DIY Hair: What is Toner, and How Does it Work?
What Exactly is Toner?
Have you ever seen someone walking around with yellow hair? And I don't mean like they picked up a bottle of Manic Panic's Electric Banana hair dye.... I mean they tried to go blonde, and it just came out a terrible mistake. Instead of Jennifer Lawrence, it was Lisa Simpson. That bad.
The problem is that they didn't use a toner.
What's that? It's a sweet little thing that neutralizes brassy yellow and orange tones on bleached hair. It is usually purple-blue tinted, and when applied to bleached hair, takes it to more of an ashy, dusty, or platinum color. That means a much more natural looking hair tone!
A toner is actually a demi-permanent hair color that contains ammonia. It will change the pigment makeup of your hair shafts. So be careful with toners!!
Using Ammonia Toner
When Do You Use Toner?
It depends on what you're using.
Obviously, you'd want to apply it after bleaching. But when is best?
If you go to the store and buy yourself a toner, say, Wella's Color Charm in Lightest Ash Blonde, you'd really have to wait until your hair is lifted to a very light tone of yellow. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting your product and not achieving the desired results. So, once you're at a light light yellow, you're free to tone.
The thing is, with ammonia toners, you have to be very careful. If you've just done a bunch of bleaching, your hair is already pretty fragile. If you can stand it, wait a few days. In those few days, I'd really try to stay away from shampooing. Shampoo will only serve to dry out your hair even more.
Once your hair is done being mad at you, you'll be ready to apply toner. Wella calls for you to mix 1 part toner with 2 parts 20 volume developer. The mixture is left in the hair for up to 30 minutes before rinsing.
Some people skip that whole thing, and tone using purple shampoo. Yes, that's really what it's called. I use Generic Purple Shampoo, which you can pick up at a Sally's or online. It's got a really strong purple tone to it, so when it's left on your hair for 5-10 minutes it will neutralize brassiness. This is great because you can use it to maintain ashy tones every time you wash your hair!
Another method people use to tone is to just use dye. This is technically not "toning," but it will serve the same purpose. The common theme here is using purple to neutralize yellow... So the logical formula to tone using hair dye would be to take a *small* amount of purple hair dye and mix it with a much larger amount of white conditioner. You'd apply the mixture for at least 15-30 minutes and then rinse out.
Using Dye as Toner
What Results Can You Get?
You can get a huge range of color tones, from warm honey to light ash, and even silver! Wella Color Charm Toners have even got some red, brown, and violet toners that can be used on dark hair. Do your research and figure out what sort of tints and tones you can create on your own hair!
What's the Upkeep?
Depending on your hair washing habits, you may have to re-tone anywhere from 2-8 weeks in. Make sure you don't wash your hair directly after toning, because the color will start to slip out. The less frequently you wash, the longer your color will stay in. Not to mention, you really shouldn't be washing your hair every day... It strips out your natural oils and dries out your hair. Which is really not the best thing to do when you've just been bleaching and toning!
Any time you mess with bleach or ammonia, it's a great idea to show your hair some love too. Use a leave-in conditioner, or apply a hair mask every so often! There are some really great ones that are so simple to make, and often use ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.
One of my favorites is to heat up extra virgin olive oil until it's warm to the touch. Sitting over the tub, lean over so your head is kind of between your knees, and your hair is flipped upside down. Massage the warm oil into your scalp to moisturize your hair and activate your hair follicles. This is supposed to help your hair grow too! Leave the oil in for as long as you're comfortable, but at least 30 minutes, before washing out with a sulfate-free shampoo.
Coconut oil is another great tool to use when moisturizing hair. Don't hesitate to look up different hair "recipes" to keep your mane soft and strong!
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