How to Use Wella Color and Developer for Ash Blonde Hair
Toner: A Bleached Blonde's Best Friend
Most of us know that to dye our hair blonde, we have to use bleach to lift out the color. Once you bleach your hair, though, there are a surprising number of possible results, and they may not all be what you want.
Have you tried to bleach your hair but ended up with hair that was too brassy or more orange than blonde? Personally, I prefer my hair to be a cool, silvery blonde. That’s an almost impossible color to achieve with just bleach.
That’s where toner comes in. If your hair is a masterpiece and bleach is your paintbrush, toners are the small brushes that allow you to add details and shading. In short, the right toner will let you achieve the exact shade of blonde you want for your hair. Keep in mind, however, that toner won't get your hair lighter if you're going from dark, only bleach will!
How to Remove Brassiness From Hair With Toner and Developer
This article will teach you how to use toner and developer to tone down the brassy, yellow, and orange tints in your bleached hair in order to get a more neutral blonde. There are several steps to this process.
- Bleach your hair (I am assuming you have done this). Your hair will need to be lifted to somewhere between orange and lemon in order for the toners I have listed below to work for you.
- Buy the right developer.
- Buy the right toner.
- Mix them.
- Apply them to your hair.
This article will walk you through this process using my personal experience experimenting with toners and advice from my hairstylist. Let's begin!
Where Can I Buy Toner and Developer?
Wella hair care products have become my go-to products for maintaining my blonde hair. You can readily purchase all the Wella Hair Care products from any large online retailers such as Amazon or eBay. You can also purchase them from specialty beauty supply stores like Sally’s Beauty Supplies either in person or online. I went to Sally’s to compare prices and they are around the same for both sites.
Pricing: The only price variation you will find if you search for “Wella toners” or developers is the lower the price, the higher the shipping charge. Select “free shipping” specifically if you’re on eBay.
Which Developer Should I Use?
30 & 40 Volumes
Use this developer with a darker toner or to correct mild brassiness.
Use this developer with light toners and/or more orange-tinted hair.
Do not use these developers at home!
Use Only 10 or 20 Volume Developer
Developer can be purchased in either 10, 20, 30 or 40 volume. As I mentioned in my last post, I am not a professional stylist, but when my hairdresser warned me that I could fry my hair and end up with clumps of it in my hand if I used 30 or above, you can bet I was going to heed her advice!
- 10 volume: This developer is better if you plan to deposit a darker shade of toner into your hair. If you’re adding an ash brown or dark blonde toner, I recommend this one. It also works well if you are using a light toner but are only trying to soften mild brassiness instead of combatting orange tints.
- 20 volume: This developer has its own lightening effect. If you have bleached and you are ready to tone with a very light beige, honey, or ash blonde toner, the 10 volume developer might not do the job. 20 volume developer is a little stronger, suitable for use with your lighter blonde toners.
I chose the Wella Color Charm Crème Developer in 20 Volume based on information from my favorite YouTube hairstylist. It was a 32oz bottle and cost $10. I grabbed the larger bottle because although I knew I wasn’t going to need much, I wanted to keep this developer on hand for whenever I needed to touch up my color. It worked great!
Lighter Toners are Not Necessarily More Effective
I started my hair toning adventure using a very light toner, which was a mistake for me because going from very dark brown to blonde, I still had a lot of orange color in my hair so it was just plain ineffective. Actually, my hair was orange, so this will save you a load of time if you’re currently orange. You can’t avoid the orange if you’re dark-haired. Dark hair bleaches in these stages: dark brown/black, red, orange, yellow, and finally lemon. Light toner will not cover very orange hair.
My Favorite Wella Hair Toners
Color Your Hair Should Be Before Using
White Lady (Toner)
For residual brassiness on already pale hair.
Lightest Beige Blonde (Toner)
On "lemon" bleached hair for a sandy blonde color.
Medium Smokey Ash (Color)
Yellow or orange
On yellow or orange hair for a dark, smoky blonde.
Medium Ash Blonde (Color)
Yellow or slightly orange
On yellow or slightly orange hair for a lighter ash blonde look.
How I Got the Perfect Hair Color
What Worked for Me
Color of My Hair
Wella Color Charm Toner T-18 “White Lady”
Very little effect in my hair
My hair wasn't light enough.
Wella Toner T-11 "Lightest Beige Blonde"
Not effective on my hair; just left it a different color of brass
My hair still wasn't light enough.
