Discover The Deep, Dark Allure of 1N Hair Color: A Complete Guide 2024

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1N hair color lives in the space between black and brown, offering dimension that flat black lacks. Learn all about this deep, dark shade with our complete guide. We cover everything from the science of 1N hair color to caring for it, celebrity examples, how to achieve it, and even history and cultural significance. If you’re considering taking the plunge to this opaque shade just shy of raven black, read our guide first. With tips for flattering makeup, and clothing, considerations for men, and reviews of top professional brands like Matrix, Kenra Color, and Joico, we’ll make sure you know how to get the most from vibrant 1N hair color.

Introduction to 1N Hair Color

1N hair color is a rich, dark brown shade that borders on black. With cool undertones, 1N hair has depth and dimension while avoiding the harshness that can sometimes come with jet-black hair. In hair color numeric systems, the “N” stands for “natural” and indicates a neutral base without warm or cool tones. This makes 1N a versatile shade that flatters a wide range of skin tones.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about 1N hair color. We’ll look at the science behind it, tips for caring for 1N hair, celebrities with this shade, comparisons to similar shades, techniques for achieving the color, recommendations for makeup and clothing, the history and cultural significance, regional variations, and considerations for men with 1N hair. Let’s get started!

The Science Behind 1N Hair Color

On a typical hair color level system, level 1 indicates the darkest black shades while higher levels denote progressively lighter colors. The “N” in 1N stands for “natural” and refers to a neutral base color without warm or cool undertones.

Hair gets its color from melanin pigments produced by melanocytes in the hair follicles. 1N hair has a high concentration of eumelanin, which produces darker pigments on the black-to-brown spectrum. The particular ratio of eumelanin gives 1N hair its rich, dark brown shade verging on black.

Genetics plays a key role in natural hair color and the amount and type of melanin pigments an individual produces. However, factors like age, health conditions, and environmental exposures can also impact hair color over time. 1N is a relatively uncommon natural shade occurring in less than 5% of the global population.

Key Takeaways:

  • 1N hair color results from a high concentration of eumelanin pigments.
  • The “N” refers to a natural, neutral base without warm or cool undertones.
  • Genetics determine hair color but other factors like age and health also play a role.
  • 1N is an uncommon natural hair shade found in less than 5% of the population.

Best Hair Care Tips for 1N Hair

Caring for 1N hair properly is key to keeping the color looking rich, glossy, and vibrant. Here are some top tips:

Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfate-based shampoos can strip color from hair. Go for a gentle, sulfate-free formula.

Deep Condition Weekly

Intense hydration keeps hair supple and reflects light to enhance color. Use a weekly mask for 5-10 minutes.

Rinse with Cool Water

Hot water opens the cuticle causing color to fade. Rinse with lukewarm to cool water to lock in color.

Limit Heat Styling

Let hair air dry when possible and minimize the use of hot tools like blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons.

Use a Color-Protecting Shampoo

Look for shampoos with antioxidants and UV filters that help protect against color fade.

Gloss Treatments

Between dye touchups, a gloss treatment adds shine and helps seal the cuticle for color retention.

Add Protein

Protein treatments and products boost strength and minimize breakage and fading for longer-lasting color.

Use Anti-Fade Products

Shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and other products help prevent oxidation and color loss.

Get Regular Trims

Trim every 6-8 weeks to remove dry, damaged ends and maintain vibrant, healthy-looking hair.

Limit Chemical Services

Processes like perms, relaxers, and lightening services can compromise hair integrity and cause fading.

Celebrities with 1N Hair Color

Many celebrities sport the rich, dark hue of 1N hair beautifully. Here are a few of our favorite celeb examples:

  • Lupita Nyong’o: The stunning depth of Lupita’s 1N hair perfectly complements her complexion.
  • Gabrielle Union: Gabrielle enlivens her 1N locks with caramel highlights around her face.
  • Kerry Washington: Kerry’s 1N hair has multidimensional warmth from light brown highlights.
  • Lucy Liu: Lucy’s short, sleek 1N bob flatters her delicate features.
  • Thandie Newton: Thandie adds depth and dimension to her cropped cut with 1N color.
  • Zoe Kravitz: Rocking an edgy pixie, Zoe lets her natural 1N hue shine.
  • Viola Davis: Viola’s close-cropped 1N cut has beautiful gray tones at the temples.
  • Sanaa Lathan: Sanaa wears a rich 1N hue in a shoulder-length, wavy style.
  • Halle Berry: Halle’s short, textured 1N hair frames her face elegantly.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many leading ladies opt for the versatility and intrigue of 1N hair color.
  • Celebs add depth, contrast, and style to 1N hair with cuts, textures, and highlights.
  • 1N hair allows natural gray to blend seamlessly for an elegant, sophisticated look.

