How Often Should You Tone Your Hair?

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Until recently, hair toner is one of those products that was only available in salons. It’s now an integral part of the newest hair color trends, and is key in maintaining a polished, new look.

While the idea of professional products being available to the rest of us seems fantastic, the problem is that most of us did not go to cosmetology school to learn how to use them. So when it comes to products like toner, it often tends to get used improperly.

So, how often can you tone your hair?

Generally speaking, you can tone your hair every 6-8 weeks, but it will also depend on the toner you’re using and a few other factors that come into play that we will get into.

In this article, we’ll look at toner, what it’s used for, the difference between toner and color depositing shampoo, and the factors that will determine how often you can tone your hair without damaging it.


What Is A Toner?

A toner is different from dye and bleach in that it just coats the exterior of the hair strand, rather than penetrating the hair structure.

You will never achieve a dramatic color transformation with a toner, and it does not cover grey hair,.

That’s not what it’s meant to do.

Toner is used to correct unwanted shade variations in hair caused by dye fading and environmental factors, like sun exposure and chlorine

Toner is used to correct unwanted shade variations in hair caused by bleaching, dye fading, and environmental factors like sun exposure and chlorine. 

Toner is also used after bleaching to neutralize the yellow or orange tones, leaving you with a more ashy, cooler shade of blonde. This is the perfect blank canvas for applying a different hair color to arrive at the final color you want.

At the salon, toner is sometimes mixed with a developer, depending on the coloring process.


What Kind Of Toner Should I Use?

Professional toners, even if you can buy them at the salon or order them online, should only be used by those who know what they’re doing (i.e. have had training).

If you are doing your own hair at home, the best toner for the 99% of us who are not professional hairstylists is actually a color depositing shampoo. Color depositing shampoos, aka toning shampoos, are super user-friendly.

If you know how to shampoo your hair, you can use a color depositing shampoo!

You can achieve the same end result with a color depositing shampoo as a toner with an almost* zero margin of error.

*We say almost because some people don’t read instructions! Different brands of toning shampoos have different wait times, so read the instructions!

Though color depositing shampoos and professional toners are different products, if your endgame is neutralizing unwanted tones in your hair, both toner and blue shampoo perform the same function.

The biggest difference between using a toner and a blue or purple shampoo is the ease of use.

You have a MUCH higher risk of making a mistake that might irreparably damage your hair when using a toner than you do using a color-depositing toning shampoo.

You have a MUCH higher risk of making a mistake that might irreparably damage your hair when using a toner than you do using a color-depositing toning shampoo.


Is Toner Damaging For Your Hair?

No! Not if it’s used properly.

Here’s where it gets tricky. A professional toner requires a developer. Developer contains either ammonia or hydrogen peroxide (basically bleach), both of which are extremely harsh and drying chemicals.

A toner with a developer can cause a lot of damage if you don’t know what you’re doing.

When we say ‘a lot of damage’… like curled up in the fetal position in your tub sobbing as you watch your crispy fried bits of hair break off and get rinsed down the drain, kind of damage.

Don’t believe us?

Google “DIY Hair Fails” on YouTube and you will find the ones that resulted in severe hair damage were because of the misuse of developer.

This is why we urge you to stick with color depositing shampoos if you are not a professional hairstylist.

Just bear in mind, overusing a color depositing shampoo, or leaving it in your hair longer than the instructions tell you to, is also bad for your hair.

A color depositing shampoo is not meant to replace your regular shampoo.

It should only be used once (max. twice) a week.

Misuse of color depositing shampoo can result in drying out your hair, product build-up, or pigment staining from the shampoo. You probably don’t want to be walking around with blue or purple-stained hair.


Should I Use Blue Or Purple Shampoo?

A toning shampoo’s function is to neutralize unwanted tones. The color of toning shampoo you should be using depends on the color you are trying to neutralize.

Colors on the opposite side of the color wheel will cancel each other out.

If you are looking to get rid of golden or brassy undertones, purple is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel. So a purple toning shampoo should be your go-to.

Colors on the opposite side of the color wheel will cancel each other out.

Blue toning shampoo, on the other hand, will neutralize unwanted orangey or copper tones.


How Long Should You Wait To Tone Bleached Hair?

As long as your hair is in good condition and there is no sign of damage, you can tone it the same day.

If your hair is fragile and it looks or feels dry, damaged, or has any breakage after bleaching, wait at least 10 days to use the toner, if not longer.

While you’re waiting for your hair to recover, use a deep conditioning treatment every three or four days.


How Often Can You Tone Your Hair?

This is another area where toners and color depositing shampoos differ.

While a professional toner should only be used once every 6-8 weeks, you can use a color depositing shampoo once a week.


Take Away

Unless you’re a professional hairstylist, your best option for neutralizing unwanted tones in your hair is to use a color depositing shampoo, rather than a toner.

Blue and purple shampoos are easier to get, easier to use and you have far less of a chance of damaging your hair than if you use a toner, which requires a developer.

And when it comes to – how often can you tone your hair ?– you can tone your hair with a color depositing shampoo once a week, instead of waiting 6-8 weeks if using a toner.

Written by Kayla Young

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