Hair colour wheel | What it is and how to use it.

hair colour wheel

Ah, the hair colour wheel. A thing of beauty for hair dressers and colourists everywhere and a thing of mystery for all us other folk. Never fear. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the hair colour wheel and how you can use it to get the best out of your hair colour at home.

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What is the hair colour wheel?

hair color correction wheel

The hair colour wheel is all about colour theory. It’s what hair colourists use to work out the best hair colour for you.

It consists of 12 colours of varying tones, shades and tints. And arranged is by warm and cool colours.

At its basic level, it’s great for working out which hair colours suit you based on whether you have warm or cool undertones.

Not sure which undertones you have? You can use our checklist below to find out!

If you have cool undertones:

  • You have a fair skin tone and a complexion that’s pink or pale.
  • You will blush really easily!
  • Jewel tones and pastel colours look great on you.
  • Yellow is a colour that you’d never wear as it washes you out.
  • You have blue veins and not green veins in your wrist.
  • Pearls and silver jewellery are very flattering on you.

If you have warm undertones:

  • You have red or golden shades in your natural hair colour.
  • Your skin tone and complexion is golden, tan or olive.
  • You might have and used to have freckles.
  • You have green colour not blue colour veins in your wrist.
  • You suit wearing bright colours or richer shades better.
  • Gold jewellery looks awesome on you.
cool or warm undertones infographic

But where the colour wheel really comes into its own is when it comes to colour correction.

That’s when a hair dye job has gone wrong or brassy tones like orange and yellow start showing through. And this is the sciency bit.

The opposite colours on the chart neutralise each other. So if your blonde or silver hair has started turning yellow, you’d need purple colour to counteract it, and get it back to looking it’s best.

This is because purple is opposite to yellow on the colour wheel so they will neutralise each other. See?

And it works for all colours on the wheel.

If your brunette hair is turning orange, you’ll need blue pigments and tones to get rid of that unwanted brassiness. That’s because blue and orange are opposite colours on the colour wheel. Simples!

The colour wheel is easy to understand when you know how!

How can I use the colour wheel?

If you’re a hair dresser or colourist, there’s a lot more to colour theory than looking at opposite colours on the chart.

Good colourists will look at things like your skin tones, your hair condition, your natural hair colour and pigment to determine the right colours for you.

But for us, we can use the hair colour wheel to keep our hair dye colour in check at home with colour toning shampoo.

color wheel theory blonde cool instagram

What is colour toning shampoo?

Hair toners are colour-correcting products that neutralise unwanted tones in your hair to keep your colour on-point.

They are particularly good for blonde and bleached hair which can easily become too warm and brassy.

Professional hair toners are best applied in your salon. But for at-home solutions, toning shampoos are an excellent fix.

Toning shampoos and conditioners contain colour pigments that correct your colour.

The type of toning shampoo you need depends on the colour of your hair now and the colour you need to remove. This is where you can consult the good old colour wheel to be sure. For example:

If your hair is dyed brunette, you need blue shampoo to get rid of orange tones and keep your hair cool. If your ombre or balayage hair colour is looking brassy, they’ll work for you too.

If you’re a blonde looking to neutralise brassy yellow tones, you need a Purple Shampoo.

For grey hair that’s showing signs of yellow brassiness, Silver Shampoos are best for you.

These are all opposite colours on the colour wheel. You got it!

How do I use colour toning shampoo?

Toning shampoos are easy to use. They cleanse your hair like normal shampoos while getting rid of dullness and colour build up.

Some are quite strong and you may want to use gloves to stop them staining your hands. Be careful of your surfaces too.

In general, toning shampoos are more concentrated than toning conditioners but you can use both for the best results.


  • Give it a couple of weeks after colouring your hair before you use a toning shampoo. Because of the chemicals involved, your hair will be super porous and the colour pigment in the shampoo could make it go patchy.
  • Leave it in for a couple of minutes to really penetrate your hair.
  • Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly.
  • Make sure you use a good conditioner to keep your hair healthy, soft and in great condition.
  • Experiment with using toning shampoos frequently or as an intensive treatment in between washes. Everyone’s hair will have different needs and some find the shampoos can be drying.


  • Don’t leave toning shampoos on your hair for too long – it can stain your hair. If you notice too much colour in your hair after washing, you can use a good clarifying shampoo to remove it and rinse it out well.
  • Don’t overuse toning shampoo. Find out what works for you and your hair. You can start by mixing it with your normal shampoo to test the strength.
  • Don’t use the wrong colour toning shampoo. Always consult the colour wheel to find the right neutralising colour. If you get it wrong you might end up with a different colour altogether! Yikes!