Can you tone box-dyed hair? Yes, but you must choose the right toner

coloring over uneven hair to match it

  • If you dyed your hair and some unwanted colors appear like orange, yellow, or red, you can use a toner or a toning shampoo.
  • Both will help you maintain your color level and neutralize those unwanted shades.
  • If your hair is fragile or brittle, it’s best to opt for a toning shampoo. Alternatively, if you feel your hair can withstand a chemical process, you can choose a toner.


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 Toner is hair dye developed specifically to neutralize unwanted colors. It can be applied over box dye without any problems. 

As permanent hair dyes are oxidative and are applied with a 20-volume developer, the resulting color may not be even, and unwanted colors appear.


For example:

  • If you apply a copper blonde 7.4, your hair will look very orange.
  • If you apply a light golden blonde 8.3, your hair will look very yellow.
  • If you apply a mahogany brown 4.5, your hair will look very red.


In these cases, you can apply toner to make those messy colors disappear.  This is a very common process in salons and is called neutralization. 

What is neutralization based on?

opposite colors are complementary

It’s based on a basic stylists’ resource: the color wheel.

This element shows us that every color has an opposite one that neutralizes it.

Now, if you look at the color wheel, you’ll see that the color that neutralizes orange is blue. If you colored your hair a copper blonde 7.4, you’ll have to use a blue toner.

Does that mean your hair will end up blue after toning?


Of course, it won’t!

 The toner only neutralizes the orange color. It doesn’t change the color level. Therefore, your hair will still be blonde but without orange undertones. 

The toner doesn’t lighten or darken the color level. It only acts on those pigments that it should neutralize.


So, to tone your color-treated hair, you need to choose the correct toner. And that’s what I’ll talk about next.

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What color toner to use for toning box dyed hair

toning dyed hair with box dye

The first thing you need to do is identify the color you want to remove. As I told you before, it can be yellow, orange, or red. Once you identify it, you know which toner to apply.

  • If you want to remove yellow shades, you should apply a violet toner.
  • If you want to tone orange colors, your choice should be a blue toner.
  • And if red in your hair is driving you crazy, your choice is a green toner.


You can choose between several brands of at-home toners to tone your color-treated hair.

Schwarzkopf Blondme:

  • To neutralize orange: Steel Blue
  • To neutralize yellow: Ice- Irisé
  • To neutralize red: Sand


Fanola No Yellow:

  • To neutralize orange: T11
  • To neutralize yellow: T02 or T021.


Ion Bright White Creme:

  • To neutralize orange: Icy White
  • To neutralize yellow: Platinum Lace or Lavender Moon

Any of these options will neutralize the unwanted colors left by your box dye.


What do you need for application?

  • Toner of the color you need
  • A 20-volume developer
  • Hair dye brush
  • Plastic container
  • Gloves


before applying to hair

Once you gather all the elements, you can start with the application.

Here’s the step-by-step.

  • Comb your hair and separate it into several sections to make it easier to distribute the toner.
  • In the plastic container, place the toner and developer. Mix until the elements are integrated.
  • Put on gloves.
  • With the hair dye brush, start applying the mixture from roots to ends by covering each section.
  • Leave it on for a maximum of 20 minutes. Why a maximum of twenty minutes?


Because the more intense the color you want to neutralize is, the longer the toner needs to work. Toning a deep orange shade isn’t the same as toning a light orange one.

Therefore, monitor the reaction of the toner on your hair all the time. Once you notice that the color you wanted to remove is gone, rinse your hair with lukewarm water.

  • Use shampoo to remove toner residue and apply conditioner. Leave it on for five minutes to moisturize your hair.
  • Rinse and towel dry to remove excess water.


Now, look at your hair.

I’m sure that the unwanted colors are gone, but the color level is maintained. That’s the real magic of toner.

If your hair is very dry and feels brittle, I don’t recommend using toner.

Why not?


First, because you previously applied a box dye. Most likely, the process damaged your hair. Don’t forget that coloring is a chemical process that includes using ammonia and peroxide.

Secondly, toning is also a chemical process because toner is applied with a developer. If you go back to a chemical process on your hair, you’ll only damage it further.

So, what can you use on your colored and damaged hair to tone it?


On color-treated and damaged hair, the best thing to use for toning is a toning shampoo

toning yellow hair

This shampoo is easy to use and doesn’t need a developer. Also, you can use the same neutralization table we use for toner, i.e. the color wheel.

There are purple, blue, and green shampoos to tone your color-treated hair without any problems.


Here are the most commonly used brands so you can choose the one you like:

  • Fanola No Yellow to neutralize yellow
  • Fanola No Orange to neutralize orange
  • Matrix Total Result Brass Off to neutralize orange
  • Matrix Total Result So Silver to neutralize yellow
  • Matrix Total Result Dark Envy to neutralize red
  • Redken Color Extend Brownlights Blue shampoo to neutralize orange
  • Redken Color Extend Blondage Purple Shampoo to neutralize yellow


Do you know how to use color-depositing shampoos?

 You only need to replace your usual shampoo with the shampoo color toner 1 or 2 times a week. 


My advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, if you use it more frequently or leave it on longer than necessary, your hair can end up blue or purple.

Here’s the step-by-step:

  • In the shower, wet your hair with warm water and apply the toning shampoo.
  • Lather and massage your hair.
  • Leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Rinse your hair and apply conditioner. Leave it on for two minutes and rinse again.



If some unwanted colors appear after coloring your hair with a box dye, you can use a toner to neutralize them.

However, I advise this option if your hair is healthy because the toner is applied with a 20-volume developer.

If you suspect that your hair will not resist the toning process, you can opt for toning shampoos, which will tone your hair without damaging it or changing the color level.

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