Comparing 1N to Other Light Brown Shades

With its dark brown base verging on black, 1N is often confused with similar shades. Here’s how it compares:

  • 1B – Darkest brown, less depth than 1N
  • 2N – Dark brown like 1N but with warm undertones
  • 3N – Medium chocolate brown, lighter than 1N
  • 4N– Milk chocolate brown with neutral undertones
  • 5N – Dark golden brown, much lighter than 1N

The main distinguishing factor between these shades is the depth of the base color. 1N is the deepest, nearly black brown while 5N is dark but on the lighter end of the spectrum. Undertones also help differentiate the shades. The “N” denotes 1N’s neutral base, while 2N has warm red/gold tones.

Key Takeaways:

  • 1N is the deepest, darkest brown right before jet-black 1B.
  • Neutral undertones help distinguish 1N from warmer shades like 2N and 5N.
  • Lightness increases progressively from 1N to 5N on the brown hair color spectrum.

How to Achieve 1N Hair Color

If your natural hair color isn’t 1N, you can achieve this deep, dark shade through professional coloring services or at-home kits. Here are some tips:

Professional Coloring

Visit a salon and ask for a level 1N dye. The stylist can expertly apply the color for even results from root to tip. Opt for ammonia-free formulas like Goldwell, Matrix, and Redken. Ask for a demi-permanent gloss or glaze for shine and longevity.

At Home Coloring

Choose an at-home brand like Madison Reed, dpHUE, Overtone, or L’Oreal. Carefully follow the instructions for application and processing time. Use petroleum jelly around the hairline to avoid staining skin. Start with a semi-permanent color to test it out before trying permanent 1N dye.

Go Gradually

If you have light brown or blonde hair, have your colorist take you gradually darker over a few sessions to avoid damage and brassiness. Bleach and highlights may need to be grown out first.

Maintain It

Schedule root touchups every 4-6 weeks. Use color-protecting products. Get regular trims and deep conditioning treatments. Limit heat styling and chemical processing.

Consult a Colorist

Schedule a consultation with a professional hair colorist. They can assess your hair’s condition, recommend the safest process, and suggest complementary haircuts and styling.

Flattering Makeup and Clothing for 1N Hair

With its versatility, 1N hair color pairs beautifully with a wide range of makeup shades and clothing colors. Here are some flattering options to try:

Makeup Shades

  • Browns, taupes, and copper eyeshadows make eyes pop against 1N hair.
  • Try shades like espresso, cocoa, rose gold, and rust in eyeshadows and liners.
  • For lips, go for richer berry tones, burgundies, moody plums, and chocolate browns.
  • Rosy blushes in mauve, dusty rose, and brick shades add a flush of color.

Clothing Colors

  • Deep jewel tones like emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amethyst are stunning with 1N hair.
  • Rich neutrals like chocolate, charcoal, pewter, camel, and tan create chic contrast.
  • Crisp blacks, camels, ivories, and whites pop against the dark 1N background.
  • Patterned prints in baroque, ikat, herringbone, tweed, and houndstooth play up the texture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Warm metallics like gold, bronze, and copper bring luminosity against 1N hair.
  • Purple is a complementary color to black, so deep plums and eggplants work well.
  • Try punchy primary shades like cobalt blue, cherry red, and canary yellow for drama.

History of the 1N Hair Color Numbering System

Unlike descriptive color names like blonde, brown, and black, using a numbered system to denote hair color has a fairly recent origin.

In the 1970s as more nuanced hair color options emerged, a numeric system was adopted by the beauty industry to precisely define shades across brands. It provided a standardized terminology to make hair color communication easier between stylists, colorists, and clients.

