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Let's Talk Permanent Toners

There's some chatter going around about permanent toners, and how they are better and last longer than demi-permanent toners 🤷🏻‍♀️

Today I want to offer some perspective based on what I know to be true, hope this clears some things up.

What is a permanent toner?

A permanent toner is essentially an alkaline toner.

Unlike an acidic toner, an alkaline toner..or a "permanent" toner still has some lifting ability in it.

How does a permanent toner work?

Because a permanent toner has more alkalinity in it, even when used with a lower developer it can cause the cuticle layers to swell and diffuse, and depending on the alkalizer that is can cause some shifting or base bumping.

Some color lines that are "hybrid"- meaning the same tube can be a permanent or a demi often have "alkaline toners". Their demi colors aren't truly demi permanent, they just recommend using a lower developer to avoid the lifting or shifting of the natural base. These are considered alkaline Demi's, alkaline toners or permanent toners.

*some hair will still lift + shift causing a base bump situation

Does a permanent toner last longer?

The short answer here is, no.

When a color is labeled or marketed as "permanent", all this means is that is it PERMANENTLY changing the structure of the hair.

It does NOT mean that the dye molecules will last in the hair, permanently.

There is no such thing, that I know of thus far.

The main difference of a permanent toner and a demi permanent toner is what it does to the hair itself, not necessary longevity of color.

With that said, depending on the health + integrity if the hair along with the developer used, permanent toners CAN last a bit longer on healthier hair and with the use of a higher developer, such as 1o volume.

Is a permanent toner more damaging to the hair than a demi permanent toner?

It can be, especially after a bleaching service. A permanent toner is more alkaline and alkalinity swells and expands the cuticle layers...the more times the cuticles layers get expanded, the more stress + damage it causes to the hair.

If you use a permanent toner with a higher developer, ex 10 or 20 volume, you could cause even more damage.

After a bleaching service, the hair is already very swollen (since bleach is SO alkaline), so using an alkaline toner on hair that is already in a fragile state CAN cause some serious damage.

Will a permanent toner cause a base bump?

YES. Even with a "no lift" or low volume developer, a permanent toner can cause a base bump due to the ALKALINITY of the color. Especially if the alkalizer that is used is ammonia. The developer does lift the hair, but the alkalinity of the color along with the volume of developer + the hairs texture will determine how MUCH lifting the developer can do.

When would be a good time to use a permanent toner?

- IF the hair is healthy enough to withstand it

- IF you do a conditioning/acidifying treatment after the bleaching and before the toning

- IF you do a global bleach out

- IF there is no virging hair on the head

- IF you want a base bump

- IF there is still some warmth in the hair you want to eliminate

- IF you had slightly uneven lift (1/2 a level)

It's so important to know about all of the tools we have available to us and how and when to use them.

Each product + each color has a place and space and there is no wrong or right, just what works and what doesn't!

I have a post about Acidic toners vs alkaline toners, here.

Also, I have a *free* Formulation Masterclass, you can register below!

Hope this was helpful for you!

Happy Hair Coloring!


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