Hair Color Science: How To Get The Color You've Been Dying For

Hair Color Science: How To Get The Color You've Been Dying For

Welcome to Splat’s School of Brilliant, Vibrant Hair Color! Class is about to begin…

All right class, settle down. Get your notebooks out and your pencils ready. Today’s lecture is dedicated to the nitty-gritty world of….color science.


To many people, science and art are polar opposites when it comes to subjects in school. Science is all about complex systems that exist underneath the surface, and art relies more on creative expression in the very visible world.  Science asks, “Why?” while Art says, “Ta-da!”


At Splat, we run into all kinds of questions about how and why hair color works (and sometimes, doesn’t exactly work!). Most of these questions pop up when something goes wrong with hair color, and in an effort to help you understand the chemistry behind coloring your hair, we’re dedicating this article to the Art of Color Science.


First, let’s go over the basics. Semi-permanent hair color (like the kind used in most of Splat’s products) coats the surface of the hair - without penetrating deep into the cuticle. When you coat the surface of your hair, the color is deposited directly on top of the color you already have. Learn all about semi-permanent hair dye here

When it comes to using color, it’s helpful to keep the color wheel in mind.

  • What’s The Big Deal About The Color Wheel?

There are 3 primary colors: bluered, and yellow. When you mix two primary colors together, you wind up with a secondary color like green (blue + yellow), orange (yellow + red), or purple (blue + red). Colors in the same color family (like red, yellow, and orange) can complement each other. But colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel can actually help cancel each other out. Yellow is opposite purple on the color wheel, and this is why most people recommend using violet-based toners or purple shampoos if your hair is too yellow or brassy.


If you’re planning on dyeing your hair a vivid color (like bright orange, teal, pink, violet, ruby red, and so forth), the color will show up best on hair that’s been pre-lightened as closely as possible to white. That’s because those bright-colored tones need a white ‘background’ in order to show up as true as possible. 

And that brings us to our first topic of discussion…


I Dyed My Hair Blue But It Came Out Green!

Blue hair is a beautiful thing, and that’s why we’ve come up with a huge collection of blue-inspired color kits. But if you have too much yellow in your hair after bleaching it, you run the risk of getting green-tinted hair. That’s because blue layered over yellow equals green. If you’ve bleached your hair and still have some yellow leftover, a toner will help remove the yellow so that your new color can achieve its truest results. Be sure to wash/rinse thoroughly after toning, before you move onto dyeing to your strands.

This can beg the question...


  • Why Did My Hair Turn Out Yellow In The First Place?

This answer is very scientific, so bear with us. Your hair is mainly made from a protein called keratin, but it’s also made with melanin, which is where your virgin color comes from. When you bleach your hair, an oxidation process occurs that makes your melanin (or virgin color) become colorless. Yellow is a natural byproduct of bleached keratin so the result of bleaching can leave behind a yellow tint (and, if your hair is really dark, it can leave behind an orange tint if your hair hasn’t fully processed). Click here to learn more about bleach and all the amazing ways to use it!


  • How Does Adding Purple Work on Yellow Hair?

If you look at the color wheel, purple is the opposite of yellow.  As its opposite, purple is the most effective way to cancel out yellow, and it’s used in many toners for that reason. It counteracts those unwanted brassy tones, but keep in mind: using a toner still deposits color onto your hair so you want to be sure to monitor the process and the only tone until the color has neutralized to nice ash or white to avoid processing so long that it then begins to turn purple.


  • How Do I Know If I Need to Tone My Color?

Splat’s kits come with everything you need to get bright, bold, or brilliant hair at home. We don’t include toner because it’s an extra step that not everybody needs. If you’re going to be dyeing your hair a darker color you probably won’t need toner since the dye itself will have good enough coverage. If you’re going for a lighter shade (like a pastel pink or an ocean blue), you likely will want to first tone your hair to help neutralize any leftover yellow.


  • How Can I Cancel Out Yellow WITHOUT Using A Toner?

If you still have a little yellow left in your hair after bleaching it, try adding a few drops of a more pigmented, similar color (like a few drops of Pink Fetish into a bottle of Midnight Rosetta) to increase the saturation and reduce the need for a neutral tone base. If you’re going for a blue color, try adding a few drops of Splat’s Purple Desire to the blue dye to give it more of a cool tone to cancel any yellow - but be sure to do a strand test first! (Keep in mind, we offer single color packets of all of our original color kits so there are a ton of color options to get the most saturated color that is all you). You can also add a few drops of purple dye (like Lusty Lavender) to a plain conditioner and wear it as a mask until the color has neutralized to help cancel out the yellow in your hair. Purple shampoo is also a great way to pull yellow tones out of your hair. Remember, though - if you’ve achieved a near-white color after bleaching, you don’t need to take the extra step to tone before dyeing. Our Single Foil Packs are a great add-on to your shopping cart to customize the color of your dreams.


  • Will It Work If I Mix Two Colors Together, Or Will I Just Get A Muddy Mess?

Yes, you can mix colors - within reason! We love mixing colors and we encourage you to try it. It won’t do much to add Orange with Midnight Indigo (because the blue will overpower the orange), but if shades are from the same side of the color wheel or you want to make a color warmer or cooler, have at it! Try adding some Pink Fetish to Orange Fireballs for a rich fiery orange, or Lusty Lavender with Blue Envy for a deep purple color.


  • How Can I Go From Blue to Pastel Pink?

First, set some realistic expectations! It’s going to take time to go from a midnight blue to pastel pink. You’ll need to let the blue color fade significantly first. You can use clarifying shampoo and hot/warm water to help speed the fading process along. Once your color fades, use the color wheel to transition over time by recoloring with the next transitional shade. This is where color science really comes into play! When your blue color fades, recolor with the next shade over in the direction you want to go. In this case (Blue -> Pink) you would reach for Splat Naturals in Lavender to get started in that color transition. Once that fades, recolor with the next shade over - a pink dye (like Naturals in Pink). As that pink fades you’ll now have the right base for pastel so when you’re ready to color again, simply add Splat’s Pastel Mixer to your Naturals Pink, and voila! You’ve transitioned from blue to pastel pink all on your own - without having to bleach your hair again. You’ll have put your color science skills to the test because that’s color science at its best. And it’s something you can easily do, on your own, at home!

Custom Hair Color Mixes





If you’re ever unsure about mixing custom colors or transitioning from one shade to the next, the Splat Squad Customer Service team is always available to help you out. Send us an email ( or a message through social media!


That’s it for today’s lecture on the Art of Color Science. We recommend going over these ‘notes’ whenever you need a refresher course, and remember: practice makes perfect, and knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you’ll be, and the more beautiful you’ll feel when you ace your at-home color transformation. 


Pencils down. Class dismissed!






Send us photos and videos of your custom hair color creations to be featured. Use the hashtag #splatsquad too!

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