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9 toning tips for better + longer lasting results!

Let's talk TONING...specifically how to get better results and more longevity with your toners.

First I want to say do not HAVE to tone hair, last week's blog, I went into detail on how toner DOES NOT close the cuticle, so if you are toning JUST to close the cuticle, I promise, you don't have to. If you love the raw lift you achieved on your client..then leave it. Just make sure you use acidifying products to bring down the hairs swelling so that the hair feels silky and smooth.

Now, let's say you actually WANT to tone...right? For example the hair is too warm, or too brassy or too light, or too...whatever...and you want to shift that tone..what can you do to ensure that you have a better result that LASTS LONGER?

That's what I'll be sharing today!


Not all bleach is created equal, my friend. If you always use the same bleach, with the same developer on every single client, you're setting yourself up for failure. Let me give some examples:

There are lighteners that are highly alkaline that offer up to 9 levels of lift. Because they are more alkaline and because they are stronger, they are going to be a bit more aggressive on the hair. If you're dealing with a level 3, coarse hair client wanting to go platinum...this would be a GREAT option.

Now, if you were dealing with a level 6, fine hair client wanting a caramel or butter blonde..this will be WAY too strong and will lift you PAST the undertone you need for that final toner to work best and anchor on to. Vary your strength of lightener AND your developer based on the clients natural level, texture and porosity.


In other words, don't lift everyone and their mama to a level 10...unless you are going for PLATINUM! When I say lift to the undertone that will support your final toner, what I mean is that if your end result is a strawberry blonde, please leave some yellow in the hair. IF your end result is a buttery blonde, please leave some warmth in the hair. If you are going for caramel, DO NOT lift to a level 10. You have to remember, the HAIR and what it contributes is going to be the foundation for your if you remove ALL of that pigment, the hairs structure is compromised AND you have no TONE for your final result to anchor onto leaving you with hollow looking hair. If you want better toning results...set yourself up for success and leave some undertone to support it.


Here's the truth...if you leave the bleach on long enough for the hair to be white...please consider that hair trash. If it doesn't melt'll need a stainless steel treatment on that hair (get it..stainelss still...CUT IT, is what I mean). Please remember this...KERATIN which is the main building block of hair IS if you bleach to WHITE..not only have you removed and diffused ALL of the melanin in the hair, you have also degraded the keratin of the hair and the hair will have NO structure left. This is where hair gets gummy and begins to fall out. If you want a toner to last...leave some yellow, for the love of God.


I could do a whole class on the chemicals that we use...(oh wait, I do have a whole class on this in The FUNdamentals!) But here's what I mean. When we are toning, any oxidative color can be used..doesn't always have to be the little liquid bottles of hair color!

Alkaline Cream Demi - great for a bit of extra lift and a more opaque deposit.

Acidic liquid Demi- great for a more soft and subtle deposit of color, more transparent.

Semi permanent Direct Dye- great for highly porous hair that is missing cuticle layers, direct dyes can stain the cuticle AND fill in gaps in the hair actually lasting LONGER for some clients.

I know so many of you always resort to an acidic demi of some kind to tone, but there are times when we have to use different types of color for different results. Please don't sleep on the other options...always resorting to shades or calura gloss or whatever you use...probably not the best idea.


I can't stress this enough...your LIFT MATTERS. If your lift is uneven, say the roots lifted to a level 8 and the ends lifted to a level 9...and you use a level 9 toner on the whole thing, you're going to have an uneven deposit of color and more so, an uneven lift. When you are lifting the hair, use different types of bleach and different strengths of developer to get a more even lift. If you know the ends are already a level 8 and you just need to budge 1 level but the roots need about 5-6 levels of lift...use a lower strength bleach, maybe a balayage bleach with 5 volume on those ends and use a more powerful bleach on the root area. Don't just drag down the same bleach're going to create insane porosity which is going to be VERY challenging when you tone.


Let's say you have 2 clients and both are lifted a level 9. Client #1 was a natural level 3 and client #2 was a natural level 6. Getting your natural level 3 client to a level 9 WILL create more porosity that getting your natural level 6 to a level 9. Using the same formula on both of these clients, for example a 9 ash, will give you completely different results. You natural level 3 client will likely be at a grade 5 in porosity..which means that the level 9 ash toner will appear darker, muddier and ashier, AND will fade out faster than the client with a natural level 6 with grade 2 or 3 porosity. Compensate for the porosity in the hair by adding warmth, adding clear and/or using a lighter level in color.


applying to wet vs damp vs dry hair matters especially depending on the texture and the porosity of the hair.

Applying on Wet hair can dilute your dye load and give a more sheer deposit, and likely won't last as long. the hair is full of water...where are the dyes going to go?

Applying on Damp hair is the best case scenario. Hydrogen bonding allows for the water in the hair and the water in your products to attract to each other and give the best possible deposit...especially on hair that is porous.

Applying on dry hair will give you the maximum deposit esp with direct dyes HOWEVER if the hair is porous, just know that the color will "GRAB" darker and drabber so compensate with either dampening it and/or shifting your formula.


LOUDERRRRR for those of you in the back. IF the manufacturers directions say to process for 20 minutes, please process for 20 minutes. Washing it out sooner because its looking "dark or too Ashy" is a death wish for the longevity of your toner. Not letting the color process fully means that the dyes are not fully being developed which means that it will not be true to tone and will wash out when the client sneezes.

If you are worried about your color "grabbing too dark"..formulate properly. Lighten the dye load, add clear, add warmth...whatever it is you need to do to ensure that the color stays on the hair for the recommended time. Washing it out too soon will guarantee that your toner will prematurely fade.


This is one some of us miss, especially of you are using a color that used MEA as an alkalizer. It's both my understanding and my experience that using a shampoo with ammonium laurel sulfate is necessary to help remove that MEA. If there is residual MEA and/or residual dyes left in the hair...those dyes can continue to oxidize...and essentially cause premature fading AND scalp irritation. At the end of the day, I know there's some confusion with some brands saying you dont have to shampoo their color out. PLEASE SHAMPOO THE COLOR OUT. These are chemicals at the end of the day and you need to ensure to wash them ALLLLLL out. Your colors will last longer and you'll avoid potential irritations to the clients scalp.

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