Medium Smokey Ash 7A/672 (Color)
Beautiful smokey blonde color
Still a little too dark for me
Dark Smokey Blonde
Medium Ash Blonde 7AA/632 (Color)
Same color as the Medium Smokey Ash, but a much lighter color
Getting closer to the right color
Slightly faded from the Medium Ash Blonde
Mix of T-18 and T-11
Perfect sandy blonde
My hair was already light, so this mix worked.
Details of Each Toner
What they're good for, and how I used them.
Wella T-18 White Lady
My first toner was the Wella Color Charm Toner T-18 “White Lady.” Again, my hair was still orange so this toner didn’t work well in my hair. If you’re quite blonde already, this will work great. It’s an ash color, so use this to remove any residual brassiness and to maintain a light shade of blonde.
Wella T-11 Lightest Beige Blonde
The next Wella Toner I used was T-11, which is a light beige blonde. It has a slightly gold finish—not too gold to make your hair brassy though. If your hair is already bleached to a lemon color and you want a sandy beach-blonde look, this should work wonderfully for you. Again, my hair was not lifted to the lemon color yet, so this was not effective on my hair and merely left it a different shade of brass.
This toner does not have the ashy effect, so it will not neutralize warmer yellow/gold tones. For a cooler tone and to neutralize the sandy effect, look for a toner with the word “Ash” or “Ashe” in the description.
Wella Medium Smokey Ash 7A/672
Next I opted for a slightly different route, and bought Medium Smokey Ash 7A/672 (color). This changed the color of my hair into a beautiful ashen color and, of course, smoky blonde. I loved this color because white blonde isn’t my thing and not what I was ultimately aiming for. It was darker than I wanted though, so I dropped the "smokey" label and graduated to plain medium ash blonde.
Wella Medium Ash Blonde 7AA/632
This Medium Ash Blonde 7AA/632 color is also lovely. It's the same color as the medium smokey ash, only a much lighter shade. It has such a pretty finish: not stark white, not brown, but perfectly in between. I stayed with this color until the next time I needed a touch up, then I let it fade out with several washes and finally got to where I am now: ready to try a mix of T-18 and T-11 together. This will let me keep use the ash tones to keep the brassiness at bay, but give me a more summery look with the "sandy" finish of the lightest beige blonde.
If you have any doubts at all, I would suggest the Medium Ash Blonde 7AA/632. You can’t go wrong here in my opinion because if it comes out a little darker than you wanted, it will fade after a few washes without allowing your hair to revert to the orange/yellow. If you work outside the home, you don’t want to go to work with bright yellow hair! This will help you out until it fades a tad; then you can tone for that lighter blonde look!
The above photo shows exactly what color my hair is today. I do love it, and I hope my hair-color journey provided a useful guide for you.
By using the medium smokey ash and then the medium ash blonde colors first, I suppose I could claim victory at obtaining my desired blonde shade by sheer accident. However, the word accident is probably not a good choice to use when we are discussing bleaching and toning our hair. Suffice it to say my hair color now is perfect for me. It looks natural and not bleached at all, and I don’t have to lighten my brows. I just love it!
The process of getting your hair the desired color will take time! You can’t bleach hair from very dark to pale lemon in one sitting. If you attempt to do this you will damage it beyond repair. It takes multiple bleaching sessions spaced out over time to lift enough color to get to this point.
Applying the Toner
With that said, here is a brief overview of the toner process. The video below offers an excellent step-by-step tutorial. There will also be detailed instructions on the box.
- Optional but recommended: do a strand test. Apply the toner to a small section of hair first, following the same instructions you would normally. Once you see how this turns out, you can decide if it's the right color for you and if you are letting it settle for the right amount of time.
- Wash your hair and make sure to thoroughly rinse out any shampoo or conditioner.
- Mix your developer with your toner. Use a ratio of 2:1 with your toner: two equal parts of developer to every one part of toner. I use a whole bottle of toner each time. If you're mixing the T-18 and T-11, you use a 1:1 ratio of those.
- Apply the toner to your hair in sections, making sure not to miss any desired area. Always start on the hair shaft, then apply to the bottom of the shaft, then apply to the roots last. The heat from your head and the extended time on your roots can make you look more gray instead of blonde. I seriously do not need any more gray!
- Once you've applied the toner thoroughly to your hair, let it settle for 30 minutes.
- Rinse it out! No need to shampoo, but you can condition.
I use toners about every 5-6 weeks to touch up my color.
How Can I Remove Gold and Red Tones from Only Some Pieces of My Hair
Purple shampoo just might be your best friend. In general, I use either purple shampoo or purple conditioner 2 times a week to keep brassiness at bay. It helps lengthen time between toning sessions.
