Will Head and Shoulders Tone Down Highlights? Short answer: No! Here’s why

shampoo to change highlights color

  • Neither Head and Shoulders nor any other anti-dandruff shampoo will tone down or up your highlights. Instead, those products will only fade the color and turn your highlights dull and dry.
  • If your goal is to tone up your highlights, go for a blue or purple shampoo. It’ll tone the strident color of your highlights and lighten them.
  • Alternatively, if you want to darken or tone down your highlights, get a semi-permanent hair dye. I’ll tell you how to choose the hair dye color later on.


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Head and Shoulders shampoo is an anti-dandruff product. Therefore, it doesn’t lighten or darken highlights.

Then, why did your friend recommend using it to tone down your highlights?


Your friend might have received too much, confusing information. What does it mean?

It seems that lately, all people are experts on everything. However, at the end of the day, it’s not so much so.


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By the way, you may have read on this very blog that I recommended anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head and Shoulders to fade your hair color.

  However, fading hair color is different from toning up or toning down highlights.  


Head and Shoulders is suitable for other situations. For example, it may help you remove traces of a semi-permanent hair dye to apply a new color afterward.

  But if your goal is to tone up or down your highlights, Head and Shoulders won’t help you.  

What’s more, you should actually discard it if you don’t like the color of your highlights.


If you don’t, you’ll only dry out your hair because anti-dandruff shampoo contains sulfates that dehydrate it.

What’s more, you won’t end up changing the tone of your highlights. The only thing you’ll achieve is to fade the color.


So let me make a suggestion before you try any method to change the color of your highlights.

  If you got your highlights recently, for example, yesterday or today, you should wait a few days until you can see the final color.  


Remember that you’ll see the final color of your highlights a few days later when the hair dye pigments finish settling in the hair.

In that case, why would you try to modify the color before that? You could try waiting for a few days until the highlights settle.


  It would be like worrying about a problem you don’t know if you’ll actually have.  

So, reduce anxiety and wait for at least a week to make a much more sensible decision.

After one week is over, can you use Head and Shoulders if your highlights still look too yellow or too orange?


Yes, you can, but you should know that it’ll fade your color. It won’t tone down or tone up your highlights.

That’s to say, your highlights will keep the same blonde level but with a faded and dull tone.


If you want to tone down your highlights because they are too blonde, you’ll have to go to the salon to discuss it with your stylist. I can bet that your colorist will find the best solution to darken your highlights.

However, if you did the highlights yourself or with a friend, don’t use Head and Shoulders.

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Head and Shoulders, like any anti-dandruff shampoo, will only fade your highlights without changing the tone

ph balanced shampoo before keratin

It means that it’ll ruin the highlighting technique’s effect. If you still don’t like your highlight color after a week, I recommend you take a closer look.

What bothers you about the color of your highlights?


If you notice that they are a strident yellow or orange color, you could try a color depositing shampoo.

Every color has an opposite one that neutralizes it.

  • If your highlights look too orange, you should use a blue shampoo.
  • If your highlights look too yellow, you should use a purple shampoo.


  This way, you won’t be toning down your highlights but the strident color. Your highlights, then, will keep their beautiful ashy or buttery color.  


Toning shampoos are easy to apply and will take care of your hair during the process.

You only have to choose one and get it online or at a grocery store.

How to use them?


Read carefully:

  • Wet your hair with plenty of warm water and remove the excess.
  • Apply the toning shampoo from roots to ends.
  • Leave it on for 5 to 7 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Rinse with plenty of lukewarm water until it runs clear.
  • Use sulfate-free conditioner or leave-in conditioner.
  • You can apply it up to three times a week or until the strident color is gone.


In other cases, you may feel that your highlights are too yellow or orange, and your desired color is unnoticeable.

But, what if your highlights are too blonde? That’s what I’ll talk about next.


How to darken highlights without using Head and Shoulders

applying dye to dirty hair

Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo won’t darken your highlights.

On the contrary, it’ll fade the color of your highlights and make them look lighter at first glance. However, it’ll be a washed-out, faded, and dull color.


If you want to tone down or darken your highlights because they turned too blonde, you can opt for the following:

  • Apply semi-permanent hair dye that is two or three levels darker than your current color.
  • Return to the salon to get darker highlights.

Why apply semi-permanent hair dye instead of permanent one?


Permanent hair dye is applied with a developer and ammonia, which lighten the hair. If your highlights are very light, the result won’t be what you’re looking for.

  On the other hand, semi-permanent hair dye isn’t applied with a developer. So, you can apply a darker color without modifying the base color.  


You can choose the level you like the most, but I recommend keeping it to two or three darker levels to avoid too much contrast.

  • If your highlights are very light blonde 9, you can apply a blonde 7 or a dark blonde 6.
  • If your highlights are light blonde 8, you can apply a dark blonde 6.
  • If your highlights are at 10 extra light blonde, you can apply a 7 blonde.


ideal for damaged hair

Semi permanent hair dye will fade with washes. That way, you can touch up the color or apply another one for a change.

For example, Clairol and Adore have a wide range of traditional colors in semi-permanent hair dyes.


You can also ask your colorist at the salon to apply lowlights.

Usually, hair lightens very much after three or four highlights sessions.


  In this case, what professionals do is to counteract that effect with lowlights.   It’s the same as highlights, but we apply a permanent hair dye three levels darker instead of bleaching.

This way, the excess blonde is counteracted and a sophisticated look is achieved.



Highlights are achieved after bleaching. That way, they can often be too bright or too light.

As regards Head and Shoulders, it’s an anti-dandruff shampoo that fades color but doesn’t change it.

Colorists are expected to make any necessary corrections so that clients are happy with their hair’s appearance. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for a color correction if, for some reason, you aren’t happy with your highlights color.

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