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How to Tone Blonde Hair

Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.

What's a hair toner and how can it be used to improve the way your hair looks? This article will explain everything you need to know.

What's a hair toner and how can it be used to improve the way your hair looks? This article will explain everything you need to know.

How to Tone Blonde Hair

Blonde hair is beautiful, but it is also one of the harder colors to maintain. If you don't tone it regularly, it can begin to turn an unappealing brassy shade. Toning your hair is easy, though, and it won't add much more time to your regular morning routine, while the results will speak for themselves.

This article will go over the different types of toners, shampoos, and other products available to show you how to tone blonde hair to keep it looking incredible.

What Is Hair Toning?

The color you see when you look at hair is a result of how multiple different colors blend rather than being the result of just one tone. All it takes to make a significant change to this appearance is to add a particular color, and this is the principle that toners work on.

Color Interactions

The interaction between different colors determines what will happen if you add any particular color to your hair. Adding a certain color might blend to form a new shade, while a different color can neutralize an existing color in your hair. You can visualize this using a color wheel like the one in the image below.

Based on the image, you can see that colors opposite to each other on the wheel are the ones that cancel each other out, and these color pairs are called complementary colors as a result. On the other hand, colors like blue and yellow mix to form a new color: green.

If you just add color to your hair without care, you can see how it's possible to end up with something a little surprising. The opposite is also true too, though. You can systematically look at the tones present in your hair and then add in complementary tones to counteract what you don't want to be present in the shade, just like you can intentionally enhance other tones.

In the case of blonde hair, the colors you don't want are generally yellow and orange most of the time, and the colors used to counteract these are violet and blue. This is essentially how blonde hair toning works, manipulating these pairs to make a change, reducing the amount of warmth present in your shade.

The hair color wheel lets you see what colors mix or counteract each other.

The hair color wheel lets you see what colors mix or counteract each other.

How to Maintain Blonde Hair

There's more than one way to maintain your hair and keep it looking vibrant for longer. Some of the things you can do to keep blonde hair toned include a:

  • Purple shampoo
  • Hair toner
  • Color wash

The type of product you choose to use really comes down to what you find most convenient for maintaining your particular look because all can be equally effective when used correctly.

Purple shampoo is one of the easiest and most effective ways to tone your hair.

Purple shampoo is one of the easiest and most effective ways to tone your hair.

Purple Shampoo

A good blonde shampoo is your first line of defense against overly warm tones. These shampoos have an addition of violet and/or blue pigment that counteracts yellow and orange tones as you shampoo your hair.

When you use such a shampoo, it's no different from regular shampooing, except that it can slow down fading by keeping your hair toned. Some of these shampoos are actually strong enough that if used too often, they can and will over-tone blonde hair, especially pale shades. Other shampoos are milder and may not be effective enough.

Neither is necessarily better or worse though because it depends on what color you want to maintain. If you have darker blonde hair or want to completely tone out all warmth to keep an ash or pearl shade, you'll want a stronger product.

Lighter or warmer shades of blonde will be over-toned by a product like this, however, so you want to use something milder in this situation.

Shopping for a Purple Shampoo

When you look for a good blonde shampoo, one tip is to go ahead and open up the bottle if it's not sealed, and you won't break any packaging by doing so. This will give you a better look at the quality of the product.

Look for a shampoo that has a deep dark opaque purple hue to it if you need a lot of toning. If it looks more like a pastel shade or is translucent, it will do practically nothing except on near-white shades. Look for something in-between to maintain lighter or warmer shades.

There's also a small distinction to be made between different products falling into three main categories:

  • Silver shampoo
  • Purple shampoo
  • Violet shampoo

Silver shampoo contains both violet and blue pigment, and as the name suggests, it is used to maintain silver or ash shades. It's effective for this because even in blonde hair that has no orange tones, a slight blue dominance in the hair will create a silvery appearance. Further addition of blue creates very ashy shades of grey and finally starts to look blue past a certain point.

A purple shampoo also contains both pigments for a better and more thorough tone, but this combination is more biased towards violet. Use it for pearl, beige, and neutral shades when toning blonde hair.

Violet shampoo, however, is usually straight violet pigment. This is something you want to avoid if you have any orange tones because it won't work on them, but if you're only dealing with yellow, it can be used to tone any warmer shade of blonde, neutral blonde, and platinum or white blonde.

  • Choosing a Purple Shampoo
    Wondering which blonde shampoos are the best, and how to choose one for your own hair? Here are the most effective and highest quality toning shampoos for every type of blonde...
Blonde toners can be anything from temporary to permanent.

Blonde toners can be anything from temporary to permanent.

How to Use Toners

Often, the use of blonde shampoos alone isn't enough to tone blonde hair over the long term, especially if you are trying to maintain an intense ash blonde or silver shade. In this case, blonde toners should be part of your hair care regime.

There are as many different types of toners as there are types of hair dyes, and they can be easily defined in terms of how long the color lasts:

  • Temporary rinses are the least permanent and are applied as the name suggests by using them in the shower after shampooing your hair.
  • Semi-permanent toners are applied like a dye but have less penetration, so they wash out over a number of shampoos.
  • For lasting results, a demi-permanent toner is the best option as it provides the best longevity while causing almost no damage to hair that has been bleached blonde. This is important because after dyeing your hair blonde, you want to limit the amount of damage it sustains hereafter in order to keep your hair looking great.

Apart from these products, permanent dyes can also be used to tone blonde hair, but this should be limited to several weeks apart because they are mildly damaging compared to the other options.

Type of tonerDurabilityExpected use

Temporary rinse

1 shampoo

As needed


3–6 shampoos

Once a week


6–12 shampoos

Every 6 weeks


Indefinitely - fading possible

Every 6–8 weeks

Toning Your Hair With a Temporary Rinse

Temporary rinses offer you the convenience of being able to apply the product while washing your hair. They only last one shampoo, though, so they're best used for toning problem areas or for temporarily cooling down excess warmth when you're between applications of a more permanent option.

To apply one, shampoo your hair first and then squirt a little product evenly over your hair, massaging it in. It may help to step out of the shower and watch it in front of a mirror to ensure it doesn't over-process.

Once it reaches the desired tone, rinse it out with some water and condition your hair. That's all there is to it.

Violet tones counteract yellow

Violet tones counteract yellow

Semi-Permanent Toners

Semi-permanent toners can be liquid, mousse, or cream. Some products are applied to washed, dry hair and left to process until the desired color is reached, while others—like mousse in particular—are applied to gently towel-dried hair after shampooing.

These dyes contain no ammonia or developer, so they cause no damage to your hair yet are able to last a few shampoos before they fade out. Using one to tone your hair will actually condition it and make it feel nicer, so they're a great option for more than one reason.

