair healthy and vibrant. But your regular shampoo and conditioner can’t do this. As a rule of thumb, wait at least 24 hours (the longer, the better) before washing your hair. It gives the color pigments time to stick.

Wash your hair with TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Color Radiance Shampoo. Its anti-fade technology prevents hair color from fading. It contains which moisturizes your strands without greasing the scalp. Treat yourself to a hair mask once a week to protect the ends from splitting up.

When you’re in between touch-ups, you can apply TRESemmé Root Touch-up Spray. It has a lightweight, quick-dry formula that instantly covers growing roots. It comes in light brown, dark brown, and black.

Having your hair colored is a big but highly rewarding commitment. Don't forget to use color theory so you’ll have no regrets.