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Which toner should I use?


What exactly is a hair toner?

A hair toner is a product that color corrects hair. 

There are essentially 3 different types of toners: permanent toners, demi-permanent toners and semi-permanent products. 

(1) Permanent hair toners.

These contain ammonia. They open up & penetrate the hair cuticle. They are mixed with developers. Permanent toners are what you need to use if you are looking to achieve significant hair transformation - for example going blonde, white blonde, platinum blonde or ash blonde.

Permanent hair toners, as the name implies, are very long lasting.

Ugly Duckling's permanent hair toners are all cream based and are typically applied using a brush - at least for a first application

A second application typically involves rubbing in with hands using gloves to achieve greater lift and color vibrancy.

You need to choose between intense toners and no-lift toners depending on how much yellow there is in your client's hair. 

If your client's hair is level 9 or 10, with only very little yellow, tone with the no-lift toners.

If your client's hair is level 7 or 8, with more yellow present and a little orange, use the intense toners as these have a special booster which kicks out yellow and lifts the hair by one level.

Intense Pearl Blonde Toner - 100V

intense pearl blonde toner

Intense Silver Blonde Toner - 100B

intense silver blonde toner

No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner - 10V

No-Lift Pearl Blonde Toner

No-Lift Silver Blonde Toner - 10B

no-lift silver blonde toner

(2) Demi-Permanent Toners

Demi-permanent toners achieve quick "gloss toning effects". They are great when a quick refresh on highlighted or brassy hair is all you want to do.

Demi's do not contain ammonia and they usually fade out gradually in around 4-5 weeks. At this point they will need a quick refresh.

Hair stylists usually appreciate the quick application time of these toners and the great and immediate color refresh results they achieve. As a result, they are a salon favorite.

Ugly Duckling's demi-permanent hair toners are due to be launched in the fall.

They are liquid toners, contain no PPD and have been enriched with Bond Protect.

They are very very cosmetic products and can be used frequently (every 6 weeks, for example).

They are applied out of the bottle.

(3) Semi-Permanent Toners: Masks, Shampoos & Treatment Products

Semi-permanent toning products are products such as purple and blue masks and shampoo and other semi-permanent treatment products.

These products are best used at the backwash while doing a regular bleach or tone application, or simply by itself.

They can also be used as a regular maintenance product.

As there is no chemical treatment involved (you are basically just applying purple or blue colorant to the outside of the hair) you can use such toners pretty much as often as you like as regular maintenance product.

Ugly Duckling's Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo & Mask would be examples of Semi-permanent toning products.

Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo & Mask

Purple Shampoo & Mask

Intense Purple Pigments - but Not Staining.

Sulfate Free, Gluten Free, low pH

Intense Purple Pigments

How do I tone my client's hair blonde?

The first thing to do is examine the hair and figure out what level it is and how much yellow or orange there is in it.

Use the chart below to help you decide.

The rules for toning are that is the hair is level 6 or darker, you much use bleach to pre-lighten first.

How do I choose my toner?

Now ask yourself these questions:

(1) Are you looking for a significant blonde transformation?

If yes, you would need to use Ugly Duckling's permanent toners because they are the best at getting you the lift and the 3D blonde color results.

Use the intense toners if you need some additional lift and the no-lift toners if you are looking only to re-pigment.

(2) Are you looking for a quick gloss tone without lifting the roots?

If you are just looking for a quick gloss toning result, and if you have a darker base which you prefer to leave untouched, then you should use Ugly Duckling's liquid gloss toners, Blondify (out soon).

Use the natural violet blonde toner if you have yellow hair (level 9-10) which you want to color correct.

And use the natural ash blonde toner if you have yellow-orange (level -8) hair which needs color correction.

(3) Are you just looking for a blonde maintenance product?

Use Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo & Mask. These are hair care products with toning pigments added.

There is no chemical process involved & they can be used in-between salon visits or even at the back wash after a bleach or toning service.

Basically use these products as often as you want. Ugly Duckling's Purple Shampoo & Mask do not stain. They are sulfate free, gluten free and low pH.

How do I know when to use which toner to use for my hair?

Please use the hair toner guide below.

(1) Read off as accurately as you can the color of your client's hair currently.

(2) Then decide: are you going for a significant blonde transformation involving permanent hair toners?

Or are you looking for a quick gloss refresh?

(3) The Hair toner guide gives you the products you should use.

Hair Toner Guide

How do I apply hair toner?

For Ugly Duckling cream toners, the mix is 1 part toner to 2 parts developer.

For Ugly Duckling's new liquid toners {Blondify) the mix is 1 part toner to 1 part developer.

20 Vol would be the developer strength we would recommend for both toners in most cases.

However, you can use 10 Vol developer if the hair is already very light and you don't require any further lift. Or if you have a base color that you don't wish to touch.

Blondify, the liquid toners, are often used with 10 Vol developer. You can even use them with 5 Vol developer or 7 Vol Developer. But when you do, make sure you apply on towel dried hair, not on wet hair. Otherwise the water on the hair will dilute your developer strength still further!

Ugly Duckling's cream toners are best applied using a brush, as below:

Ugly Duckling's liquid toners should be applied out of the bottle, as below:

Hair Toners Before & After

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Before & After Intense Sillver Blonde

Hair by Kim Kevin, Sanford, North Carolina.

Blondify Natural Ash Toner 010A

Before & After Blondify

About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.