How to Use Semi-Permanent Toners

Liquid semi-permanent dyes should be squeezed onto your hair evenly and massaged into the lengths of your hair thoroughly. The quicker you can apply the dye, the more even the results. Cream dyes may be more suited to application with a tinting brush, depending on how thick the consistency is.

After it reaches the desired tone, you can wash it out. You should not shampoo after this rinse, though. Do this beforehand if you need to wash your hair. You may condition your hair if you need to, however, but this is unlikely as the dye itself has a conditioning base and will replace the need for normal conditioning.


Permanent Toners

Demi-permanent and permanent toners for blonde hair both fall into the category of long-lasting color. The main difference between the two is that demi-permanent colors are mixed with a low volume of developer and don't penetrate the hair shaft to the same extent that a permanent dye does.

They also often incorporate some direct dye ingredients in combination with oxidative dye, which acts very similar to a semi-permanent color. Because of this weaker penetration and the low concentrations of developer and ammonia used, a demi-permanent dye isn't very damaging. They can last up to a few weeks and can be applied again once they have faded noticeably.

If you're using a blonde shampoo to reduce fading, chances are you will only need to use a demi-permanent toner or to retouch with permanent dye once every six weeks or so. This will coincide with the time it takes for your regrowth to need a touch-up so it can and should be done at the same time for convenience and reduced damage.

How to Tone Hair With Permanent Toners

To use these kinds of toners, apply the color to sections of your hair quickly and thoroughly. It is easiest to apply if you separate your hair into four quadrants by parting it down the middle from your forehead to the nape of your neck and then parting it from eye to eye, clipping each section back with a sectioning clip.

Work down in small sections of hair from top to bottom of each section until your hair is entirely covered and then watch the dye closely while it processes. You don't have to leave it in for the full processing time, but longer processing leads to greater color longevity.

On the other hand, it also gives a more intense result, so ideally, you should use a lighter shade with only 7–10 vol as the developer and keep it on longer rather than have to rinse a darker shade earlier.

This kind of process will keep your blonde hair toned for the longest duration but it's also mildly damaging, so it should only be done either as part of a retouch or in very warm hair that needs a lot of toning, followed by more conservative products for future upkeep.

Toning your blonde hair and looking after it while styling are important aspects of hair care.

Toning your blonde hair and looking after it while styling are important aspects of hair care.

Preventing Fading

Taking steps to minimize fading is the easiest way to help your toner last longer and maintain blonde hair. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen any fading:

  • Use color-depositing shampoos and only wash your hair as often as necessary
  • Keep heated styling tool use to a minimum where possible
  • Apply products like smoothing serums to seal the hair
  • Avoid excess sun exposure
  • Always condition because conditioner closes the cuticle and prevents fading

Of course, if you need to use tools like straighteners or curling irons—or have to wash your hair fairly often—feel free to do so because these are also factors that go into the style and appearance of your hair and thus may not necessarily be avoidable. You will potentially need to adjust with a greater frequency of toning, though.

Toning Blonde Hair

Blonde hair looks great, and it's important to take pride in the way you look. Toning your hair will keep it looking the best it possibly can by removing unwanted yellow tones in color-treated hair.

Do you have a question about blonde toners or need some help to tone blonde hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.

More Information

  • How to Dye Hair Blonde
    Dyeing your hair blonde is a little more complicated than most colors. Here's how to accomplish it the right way.
  • Caring for Colored Hair
    Find out how to care for your colored hair and reverse the common types of damage to keep it looking and feeling great.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Maffew James


Maffew James (author) on September 22, 2020:

Just answering a few old questions I've missed. Apologies while the comment system is down, but hopefully this can help anyone with the same questions.

For Miss Bellicous,

Color Charm T10 gives more of a silvery result because there's some blue tone in there. If your hair is very pale yellow it could also look more grey. Should fade out to a cleaner, neutral blonde with a few washes when this happens. A purely violet-based toner will give white instead on pale yellow hair.

For Dee's question,

Hopefully you're doing okay with the current situation. Some blonde dyes and high lifts look more of a pale tan color and turn a soft pink, blueish, or violet color after oxidising a bit. Stronger dyes (dyes with more pigment) will be a much more intense violet or purple so it's potentially brand and shade dependent.

Could also be that she's adding violet and possibly also blue intensifier to hers which increases the toning power and will make it look much more purple in the bowl too.

For DeMaree's question,

It won't cover grey because it's only adding cool pigment into the hair, so this is more likely to make the grey more grey if anything. Depending on how much is present it could help to blend it into your overall color though by neutralizing warmth of the warmer blonde sections so it better matches with the grey.

For grey coverage, if you wanted to get it all one color for example, you'd need a natural shade to fill in the grey properly.

Miss Bellicous on July 06, 2020:

I bleached my hair then used the T10 toner and it turned light grey amd took out the white blonde seems like? What did i do wrong?

Dee on July 01, 2020:

I used Ion highlift with 20 developer. Hair Salons are closed in my state. I called my girlfriend of 20 years, and she refused to tell me what products to get. Not only are we friends, but she knows I have multiple disabilities, had a recent kidney transplant and my Immune System is compomised. I also only get $726, SSIDI, per month and ALWAYS give her 20% tip, tho her fee has gone from $70, to $150. My roots are "ok", obviously, I'm not going anywhere. However, the root is a bit Yellow. She mixes everything and its slightly purple. Mine was white. Am I doing something wrong? She beushes the mixture on viegin root, washes it out and blow dry. Less than an hour. PLEASE HELP, if you can. I would GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY ADVICE! Thank You in Advance

DeMaree’ on June 12, 2020:

Does Wella T-18 toner cover grey hair? I have different shades of blonde hair warm blonde, light blonde & platinum & grey grow out. I usually use Finola shampoo & I love the way it looks when I use it. I’m out of the Finola now. I do have Wella T-18 toner & Wella 050 Cooling Violet. Will that give close to the same results as the Finola shampoo or better? Should I combine the T-18 & 050 or just use the T-18? ThankU!

Sabrina on April 22, 2020:

So my hair is now bleached twice at home - and it is a pale yellow. I just ordered Wella T10 toner and 20 developer. Will this remove the yellow and how long should I leave it on if I want it light. I want to avoid grey. Thank you

Julie grogan on June 03, 2019:

I have recently bleached my hair wich was darkest brown ,its still quite brassy after using a toner plus i just had it dyed sat past ,we used nice n easy light ash blonde ,

cj19 on May 24, 2019:

HELP- Long story short, my natural virgin hair has been 4 times since March, all because the first time went wrong, the second attempt was meant to make it "better" but instead made it worse.

It went from natural ashy light brown to ginger highlights, to dark dye all over my roots, which, turned red, faded to pink! Then bleached all over, faded again to pink, then bleached a 2nd time where the roots are still warm and the bleach is fading.

