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Hair Color 2 Vs. Hair Color 4: What’s the Difference?

Hair color is as personal as style is to each person. While hair colors might be limited to four, including black, brunette, red, and blonde, several varying tones give many options when people choose a hair color.

There are various levels of hair color. For example, blondes can vary from sunflower to ash, while red hair colors can be from crimson to strawberry. For this article, we compare the two deepest shades ‒ dark brown and medium brown, or hair color 2 vs hair color 4.


Hair Dye Numbering System

hair dye numbering system palette

Hair dye numbering system (levels, tones and undertones)


hair color levels

Color Chart

There is a color chart all colorists consult to measure the intensity of hair color shades. The number of the color indicates the shade your hair will be; the lower it is, the darker the color.

The numbers that refer to the hair color shades are typically universal, but there could be slight differences between hair color brands, depending on the production. It’s known across the color board that hair color 2 is the darkest shade and hair color 10 is the lightest.

While the numbers and shade mean the same to a colorist, that might not be the case for each customer. One’s idea of the darkest brown might vary from another, and the outcome of the color application will vary depending on the shade of your hair.


What is the Difference Between Hair Color 2 and Hair Color 4?

A subtle difference between hair colors 2 and 4 to some will be drastic to others. The difference is more prominent than you think.

Hair Color 2 – Darkest Brown

darkest brown - hair color number 2

darkest brown color palette

Hair color 2 is one subtle shade away from black, and it’s the darkest of the brown hair colors you can get. This color shade will likely appear to most as black unless shown beside a true black ‒ which is hair color 1.

Some color manufacturers have their hair color shades on a scale of 2-10 and call shade 2 black, while others create a dark brown under the No. 2 shade, so it’s pertinent to do your research before choosing a color to be sure you choose the right shade.


Hair Color 4 – Medium Brown

medium brown hair color palette - hair color 4

medium brown color palette – hair color 4

Hair color 4 is described, by most color manufacturers, as medium brown. It delivers a rich, medium brown color that is a shade lighter than dark brown. Again, a few companies will list hair color 4 as light brown, so make sure you check the colors on the box carefully.


Darkest Brown or Medium Brown: Which Shade Is Right For You?

Professional hairdressers recommend you go no more than two shades darker or lighter than your original hair color, but ultimately, the decision is up to you. There will be some restrictions when you are lightening or darkening your hair color.

  • If you are a shade 2 (blackish/brown) naturally, you will likely only be able to lighten your hair by one shade or two because the product can only lift the color so much.
  • If you are darkening your hair, you can go up to any shade you like, but stylists recommend only going two shades above your own. If your hair is a light blonde color, taking it to black will likely wash out your complexion. The best way to darken your hair to the desired level is to do it one shade at a time.
  • There are precautions and steps you must take if you already have color-treated hair. If you lighten your hair to a lighter shade than your original color, applying a lighter shade still will not give you results that are any different.

Coloring your hair and changing your look is always exciting, but you need to be careful to use the best products to keep your hair healthy and supple. If you get your hair colored at a salon by a professional, they can show you the color shade chart and help you determine the best hair color for you.


Bottom Line

The difference between hair colors 2 and 4 might be subtle to some and more prevalent to others. Do your research once you choose the color brand you desire to use. A hair dye color chart is located on the back of the dye box to show what the color will be depending on your current color.

Remember that previous dye jobs will affect the outcome of the color you choose, especially if you are going lighter.


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