How to use permanent hair color as a toner in 4 steps: what hair color shade to choose and what results to expect

  • Permanent hair color can be used as a toner if you want to refresh your hair color for more warmth.
  • If you want to remove unwanted tones, such as yellow or orange from your hair, permanent hair dye won’t replace toner.


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I’ll tell you when it works to use permanent hair color as a toner.

Then, I’ll tell you how to choose the right hair dye and how to apply it step by step.

If you want to go directly to the step by step, click here.


Toner and permanent dye are two different products intended for different purposes.

  • Permanent hair color is used to change the hair color or to refresh the hair tone. Due to different reasons, hair may lose pigmentation, intensity, and shine. Then, permanent hair dye acts on the entire surface of your hair, revitalizing the color.
  • Toner is used to eliminate the orange or yellowish tones that appear after bleaching, after coloring, or due to the aggression of external factors such as chlorinated water, salt water, or sun rays. Also, it tones yellow or orange tones without altering your hair color.


To clarify it, I’ll give you an example of a job I did in the salon a few days ago.

Cristina is an elegant woman who loves her highlights because they disguise her gray hair with very pale tones.


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A few days ago, she became the center of attention when she entered the salon. It wasn’t because of her highlights, but because of the Caribbean tan on her skin.

After overcoming a few brief attempts of “healthy envy” – hairdressers are human too – and after she told me about her wonderful vacation on a paradisiacal beach, again healthy envy, she asked me for help.


Although her tan caused admiration and envy, she didn’t like the contrast between the color of her highlights and the color of her skin.

What was Cristina looking for?


 To add warmth to her highlights. 

Of course, at first, I thought of applying a yellow toner to brighten her highlights. However, I came up with another idea.

I would apply a gold permanent hair color to give a unique color to her hair. Also, it would look great with her tanned skin.


If you’re like Cristina and  you need to revitalize your hair color, permanent hair dye has one more advantage: its application method is safer. .


If you don’t respect the exposure times, toner can completely change your hair color. I don’t mean changing it by one or two tones, but changing it to a completely different color. For example, you could end up with blue or purple hair in just ten minutes.


So, for the sake of your hair read on. I’ll tell you:

  • When to use permanent hair dye as a toner.
  • How to apply permanent hair dye as a toner correctly

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When to use permanent hair dye as a toner

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  • Let’s recap, you can only use permanent hair color as a toner to revitalize a pale color throughout your hair.

What exactly is a pale color?



Why do we get to such pale colors?[/su_list]


  • During bleaching, the pigmentation of natural and artificial hair is removed and some coloring needs to be added.

As such light blonde shades easily lose their tone, they need to be touched up quite often.

Can you use a toner?


  • Of course. However, you’ll want to use a permanent hair dye as if it were a toner.
 Why? Because the permanent hair dye deposits color pigments in the hair fiber that don’t fade with washing. Toner pigments, on the other hand, will fade as you wash your hair. 


  • So, if you want to add color to your pale hair, I advise you to use a permanent hair dye like a toner.

That way, you’ll be able to space out the color renewal.

That’s what I did with Cristina, to whom I applied a light golden blonde 8.3 for her highlights to look warm and in harmony with her tanned skin.


How to apply permanent hair color as a toner correctly


The first thing to do is to choose the color of the permanent hair color. I recommend that you choose a hair dye at least 2 shades lower than your hair color.


For example, Cristina’s highlights were a shade 10, very faded.

 By applying the 8.3 light golden blonde, her highlights took on a warm color that maintained a unique harmony with the rest of her hair. .


Since you only want to color your hair (not to neutralize any unwanted tones) you have to choose two shades below your hair color.

Once you choose the shade, you can start the application.



  • Permanent hair dye kit of your choice
  • Dye brush
  • Plastic container
  • Hair clips
  • Towels and unused clothes


Step by step

materials required

Step 1: Preparing your hair

Don’t wash your hair for at least 48 hours before applying the dye. The natural oils on your scalp will protect your hair.

Comb your hair dry and separate it into 4 sections, from front to back of the neck and from ear to ear, holding each section with hair clips.


Step 2: Prepare the mixture

In the plastic container, mix the developer cream with the hair dye and mix well to a homogeneous consistency.


Step 3: Applying the dye

You should apply the mixture all over your hair, even if you have highlights. You won’t make them disappear because highlights are small bleached hair strands of lighter tones. Therefore, the hair dye you apply will look lighter on those bleached highlights.

Permanent hair dye cannot be applied to highlights alone because it’s impossible to separate the highlighted hair strands.


Put on your gloves, release a back section of your hair, and start applying the coloring mixture from root to tip with the dye brush. Repeat the process on each section.

Once you’re done, leave the mixture on for 45 minutes.


Step 4: Rinse and dry

After the exposure time, rinse your hair with plenty of lukewarm water and apply the post-color treatment included in the coloring kit.

Once your hair is dry, it’s time for the big reveal: how does your hair look? Has it recovered its color? Do your highlights look as if you’d just been at the salon?


Of course, they do!

Toning hair with permanent hair color works perfectly in very specific cases.



After applying the permanent hair dye on Cristina’s hair, most women in the salon were envious of her for two reasons: her tan and the golden blonde color of her hair. It gave her warmth and rejuvenated her.

Now you know, if you want to add color to your hair, you can use a permanent hair dye as a toner. Keep in mind that you should choose two shades less than your hair color.

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