All I want is my natural color back, but clearly, that's going to take time.

My question is; Could a salon toner tone down the blonde and warmth to a more natural subtle color? and could I get away with just using toners on the dye until it eventually grows out?

Mermaidmelody on March 16, 2019:

I have natural ashy brown hair and i have had it bleached blonde for almost 2 years . It wasn't until December this year did i find the desired shade of blonde using ions platinum lace toner . I love the silver look it gives my hair and the first time i toned with it it lasted a while. I redid it in the beginning of February and it washed out in less than 2 weeks . I tried again a week and a half ago and after the 2nd wash it came out. Why is this happening?

Pamela from Oregon on November 10, 2017:

Hi! I have never had to use toners when having my hair foil frosted. But I moved to a different area, and these hairdressers seem clueless. And therefore I am left with yellow hair. Ugh! Can I just add a violet based toner to my hair conditioner? Or do I need to use toner with developer? Thank you.

denise harte on November 09, 2017:

hi need some help my natural hair is a med brown / light brown ? hav"nt seem it for years as I coloured it ,? got grey hair as well now coming through ...... at the moment my roots look really dark and my lengths and ends are now a light golden blonde more golden which I don't like .I want to go light blonde ? can I put a ash blonde on and what proxide to use , or is it best to put a violet wash on first many thanks

Cassie on October 05, 2017:

Hi. I have virgin natural espresso hair. I was a henna head years ago. This will be the first time I venture into nonHenna reds.

I am dying it light brown (red copper), from ESalon. I realize I have to lighten to get my color but I had a few questions about my developer, toner, etc.

First off I’ll be using Schwarzkopf BlondMe Bond Enforcer 9. I have a 20 vol and a 30. Which should I use for this?

And finally, I don’t have to go platinum to achieve a light enough blonde, is that correct?

What about toners? Should I get rid of orange/yellows before laying on the dye, and if I should use one, do you have a recommendation?


Eliza on July 08, 2017:

So I recently bleached and toned my hair to a silvery white blonde but certain patches didn't tone like I wanted them to. I want to do another round of toner and hopefully saturate my hair more this time but Im afraid of damaging my hair if I do two toning sessions back-to-back. My hair is very healthy though and has never had problems when I have bleached and toned it in the past. I deep conditionin it and after a day it is usually as soft and silky as any normal day. How long would you suggest I wait? Or is there any way to maybe mix the toner in with my shampoo so that it tones my hair gradually? Thanks!

Alexis on June 19, 2017:

Can I use a 7NB toner on bleached yellow/ orange hair? Or should I use a violet to help cancel it out? He hair is about a level 9 right now.

Amber on May 19, 2017:

What is the safest route to do a level 7 low light and blonde highlight on an existing permanent level 4 color? Do I hv to bleach to lift it the 3-4 levels to get that low light

Susanna on April 12, 2017:

I don't understand how purple shampoo/toner is supposed to tone down reds in hair. Purple is a combination of red and blue. GREEN is the opposite of red on the colour wheel, and works best to tone down red. Why do green-based toners, etc. not exist? At least I have never heard of seen any.

What I do to tone down the reds in my dark blonde hair is apply many drops of green food colouring on my hair before drying it and except for the challenge of avoiding green fingers, it works quite well (use hair colouring gloves)! I have also NEVER found an ash blonde shade that did not bring out some red in my dark blonde hair. Can you recommend any brands that have definite green undertones?

Tracy Peart on March 10, 2017:

Hi, after 3 trips to a hairdresser as I'd moved a long way from my old super fantastic stylist, I couldn't get anyone to get my colour right. First time, not so good, toner she used was rubbish and I've got strong thick layered short razored hair. I then tried a different salon and they too bleached it no problem as my hair is strong and can take it, but again, the toner she used, a wella purple one? Was streaky in places! I was getting desperate until I read your amazing article! What a life saver! I'd had my hair bleached 2 weeks ago so by time I'd read this, the toner had washed off. I took your advice, as my hair was lemony blonde and I bought the wella creme developer 20% vol and toner T-11 lightest beige blonde and left it on full 30 mins n omg! I love it! It's transformed my hair! It now looks evenly toned all over, soft baby blonde meets light sandy blonde and looks amazing. I'm so grateful for your advice and so glad I stumbled onto this page! Anyone considering it, do it, she was spot on!! Thank you, as I've got a 3Rd and final interview Monday, this has made me feel much better! X

Holly on March 06, 2017:

I am struggling with keeping my hair blonde because I have well water with a lot of minerals, especially iron. My hair turns brassy orange-red and is also very oily and flat from the water. I have tried cleansing cream shampoo (Redken) and Malibu hard water shampoo. I do not wash my hair everyday anymore and switch the previously mentioned shampoosbwith dark purple shampoos.

Over the last couple of years I've attempted to keep my hair darker, but I hate it. And believe the oily and flat nature my hair has taken is worse when darker. *We moved here three years ago and my hair immediately began to react. We have a whole house water filter and Ibhave installed a hard water/mineral remover showehead filter as well. I also have tried apple cider vinegar rinses and scalp exfoliating.

Any advice? I want to keep blonde and get rid of the oily/flat roots.

Tammy on February 23, 2017:

After I use the wella toner with 20 devoloper do I just rinse it out and condition or do I rinse and shampoo?

Imarie on January 17, 2017:


I have shoulder length curly hair, naturally a med brown.I had a balayage done on my hair a week root area is med brown but ends are bleached to the desired lightness but there is some gold and warm tones I want to tone to be more ashy.Am I safe using a wella toner in t14? For toning, should I use a 10 or 20 developer? And will the toner affect my med brown color on my roots? Or should toner only be put on the bleached hair?Thanks in advance!

jo on December 31, 2016:

hey i dyed my hair natural per blonde hair colour revlon shade no 4 its gone very blonde on top and i want to tone that bit down. Help wat should i use??

Sam on December 31, 2016:

Hi i have had blonde hair for a few weeks just wondering i have a tube dye lightest ash blonde i want to use it as a toner should i use 10vol or 20vol to mix with the dye.?

Bailey on December 20, 2016:

Hi! I recently used a color stripping agent to get rid of my red dyed color. My hair is lighter than it was before, because the red dye contained a tad bit of bleach. Now, my hair is a very light brown/dirty blonde but has brassy red undertones to it still. I want to use a toner on it, but I've read that this should've been done right after bleaching so my hair cuticles were open. Is there a way for me to open the cuticles so the toner will set since I don't want to bleach/dye it anymore? Will simply applying heat to my hair before adding toner help? Can I just add the toner without doing this or will it actually have an impact?

Liesl on December 13, 2016:

I've recently gone (professionally) from a very dark brown to a soft blonde. I use wella toners at home and recently found the T28 toner which i think is the ideal one for my purposes.

