top of page
Copy of NEWcmbd logo (Logo).png

How to make your toners LAST

If you are a hairstylist behind the chair, there's a good chance that you are toning hair- every day- even multiple times a day.

With so many different options for "toners" on the market, I see a lot of you flip flopping from one brand to the other, and the other, in search of the perfect, longest lasting toner.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying new products and new brands, the issue I see is that we are placing blame on "products not lasting long" or "toners grabbing too ash", and were not placing enough emphasis on OUR FORMULATIONS + USE of these products.

I've always said, brands + manufacturers spend a shit load of money, time and resources to ensure that their product when it doesn't "work", chances are it's not necessarily the color, but the brains behind the color....AKA you.

I don't say this to be rude, mean, condescending or derogatory, I say this because when you take personal responsibility for the work that is performed behind you chair...that is when the magic happens. It's when the confidence sky rockets. It's incredibly rewarding not placing blame on outside factors. *this is true in life beyond the chair too, not just in your salon.

So today I want to shed some light on longevity of toners and what you can shift to get better and longer lasting results with your toners.

First things first, let's talk about TONING.

Toning is a service that we perform after a lightening service, to shift the tonality of the blonde..we go cooler, warmer, brighter, know the drill, right?

Here's the thing thought, ANY type of color we have on the market can do this.

Semi permanent direct dyes can do this.

Demi permanent colors can do this.

Deposit only colors can do this.

Permanent colors can do this.

So, grabbing the little bottle of liquid, acidic demi is not the only option when it comes to toning, I'm sorry to break it to you all.

What matters when it comes to choosing the right toner for longevity is the condition of the hair and the result you are looking for.

For example, if hair is incredibly damaged..using anything with alkalinity is going to be a problem.

Remember, alkalinity softens and swells the cuticle layers to expose the cortex of the hair...but if the hair is shot to shit, you DON'T need any softening or swelling, it's already...for lack of a better word, open.

So in that case, deposit only color (not demi permanent) or direct dyes (semi permanent colors) are going to be your friend.

Think about it, the hair barely has any structure left, you think that oxidative dye is going to deposit? Where? The structure is a direct dye is your best bet to hopefully fill in some of that porosity and stain what's left of the hair.

Another example. Let's say the hair is very course, and very dark. Let's say you used the low and slow method to lighten and the hair is still very much healthy and intact...BUT...there's some slight warmth left in that hair. maybe you're at a 9 but its still a little too yellow.

A liquid acidic demi doesn't usually have enough power to lighten through some of that hair, all it can do is SHIFT the color for if you are going for a cooler look, it will appear darker.

Using an alkaline cream demi in this case is your friend. A higher alkalinity color with a low volume developer can lighten up that hair a bit and then deposit the cooler your end result won't be as dark or dull.

The drawback to this? IF there is virgin hair on the head, and the hair is finer in texture, you COULD shift some of that natural color at the root.

So what is going to determine how long your toner lasts?

Knowing the hair you are working on, the condition that it's in.

Understanding the Roles + Goals of your toning products


Condition of the hair:

IF the hair is fine and porous, you MUST account for that in your formulation.

Remember, fine hair has a smaller diameter and will usually always appear darker than the level you put on it.

Porous hair has a tendency to reject all warmth and absorb all cool colors, so any ash that you put in your formula will very much SHOW on the porous hair.

Roles + Goals of toners:

Deposit only color- weakest in strength + true deposit only

Acidic liquid demi- weakest in strength + most sheer deposit.

Acidic cream demi- weak in strength + more opaque deposit

Alkaline demi- stronger + can create SOME lift where needed

Permanent color + low developer - very strong in lifting ability (in lighter colors) + most opaque deposit

High lift color + low developer- strongest in lifting ability + more sheer deposit


Manufacturers have RECOMMENDED timing for their colors.

Now, most of the time, when it comes to toning hair, very very very few people actually follow the recommended timing for those colors.


You apply the toner, it begins to darken and drab out your beautiful blonde, you panic and rinse.


Dodged a bullet there.


What happens when you don't process the full time is that you don't allow the dye molecules to fully FORM...they're half formed after a few minutes, or some of them form but not all of them.

If they do not have the chance to fully form + deposit, they WILL wash out in a few, short washes...and now your client is upset.

The issue is almost always MIS-FORMULATION.

Remember the importance of the condition of the hair?

IF hair is fine, if hair is porous its going to ALWAYS APPEAR DARKER AND DRABBER.

Usually right after a toning service, hair is INCREDIBLY swollen and pretty porous.

TAKE THAT INTO CONSIDERATION when formulating your toner...sheer it down with clear, make sure to ADD the warmth that the porous hair needs to look pretty and refined and not dull and drab, acidify the hair before you apply your toner.

AND..let your toner process fully.

These are the KEYS to having your toners LAST the longest.

*also, always acidify the hair + always treat the hair after every single lightening service.

Healthy hair will hold onto color, damaged hair will just reject do what you can to maintain the integrity of the hair.

Hope this was helpful!

Happy Hair Coloring!


texture porosity melanin

treat the hiar

29 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page