How to Tone Blonde Hair
Blonde hair is beautiful, but it is one of the harder colors to maintain, and 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, whilst the results will speak for themselves.
This article will go over the different types of toners available, shampoos, and other products to show you how to tone blonde hair to keep it looking incredible.
What Is 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, but all it takes to make a significant change to this appearance is to add a particular color.
Depending on what color is present to begin with, and what is added, this could blend to form a new color, or it could neutralize an existing color. If you were to look at a color wheel like the one in the image below, you can see that colors opposite to each other on the wheel are the ones that do this, and these color pairs are called complimentary colors as a result.
On the other hand, colors like blue and yellow mix to form a new color: green. If you were just adding color to the hair without care you can see that it's possible to end up with something a little surprising. The opposite is also true though, you can systematically look at the tones present in hair and then add in complementary tones to counteract what you don't want 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.
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
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 to regular shampooing, except that it can slow down fading by keeping your hair toned. Some of these shampoos are actually strong enough that used too often, they can and will over-tone blonde hair, especially pale shades, whilst other shampoos are more mild.
Neither is necessarily better or worse though because it depends 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, whereas lighter or warmer shades of blonde will be over-toned by a product like this.
Shopping for a Purple Shampoo
When you look for blonde shampoo, one tip is to go ahead and open up the bottle to get a better look if it's not sealed and you won't break any packaging by doing so.
Look for 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, grey, and finally starts to look blue past a certain point.
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...
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 whilst 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 toner
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 applying the product after shampooing your hair. They only last one shampoo though, so they're best used for toning problem areas or temporarily cooling down excess warmth when you're between applications of a more permanent option.
To apply them, first shampoo your hair 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.
Semi-permanent toners can be in the form of liquids or a cream. They're applied to washed, dry hair and left to process until the desired color is reached.
These dyes contain no ammonia or developer so they cause no damage to the 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.
How to Use Semi-Permanent Toners
Liquid semi-permanent dyes should be squeezed onto the hair evenly and massaged in 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, do this beforehand if you need to wash your hair. However you may condition your hair if you need to, but this is unlikely as the dye itself has a conditioning base.
Demi-permanent and permanent toners both fall under the category of long-lasting color. The only 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 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 or permanent toner once every six weeks or so, and this will coincide with the time it takes for your regrowth to need a touch-up.
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 the 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 whilst 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 and keep it on longer rather than have to rinse a darker shade earlier. This will help to keep your blonde hair toned for longer between retouch applications.
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 tinted shampoos and only wash your hair as often as necessary
- Keep heated styling tool use to a minimum
- Apply products like smoothing serums to seal the hair
- Avoid excess sun exposure
- Always condition - 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 not necessarily avoidable. You will potentially need to adjust with a greater frequency of toning though.
How Often Do You Tone Your Hair?
Blonde hair looks great, and it's great to take pride in the way you look. Toning your hair will keep it looking the best it possibly can, and help give you confidence that's noticeable to others.
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.
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