My question: I've been told a few different things about developer volume. One stylist said to use 10 developer when toning. The other said that 10 dev is only useful when dying and for toning, a 20 is necessary.

I have had to tone a lot in the last few weeks (about once a week) because i was using too light a toner. I don't want to tone again with a 20 if i can use a 10. My hair is somehow still in really good shape but it's dry and a bit frizzy. on November 04, 2016:

I have dark brown hair with some gray. I would like to dye it a light brown. I have tried several times and I always have red highlights. I have gone to several salons, they say the can remedy this, however in the sun the red shows, Any suggestions. Thank you

Jill on October 21, 2016:

My " natural" color as an adult is dark blond to light brown; platinum blonde until 9-10 years old. After doing foil color to have light blonde for last 15 years, I wanted a change,& also have some grays now! My hairdresser said going to all-over color would be best solution for blending the grays,& lifting root color a little. I am pale, with olive green eyes,& decided I wanted a darker blonde- I do NOT like brassy/gold on me,& my hair seems to pull red/gold. I asked for a neutral, natural blonde- I said no yellow, red, or grey! She mixed Paul Mitchell 8N &9N ( medium and dark natural blonde) & when she washed it out & I sat in chair, I saw this orangey/squash glow on top & almost cried. Stylist threw in an ash color to get rid of the orange/problem is, it's very drab, & in some light looks green, some just an unattractive wood-y color!! The back isn't as bad, it's kind of pretty/ but my bangs and sides, top is what I see &everyone sees! How can I change the unnatural, drab, color of my bangs& around face?! This was just done yesterday. It was the first time in 20 years I've had a permanent color put in my hair; my head burned & itched,I feel bad about myself! It's just not flattering at all, especially since I've always been light blonde. How do I get rid of that green/gray wooden color?! Will a toner work where it's darker than what my hair was, or should I try a Demi permanent color?

Peyton on September 25, 2016:

My hair is very Golden at the top. I hate it. Hairdresser put some toner on it but it didn't help much. Is there something I can do at home. I hate gold hair. My hair always pulls gold for some reasons

Mariem on September 18, 2016:

Does wella toner(t14) or manic panic's (violet) hair work on hair with demi permanent dye on it?

jade on August 12, 2016:

my hair is naturally brown and i have added highlights in, it doesn't look bad but i want to get rid of the brassyness without my brown hair going ginger, how would i be able to tone my highlights without making my brown hair lighter?

Alissa on August 12, 2016:

Hello. I naturally have a medium to dark brown hair, but I've had light brown hair, red hair, and dark brown hair. More recently, I put a product in my hair to lift the color and then dyed it a dark blonde. I've received a lot of different feedback. A few people say that it looks brassy....orangey and yellow. Some say it looks like strawberry blonde. Mind you, I have my dark roots growing out and gray hair also...that looks white against the blonde. My husband loves the color and feels that I've "messed" with my hair a lot and suggests I don't do anything else to it (other than touch up the roots). He is a natural blonde and has said that my hair color looks strawberry blonde. Numerous people have suggested that I use a toner to get rid of the brassiness. My hairdresser has also suggested using a lower developer (volume 20 as oppose to the volume 40 we were using) and while touching up the roots also putting some dye on the rest of my hair for 5 minutes to even out the color. This is because she will be using a lower developer volume. I'm really and truly undecided, because as my husband has suggested repeatedly..."if I don't like the way my hair comes out....I'm going to be sorry that I listened to their advice." Please advise. I really like the blonde, I wanted to go blonde and I took the plunge..but I don't want to end up being unhappy.

Shaylyn on August 05, 2016:

I know this post is old, so I am hoping you will still answer.

I plan to bleach and tone my hair, but I am stuck with what toner to choose. I want a nice, neutral blonde. Nothing too ashy and nothing too warm. It seems like all the others come out ashy. Is there a toner that will give me a neutral color like i desire?? Or do I need to get an actual hair dye to achieve that?


Summer on July 12, 2016:

6 weeks ago I went in for a highlight. I'm a dirty dishwater/strawberry blonde originally. More on the darker side. I want light blonde highlights like I had a few years ago. The stylist did a horrible job, my highlights were maybe a shade lighter and they started to look almost red. 2 weeks later I returned. This time they did a highlight and lowlight all over my entire head. Now, my hair all over is very blonde, gorgeous light blonde in the back and sides, I have long hair, but, the top looks like gold streaks are in it. It's awful! I've never had a issue in the past, so, I apologize if I sound dumb, is that gold color the brassy color I've been reading about? Can I use loreal blonde brassy stuff to get that color to go away? If not that, what? Should brassy be happening the day I get the highlight? Why did this happen to my hair w/ the gold tone? Thanks for any help you can give!

Abby on July 08, 2016:

If I tone my bleached hair with a permenant ash toner, will it go grey?

I'm naturally blonde but have recently dyed my hair dark brown and back to blonde again, so the ends are brassy and the roots are very bleachy! Help!

Rachel on July 07, 2016:

Hello! I have naturally blonde hair, it's gotten quite dark and dull after having my baby and I just want to lighten it up and brighten it. Would a toner be enough? Or should I color the whole thing?

Maffew James (author) on June 25, 2016:

Hi Carla,

Try to keep to once every 4 - 6 weeks if possible as it is permanent dye and will gradually cause damage with too frequent usage. If you find yourself wanting to use those toners too often, it's likely your hair is porous and anything you use, even a permanent dye, will fade easily. You may find a good purple shampoo to be more convenient to keep the colour maintained without causing additional damage because you can use this as necessary whilst washing your hair. Another option is a semi-permanent mousse and this can also be used as often as necessary without causing damage.

Otherwise, for refreshing the tone after a few weeks use demi-permanent with 5 vol as the developer, or permanent with 10 vol to minimise damage. You don't really need to use 20 vol for toning because the lift it gives isn't necessary, assuming your hair is as light as you want it and you merely wish to tone it at this stage. The higher developer volume is used for lightening 1 - 2 levels during processing, to ensure coverage if there is grey hair, or to increase dye penetration into coarse, resistant hair. When none of these are an issue, use 10 vol for toning / same-level, or darkening; 20 vol for 1 - 2 levels of lift, 30 vol for 2 - 3 levels of lift, and 40 vol for 3 - 4 levels of lift.

Carla on June 20, 2016:

How often can I use well a toners with 20 volume developer

susan on June 18, 2016:

Hi Maffew,

I need some guide from you: I had black level 1, I used majilift level 12.3 (very light golden brown) on may, and used majilift level 13 ( lightest brown) last month, and now I have level 4 or 5 ( I think).

I am thinking about using matrix wonderlight to get to at least level 7, is it possible?

