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Hair toners that lift yellow hair


Introduction to hair toners 

Hair toners are products which are designed to neutralize or modify unwanted tones in the hair.

Very often these unwanted tones are unwanted warm tones: yellow, bright yellow, orange-yellow and yellow-orange.

Hair toners work by penetrating into the hair cuticle and by depositing pigments into the hair.

Toners are commonly used by hairdressers after bleaching or lightening to produce accurate, cold and ashy blonde results without any yellow undertones.

In this article, we will go through different types of toners which can be very effective at dealing with unwanted yellow.

How do hair toners work?

Neutralizing colors

Toners work by using pigments to neutralize unwanted yellow and orange.

Toners contain pigments which act on color wheel principles.

That is, they neutralize other colors.

So for example, we typically use violet or purple or pearl based toners to neutralize yellow.

We typically use blue or silver based toners to neutralize bright yellow.

And we use blue and green based toners (otherwise known as "ash") to neutralize orange.

What is "lift"?

Hair color levels

“Lift” refers to the process of lightening the hair color by removing its natural pigment.

See the chart above and compare the hair you are trying to tone with this chart.

If your hair is level 7 or 8 rather than 9 or 10, you need to lift it in addition to toning it.

Now, one way (and actually the best way) is to use bleach first on the hair, and lift it all the way to level 10.

Then you can tone. At this stage you can tone with a non-lifting toner.

If, however, for some reason you don't want to bleach, then the other way to lift the hair is by using a lifting toner.

Lifting toners

Ugly Duckling has two types of toners which lift as well as tone at the same time.

These toners are particularly useful when dealing with hair which has not been lightened as much as it should have been with bleach.

In other words, hair from around level 7 to level 9.

We will go through them now.

Hair toners with extra lift

These toners contain special boosters or lightening agents.

They can lift the hair by up to 2 levels.

They are particularly useful when there is a lot of really brassy yellow in the hair.

For example, when the hair is level 7 or level 8  rather than level 9 or 10 - see chart above. Or when the client wishes to go ultra white blonde. 

Ugly Duckling has 2 such toners: 

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V 

Intense Pearl Blonde 100V

Intense Pearl Blonde 100B. Hair by Elias

This ultra lifting toner has pearl based toning ingredients. Use this if you are looking for a pearl-gray blonde result, as in the picture below.

Intense Silver Blonde 100B.

Intense Silver Blonde 100B

Intense Silver Blonde 100B. Hair by Nina

This is also an ultra lifting toner. But it is pigmented with blue and silver pigments. Use this toner for a pure white, silver blonde look, as you can see in the picture below:

Hair toners with regular lift

If your hair is at level 9, and you want to produce a really accurate blonde color result, we would suggest you use hair toners with regular lift.

These toners can lift by approximately one level. In addition they are very intensely pigmented with neutralizing colors.

Two very popular such toners are given below:

Pearl Blonde 10V

Pearl Blonde 10V

Pearl Blonde 10V applied on yellow hair - Before & after.

Hair by Elona Taki.

This is  violet and pearl based toner. It will produce a very rich grey blonde result.

Notice that our stylist has applied this toner on perfectly lightened level 9 hair.

Pre-bleaching in this way is the best preparation for toning.

Extra light Cold Ash Blonde 10.1b


Extra Light cold ash blonde 10.1b. Hair by Brittney

This is a blue based toner and will produce a very natural white blonde.

How do you use lifting toners?

All the toners that we mentioned in this article need to be mixed with developer.

Generally speaking, we would suggest you use 20 Vol developer.

Mix them according to the product recommendations, and apply to the hair, segmenting well to ensure good product saturation.

Then wait between 15 - 20 minutes or until you have achieved your targeted color.

Ugly Duckling toners are all very strongly pigmented, so you should not leave them in too long.

Can I use lifting toners on all hair?

Hair toners will have different effects depending on the starting hair color. 

If your hair is blonde and in need of toning, it will be showing a lot of yellow.

In this case, yes, you can use lifting toners and you will get good results from them.

