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Home Blog The Ultimate Guide To Using a Hair Toner For Blondes: What Every Woman (AND Stylist) Needs To Know

The Ultimate Guide To Using a Hair Toner For Blondes: What Every Woman (AND Stylist) Needs To Know


What is a hair toner?

Hair toners are products which add a reflect to your hair to correct a previous color or bleach application.

In the process they neutralize any brassy yellow or orange tones that very often occur.

Good hair toners are a great way of getting hair back to a salon finished result.

The end result after using a toner will be more attractive, shinier, healthier hair that is less yellow, less brassy.

Did you know: There are 4 Different types of toners 

It is really important that you as a stylist or a colorist are clear which type of hair toner you are talking about. 

Because they are not all the same

Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of toners out there. 

Each has its proper place in the stylist's store cupboard and its own use.

Ammonia based toners.

These are the most powerful, whitest, fastest acting toners out there.

They are excellent for full-head blonding. 

At Ugly Duckling, they come in 2 versions:

An intense version, which contains an extra booster for kicking out yellow and lifting the hair color up by 1 level)

And a regular version, which has relatively less lift.

Both contain very intense pigments and are very fast acting.

These toners will help you achieve a truly big transformation to your client's hair: blonder, whiter and ashier.

They are also great after full head bleaching to push hair towards white platinum blonde, silver grey, ultra cold blonde or violet blonde.

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

No-Lift Pearl Blonde 10V

No-Lift Silver Blonde 10B

How do I use ammonia-based hair toners?

To use ammonia-based toners toners, just mix with 20 Vol developer.

Use a 1 part toner to 2 parts developer mix on bleached hair or pre-lightened hair.

You can make your mix in a plastic bowl. Keep stirring until you get a smooth. creamy paste.

Then start applying quickly, aiming to saturate the hair really really well with product.

For very long hair which is consistently blonde from roots to tips, it is a good idea to leave the root part until the end.

Return it once the rest of the hair has been done.

That part will process faster anyway due to the heat coming from the scalp.

What pre-lightening level is necessary for ammonia-based toners?

Level 9-10 is really recommended prior to using the Ugly Duckling cream toners.

But if you are using the intense toners - which have lift built in - there is a little bit more leeway.

You can apply and get satisfactory results from level 6/7 onwards as they are so lifting.

When do I rinse off ammonia-based toners?

Watch the hair as it processes. You will see pigments start to change color - blues and greys will start to appear.

This is totally normal. These are the pigments kicking in, and this is what gets rid of the yellow.

But be prepared to wash when this happens.

10 to 15 minutes can be enough if the hair is very fine and well-lightened.


Ammonia-free toners 

These toners are what you need to use when you want to refresh blonde highlights without touching the base.

They don't contain ammonia, so they open the cuticle a little less than the more permanent toners.

Ugly Duckling's ammonia-free toners are called Blondify.

They work very well with low strength developer, and they process very fast - in just 10 minutes, in fact.

They come in liquid form, which means you can also apply them very fast, straight out of a bottle onto highlighted hair.

You can also apply them using a brush from a mixing bowl if you prefer.

Blondify contains Bond Protect. You will be able to feel the Bond Protect difference at rinse-out stage: thicker, stronger, more healthy looking hair.

Use Blondify when you want to refresh and tone blonde highlights but when you want at the same time to not lift dark hair and keep the demension.

Blondify comes in 2 colors currently, although more are due out shortly:

Natural Ash Blonde 010A

Natural Violet Blonde 010V

How do I use Ammonia-Free toners?

Blondify ammonia-free toners can be used with developers as low strengths as 7 Vol.

10 Vol is what we recommend for most uses.

Make your mix 1 part toner to 1 part developer.

Use an applicator bottle to make your mix.

Then pour onto dry or towel-dried hair and rub in vigorously, so that every part of the hair comes into contact with product.

Rinse after 10 minutes.

What pre-lightening level for Ammonia-Free toners?

Level 7 would be a minimum for these toners.

If the hair is very brassy and level 7/8, use Natural Ash Blonde 010A. It has been designed to counteract yellow-orange.

If the hair is very yellow and level 9/10, use Natural Violet Blonde 010V. It has been designed to counteract yellow.

When do I rinse off Ammonia-free toners?

After 10 minutes.


Purple based shampoos and masks

Purple based shampoos and masks are a simple way to refresh yellow blonde hair and make it more white. 

The way it works is that the shampoo and mask contains purple pigments.

The purple pigments neutralize yellow and make blonde hair more white.

This is actually a semi-permanent process, although in practice the pigments do last for almost a week.

Meaning that if you build in a purple shampoo and mask in to your weekly hair care regime (we recommend twice or three times per week) you will be able to keep your blonde hair (or your client's blonde hair) white.

Just apply Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo and rub in thoroughly into the hair.

Then rinse and apply the mask.

When applying the mask, let the product sit on the hair around 10 minutes, ideally under some indirect heat.

This will help the pigments enter into the hair.


Tone-down products.

Tone down is what you do when you want to get rid of orange and yellow reflects by going down a level or two to a consistent brunette color.

Once again, a knowledge of Color Theory is important.

Because it turns out that blue based and ash blue based colors are the best for neutralizing these brassy reflects.

Ugly Duckling has a specific range of blue based ash colors which are excellent for toning down:

8.1b Light Cold Ash Blonde

7.1b Cold Ash Blonde

6.1b Dark Cold Ash Blonde

Ash Blue Additive

Ash Grey Additive


How do I use and apply tone-down products?

The blue based ash blonde colors are just like regular Ugly Duckling colors.

You mix them with 20 Vol in a 1 part color to 1 part developer mix.

Then apply with a brush from a plastic mixing bowl.

The additives are meant to be squeezed in and added to your ash blonde color. 

Use about an inch of additive to one tube of color the first time while you get familiar with them.

The additives are extremely concentrated, and if you use too much, you could end up with overly dark, overly toned down hair!

How do I know which toner to use?

We have summarized the different types of toner for you in the chart below.

Refer to it & decide which case best applies to you:

Toning Solutions

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.

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