Will I be able to do bleach bath with 40 volume to get to level 8? bleach bath is applied like shampooing, right? I am just not sure able to do bleach on my own, specially on the back part, afraid not even and creating spots.

Please guide me through, Maffew. Thx :)

Tricia on April 20, 2016:

Hi I hope you read and reply to this I'm so desperate. I have been wanting to get grey hair for the longest now. I had an ombre black with blue ends. I let the blue fade out. I used 2 applications of color remover andand my hair was a orangey blonde. I THOUGHT I had to tone my hair before bleaching and that's what I did. Now my hair is this weird grey ash slightly green. I can't even describe it. Can I bleach it now or what can I do to lighten it up? I really want my grey:(

TLL on April 17, 2016:

Hi Maffew,

My stylist used Redken high lift natural blonde on my roots that where white & grey and highlighted with foils my other blonde hair a nice shade of blonde as it was yellowing and then a toner after. My result was almost pale yellow/white roots and a warm honey color on the ends. Looks to light & bright and weird my roots are so light in comparison to the rest.. Sigh :(

So i would like for my hair to look more natural and not so pale bright yellow at my roots and to have an overall blended effect. I would say I'm at least a 10 level but not platinum now....

How should I rectify this? Will a toner help? If so what should I ask for?

I'm fair skinned with pink under tones with green eyes and now very bright light hair :(:(.... Thanks kindly for your advice. Tracy

Julie on April 15, 2016:

Hi Maffew,

Thank your for sharing your vast knowledge in such a kind way. I'm a newbie hairdresser and unfortunately I have no way of obtaining advice from experienced stylist as I work alone. There's a client of mine who has a level 5 light brown hair that was bleached to a level 10 blond in the past, but later she decided to go back to her natural color, so she colored it back with a box color. When she came to me she had a regrowth of about 1.5 inch, not very visible except for some grey. She wanted to be blond(ish) again, so I put some level 8 highlights in her hair with balayage technique. One month later she decided she wanted to be really blonde again, so this time I basically balayaged her whole head, leaving some shadows at the roots, but her length and ends were all lightened. She wanted to be a level 9 cool blonde. I used Schwarzkopf BlondMe Premium Lift lightener with 30vol developer for about 50 minutes. Since I am not very experienced in lightening her hair seemed light enough for me, but after rinsing I realized that the lower half of her hair was light yellow and the upper half was golden. My first question is this: why do you think her hair lightened unevenly? Is it because her hair was lightened before and the lower half could be the part that was blonde once (but was colored over with brown) ? Since I thought the upper half was more of a level 8 than 9, I mixed equal parts of 8.1 and 9.1 with 20 vol peroxide. The idea was to tone her blonde but at the same time cover the grey in her regrowth. The result: the darker shadow basically disappeared at the roots, which was not what I intended, and the color was an 8-ish golden at the upper half, and a neutral 9-ish at the lower part. It was way too warm despite the ash dye, especially at the upper part, and the darker areas created by the balayage were basically nonexistent. Her ends were quite dry. So my second and third questions are: What should I have done (but didn't) in order to achieve the desired result, and what would you do from here to get her to a level 9 cool blonde that is not too one-dimensional?

Nicolette on April 03, 2016:

Hi there,

I have really enjoyed reading your articles and I find them very interesting. I have mid brown hair and have been having blonde highlights for the past few years. My hair can grow quite quickly and my roots come through quick too. I find that after 6/8 weeks I have at least two inches of roots. This time my husband and I decided to buy L'Oreal Paris Perfect Blonde Creme Maximum. My fringe turned a nice blonde/yellow colour and the rest of my hair went a golden orange colour! I bought Bblonde Maximum Blonde toner in platinum but it's only toned it to a gold colour. So, my question is, how can I get a nice light blonde all over? I don't mind bleaching it again and investing in non shelf products, as this would be a better investment, so I can keep up with it. Can you please recommend the products too, as I never know what to use. Will I need to tone or dye it to give it a nice colour and shine too? (I'd like to try a platinum blonde or a shade lighter). Many thanks.

Maffew James (author) on March 24, 2016:

Hi Beste,

If you let it fade with a few shampoos over the next 1 - 2 weeks it will lose that grey tone during that time as the toner fades, assuming it was toned to reach that colour. If it was lightened without toning, the grey colour is usually the result of having an ash base tone in your natural colour, and this is greatly enhanced by light highlights. In this situation, you can correct the tone by adding gold pigment into the highlights to warm up the overall colour. This is also something you can do if it was toned and the toner is taking a long time to fade out.

To tone it to add warmth, use a beige or golden blonde shade in demi-permanent or semi-permanent dye that is 1 level lighter than the highlights (anything permanent will affect your base colour and lead to too much warmth due to lightening occurring in the darker hair). As long as you're not using a permanent dye, you can apply this dye all over because it's too light to affect the darker hair and won't cause significant lightening. If you apply this, it will gradually add golden pigment into the highlights to warm it up and make it look like a more natural blonde shade. You can rinse as soon as you're happy with the shade, or leave it until it has fully processed.

Beste on March 22, 2016:

Hi :)

I went to the hair dresser today and told them I wanted platinum/bleach blonde and I live in Europe so there are different laws and regulations and they said they couldn't lighten my roots that much(i think my hair is a level 4 brown or whatever pretty dark), and they highlighted the whole hair except for the roots. It turned out rather a grey than a blonde though. I kind of remember the hairdresser saying that it will turn blonder and it also looked more blonde in the salon so I didnt really say anything then. Anyways, can I do anything to make it look blonder?

Ashley on January 31, 2016:

Hello I read your article but I don't know much about hair and terminology. I have naturally dark brown hair with chunky blonde highlights. They are a nice light ashy pale cool blonde when I first get them done, then they turn yellowy warm brassy? The blonde highlights seems to dry and damage my hair as I flat iron often. I even had a couple little areas of hair break off (2 small areas not too noticeable). I really want to be able to pull off that super light blonde highlight but it's damaging my hair and turning a color I don't like. I do have a purple shampoo but it doesn't seem to help as much as I need it to. What kid of toner could I get that would help me maintain? I thought it was saying the semi permanent toner doesn't damage? Help I'm kind of lost?!? Thank you!

Maffew James (author) on January 24, 2016:

Hi Ashley,

How much lighter are the roots in comparison to your lengths? There are a few ways to fix the colour difference, but the easiest method for a very noticeable distinction will be to fill the roots and lengths to the same base tone and then dye over that to even everything out.

What this means, is that you need to go over the roots using a golden dye as the filler to replace the missing pigment that has been lifted out when they were bleached. This will give you a new foundation to apply the darker blonde colour so that it turns out the way it should. Ideally, this golden filler needs to be dark enough to take both the roots and lengths to the same depth and gold colour for the most even result. Following this, dye over the filled hair using a mix of natural and ash blonde.

