Toners are peroxide only dyes that are used to remove unwanted tones from hair that has been recently bleached. Bleach works by removing pigments from hair, but depending on the weight of the molecules that make up that pigment some colors go away quicker than others. So unless you learn how to tone hair after bleaching you risk ending up with a brassy, orange mop instead of the icy ash blonde you wanted.

In a hurry to get rid of brassy tones?

This specific blonde toner is the most popular with our readers.

Why Do I Need To Tone After Bleaching

If you have never bleached your hair and are just learning how to bleach your hair at home, you have probably no idea why you’d need to tone your hair. After all, you are just going blonde right? Unless you are naturally a very light blonde your hair will have dark red, orange and red pigments will be present in your hair. As the bleach works its way through them, your hair will go through several more or less garish shades of red, orange and gold, but usually it stops on the most unflattering burnt light orange you can achieve. Unless you are lucky enough to suit those tones, toning is the way to go to bring brassy undertones back under control.

As you would expect, the more dramatic color changes require the most toning. If you are in the middle of several bleaching processes to bring you to platinum shade from very dark hair, you may need to live with the orange for a bit. However, you can still use a toner to make it into a more suitable shade for you.

How Do Toners Work

A toner is a color depositing dye that work by neutralising the unwanted undertones in your hair. Toners can be all sorts of “strange” colors, as they need to neutralise gold, red and yellow tones. So, for example a green based toner will neutralise red, a blue one will neutralise orange and a violet one will remove yellow undertones from blonde hair. The intensity of the toner should match your chosen hair tone level.
Hair color levels and pigments
Toners are also not usually called green, blue or violet tones. For example, if you look at the color chart for the Wella Color Charm permanent toners you’ll see the names are usually things like silver, ash or beige (for neutral, cool or golden end results.

If you are trying to get really pale, white hair in order to apply rainbow hair dye, you will most likely need a silver or ash toner to remove any hint of warm undertones. For golden beach hair, beige toners will remove the orange so the hair looks naturally blonde.

Wella Hair Toners

Wella hair toners are widely available online, and provided you follow the instructions offer really good results.

  • T-18 (White Lady): Use on *pale hair* to remove residual brassiness to achieve platinum blonde hair.
  • T-11 (Lightest Beige Blonde): Use on lemon or yellow hair to achieve sandy blonde color.
  • 7A/672 (Medium Smokey Ash (Color)): Use on darker blondes that are too brassy or even orange
  • 7AA/632 (Medium Ash Blonde): Use on darker blondes for an ashy blonde that looks natural instead of yellow.

Toner For Hair After Highlights

After highlighting hair you can use toner for three things:

  • Give your new highlights the desired undertone. For example, turning yellow hair into ashy highlights
  • Tone down the brightness of the highlights so they blend better with the rest of your hair
  • Even out the highlight colour through the strand

Toner makes all the difference between strippy, zebra-like highlights and natural looking ones. For this reason, toning newly highlighted hair is nearly always part of the process, at home or at the salon. However, some salons may charge you extra for this service and it may be worth learning to apply toner for hair after highlights at home. You should also use a toning shampoo and conditioner every few washes to keep your highlights looking fresh.

How to Tone Hair After Bleaching

Once you have chosen your toner and read the instructions, the process is pretty simple. You should have washed your hair to remove the bleach, but don’t use a conditioner yet. Towel dry your hair and apply the toner following the instructions and processing time exactly. Otherwise you may overcorrect and end up with green or blue tinges in your hair, particularly if you are now a very light blonde.

After bleaching, hair is very porous and will take more dye than usual, so don’t leave the dye on longer than recommended. Even if your hair used to be really stubborn and needed extra time.

Most of the time you will only use a 10 vol peroxide mix, because the bleach will have lifted the hair as much as you wanted, and at this point it’s best to be nice to it. However, 20 vol peroxide is also recommended by the manufacturers because it opens the cuticle more and so the dye lasts longer.

How To Apply Toner After Bleaching?

Once you have chosen the right toner, you will need an applicator brush, a plastic bowl and a developer.

  1. Mix the toner and the developer in a 1:2 ratio.
  2. Apply the mixture to your hair with the applicator brush, focusing on the orange bits.
  3. Leave the toner on your hair for maximum 45 minutes (keep an eye on how the color is developing or you may end up with blue hair).
  4. Rinse with a sulfate-free shampoo and deep condition.

This video may help as well.

No Peroxide Toners

There is a different kind of toner that can be used for maintenance. This sort of toners only last between 1 and 5 washes, and are used like a conditioning treatment. Their purpose is to revive faded color or colour-correct undertones in between dye processes. They wash off because no peroxide is used, so you are only depositing color on the hair cuticle. At the same time, they can make your hair look fresh from the salon after you wash it. In my opinion, they are a must-have if you lighten your hair. This sort of toners is great to correct yellow hair disasters, for example.

Using a toner will make all the difference between hair that looks bleached and hair that looks natural. Removing unwanted undertones from your hair means that you can get the blonde that you want, no matter what your original colour is.