How to Use Ash Hair Color

Ash hair colorFor those of us who like to color our own hair, it can be a challenge knowing which type of color to choose.  I have seen many situations in the salon where using an ash hair color can benefit the outcome.  Knowing the underlying chemistry that goes along with hair color can be a very in-depth lesson.  So I will break it down in the easiest way I can for a better at home coloring. When you go to the drugstore to choose, as I like to call them, an over-the-counter hair color, sometimes we don’t always take into consideration that each hair color we choose had to start with an underlying primary color, which can either be red, blue, or yellow.  When we get into the ash colors, we are getting into a mix of primary colors to create a base color.  Even a small understanding of colors can be helpful when coloring your self.  Since there are more than ash hair colors, it can be tough on which one to choose.


For those who are lightening hair from a medium brown or dark blonde you might not need as much ash, unless you have the type of hair that often has a gold tint to it after the coloring process.  To many of us it may look red, especially if we have the darker brown shades to start with, and that is why we would be choosing ash color because we do not want our hair to look that way.

Here are a few pointers for choosing and how to use ash hair color:

  • Ash hair color always begins with green.  If you want to eliminate gold or red tones in your hair you will want to choose an ash hair color.  The box or bottle will have an A behind the number meaning ash. Some manufacturers will say ash right on the box to make it easier to understand the lingo.  The green base color (ash) is used to counter any red or gold tints you would like to get rid of in your hair before or after coloring. Since green calms down the red in your hair as it does on the color wheel.


  • So you may be asking, how do I know which shade to choose?  Well, you will want to determine the color you want to be, as with any color job you do.  The darker your hair is determines how strong of a developer or processing solution you will use.  If you have dark brown hair and you want to be a blonde, make sure the color you choose can lift your hair that light.  Sometimes it may cause a real issue if you cannot get the hair light enough, and I have seen it happen many times.  It can take a very long time to lighten your hair if you do not use the proper developer, and in some cases it won’t work at all. Then you will have to go to a professional for a color correction, and it could not only jeopardize the condition of your hair, but you’re sure to foot a pricy bill at the end.


  • If you are just trying to freshen up your color and you have already used an ash based color, you may want to continue using an ash based color.  Switching around the tones may counter the color you have and the color you want to be in a way you do not want.  If you want to darken your hair, be careful when using ash based colors.  Most high lifted hair, which means you have lightened your hair from a darker to a lighter shade, will soak in almost every color you don’t want.  I would recommend using a natural shaded color for covering up blonde hair to a darker level, for the simple fact that you may risk turning yourself green (see how to avoid ash green hair) or who knows what other color.


  • The best advice I can give is don’t mix colors that aren’t the same brand. Even though they both may be a 6A, each manufacturer mixes the shades and tones differently.  So one companies 6A may be another companies 4A.  It just depends on the company.  You can use one brand one time, and then another brand the next, but don’t mix them together for one application.

I would recommend using the same brand or manufacturer every time you color.  It will be easier to determine what color you want to be, and you can learn how to use that color to your advantage.  It’s easier to fine tune your color if you know how it works for your hair.

  • boobear27

    Would it be ok to use 2 ash colors together? I have dark brown and plan on going a bit lighter. I plan on experimenting and mixing light ash brown with medium ash brown.

    • Hi boobear27- Mixing 2 colors together can be something that works really well, or go really bad. First, make sure that using an ash color is needed. Using ash colors when not needed can give you a green or blue ash look in the end. When mixing colors, use the same brand of color. Also, understanding the levels of the color is important. The higher level will be the lightener, while the lower level will give you more depth. To play it safe with experimenting, I would highly suggest trying a test strand before applying an all over color. Good luck and keep us posted on your results!

  • Sugar&Spice

    Should I mix a golden brown (Garnier Nutrisse Ultra B4 Caramel Chocolate) with a neutral or an ash shade? I have natural red highlights in my hair, but I think the golden brown used by itself will be too brassy. What do you suggest? I don’t want to end up with green hair!

    • Hi Sugar&Spice- This is a tricky question to answer correctly. It all depends on what color you have used before for your hair. If your natural hair color has red highlights, and you have NOT used color on top of that, then yes I would use an ash based color. If you currently have any color on your hair, I would suggest that you go to your local beauty supply store. They will be able to see what color was used previously and help in choosing the correct color for you now. Have fun coloring!

      P.S. Take a look at these tips for avoiding green hair.

  • Kimberly LeSieur

    I lightened (bleached)my hair and I’m a level 8 or 9 now from a level 4. I would say the color is a sandy strawberryish blonde. I toned it a couple times and it toned the yellowish orange, but the color is a little too light and i want to tone it down a bit. I want to be like a level 7 beige sandy blondeish color, a little warmth but not brassy. I got demi permanent dye in 9.1A extra light blonde ash and 8.4 light beige blonde. I want to mix the colors together but i don’t want to be to ashy or end up with a green tone. Can you mix those together to get a result like that?

    • Kimberly LeSieur

      I posted a pic of my hair, of that helps.

    • Hi Kimberly- Sorry for such a delay in the response. The best advice that I can give you is when in doubt, always go to your local beauty supply store for a quick consult. They are able to see your hair in person, and hear your wants and wishes. Mixing colors together is something that can work very well. Using an ash color will help in covering up the sandy strawberry blonde color that you described. Remember that it is much easier to make a drastic change in color by doing it slowly. A few coloring sessions may be what you desire in order to get to the color you want. Good luck and happy coloring! Feel free to post some pictures of your before and after.