What Does Hair Toner Do To Highlights?The Highlight Hack You Need ASAP

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We all know that achieving those stunning blonde highlights can be a real game-changer for your hair game.

But there’s a little something you might have noticed – those pesky brassy tones that pop up after a bleaching session. Don’t worry; it’s a common struggle we’ve all faced.

That’s where hair toning comes to the rescue! Here’s everything you need to know about hair toning for blonde highlights. We’re here to break it all down, from the science behind those unwanted tones to the magic of how toner work.

Consider this your ultimate guide to keeping your blonde highlights looking their best. So, let’s dive in and bid farewell to brassiness once and for all!

What Does Hair Toner Do To Highlights?

  • Corrects unwanted yellow or orange tones.
  • Enhances and perfects highlight shades.
  • Achieves cooler, ashier, or neutral blonde tones.
  • Revives and maintains highlight vibrancy.
  • Evens out overall hair color.
  • Prevents brassiness for a natural look.
  • Adds a professional, polished finish.

Why Do Blonde Highlights Need Toning?

Alright, let’s get into why those blonde highlights of yours need a little toning TLC.

When you decide to go for that beautiful blonde look and use bleach to lift your hair, something interesting happens.

As the bleach does its job, it leaves behind what we call “secondary pigments.” These secondary pigments can come in different shades, and they’re often in the range of yellow-orange, yellow, or even a pale yellow.

Now, don’t worry; this is perfectly normal, and it’s all part of how your hair works. But those secondary pigments can turn your lovely highlights into something a bit too brassy and warm for your liking.

Think about it this way: you wanted a gorgeous blonde, not a brassy nightmare, right?

That’s where hair toners save the day. They work by neutralizing those warm tones and giving your highlights the cool, vibrant look you’ve been dreaming of. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and uncover the science behind it all!

what does hair toner do to highlights? brassy blonde hair toned
what does hair toner do to highlights? bleached hair toned before and after

What Are Hair Toners and How Do They Work?

Hair toning is like that final flourish that takes your hair color from good to absolutely fabulous. It’s all about fine-tuning your hair’s shade to reach that ideal balance.

Whether you’re saying goodbye to those unwanted brassy tones in your blonde hair or looking to add depth to your brunette locks, toning is your trusty sidekick in this color adventure.

Now, let’s chat about the different types of toners:

At-Home Toners

These are your everyday toning buddies, including products like purple shampoos and conditioners. Purple shampoo, especially, is a blonde’s best friend for keeping those persistent yellow tones in check.

It’s super easy to use and perfect for maintaining that salon-worthy color right in your own bathroom.

Expert Insights

“Using an at-home toner, like purple shampoo, is a fantastic way to keep your hair looking fresh. It’s like giving your hair a little pep talk between salon visits.”

Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

Professional-Grade Toners

When you’re aiming for significant color changes or that precise tonal perfection, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery – professional-grade toners.

These are the ones the experts swear by, especially after a round of bleaching, to achieve that exact shade you’ve been dreaming of.

Cosmetologist Stephanie Johnson puts it simply, “For those who want a major color transformation, professional toners are the way to go. They’re the secret ingredient for nailing that precise shade you’ve always wanted.”

Hair Toner on Blonde Highlights Before and After

Choosing the Right Hair Toner for Your Highlights

Selecting the perfect hair toner for your highlighted locks is a critical step in achieving the flawless shade you desire. Here’s what to think about:

Knowing What Hair Color You Want

Choosing the right toner starts with understanding your unique hair and highlighting situation. Here’s what you need to do:

What Look Are You Going For: Begin by determining the end goal for your hair. Do you want to neutralize brassiness, add depth, or make your highlights brighter? Knowing what you want to end up with will help guide which toner you need.

Know Your Highlight Shade: Take note of the existing shade of your blonde highlights. Are they more on the yellow, orange, or pale side of the spectrum? This information will help you choose a toner that addresses your specific undertones.

Consider Your Hair Type: Different hair types may require different toning approaches. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Hair Porosity: Consider the porosity of your hair. If your hair is highly porous, it may absorb toner more quickly, affecting the results. If it’s less porous, you may need to adjust your toner choice.
  • Sensitivity: If you have sensitive hair or scalp, go for toners with gentle formulas that minimize the risk of irritation.

