Can you tone your hair with permanent dye instead of toner?

  • You can only tone your hair with permanent dye if you don’t have a lot of unwanted tones in your hair. And it’s very important that you choose the right color.
  • After dyeing your hair, if it is an extremely unpleasant carrot orange color for example, you should cancel that color out using toner.
  • Also, toner is easier to use and less aggressive for your hair.


Sometimes I ask myself why people are so desperate to use items for purposes other than what they’re made for.

Would you use a hat to collect water for watering your plants?

No, if you wanted to do that, you’d use a bucket because it’s more practical.


Would you eat your grandma’s best soup with a fork?

No, you’d use a spoon because it’d be quicker and less work.


Well, the same goes for hair products.

Each one was designed with a clear and precise purpose in mind.

Hair dye’s job is to color your hair, while toner’s job is to cancel out unwanted colors in your hair, which in most cases, appear after bleaching it.


 The best product for cancelling out unwanted tones in your hair is toner.  

The only case where I’d recommend using a dye is if you have a very small amount of unwanted colors, like just in a few strands of hair, or those colors are very, very faint.

Now, you shouldn’t use just any old dye either.

Do you want to know why?


If so, keep reading, because I’ll tell you:

  • Why toner is the best product for toning your hair
  • What color dye you should use to tone your hair

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Why toner is the best product for toning your hair

Like all good stories, we’ll start at the beginning. So, take a good look at your hair.

What do you see in the color?


 Because it’s one thing for your hair to be completely and totally carrot orange, as in a bright orange color you can see from a mile away, and another is to just have a few locks that are a tiny little bit orange.  


  • If your hair is totally orange, you should use a toner on your hair, and in this case, you’d need a blue toner.

It’s the best choice for your hair because toner is an easy product to use as long as you’re strict about how long you leave it in your hair.


And, it’s a product that you only have to mix with peroxide, unlike permanent dye, which contains both peroxide and ammonia.

As such, it’ll be less harmful for your hair, which after bleaching it, will be begging you to pamper it.

So, when can you use a permanent dye to tone your hair?


When the colors that you need to tone are very faint. For example:

  • If you bleached medium or light brown hair and it has some orange in it, you can use an ashy permanent dye to tone it.

Why is this different?


Because in the case of totally orange hair, toner will just modify the tone, while in the case of hair with just a few orange tones, the dye will actually add both color and tone.

Do you understand the difference? It seems subtle, but it’s really actually very important.


Let me explain with another example.

Think about when you’re making a cake. If you were to run out of butter, you can definitely replace it with oil, but most likely, your cake won’t have the same exact flavor and texture as if you had used the butter.


I’ll be even clearer: The permanent dye will give your hair a base color, like brown, dark blonde or light blonde, and also a tone, which could be ash, copper or golden. But, that’s always within the color you’ve chosen.

With toner, it’s totally different because its job is to tone your hair, not add a base color.


Now, do you have faint unwanted colors in your hair, and you’d prefer to use a permanent dye to tone your hair because you don’t have any experience with toning it?

Don’t worry, I’ll help walk you through the process of choosing the right color dye, according to its tone.


What color dye you should use to tone your hair

The most important thing when it comes to choosing the dye is paying special attention to the dye’s tone because that is what will determine whether or not you’re successful at cancelling out those unwanted tones in your hair.

All permanent dyes have a primary number that indicates the base color:

  • Black 1.0
  • Dark brown 3.0
  • Brown 4.0
  • Light brown 5.0
  • Dark blonde 6.0
  • Blonde 7.0
  • Light blonde 8.0
  • Lighter blonde 9.0
  • Lightest platinum blonde 10.0


Now, the number that you need to pay special attention to is the secondary number, which comes after that first one, separated by a decimal.

That second number is the tone, which is the color that will cancel out other unwanted tones.


Because all colors have an opposite one that cancels them out:

  • Blue, which is an ash tone, indicated by the number 1, cancels out orange.
  • Purple, which is a pearl tone, indicated by the number 3, cancels out yellow.


That way you can make the perfect combination to tone your hair. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • If your base color has orange tones and you want to use a medium color to tone it, you could choose a light ash brown 5.1 or a dark ash blonde 6.1.
  • If your base color has yellow tones and you want to use a light color to tone it, you could choose a light pearl blonde 8.2 or a very light pearl blonde 9.2.


It’s the same the other way around:

  • If your hair is too ashy and you want to tone it, you can use a dark copper blonde 6.4 or a copper blonde 7.4, because the number 4 is the copper tone.
  • If your hair is too purple or pearly and you want to tone it, you can use a 5.3 light golden brown or an 8.3 light golden blonde because the number 3 indicates a copper tone.


Do you see why I told you that toner is an easier product to use for toning your hair?



It’s always better to tone your hair with a product especially designed for that purpose because it’s simpler. All you need to do is choose the color opposite the color you want to tone.

When it comes to very faint unwanted tones in your hair, you can use a permanent dye to tone it, but you need to be very careful about choosing the right color and corresponding tone.

The easier way to tone your hair is using a toner. And that is the answer, straight from the mouth of a hair stylist.

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