What Developer to Use With Toner? Toner to Developer Ratio

toning dark tones

  • To tone your hair, use a 2:1 developer to toner ratio. In other words, two parts of developer to one part of toner.
  • That being said, the hair color you’re working with will affect what kind of developer you should use.
  • For example, if you want to tone dark colors, such as ash or deep grey, use a 10 volume developer.
  • A 20 volume developer, on the other hand, is used to tone light colors such as platinum or pale blond.


You might be wondering why I recommend different volumes of developer. The answer is simple: 20 volume developer can lift the color, so it doesn’t work well to tone dark hair.

It’s an important point because the goal here is to use the toner and developer to adjust your hair color or tone it lightly.

Why would you want to tone your hair?


  • There are a few reasons why you might need to tone your hair. Maybe the sun faded your hair color.
  • Or maybe your hair lost its vibrancy after a few laps in a swimming pool or using the wrong shampoo.

Here is where toner enters the scene. This product can eliminate unwanted tones in your hair.


Of course, there are also 30 and 40 volume developers available, but they’re not used to tone hair. Nor would I recommend using these types of developers at home.

Developer in those volumes can severely damage your hair, and should only be used by professionals who know how to slow down the chemical process should something go wrong.


 So, if you want to tone down your hair, you should use a 10 or 20 volume developer to mix with the toner. The volume you use depends on the color of the hair you’re going to tone. 


To make sure you don’t risk damaging your hair by choosing the wrong toner, in this article we’re going to talk about:

  • What ratio and volume to use on dark hair
  • The perfect ratio of developer and toner for light colors
  • The best toners to use
  • How to care for your hair after using a toner


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What volume of developer should I use to tone dark hair?

  • When I say dark hair, I mean colors like dark ash blond (6.1) ash blond (7.1) and light ash brown (5.1).

To tone these colors, use an ash or grey toner and 10 volume developer, which won't lighten your hair or affect the base color.

 It's very important to remember to use a 2:1 ratio. That is two parts of developer to one part of toner. 


  • What if your hair is very long and you have to use an entire bottle of toner?

Use double that amount of developer! Ratios should be followed to the letter.

Just to give a couple of examples, if you buy a 75ml container of toner, you should mix it with 150ml of developer. On the other hand, a 50ml container of toner should be mixed with 100ml of developer.

See? The ratio is always 2 to 1.


 But what happens if you use the wrong ratio? 


That's exactly what happened to one of my clients, Maria, who wanted to tone her ash-blond hair but didn't know anything about ratios.

She didn't follow the ratio and used much less developer than what was needed.

When she rinsed the product out of her hair, it was much darker. What happened?


His hair had become saturated. In other words, the toner had left excess pigment because there wasn't enough developer in the mixture, making her hair looked darker.

The excess dye would simply wash out as she washed her hair since there wasn't enough developer to open the cuticle and let it absorb the pigment.

It's a waste of money, and your hair will look the same after barely three shampoos.


Of course, a salon could tone her hair with the correct ratio of toner and developer and fix the problem, but it could have avoided by simply following the ratios. They're not there for nothing.

 Ratios aren't numbers that colorists picked out of thin air. They should always be followed if you want the best result. Behind those numbers, some techniques have been tested thousands of times. 


But what's the best ratio of toner to developer for light hair? Keep reading, because that's what we're going to discuss next.


What’s the best volume of developer for light hair?

Light colors are toned with a 20 volume developer.

Why is a 20 volume developer better for light hair?


  • Because 20 volume developer can lift the color, and therefore should not be used on dark tones.

If your base hair color is something like a light ash blond (8.1) extra light golden blond (9.3) or platinum blond (11), you should use a silver-grey, golden, or purple toner.


 Just remember that the ratio is always 2:1, or two parts of developer to one part of toner. 


Now you know what volume of developer to use depending on your base color, but you might still be unsure which toner to buy.

Don't worry, because that's what we're going to discuss next.


The best toners on the market

The world of toner is just as vast and varied as the world of hair dye.

There are endless brands and price points, and some are designed only to be used by professionals at a salon.

Other toners are designed to be used at home and even come in a kit for easy application.


 Just remember, using the correct ratio of toner to developer is key, no matter if you're using professional products or a home kit. 


  • In my opinion, the best professional toners are Igora or Prestige.
  • If you’re looking for a toner to use at home, I would recommend Wella Color Charm, which comes in a ready-to-use home kit.


Once you've toned your hair, it's important to take good care of it, so the color lasts as long as possible.


How to care for your hair after toning

Hair has memory, and every product you use or process you expose it to can have permanent effects.

So it's important to use the right products, be it toner, dye, or conditioner.

When used correctly, and with the right ratio of developer, toner won't damage your hair. That being said, you should still moisturize your hair because the developer can dry it out a bit.


  • After applying the toner, try to shampoo it less often to help the toner last as long as possible.
  • And use a moisturizing treatment at least once a week to strengthen your hair and prevent frizz.


Now that you're a hair toning expert, it's your turn to share. What developer would you use to tone your hair?

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