Selecting the Right Toner

Purple Toner: Purple toners are excellent for neutralizing yellow and warm undertones in blonde highlights. They work best for those looking to achieve a cooler, ashier tone.

Blue Toner: Blue toners are effective at counteracting orange and brassy undertones. They are ideal for those with highlights that lean towards a more orangey shade.

Choose the Right Developer: Consider the strength of the developer that pairs with your toner. For subtle toning, opt for a lower volume developer (e.g., 10 Vol). For bigger changes, a higher volume developer (e.g., 20 Vol) may be what you need.

Patch Test: Before applying the toner all over, do a patch test to ensure you achieve the desired result without any adverse reactions.

Get Some Professional Advice: If you’re uncertain about which toner is right for you or if you have complex highlighting needs, have a chat with a professional stylist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your hair’s unique characteristics and condition.

Expert Insights

“If your highlights are cool-toned, you’ll want to choose a toner with a cool, ashy base to maintain the cool tones. If your highlights are warm-toned, a toner with a warmer base can help to enhance the warmth.”

Couture Hair Professionals

How to Apply Hair Toner After Highlights: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect hair toner for your highlights, let’s dive into the application process. We’ll walk you through how to apply a liquid form toner, ensuring your highlights turn out flawless.

What You’ll Need:

  • Liquid form hair toner
  • Developer (typically 10 Vol)
  • Applicator bottle
  • Gloves
  • Sectioning clips
  • Timer
  • Towel or cape
  • Shampoo and conditioner

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

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Start by setting up your workspace. Cover your shoulders with a towel or cape to protect your clothing. Ensure proper ventilation in the room.

Step 2: Mix the Toner

what does hair toner do to highlights? hair toner product in bowl

Mix your chosen liquid toner and developer in an applicator bottle in a 1:1 ratio. This means equal parts toner and developer. Shake the bottle gently to thoroughly mix the two.

Step 3: Section Your Hair

what does hair toner do to highlights? blonde hair being sectioned by stylist

Divide your hair into manageable sections using sectioning clips. This makes it easier to apply the toner evenly.

Step 4: Apply the Toner

what does hair toner do to highlights? toner being applied to blonde highlights

Wearing gloves, begin applying the toner to your highlighted hair sections. Start from the roots and work your way down to the tips. Make sure each strand is coated evenly with the toner mixture.

Step 5: Massage and Rub In

what does hair toner do to highlights hair stylist rubbing toner into hair

Here’s a pro tip: Massage and rub the toner into your hair. This helps ensure that the product penetrates deeply and works effectively. Focus on areas where you have the most highlights or where you want the toning to be most pronounced.

Step 6: Time it Right

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Once you’ve applied the toner, set a timer for the recommended processing time. Most toners require around 10-20 minutes, but be sure to follow the instructions on the product you’re using.

Step 7: Rinse and Condition

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When the timer goes off, rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Follow up with a color-safe conditioner to lock in moisture and keep your newly toned highlights looking their best.

Step 8: Final Check

After your hair has dried, take a moment to admire your beautifully toned highlights!

You’ve successfully applied the toner, and now your highlights should have that gorgeous, even color you were aiming for.

Watch and learn: How to Tone Blonde Highlights

Here’s a great video tutorial from our favorite celeb hair stylist Brad Mondo who guides us through how to tone blonde highlights step by step like a pro!

How to Care for Highlighted Hair

Highlights are high maintenance and looking after the beauty and longevity of your highlights is a labor of love. Here’s a guide to caring for your highlighted hair:

  • Sulfate-Free Shampoo: Use sulfate-free shampoo for color-treated hair to prevent fading.
  • Limit Washing: Reduce wash frequency and use dry shampoo between washes.
  • Cold Water Rinse: Finish with a cool water rinse to seal the cuticle and preserve color.
  • Deep Conditioning: Apply a weekly deep conditioning treatment for moisture restoration.
  • UV Protection: Shield your hair from UV rays with protective products and accessories.
  • Heat Styling Caution: Use heat protectants and lower heat settings to prevent color damage.
  • Regular Trims: Trim your hair regularly to maintain health and color vibrancy.
  • Chlorine Avoidance: Protect hair from chlorine by wetting it and applying leave-in conditioner before swimming.
  • Touch-Up Toners: Use toning shampoo or conditioner for brassiness between salon visits.
  • Professional Maintenance: Schedule regular salon touch-ups to keep your highlights fresh and vibrant.