The earliest numbering systems categorized hair color into four categories – black, brown, light brown, and blonde. Over time as techniques advanced, more refined divisions were added to the scales.

By the 1990s, most companies utilized numbering systems with 10 or more levels. Level 1 represents black, while level 10 is the lightest blonde. Letters indicate undertone, with N meaning neutral. So 1N emerged meaning the deepest neutral black-brown hair color.

This numbering method allows for exact specificity in hair color results. Stylists can confidently promise clients that when asking for a 1N, they will get the same predictable shade across salons. The numbering system brought consistency and precision to the hair coloring process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Numbered hair color systems originated in the 1970s as more nuanced options became available.
  • They created a standardized terminology for precise color communication.
  • By the 1990s, most brands adopted scales with 10+ levels based on lightness.
  • The numbers bring consistency so clients get the exact requested shade.

Regional Differences in 1N Hair Color

While 1N generally represents the same rich black-brown shade globally, natural hair color differences related to ethnicity and geographic origin can impact the tone and depth of the 1N color results.

For example, those of East Asian descent tend to have thicker, more densely packed hair fibers. This creates a darker, glossy 1N shade on East Asian hair.

Conversely, those of Northern European descent typically have finer, thinner hair strands. So the same 1N dye formula may translate slightly lighter on Northern European hair.

Latina/Hispanic hair also varies in curl pattern and density depending on origin, which interacts with the hair’s underlying structure differently.

The formulation and mixing ratio of the 1N hair dye can always be adjusted by the colorist to accommodate ethnicity and achieve the desired shade on any hair texture or background. But natural hair characteristics do play a role in the exact tone and depth of the final 1N color.

Key Takeaways:

  • Natural hair characteristics related to ethnicity, like fiber density and thickness, can subtly influence how 1N color develops.
  • On the whole, 1N indicates the same general neutral black-brown shade globally.
  • But hair structure differences mean 1N dye may translate slightly lighter or darker on certain ethnicities.
  • Professional colorists can adapt the formula for any hair type to achieve the same 1N color results.

Considerations for Men with 1N Hair Color

For many men, gray hair is seen as a distinguishing mark of wisdom and experience. But for those men looking to preserve a darker shade, 1N hair color is an excellent option. Here are some considerations for men wanting to achieve natural-looking 1N results:

Work with Your Stylist

Consult your barber or stylist to determine the best application approach. They may recommend a permanent root touch-up with a demi-permanent gloss to blend gray.

Keep Length Short

Closely cropped cuts allow for easier application and grow-out. Length makes touch-ups tricky and roots more obvious.

Use a Beard Bib

A bib placed over the neck and shoulders prevents dye from staining the skin and beard. Take care around sideburns.

Emphasize Grays

Rather than completely cover grays, have your colorist blend just enough 1N dye to balance the salt and pepper look.

Try Semi-Permanent

For more subtle results, opt for a semi-permanent color rinse that gradually washes out over 4-6 weeks rather than a permanent dye.

Maintain It

Make maintenance appointments every 3-4 weeks for ideal results. Be prepared for some commitment to keep the regrowth hidden.

Evaluate Your Options

Consider embracing your natural gray as an alternative to 1N dye. Or shave your head and opt for the bare look.

Achieve Stunning Black-Brown Hair with Joico 1N

joico 1n hair color
joico 1n hair color

Joico’s 1N black-brown permanent hair color provides salon-quality results and a gorgeous color that lasts. The Joico 1N liquid creme formula infuses hair with rich, shimmering neutral-undertone pigments for a lustrous near-black shade.

The nourishing, low-ammonia Joico Color formula cares for hair while depositing vibrant, fade-resistant color. The Intensity 1N black-brown features Joico’s BioAdvanced peptide technology to repair dry, damaged hair while coloring. Antioxidant-rich Quadramine Complex smoothes and protects, keeping dyed hair healthy and strong.

With Joico 1N, achieve up to 100% gray coverage with a demi-permanent sheer black for seamless blending. Long-lasting color intensity is balanced with moisturizing argan and olive oils for unparalleled softness and shine. This professional, salon-inspired formula leaves hair cashmere-soft in a deep black espresso hue.