If, however, your hair is darker than blonde, then the toners we have mentioned in this article will not be appropriate.

You then essentially have two choices.

Choice no 1 is to use bleach and lift the hair to level 9-10, and then tone.

Choice no 2 is to tone down. In this case you will be using non-lifting toners which will tone away orange and even some red.

Non-lifting toners

You remember that we said at the start that there are lifting toners and non-lifting toners.

Blondify toners are non-lifting toners. They are liquid-gel based.

They process very quickly - in just 10 minutes.

They are also ammonia-free. And they also contain Bond Protect.

And because they are liquid-gel based, you can mix them with developer in a plastic applicator bottle and pour them over the hair.

This application process plus the development time can be a real time-saver for busy stylists.

When do you use non-lifting toners?

Once you have bleached the hair correctly, you no longer need to use a lifting toner and you can use a non-lifting toner instead.

It will be gentler and also quicker.

For this purpose you should use Blondify toners.

You can use level 10 toners when the hair has been bleached all the way.

Ugly Duckling Natural Violet Blonde 010V and Natural Ash Blonde 010A should be your choice of toners in this case.

These toners are pigmented in violet and ash respectively, and they will neutralize the yellow.

Use the violet toner if your hair is pale yellow (level 10).

Use the ash toner if your hair is bright yellow (more of a level 9 rather than a level 10).

You can also mix the 2 toners together if you wish to counteract both bright yellow and pale yellow - sometimes there are both in the hair.

Result pictures are shown below.

Natural Ash Blonde 010A

Toned with Blondify 010A Natural Ash Blonde.

Hair by Elona Taki

010V Blondify

Toned with Blondify 010V Natural Violet Blonde.

Hair by Elona Taki

Toning down hair to medium blonde

If your hair has not been bleached all the way, and is showing a lot of yellow-orange,  and if you don't want to use bleach, you can toned down the haur.

For this you need to use Blondify level 9 non-lifting toners: Ugly Duckling Violet Blonde 09V and Ugly Duckling Blue Ash Blonde 09B.

A result photo using Blondify 09V Violet Blonde is shown below.


Then toned with Blondify Violet Blonde 09V.

Hair by Elona Taki.

When should I use which type of toner?

Toner choice

Use this chart to guide your bleach and toner choices.

With so many choices it can seem very confusing if you are new to bleaching and toning.

That is why we have created the chart above as a quick reference guide.

If you want to lift and tone, use the choices on the left side.

If you want to you want to just tone, use the choices on the right side.

What should I do if I have a dark regrowth? How do I tone that?

Dark regrowth

This dark regrowth was first bleached. Then we applied intense pearl blonde toner.

Hair by Elona Taki.

If you have a dark regrowth which is a different color (and darker) than the rest then you cannot simply apply toner.

It won't work.

You will have to first apply bleach to the root area and lift that up until it is at the same level as the rest.

Then you would need to rinse, towel dry.

Then apply your chosen toner mix.

Maintaining Your Hair After Toning with Lift

To maintain the vibrancy and longevity of your toned hair, consider the following tips:

  1. Use acidic sulfate-free haircare products: These products can help minimize color fading and maintain the desired tone, as well as ensure that the toned hair stays in good condition. All Ugly Ducking hair products are sulfate-free and acid-based formulations.

  2. Avoid frequent washing: Washing your hair too frequently can cause color to fade more quickly. Try to extend the time between washes and use dry shampoo between washes to refresh your hair.

  3. Protect Your hair from heat and UV exposure: Heat styling tools and prolonged sun exposure can fade hair color. Use heat protectants before styling and wear a hat or use UV-protective products when exposed to the sun.

  4. Maintain regular touch-ups: As your hair grows, the roots may require touch-ups to maintain a consistent color. Schedule regular appointments with your hairstylist or colorist to keep your hair looking fresh and vibrant.

By following these guidelines for choosing, applying, and maintaining hair toners with lift, you can achieve beautiful, customized hair color results that suit your style and preferences.

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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