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How to tone without lifting natural hair


Hair toners are great products to use for color correction.

In particular they deposit blue and purple pigments and get blonde hair colder and ashier.

And make hair less warm.

But what do you do when you need to color-correct without messing up your natural hair?

Are there any toners which do that?

In this blog, we will show you!

How does a toner work?

Hair toners work by opening up the hair cuticle, and depositing in purple and blue pigments.

These products are oxidising products. That means they need to be combined with developer in order to penetrate the hair cuticle.

In doing that, they are able to lift out the hair's natural yellow.

And also deposit in neutralizing pigments.

These pigments are typically blue, violet and ash - the opposite to yellow and yellow-orange on the color wheel.

So they help to counteract yellowness and brassiness and produce colder, ashier hair tones.

What types of toner are there?

Because all toner use developer, they do have a tendency to lift the hair.

But it is important to realize that there are 2 types of toners. 

The permanent toners, which will lift and tone at the same time.

And the demi-permanent toners, which do penetrate the cuticle but tone with minimal lift.

When should I use permanant toners?

the rule is to use permanent toners when you want to do full head toning and your objective is to lift and tone everything.

Ugly Duckling's permanent toners are among the fastest acting on the market.

In particular, Ugly Duckling's 2 "intense" toners are very good for quick and significant blonde transformation.

These intense toners have extra lift in them.

As a result, they are great for kicking out yellow and getting the hair fully ash or white blonde.

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Hair toned with Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Hair toned with Intense Pearl Blonde 100B

And when should I use demi-permanent toners?

Blondify Toner

Blondify Demi-Permanent Gloss Toner - Ammonia Free, with Bond Protect

Use demi-permanent toners when you don't want to lift and tone hair.

In other words when you only want to tone your highlights.

Think of them as gentle, color glazing products. They will color correct and tone correct.

And they don't lift the hair.

Demis are particularly useful when you have bleached highlights which you want to refresh without touching the underlying darker hair underneath.

Ugly Duckling's brand new demi range is called Blondify. They are liquid gloss toners with no ammonia.

They also contain Bond Protect for extra hair care.

So this makes these toners exceptionally gentle and conditioning for the hair.

They can also be used with weak developer strengths.

10 Vol, for example.

And they process your highlights in just 10 minutes.

All of which means that these toners should be your go-to products when you want to tone highlights without lifting your base.

What should I do when I want to tone bleached hair or highlights?

Hair toned with Natural Ash Blonde 010A

Hair toned with Blondify Natural Ash Blonde 010A toner

Make sure your highlights have been nicely lifted with bleach.

Level 9 or 10 (in other words, pale yellow or very pale yellow) is ideal.

Then inspect bleached hair carefully and compare against the chart below:

Hair Color Levels

If your hair is very very brassy and very yellow (level 7 or 8). use the Natural Ash Blonde toner 010A.

The ash and blue pigments in this toner will help neutralize that brassiness.

If, on the other hand your hair is pale yellow only (level 9 or 10) then use the Natural Violet Blonde toner.

The purple pigments in this toner will help tone away that yellow and turn it ash blonde.

How do I mix these toners?

Blondify 010V

Hair toned with Blondify Natural Violet Blonde toner 010V

Make your mix with 10 Vol developer, using a mix ratio of 1 part toner to 1 part developer.

Blondify is a liquid toner, so you can make your mix in an applicator bottle.

You will get a nice gel-like mix once you shake the toner liquid and the developer together.

Then pour over the hair.

Rub the mixture thoroughly into the hair . It is important to get good product saturation.

Let the pigments do their work .

Rinse after 10 minutes with water.

Won't the toner lift my natural hair?

You don't need to worry about getting the toner over your darker hair.

You will not see any lift on that part.

This is because Blondify is a non-lifting toner. It's ammonia free and very gentle.

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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