As for the right shades to use for this process, you need to base this on how dark your lengths are. For example, if your lengths are a level 8, you want to fill with 8G (Light golden blonde), in demi-permanent, and then finish the correction with a mix of 7N and 7A in permanent. Alternatively, you can use 7N by itself for a warmer result; the ash mix is for a cool blonde result.

Ashley B. on January 23, 2016:

I have been using revlon frost & glow blonde for 8 months. Then my husband/helper decided he missed spots & put it all over my hair AAAHHH so i went to Sally's and they gave me Wella T18 and told me to bleach my roots then the next day apply toner with 10 developer for 15 min. I was going for a natural blonde. However i bleached my roots today and they are white! Help what do i do?

CJ on October 08, 2015:

Hey there- I have cool, dark ashy blonde- just got it done to warm up more honey colored...aaaand 2 day after it looks red. Shall I try a shampoo or ask for a reboot? (Want to avoid sitting in the chair for 3 hours!)

Thanks so much.

selena on September 05, 2015:

I have been trying to achieve through a salon is a light ash brown with bright blond highlights. My hair is light and they've tried 8,7,61/2 and I still get when 6 was used it was muddy purple she stripped and then put do I get cool ash brown with blonde highlights without gold or brassiness.

Maffew James (author) on August 01, 2015:

Hi Kristina,

Conditioner coats and seals the hair so it reduces penetration of other products like toners. Easiest way to get around this is to just shampoo it out and then tone.

Kristina on July 30, 2015:

Hi! I just bleached my hair and wasn't sure if I was going to try toner another day, so I put in a deep conditioner for an hour. Now I have the toner and I want to do it now but have read mixed reviews about not toning if I conditioned. Is there a chance I really can tone it right now, leave the toner in longer? I've read the toner won't take as well. Or how can I fix it so I can do it now, add product, re shampoo or keep rinsing the conditioner out? What's your thoughts!?

Maffew James (author) on July 19, 2015:

Hi Heather,

What colour are you trying to reach? The toner will need to be rinsed out because they aren't left in your hair, but I'm just wondering why you're toning and then dyeing it after that. Depending on what colour you're trying to reach, this could be done with the one dye in most cases.

Heatherhutto on July 18, 2015:

Hi, I'm trying to figure out if the toner needs to be rinsed out before applying the color or if I apply he color on top the toner. I'm bleaching my hair, and WA told to use toner afterwards to get rid of the orange color, but th e direction only days to let the toner processed for 15-30 minutes nothing about rinsing or washing it out I've tried go ogling it but I'm coming up with zero answers. Please help

Maffew James (author) on June 26, 2015:

Hi Tarinn,

They don't list ingredients, and that is a red flag for me. I also don't like the idea of mixing some mystery chemical into bleach. Bleach is very reactive and you never know what you could be creating if you mix other chemicals into it.

tarinn on June 24, 2015:

Do you think olaplex is good for your hair? I have used it a few times and am not sure its really doing anything at all?

Maffew James (author) on May 25, 2015:

Hi Julia,

Sorry for the late reply.

You definitely can do this kind of reverse ombre. Do be careful that you don't accidentally end up with colour along the lengths where you don't want it though as the result can get messy quickly.

Digressing a little, it is very odd that the use of a darker ash colour would cause a brassy tone in your hair. Normally, applying darker ash colours on top of lighter hair results in intense ash results. Eg, if you apply a dark ash blonde (6A) on top of level 9 hair, this can actually turn a grey-blue to even greenish colour because of how much cool tone is in the dye and how this isn't balanced by warmth from the lighter hair it is applied to. I'd suspect the particular dye brand used has a warmer ash tone, or that the ash tone was either mixed with a natural tone or something warmer.

In any case, I'd recommend using dark neutral blonde mixed with dark ash blonde for your ombre. You don't want to use anything solely ash as it can cause the problems I listed above, and the neutral tone is best for darkening as it will introduce every primary colour back into the hair as balanced colour. The ash mixed in shifts this to a cooler result Ie, imagine equal amounts of blue, red, and yellow tone which gives a neutral result. Then imagine adding in more blue so that blue is more dominant than the other tones. The result is a properly darkened but cool result.

However, given your history with brassiness, I'd recommend you try this as a strand test for your first step. Apply to a small section of hair, or cut off a few strands from underneath at the back of your head where it won't be missed too much, and look at how the colour reacts. If it does look somewhat golden, try switching dye brands, or use the ash by itself only as a last resort as most brands won't darken properly when you use tones like this by themselves (Think of grey hair, how it needs to be dyed by mixing your desired tone with a neutral tone to reintroduce the missing colours). Definitely do the test first before you use anything though, as it's not normal to see a golden tone present from ash with most brands, but you definitely could end up with blue hair if you just go ahead and use it by itself.

Julia on May 21, 2015:

Hi Maffew,

So I am a life-timer when it comes to getting highlights. I'm pretty sure my natural hair color is a golden light brown. My main issue is anytime I touch my hair it pulls red/brassy. I wanted to transition away from the white blonde to something a little more natural. The last time I was at my stylist we attempted a highlight/low light combo. Even though she only applied ash low-lights my hair still pulled a brass color anywhere she put it, and as expected it gets worse when I'm in the sun. My roots are coming in which wouldn't be as bad if my hair wasn't so long and mostly blonde. I wanted to use toner to create an ombre look. Can I add toner from the roots to about 1/3 of the way down my hair and comb it down some to get it the way I want? My two questions are- 1. would this work? and 2. is there a toner color that I can apply that will get me to a dark blonde but won't have me looking like I have brass highlights? The brass looks awful with my skin tone.

Maffew James (author) on May 11, 2015:

Hi Florina,

You can definitely dye red hair to blonde, but you tend to need to use more ash tone than for other natural colours to counteract the abundance of warm tones. As for what happened with your hair, did you notice good lightening with the 40 vol developer? Ie, did it lighten properly but ended up too reddish in tone?

If it lightened properly, there is a reason why it is still reddish. It's very likely your hair didn't lighten enough for the delicate ash tone in 10/1 to actually neutralise the warmth in your hair. The colour in that shade is very very light, and the use of 40 vol as the developer will decrease colour deposit in addition to this. If you want to use the 10/1 for lightening, this is fine, but you will need to tone separately after dyeing. Otherwise, lighten using a darker shade; at least a 9/1 for adequate toning depending on how much warmth you're seeing and how light you want to go.

florina on May 08, 2015:

Hi.i have a question if you could help me, pleaese. Is natural red hair highlighting with blonde dye? I'VE tried 10.1 from wella with 40 volume. It did not really became blonde....the red was still noticeable. Please help as i need to do this girl sunday(the test was done on a little strand of her hair) .thank you

Maffew James (author) on May 04, 2015:

Hi Yuiko,

I wouldn't recommend it. You can mix it with other WonderLight shades, but you shouldn't mix it with other Matrix dyes like SoColor, and definitely not with different brands.