However, if you're dealing with brassiness after getting some sort of effect and just have parts of your hair that are orange, purple shampoo should be your first try.
- Try using it a couple of times.
- Put it on damp, unwashed hair, rub it through evenly, leave it on 7-10 minutes (no longer), then wash it out and condition.
- Wait two or three days, and then use it again.
To use it for color maintenance, damp your hair once or twice per week, apply and leave it for 30 minutes or so, then rinse and condition.
If the reds or oranges still aren't gone after that, you might want to try something else.
I used 7AA (or Another Product) and It Came Out Way Too Dark. Is the Blonde Gone?
Usually the toners, and some colors like 7AA tend to fade after washing your hair a couple of times. If you're in a hurry, though, you can wash your hair a few times with dishwashing soap, or use my soap cap recipe for bleaching at home.
Here's my “no-bleach soap cap" recipe:
- 6 capfuls of 20 Volume Developer
- 2 capfuls of 3% peroxide
- 2 capfuls of baking soda
- 6 capfuls of shampoo
Some people have said this is technically bleach, but I still think it's gentler than commercial bleach. It works very fast, so check after 5-7 minutes and incrementally after that. Keep a swatch of unbleached, wet hair close so you can compare.
My Hair Is Already Blonde and I Want to Make My Highlights Stand Out More
There's a product called Chi—actually it will say ChiIonic on the box. It comes in a tube like a large toothpaste tube. It's highlift for hair that is already blonde, so if you click and shop for "Chi Highlift Color 11A", it'll be your magic wand for those highlights!
Use 20 volume developer, and squeeze out one part color to two parts developer. Leave it for 15 minutes, then rinse it off, shampoo, then condition.
Please be aware that this is, as I said, only for use on hair that is already blonde, so if you were to put it on your brown hair, it will potentially create orange. Apply it carefully to your highlights, either wish a brush or freehand. Do not use this all over your head, unless your whole head color is blonde, with lighter lights.
How Do I Reduce Damage to My Bleached Hair?
Here's what I do:
- As far as conditioning, I don't spend a bomb on conditioner at all, and I often use a favorite inexpensive conditioner, but I find that massaging some through my hair and leaving it for an hour or two before I rinse, lightly shampooing, and then conditioning again really helps a lot.
- Use the cheaper brand for the deep conditioning and use your favorite for after shampooing. Also, make sure your hair is absolutely saturated before applying shampoo, or you can use way too much, and many brands of shampoo can be very drying if you use too much.
- You can also try good old mayo and leave on before washing. Coconut oil is also a good choice, which you can wrap or wear a cap and leave on overnight.
- Obviously you should avoid heat as much as possible with dryers or flat irons. Ironically, however, I've found that spritzing my very damp hair with some of that heat protector spray, or Argan oil, does good things for it, even though I'm not using heat.
- When you're in the shower and have conditioner on your hair, 'finger comb' your hair, and don't moosh it dry roughly with a towel when you get out. Just gently squeeze the excess water out with your towel, and again, comb with your fingers. You'd be amazed how much your hair will thank you for avoiding a brush. Some are terribly rough on hair, plus if you have waves, the perfect way to get them to stay in place is by finger combing and air drying!
I Toned My Hair and It Turned Green! How Do I Get Rid of It?
Sometimes hair can turn green if it's still too brown when an ash color is used. Try lightening a bit more, and then use a pale ash brown color, not toner. Use 20 volume developer.
You could also try Epsom salts if your hair is very damaged and you don't want to do anything too drastic.
- Try 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts, mix with the same amount of baking soda, and then add about a cup of shampoo, or enough to cover your whole head. Perhaps a half cup would be sufficient. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then check it.
- When I used this method years ago, I covered my head with plastic wrap to keep the warmth in, and eventually left it on for about 45 minutes. I had a pretty bad pink incident going on at that time (toner catastrophe o.O). In any case, it took out loads of color.
- Afterwards use a teeny bit of shampoo, rinse very thoroughly, and then condition afterwards.
Difference Between 10 Volume and 20 Volume Developers
The difference between the 10 volume and the 20 volume developers are like this:
- 10 volume will not light your hair shade or color anymore than it already is. If you're adding a darker color, like that brown you used, this will help it to deposit to your hair.
- 20 volume developer has 6% peroxide, and will lighten one to two shades, usually. Therefore, if you're adding highlights, it's best to use the 20 volume.