With these condensed care tips, your highlighted hair will remain stunning and in top condition.

Highlighted Hair toning FAQs

1. What is hair toning, and why is it necessary for highlights?

Hair toning is a process that helps neutralize unwanted undertones, such as brassiness or warmth, in colored or highlighted hair. It is essential for highlights because it ensures the perfect shade and tone are achieved.

2. How does hair toner work on blonde highlights?

Hair toners contain pigments, often purple or blue, that counteract warm tones in blonde highlights. These pigments help achieve cooler, ashier, or more neutral shades by neutralizing unwanted yellow or orange undertones.

3. Can I use purple or blue shampoos instead of hair toner for my blonde highlights?

Purple and blue shampoos are effective at toning yellow blonde hair. However, they primarily deposit pigments on the hair’s surface. Hair toners, on the other hand, penetrate the hair cuticle, providing more long-lasting results. Using both can be beneficial for optimal results.

4. How do I choose the right hair toner for my highlights?

To select the right toner, consider your desired outcome (e.g., ash blonde, platinum), the current shade of your highlights, and whether you have darker hair beneath. Specialized toners and developer strength are also essential factors to consider.

5. What are specialized toning products, and when should I use them?

Specialized toning products, such as demi-permanent hair color and liquid gloss toners, are designed for situations where you have blonde highlights and darker hair underneath.

They are used with low-strength developers and process quickly, making them ideal for toning without lifting the darker hair.

6. How do I apply hair toner after bleaching my highlights?

After mixing the toner and developer in a 1:1 ratio, apply the mixture evenly to your highlighted hair, starting from the roots and working down. Massage and rub the toner into your hair, then set a timer for the recommended processing time. Rinse with cool water and follow with conditioner.

7. How often should I tone my highlights?

The frequency of toning depends on factors like your hair’s porosity, exposure to environmental factors, and your desired tone. Generally, toning can be done every few weeks to maintain the desired shade and neutralize any brassiness.

8. Can I tone my highlights at home, or should I visit a salon?

You can tone your highlights at home if you’re comfortable with the process and have the right products. However, for complex toning needs or if you’re unsure, it’s recommended to consult a professional stylist who can provide personalized recommendations and expert application.

9. How can I extend the life of my toned highlights?

To prolong the vibrancy of your toned highlights, use sulfate-free shampoo, limit washing, rinse with cold water, apply UV protection, minimize heat styling, get regular trims, and use toning products between salon visits.

10. What should I do if my highlights start looking brassy between salon appointments?

If your highlights develop brassiness, consider using a toning shampoo or conditioner designed to neutralize unwanted tones. This can help refresh your highlights and maintain the desired shade.

Parting Words

From understanding the science behind it to choosing the perfect toner and applying it like a pro, you’re now equipped with the knowledge and skills to achieve the hair of your dreams.

Remember, the key to beautifully toned highlights is not just in the products you use but also in the care you provide. Safeguard your investment by following a hair care routine designed to preserve the vibrancy and health of your locks.

By choosing the right toner, applying it with precision, and maintaining your hair’s well-being, you’ll continue to showcase those breathtaking highlights that turn heads and boost your confidence.

So, embrace your newfound expertise, and let your hair shine brilliantly!

Found your perfect shade? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair dye success stories. Looking for more hair care tips? Check out How to Look After Colored Hair: 11 Expert Secrets For Long-Lasting Color.

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Our Research & Review Process

To ensure our recommendations are as comprehensive and reliable as possible, we’ve undertaken an extensive research effort.

We cite scientific evidence and journals, collect real user reviews and gather impartial perspectives from hair stylists, users, and experts in the field.

Additionally, we conduct hands-on testing by using products and applying hair dyes not only on our own locks but also on real human hair extensions and hair pieces of different hair type, textures and lengths.

This rigorous approach allows us to provide you with insights into which products genuinely live up to their promises.

As always – please consult with a professional hair colorist or stylist for advice on how to color your own hair at home. It’s different for everyone!

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!