Because the WonderLight is more of a toning lightener it's better for creating highlights in natural hair rather than using like regular dye. You may be able to use it for toning to maintain your colour as it fades though.

Yuiko on May 03, 2015:

Hi Maffew,

Oh thanks a lot cos now im confident to do this at home. One thing though, could somehow i mix my matrix cool ash to my next light ash brown dye to make it more ashy(or there is a chance it will ruin my light ash brown dye?) or my matrix dye just go straight to waste ?lol

Lots love for you Maffew!


Maffew James (author) on May 03, 2015:

Hi Yuiko,

The Matrix dye didn't lighten because your hair is dyed with dark brown dye. Dye only lifts natural pigment, so if you have dark dye in your hair, this won't budge.

To get it to the colour you want, bleach to golden-orange for level 5, or orange for level 4 and apply ash dye. The ash dye used should be the level you were targeting. Light ash brown for level 5, or medium ash brown for level 4.

If you've only used that dark brown and the Matrix dye on your hair and it's in good condition at the moment, it should still be in really good condition after this, to the point that you will barely notice a different. If you have very fine or thin hair though, be more careful with the bleaching as this will be more prone to showing damage. Overall it takes a lot more processing to see significant damage for most hair. If you do notice a problem, treat your hair with protein treatments and this will repair any damage.

Yuiko on May 03, 2015:

Hi maffew,

Big thanks for articles really helpful. I need your advice for my hair. I had naturally black hair i don't know exactly if it was on level 1 or 2. Then i dyed my hair dark brown maybe about a year ago. I really want my hair become ash brown. I actually bought matrix wonderlight in cool ash with 30 vol developer but now i doubt it could give me nice result as i did the strain test and nothing change.

My question is how can i achieve the nice ash brown color maybe in level 4 or 5. If i use bleach then i should achieve the bright orange stage ? than after that follow by dye my hair with permanent ash brown with 10 vol developer or shoukd i just tone it with i don't know a green color in order to achieve natural ash brown?

Thanks a lot maffew,

i really love to have that color on my hair but i confused and scared as i browsed reading horor color story lol and also my hair is very soft that scared me if this color i want could damage my hair badly.

Maffew James (author) on April 30, 2015:

Hi Nat,

After you get it a very pale yellow colour, you can tone with a pastel shade like Wella Color Touch 10/01, Igora Viviance 9.5-1, or Goldwell Colorance 10V. All of these shades are very pale and demi-permanent, and once you reach the amount of toning needed, you can rinse them out.

With the Igora or Goldwell options, you can also better maintain the colour with their mousse options in the same shade, which are used after shampooing, but you should be fine just with a weak violet shampoo as white blonde hair is so pale and only needs the slightest toning.

Nat on April 29, 2015:

Hi Maffew!

I am pretty much as blonde as you can be naturally, but i'm just looking to get that really crispy white colour. i'm thinking of doing an overall bleach with a 10 vol, the question is what toner to put in afterwards. do you have any tips? :)

Thank you!

Maffew James (author) on April 14, 2015:

Hi Kb,

The highlights play a part in this because the copper can grab onto those areas more readily. It really just depends on whether you're happy with the possibility of this or you'd prefer a more even result.

Also, with the lightening, you want at least 30 vol to guarantee at least 2 levels of lift and a vibrant result on your regrowth with most brands of dye. Using 10 vol is fine for the lengths if they're already as light as you need them to be, but you may want to up that to 20 vol if the overall colour is very brown. This will help lighten it just enough for the colour to appear more vibrant all over.

Maffew James (author) on April 14, 2015:

Hi Jack,

The toner will fade over time. It doesn't 'wash out' like a temporary dye in that no amount of washing will ever get rid of all of it, but it does become duller with washing. Alternatively, as it is a permanent dye you can use dye remover to reverse the chemical process that made it permanent, breaking it down and allowing it to be removed.

Kb on April 14, 2015:

I have a natural 6 brown regrowth with highlighstn an orange/caramel mid to ends level 7/9. I want to go a copper red all over with highlights. Can I use a 7.43 20vol on base and 7.43 10v on mid to ends??? Will that even it up?

jack on April 14, 2015:

hi there I have black hair and had bleached highlights put in then a permanent toner by hairdresser. the toner is too dark For my liking. Does permanent toner wash out???

Maffew James (author) on April 12, 2015:

Hi Lisa,

If using semi-permanent or demi-permanent colour, you can practically tone it as often as necessary. Same as with the use of a toning shampoo. If using permanent dye though, best idea is to wait a few days if there is any dryness and potentially switch to a less permanent option. Whilst temporary dyes wash out over time, the fact that they cause no damage is a good trade-off for this and it will keep your blonde hair healthier over the long term.

As for why there is still some warmth, is this orange hair darker than the rest of the hair you toned, or possibly wasn't covered as well or for as long as the rest? If it's darker, it will require a more concentrated toner to properly deal with the warmth compared to hair that is lighter.

Also, whilst you do need the blue tone to counteract the orange hair, keep in mind that if it's still orange, it may still be a little too dark overall. Usually hair that is orange is somewhere between light brown and dark blonde and when it is toned to the point where all the warmth is actually neutralised, it will look closer to a neutral shade of light brown than blonde.

If this is the case you may want to lift it one more level with a light bleaching to take out a little more pigment and get it all into the blonde range. If you do this, focus bleach on darker areas only in order to deal with this orange and help even it up so that it's all the same. That way the next time you tone it will all reach the same result without the previous patchiness.

Lisa on April 11, 2015:

Hi! I'm trying to remove the brassiness out of my hair! I've toned it tonight with a blue-violet base and it did work but I still see some orangy color. When is it safe to tone it again or is this not the answer at all?? Any help is so appreciated!!!!

Maffew James (author) on April 01, 2015:

Hi Stacey,

Well at least the colour turned out nice, even if blonde hair doesn't suit you as much as you had hoped.

With natural tones, you can't necessarily just use one and not run into issues. Many are balanced shades and they will contain a balance of all three primary colours so they're not strongly cool or warm and this helps. Others are slightly warm or slightly cool depending on brand.

If you're going up to 2 - 3 shades darker, using a natural tone will give a good result. For anything darker than that though, I'd definitely recommend filling. The darker you go, the more likely you'll get an unintended result because of the missing base tone. You can get around that relatively easily by using protein filler or dye to replace the base tone and then applying your final colour to finish it up.