From root to tip, Joico 1N saturates every strand with enduring color and brilliant luminosity. Experience the difference in salon-quality results with Joico’s 1N black-brown. Let your stylist enhance your complexion and features with this daring yet wearable neutral-black shade.

Discover Lasting Color with Kenra 1N Hair Dye

kenra 1n hair color
kenra 1n hair color

Take your brunette hue to the dark side with Kenra Color’s 1N black-brown creme hair dye. This professional, salon-quality formula deposits deep, dramatic color that adheres evenly for natural-looking results.

Kenra Color’s signature Balancing Complex 5 counteracts brassiness and color variations for consistent color you can trust. The conditioning creme formula ensures easy, mess-free applications with no glop or drip. Low-ammonia and EO minimize scalp irritation for comfortable coloring.

The Kenra 1N near-black shade provides complete gray coverage even on up to 50% gray hair. Long-lasting 1N color is fused with nourishing oils for smooth texture and brilliant shine. Anti-fade sunflower and antioxidant protection preserve the intense hue.

Achieve bold, head-turning dimension with Kenra Color in 1N black-brown. This easy-to-use permanent creme hair color delivers salon-worthy results with less scalp sensitivity and damage. Say goodbye to lackluster hair and go gorgeously dark with Kenra’s long-lasting 1N-rich black dye.

Achieve Sleek, Dark Hair with Matrix 1N Color

matrix 1n hair color
matrix 1n hair color

Take your hair color to the dark side with Matrix 1N permanent hair dye. This ultra-deep brown borders black for a dramatic yet wearable hue with cool undertones.

The Matrix SoColor Cult 1N formula provides salon-worthy color results and multi-dimensional shine. Advanced Marine and Botanical oils condition hair, leaving it silky soft, and nourished. Matrix’s pampering luster system boosts natural vibrancy and depth.

Get up to 100% gray coverage even on resistant grays. Matrix-optimized dye technology adheres evenly for a natural-looking root-to-tip color. The Matrix Bond Ultim8 system fortifies bonds to keep hair strong and healthy during processing.

Prep for the 1N application with Crystal Clear clarifying shampoo to maximize color deposit. Process for 25-35 minutes based on desired intensity, rinse thoroughly, and follow with Color Sync specially formulated conditioner.

Flaunt deeper, bolder dimensions with Matrix’s 1N custom-crafted dye. This easy professional service provides a nuanced black-brown color that perfectly accents your complexion. Ask your stylist about incorporating Matrix 1N into your next appointment for show-stopping results.

1B vs 1N Hair Color: Discover the Difference

1b vs 1n hair color
1b vs 1n hair color

If you love inky, dark hair, you likely gravitate between black and black-brown hues. But is there a real difference between a 1B and 1N shade? Understanding the nuances can help you choose your perfect raven color.

1B hair dye produces an ultra-dark, bluish-raven-black tone. This is the deepest level of black hair color before unnatural blue-black. 1B has a cool undertone and no trace of brown.

1N black-brown hair color is a touch lighter than 1B. It borders right on black but shows dimension with traces of deep espresso brown throughout. While nearly black, 1N reveals subtle warmth and softness.

With professional brands like Matrix, Redken, and Joico, the dye results for 1B and 1N are clearly defined. 1B gives a true saturated black while 1N offers near-black drama softened with brown lowlights when the light catches it.

For maximum contrast with light skin, 1B is the boldest. But for a more natural dark brunette, 1N adds depth and versatility. Talk to your stylist about whether your complexion and features are best complemented by inky 1B or the intrigue of blackened brown 1N hair color.

The takeaway? While barely distinguishable, 1B and 1N create slightly different aesthetic impressions. Choose the fierce jet color or dynamic blackened brown to get your desired artistic impact.


In the world of hair color, 1N represents a rich, black-brown shade with depth and dimension. When considering going 1N, be sure to carefully consult with your stylist, understand how to properly care for the color at home, and determine whether permanent or semi-permanent dye is right for you. While dramatic, 1N hair color requires commitment and maintenance to keep looking its best. Take the plunge, and you may find this deep, dark hue gives you a bold, eye-catching look you love.

