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How to Tone Hair for Professional Salon Results


Hair toning is one of the most important steps for anyone who wants to take their hair blonde.

And also for anyone who wants to keep their blonde hair brass-free and yellow-free.

In this blog we are going to demystify the whole process of hair toning & explain to you exactly how the whole thing works.

And we'll show you how you can get the best results as a professional in your salon using toners on your client's hair.

Keep reading..

First Off, What is a Toner?

A hair toner is a product that helps you correct the tones in your hair.

It is most frequently used after bleaching.

Just to explain: when you bleach hair, you lift pigments out of the hair. But you don't recolor it in any way. 

As a result, you are left with a flat yellow color, which is typically quite unattractive.

But when you tone the hair after bleaching it first, you are able to color correct it and produce a nice, rich 3D color without unwanted warmth, yellowness or brassiness.

Hair in need of toning

This hair has been bleached and even toned. But unfortunately the hairdresser left the hair too warm and too yellow. A simple toning application will fix this.

So How does a Toner Work?

A toner contains typically blue and purple pigments.

These pigments counteract the yellow and yellow-orange that is typically present in bleached and blonde hair.

A toner acts on Color Wheel principles, as you can see below:

Hair Color Wheel

A toner uses the principles of the Hair Color Wheel: purple and blue cancel out yellow and orange.

Who Should Use a Toner?

After bleaching the hair, you need to tone it.

This 2 step process - bleach followed by toning - is known as "double process blonding".

And it's the correct way to get hair not just blonde, but beautifully blonde.

And in the exact shade of blonde that you want.

How often should I use a toner?

Pigments from a previous coloration inevitably get washed off as a result of what your hair typically goes through in its daily life: hot water showers, chlorinated water, sea water and blow drying.

So normally, toning the hair every six weeks or so is a good idea.

The toning will re-correct the blonde color, and stop it from turning yellow.

Which Toner Should I Use?

It's very important to choose the right sort of toner for your client's hair.

The right toner is going to depend on first, what color her hair is right now.

And secondly, on whether it is consistently that color or whether there are a lot of root or lowlights which are any color other than blonde.

Luckily, Ugly Duckling has a an extremely wide range of toners to cover most toning needs.

Let's start off by understanding the basic categories of toners before drilling on making our final toner choice.

Let's look at them in declining order of lift and strength.

Permanent Toners

Permanent toners are what you should use when you want to achieve a real blonde transformation to your client's hair.

They are the toners to use when you are looking to achieve roots-to-end platinum blonde, extra light blonde or ash blonde results.

They are best applied when the hair has been consistently lifted through bleaching, and when the hair has no dark roots and no lowlights.

Watch an application of Intense Pearl Blonde 100V Here:

Ugly Duckling has 2 types of permanent toners: High lift toners and regular lift toners.

Use the high lift toners when there is still a lot of orange and brass left in the hair and you need to really open up the cuticles and lift that orange and brassiness out.

Use the regular toners when the hair has been lifted to yellow very nicely and you want the benefits of strong pigmentation but you don't need the additional lift.

These toners come in cream form. You need to mix them with 20 Vol developer in a plastic mixing bowl.

Then you need to apply the toner using a brush, making sure you saturate the hair really well.

10V and Purple Grey

Hair toned with Ugly Duckling's Pearl Blonde 10V and Purple Grey

Demi-Permanent Toners

Demi-permanent toners are ammonia-free and as such, more gentle on the hair.

They act more on the surface of the cuticle. And they don't lift.

This is useful when you want to tone your client's blonde highlights but you don't want your dark roots or lowlights turning orange. 

Ugly Duckling's demi range is called Blondify.

Watch an Application of Blondify Demi-Permanent Here:

And because it works with a low developer strength and processes in only 10 minutes, you can be sure that the roots and lowlights won't turn orange.

These toners come in liquid form, which means that they can be applied really fast: straight out of an applicator bottle and onto the hair.

They process in only 10 minutes.

Hair toned with Blondify

Hair toned with Demi-Permanent Blondify Natural Violet Blonde

Purple Shampoos and Masks

Purple shampoos and masks are not strictly speaking toners at all.

There's no developer involved, and as such these products won't penetrate the hair.

However, they are very useful as a final process after toning to definitively get rid of any yellow.

And they can be used as maintenance products to keep blonde hair yellow-free.

Hair toned with Purple Shampoo & Mask

Hair after an application of Ugly Duckling's Purple and Mask. 

Watch an Application of Brilliant Blonde Purple Shampoo & Mask Here:

So Which Toner Should I use?

To make things easy, we have created a chart which shows which hair toners are most appropriate for each situation.

Use it to read off the right toner choice for you and for your client.

Hair Toner Choice

Use the above chart as a simple guide to toner choice. 

How do I apply and use Permanent Toners?

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

Use 20 Vol developer and apply using a brush, saturating the hair really well.

These are very fast acting toners, so you need to watch carefully and rinse when you get to your desired result.

Always start applying on the yellowest part first.

If the ends were already very white, just extend through these parts for the last 5 minutes.

How do I apply and use Demi-Permanent Toners?

Mix them in an applicator bottle. The mix ia 1 part toner to 1 part developer.

Use 10 Vol developer. Pour over the hair and rub in thoroughly.

Leave it to process 10 minutes and then rinse.

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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