In order to decide on what base tone you're missing, have a look at the chart in one of my other articles here:

If you look at the colour you want: eg, light brown, you can then see the base tone for that colour is orange. If you had light brown hair and bleached it lightly to take out the visible colour, this is what you would be left with. Similarly, if you wanted light brown hair, you need to put this back into your hair prior to adding in the cool tone that causes it to look light brown.

stacey on April 01, 2015:


thank you for the reply after following yours guides on here, i done my hair and for my first time doing anything so drastic to my hair myself it turned out really well, lovely golden blonde maybe little to golden but made a homemade conditioner with violet and it toned it right down. only problem is now i hate it hahaha , first time being blonde and its really not for me .read your other articles about dyeing blonde hair brown am i safe to say i can use any natural brown colour on my hair and it wont go green or any thing funky like that.

think your articles are amazing wish i had found them years ago

thanks so much


Maffew James (author) on April 01, 2015:

Hi Stacey,

You want it to look golden after bleaching in order to reach a medium blonde colour. As it lightens it will first go red, then orange, then golden, and finally to yellow and then progressively lighter shades of yellow.

As for the dye, it's likely natural medium blonde if it says nothing else. This is an approximately neutral shade because all of the primary colours are fairly balanced, but it can still be used to tone your hair. The result will be more of a beige to neutral rather than a cooler blonde, whereas you can get much ashier results using an ash tone. It really just depends on what shade you want to achieve.

stacey on March 29, 2015:

hi desperate for an answer

i have natural dark hair but its been dyed that many times over the years . 7months ago i got full head of highlights but not bleach highlights can't remember what he said he used. they are really growing out now and i have the dreaded gray coming in at the front and sides of my hairline. i want to go blonde not bright bleach blonde but a nice natural medium blonde. i have bought my bleach and iam rearing to go but iam at a loss of do i wait for my hair to go yellow or orange or a bit of both. also i have bought a good name hair dye in medium blonde it does not say ash or anything just medium blonde will this be ok to put on my hair after i have finished the bleaching and got to the orange \yellow stage need help as first timer

thanks stacey

Maffew James (author) on March 27, 2015:

Hi Stef,

I'm sorry to hear about this happening to you. It sounds like the dye used was either a regular permanent dye with a high volume of developer, or a high lift dye as heat wouldn't normally be used for toning. If it was used with a toner, you still wouldn't see this sort of reaction because toner is by definition 'deposit-only' in that it only deposits colour and isn't used to lighten your hair. The heat would increase colour penetration, but without ammonia and peroxide, there is little to no scalp irritation. This means whatever was used almost certainly contained a powerful concentration of developer.

Heat boosts chemical reactions and this is why it is sometimes used during lightening processes. By increasing the temperature of dye, the developer reacts much more rapidly and your hair will lighten more, as well as quicker. This can also greatly increase irritation though.

Did you notice any burning or pain during the dye process, or did this only become apparent the next day? The only other thing that could explain this is if you had an allergic reaction to the product. This can cause irritation even if a deposit-only colour or weak permanent dye was used, and it's not impossible to feel fine the dye of the process and only start to get symptoms hours later when an allergy is to blame. It would also explain the hair loss if it has just fallen out.

Hair loss from dye or bleach damage usually occurs as sporadic breakage. In really bad cases, the hair stretches apart like over-cooked pasta. It almost never falls out from the root though. Whilst it's not impossible for this to happen, this is another possible sign of an allergic reaction.

In any case, keep a close eye on your hair and scalp over the next few days to watch for any additional symptoms that could be the result of an allergy. If this is a delayed allergic reaction, you don't want to leave it if it gets worse. I'd also recommend contacting the salon and asking them specifically what they used as well as letting them know what happened. Ie, what kind of dye - if the dye was demi-permanent was it acid-based or peroxide-based - if permanent, what volume of developer was used.

All the best, and I wish you a speedy and safe recovery.

stef on March 25, 2015:

Hi I went to a salon to have a toner put on after I bleached my hair. The stylist applied the toner then put me under a climazone to speed up the process. The next day my head was sore and red and half of my hair has fallen out on top and side of my head. I now have huge bald spots :-( is it normal practice to appply heat when toning?

Maffew James (author) on February 07, 2015:

Hi Valerie,

You can't darken hair without dye unfortunately, but you can use a semi-permanent dye if desired. Because this doesn't contain developer or ammonia it doesn't penetrate the hair and causes no damage. It will wash out over time and have to be repeated when this happens, but it's the gentlest form of dye if you don't want to use anything harsher.

Do you know what level your hair is, and what level the lighter roots are? The dye you use needs to be a natural or beige tone at the same level of your lengths. I wouldn't recommend using an ash or pearl tone or it will look overly grey.

Apply this to the roots first, allow them to darken up to close to the lengths, and then pull through to the lengths for the last few minutes of application to give an even result and tone before rinsing.

Valerie M on February 07, 2015:

My blonde hair went too light at the roots on top, is there anything I can use without using a dye

Maffew James (author) on February 04, 2015:


If your hair feels overly oily, give it a shampoo with a mild moisturising shampoo prior to dyeing so the dye penetrates properly. Otherwise leave it unwashed when using permanent dye as the dye is slightly drying and the natural oil in your hair protects the hair from drying out to much and your scalp from irritation.

One further tip in case it applies to you; if you have porous hair, which is often the case after lightening, you may want to use a porosity equalising spray before applying dye. This is a protein spray that penetrates the hair and stops the dye from becoming patchy or too dark in areas where you have high porosity.

Question? on February 03, 2015:

I'm just wanting to know if I should wash my hair and have clean hair before applying permanent toner?

Maffew James (author) on February 03, 2015:


It's an issue with the highlights unfortunately. Any colour you use to tone the base colour is too strong for the highlights and will turn them grey, whilst a colour that is strong enough only for the highlights isn't able to affect the darker base colour.

As for reaching a white colour, you need to remove the unevenness from the highlights before you can actually achieve this. This entails selectively bleaching the darker hair only, until it has lightened to the same level as the highlights. After that, you're aiming for a pale yellow colour all over, at which point you need to tone with pastel violet to neutralise this trace of yellow and create the white result.

With your hair already lightened and possibly damaged you will need to be careful with any subsequent bleaching and definitely shouldn't bleach it again if it's already damaged or just fragile in general. If your hair is in good condition and you can be sure it will actually stand up to the process, I'd be happy to give you more in-depth information about how to do it.

Hi on February 02, 2015:

Need help please!

I have ashe blonde with much golden tones and tints of unwanted grey spots. It is professional highlighted. I am wanting to go lighter- a white blonde color. I am unable to do this at a salon since I've reached maximum results. How can I correct my hair at home? I don't mind using bleach, if need be. I also tried many toners and purple shampoos but none seem to work in fact they are adding more unwanted tones to my hair