Frequently Asked Questions About 1N Hair Color

What color is 1N in hair color?

1N hair color is a very dark brown that borders on black. It is almost as dark as jet black but stops just short of that with hints of deep brown throughout.

What does the N mean in hair color?

The N in 1N hair color stands for “natural”. This refers to a neutral base without warm or cool undertones.

Which is darker – 1N or 1B?

1B is darker than 1N. 1B is a true jet black hair color while 1N is a brown so dark it is almost black. Think of 1N as black with hints of brown throughout while 1B is a solid, pure black shade.

What color is 1N hair?

1N hair color is an extremely dark brown that appears black in some lighting. It has a tiny hint of deep brown tones but lacks any warm undertone and is closest to a neutral black shade on the spectrum of brown hair colors.

How long does Joico’s hair color last?

Most Joico permanent hair dye lasts between 4-6 weeks before fading or requiring a touchup. With proper at-home care, Joico colors can last up to 8 weeks. Joico ammonia-free options may fade faster than formulas with ammonia which provide longer-lasting color.

Is Joico hair dye safe?

Joico is generally considered a safe professional brand for hair dye because it uses lower levels of ammonia and ether amines than typical drugstore box dyes. People with sensitivities should still do a patch test. Certain Joico lines like I.C. Fantastic and Naturaltech offer gentler, ammonia-free options.

Does Joico have permanent hair color?

Yes, Joico offers permanent hair color in their many professional salon lines like the Popular Shades, Vero K-PAK Chrome, Color Intensity, and Permanent Cream Color. Joico permanent dyes contain ammonia to open the cuticle and deposit lasting color that won’t fade quickly.

Is Kenra’s hair color good?

Kenra’s hair color is good quality with a reputation for providing consistent, predictable results. It offers a rich color payoff with an average of 50% gray coverage. The lower ammonia and EO formulas are gentler than typical box dye. Kenra is best for those with minimal grays and no pre-existing sensitivities.

What are the Kenra color levels?

Kenra offers hair color in levels 1-10. Level 1 is black, level 2 is darkest brown, level 3 is dark brown, and then it progresses lighter through medium and light browns until level 10 which is pale blonde. Kenra’s numbering system is similar to other professional brands.

What is the mixing ratio for Kenra coloring?

Kenra permanent creme hair color should be mixed in a 1:1 ratio with Kenra Developer or Kenra Absolute Permanent Color Developer. For example, mix 1 oz of Kenra Color with 1 oz of the developer. The developer comes in volumes from 5 to 40 for different levels of lightning.

What does N and NN mean in hair color?

N and NN indicate neutral hair color bases. N means the hair color has a neutral base with no warm or cool undertones. NN also indicates a neutral base but one that is more ashy and less warm than a typical N shade.

What are the side effects of Matrix hair color?

As with any hair dye, Matrix can potentially cause side effects like skin irritation and allergy, itching, redness, dryness, and temporary hair loss. Very rarely, more severe effects like swelling, headaches, and difficulty breathing may occur. Always do a patch test before the full application.

What color in Matrix is 3N?

Within the Matrix hair color brand, 3N is a medium chocolate brown shade with neutral undertones. It is darker than 4N which is a milk chocolate brown but lighter than 2N which is a darker ash brown. 3N provides a nice neutral balance between lighter and darker browns.

What is the difference between 1B and 1 hair color?

The main difference is that 1B is pure true black while 1 is extremely dark brown that borders on black. 1B has a blue-black base while 1 has slight brown undertones while still being nearly black. You can expect 1B to look more solidly black, while 1 may show hints of very deep brown in certain lighting.

What does N mean in hair color?

The N in hair color codes like 1N or 5N stands for “neutral”. This means the hair color has a neutral base without warm or cool undertones. An N hair color will be a truer version of the shade without added golden, red, or ash tones.

So in summary, 1N hair color is a deep, dark brown that approaches black. It is darker than most brunette shades while avoiding the harshness of jet black. With proper at-home care and maintenance, 1N dye can provide those seeking nearly black hair with a soft, neutral, and versatile dark shade. Consult with your stylist, take your natural hair and complexion into account, and opt for ammonia-free professional formulas for the best results.

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