Does toner lighten or darken hair? The answer straight from a hair stylist

  • Toner doesn’t lighten or darken your hair because all it does is cancel out colors that appear after bleaching your hair or using a dye that is too intense.
  • Now, if you leave the toner in your hair for longer than you’re supposed to, what you’ll end up with is a complete change of hair color. You could even go from blonde hair to purple hair if you’re not careful.
  • If you want to lighten your hair more than three shades, you’ll need to bleach it and if what you’re looking to do is darken it, then you’ll need to use a dye two to three shades darker than your base color.

 

from yellow to ashy

These days, everybody is excited about toner, but very few people know exactly what the difference is between toner and dye.

A dye opens your hair cuticles to deposit a new color. That’s how you’re able to lighten or darken your color.

Now if you want to lighten your hair more than two or three shades, you’ll need to bleach it, which is a completely different chemical process.

 

 Toner, on the other hand, is a post-color product.  Why?

Because you use it after bleaching your hair to get rid of unwanted toner in your hair or after dyeing it to tone down an overly intense color.

So, if you’re looking to lighten or darken your hair, you need to use a dye and not a toner.

 

For example, if you bleached your brown hair and then an orange color appeared in it, you should use a blue toner. That will make the orange disappear but will maintain the color that you got by bleaching your hair.

 

 Yes, toner is a magnificent product, but you need to be very careful when you use it  because if you leave it in your hair for longer than you’re supposed to, it can modify your hair color. And I don’t mean that it will lighten it or darken it.

I mean that for example, if you use a purple toner on your hair to cancel out unwanted yellow colors in your hair, it might end up totally purple.

 

So, my question is: What change are you looking to make in your hair?

Do you want to cancel out unwanted colors? Do you want to lighten it? Do you want to have a darker hair color?

 

Well, stick around and I’ll answer all of those questions by explaining:

  • When you should use a toner in your hair
  • What you should do to lighten or darken your hair

 

When you should use a toner in your hair

Toner only cancels out wanted colors like orange, red and yellow that usually appear after bleaching your hair.

  • If you bleached black or dark brown hair, then you might have reddish tones in your hair. You can cancel them out with a green toner.
  • If you bleached brown hair, medium brown hair or dark blonde hair, then orangey colors may appear in your hair, and you can cancel them out with a blue toner.
  • If you bleached blonde, light blonde or very light blonde hair, then harsh yellow colors can appear, and you should cancel them out with a purple toner.

 

 As you can see, each color has an opposite one that will cancel out unwanted versions of that color that might appear in your hair, but it won’t ever lighten or darken your hair. 

That’s because toner cancels out colors in your hair without changing the level of your color.

 

For example, if your hair is a very light blonde 9, and then you use a toner, the level (9) won’t change, so your hair will continue being a level 9 blonde, but without unwanted yellowy tones.

But, if you leave the toner in too long, then your color will dramatically change.

 

For example, if your hair is a very light blonde 9 and you use a purple toner to cancel out yellow, but then you leave it in for longer than you’re supposed to, your hair will end up light purple.

That’s not exactly the light blonde you were looking for!

 

So, if you want to cancel out unwanted colors leftover after bleaching your hair, toner is your best bet. Now, what happens if you want to lighten your hair color just two or three shades?

You should bleach it, and that’s what I’ll go ahead and tell you about now.

 

What to do to darken or lighten your hair

The only way to lighten your hair more than 2-3 tones is by bleaching it. Before you do that, it’s very important to do a test to evaluate if your hair is healthy enough to undergo the process because bleaching your hair is an aggressive chemical process.

If your hair is dry, dull, and prone to breaking, then you shouldn’t bleach it.

It’s important to moisturize your hair before bleach

ing it.

 

 You can use coconut oil on it once a week or a repairing mask 2-3 times a week. And it’s also very important to use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners.  

 

You want to lighten your hair, but what color are you looking for?

If all you’re looking to do is lighten your hair 2-3 shades, one session of bleach should be enough.

But, for those that are looking to go from a dark color to a very light one, you’ll need to bleach your hair at least three times with two weeks between each session.

 

If after bleaching your hair, unwanted colors, like oranges or yellows, appear in your hair, you can use a toner to cancel them out.

  • If your hair ended up with orange tones, use a blue toner.
  • If your hair ended up with yellow tones, use a purple toner.

 

You can use it immediately after bleaching your hair. To use the toner, mix the toner with a 20 volume developer in a plastic container, apply it to your hair and leave it in for a maximum of 15 minutes.

 

Now, what if you want to darken your hair?

This is one of the easiest processes because you don’t have to bleach your hair to do it. It’s important not to make any huge changes at once, though, so I’d recommend darkening your hair 2-3 shades at a time.

For example:

  • If your hair is the lightest blonde 10, you can use a blonde 7 or a light blonde 8.
  • If your hair is a very light blonde 9, you can use a dark blonde 6 or a blonde 7.
  • If your hair a light blonde 8, you can use a light brown 5 or a dark blonde 6.

 

Once you’ve chosen the color, all that’s left is to use the dye. Always follow the instructions included with the dye to make sure it turns out perfectly. Each brand has its own particularities and you should follow the directions closely for the best results.

 

Conclusions

  • Toner doesn’t work for darkening or lightening your hair because its purpose is to cancel out unwanted tones that appear in your hair after bleaching it.
  • If you want to lighten your hair more than three or four shades, you’ll need to bleach your hair, but always remember to consider your hair’s health.
  • If you want to darken it, you should use a dye and it’s a good idea to avoid choosing a color more than two to three shades darker than your current color.

And now tell me, what do you need to do? Cancel out unwanted colors or lighten or darken your hair?

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