Help! Toner Made My Hair Too Dark

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Going from dark hair to beautiful blonde is not possible without using a hair toner. Bleaching is just half of the process in achieving that gorgeous ashy or platinum color.

If you simply bleach your hair, you’d end up with orange or yellow hair instead of an ashy blonde. Using a hair toner is essential in the process. 

However, achieving the exact color you want isn’t simple. You have to know how to properly use a hair toner or else you’ll be exclaiming “Help! Toner made my hair too dark!”

No one can blame you for trying to tone your hair on your own. Experience is the best teacher after all. And it’s possible you went to a salon where they toned your hair a bit darker than what you wanted. 

Nevertheless, should you find yourself having that problem, all you have to do is use a clarifying shampoo. 

Simple as it may seem, that is the best thing you can do. But before you start searching for a clarifying shampoo in your stash of toiletries, let us first tell you what might have happened. In that way, you’d be able to avoid having the same problem again. 

Toner Made My Hair Too Dark: What Exactly Happened?

Hair toners are miracle products for those who have darker hair and wish to achieve a lighter tone. When used properly, toners can efficiently cancel out the unwanted brassiness of the hair due to the bleaching process. 

This is what creates the lighter hair color that isn’t too gold, yellow, orange, or rusty in color. 

However, improper use of toner could backfire on you. It could lead to darker, or duller hair. Toners don’t really darken the hair because they do not add color to your hair.

What really happens is that they cancel out too much of the unwanted tones. 

Remember that hair toners cancel out unwanted tones, which are usually the brighter ones — brassy reds, green tinges, etc. Although the excess of these bright brassy tones doesn’t look great, too little of them makes your hair look dull or darker too. 

Balance is the key to having beautifully toned hair. 

There are a few ways you can over-tone your hair:

  • You might have prolonged the exposure of the toner on the hair. Rinse properly!
  • You might have also messed up the developer and toner proportions.
  • You might have used a dye as a toner.
  • You might have used expired toner.

The next time you tone your hair, make sure you use the right kind of toner, prepare it properly, and regularly check if you’ve already achieved the tone you are aiming for. 

The best product to use to cancel out the undertones is a toner. However, some use a dye to cancel out the tones too. That can lead to a disaster especially if you made a mistake in selecting the appropriate color of the dye to counter the undertones. 

What You Should Do

Clarifying Shampoo

Now that you know what you might have done wrong, it is time to make things right. We’ve already mentioned the best strategy to go forward. And that is to use a clarifying shampoo.

Most toners sit on the surface of the hair. That is why they gradually fade as you wash your hair. 

One of the things you should use to prolong the effect of toner is a color-friendly shampoo or those that are sulfate-free. These are gentler cleansers that will not strip off the toner as fast as other shampoos. 

When your hair is over toned, you want to do the opposite. You need to remove the excess toner so you brighten the hair. That is why you should use a clarifying shampoo  or an anti-dandruff shampoo. 

You can also choose to simply wait it out. Toners eventually fade and if it is what caused your hair to darken, it can also be corrected when it is washed off. 

Depending on the toning procedure used, products like a hair color remover  can also be used. However, this is only for those who toned their hair with a dye.  

What You Shouldn’t Do

In case you find your hair too dark due to the use of toner, one of the things you should never do is bleach your hair. Bleaching your hair will just damage it even further

Bleaching removes the hair pigments in your hair. If your hair is already lightened through bleaching, you could risk hair breakage if you redo the bleaching process again. 

Repetitive bleaching is harsh to the hair and you shouldn’t do it because there is a simpler and safer way to correct the over toned hair. 

Just be patient and use your clarifying shampoo.

In as little as a week, of using the clarifying shampoo, you might already see improvement. You could also already achieve the lighter color hair that you wanted. 


The main goal of using a toner is to cancel out the brassy tones from your bleached or colored hair. However, with improper use of the toner, you can end up having darker-looking hair. 

Although your hair didn’t really darken in color because toners don’t add color. They simply cancel out the brighter tones, which could lead to duller or somewhat darker hair. 

When that happens, you have to reverse the effects of the toner by shampooing with a clarifying shampoo. That will remove the toner that’s on the surface of the hair so it doesn’t look over toned and dark. 

Using a clarifying or dandruff shampoo plus having patience is the best solution. No matter what, don’t attempt to bleach your hair once again just to dry to lighten it. 

See also:

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Do You Shampoo After Toner?