11 Best brown hair dyes to cover red tones – How to apply it step-by-step

some hairdressers hate box dyes

If you plan to color your hair at home with box dye, I recommend the following brands and colors:


  • GARNIER NUTRISSE: 13 or 6.13.
  • REVLON COLORSILK: 31 or 41.
  • L’OREAL EXCELLENCE: 4 UA, 5 AB, or 6 A
  • KOLESTON PERFECT: 4/07 or 5/71.

They’re easy to find and cover the red tones in your hair.


Alternatively, if you’re planning to cover your red tones with brown hair dye in a salon, you can ask your colorist for:




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Oops, I know.

It sounds like a mess of numbers or an unfathomable math problem.

Actually, it’s easier than it seems.


  To find the best brown hair dye to cover the red tones you need to consider the hair color numbering system.  


This hair color numbering system guides colorists to perform hair color corrections with absolute precision, such as removing red tones.

It may also allow you to correct the unwanted red tones in your hair.



Because it’s universal.


It means that any colorist in Japan uses the same numbering system that I use in Argentina.

Yes, it’s the same chart for all colorists in the world.

I’ll explain it to you in detail.



I know that I mentioned earlier which brown dyes will allow you to correct the red tones in your hair.

But what if you can’t find the brands I mentioned?

  The numbering system will allow you to find the right universal number for the brown color that may remove the red tones in your hair.  


And what if your salon works with brands that aren’t INOA, IGORA, or Wella?


As you may know, most salons work with a specific exclusive brand.

Some salons work with INOA while others only work with WELLA.


So,   if your salon doesn’t work with the brands I mentioned, you can ask your colorist for the exact brown dye number to remove the red tones.  


You’ll understand because you’ll know about this coloring system.

So without wasting any more time, let’s get started with the colorimetry class.

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How to choose the brown dye to neutralize the red tones of the hair

Professional hairdressing colors are often labelled with numbers or combinations of numbers and letters:

What do they mean?

  •   The first number indicates the color level.   For example: 5.0 which corresponds to light brown.
  •   The second number, which is always after a period, slash, or comma, indicates the undertone.   For example: 5.1 corresponds to light ash brown.
  •   The third number, if any, indicates the reflection.   For example: 5.13 is light ash golden brown.


Where do these numbers come from?

The universal numbering system allows you to choose dye colors and make color corrections.

It’s a scale that represents hair colors to unify the codes.

  • 1 black
  • 2 brown
  • 3 dark brown
  • 4 brown
  • 5 light brown / medium brown
  • 6 dark blonde / light brown
  • 7 blonde
  • 8 light blonde
  • 9 very light blonde
  • 10 extra light platinum blonde


These are the numbers you can see in the coloring kit before the comma, dot, or slash.

As you can see,   browns are represented by number 3 to 6 according to each dye brand.  

The second number represents the dye undertone:

  • 0 neutral
  • 1 ash (blue)
  • 2 pearly iridescent (pearlescent)
  • 3 golden (yellow)
  • 4 copper (orange)
  • 5 mahogany (bordeaux)
  • 6 red
  • 7 deep brown or brown
  • 8 blue
  • 9 purple


These shades neutralize the red, orange, or yellow tones that appear in the hair after a bleaching process of natural color fading.


You’ll also notice that some hair dyes have letters instead of numbers. This is very common in English-speaking countries:

  • A ash
  • B brown
  • U ultra


In any case, the system is always the same. What changes is the way each color is identified on the scale.

  If you want to remove red tones from the hair with a brown hair color, you’ll need to undergo a neutralization process.  


Neutralization is based on the color wheel:

  • Blue neutralizes orange.
  • Violet neutralizes yellow.
  • Green neutralizes red.


Now, this doesn’t mean you should dye your hair green.

  Instead, you should look for a dye that includes the shade and reflection tones to form green.  


For example:

  • A 4.13 hair dye is golden ash brown. It contains blue or ashy, and golden or yellow pigments. Those yellow and blue pigments will form the green to neutralize your red hair.


That’s how the third digit in the code works. It complements or reinforces the secondary or shade tone.

Now, not all brands have that combination of secondary or tertiary pigments.

So,   you should look for ashy brown or brown coloring kits.  

How do you identify them?


They end in 1, 7, or 3.

The brown or chestnut level is predominantly a deep yellow, almost orange color.


Therefore if you apply a 4.1 ash brown, you’ll neutralize the red tones because yellow and blue result in a shade of green.


As there are several options of brown dyes to neutralize red tones, I’ll give you a small guide to decide which one may suit your needs.


Guide to choose the brown dye that suits your style to neutralize red tones

Not all is about removing red tones from your hair.

You also need to find the brown hair color that flatters you and brings out the best in your features.


  • If you have green or blue eyes, and cold skin, you can opt for ash brown hair color such as REVLON COLORSILK 31 or 41.

The first advantage of this dye is that it’s low-maintenance. In other words, you can refresh it every four to five weeks.

This dye has a natural finish and suits women with cool skin and green or blue eyes.

You could combine it with caramel-colored highlights, for example, to achieve luminosity in your face.


  • If you have warm skin and brown eyes, opt for golden brown hair colors such as GARNIER NUTRISSE 13 or 6.13.

Due to its golden highlights, this brown dye will give your hair a natural luminosity. I can assure you that it’s amazing when the sun’s rays reflect on it.

Your skin will be brightened by the golden reflections of this brown hair color.


  • If you prefer darker colors, opt for a coffee brown dye, such as SCHWARZKOPF SIMPLY COLOR 4.0 or 6.0.

This brown hair dye is ideal for olive-skinned women who don’t want to move away from darker hair colors.


Step-by step to apply brown hair dye to neutralize red tones

handle dye with gloves

  • Separate your dry hair into four sections. Hold them with hair clips.
  • Mix the dye with the developer to blend. You’ll find all the ingredients in the coloring kit.
  • Release one of the sections of hair and   apply the dye from roots to ends.   You can distribute it with your hands or a dye brush.
  • Be sure to cover each section evenly with dye to remove the red tones and ensure that no strands are left uncovered.
  • Leave it on for 45 minutes to allow your hair fiber to absorb the color.
  • Then, rinse your hair with plenty of warm water, and apply the post-coloring treatment included in the kit to moisturize your hair.
  • Rinse and remove excess water from your hair gently with a towel.



To remove red tones from your hair you can opt for different brown dyes containing ash, gold, or brown undertones.

Red tones are very persistent and difficult to remove. If they still remain after you neutralize them, I recommend that you book an appointment at a salon.

Your colorist will apply a green toner to permanently remove this persistent color.

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