Toner Made My Hair Too Light

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

There are many ways you can level up your hairstyle. You get a cut and color and change it all! OR you can go for cleverly-placed highlights or other mild adjustments. 

When lightening dark hair, you will have to use a bleaching product to remove the natural dark pigments in the hair. And that almost always lands on a weird orange tone that needs adjusting.

At that point you used a toner to remove the unwanted brassiness or other issues. 

But a lot of us don’t know how to use toners correctly, and it’s easy to go wrong. Many finish toning their hair and look at it, feeling “toner made my hair too light!” 

Now what?

We’ve put this blog post together to explain the next steps to fix it. We’ll start by discussing toners and what they do to your hair, then go over some scenarios when the toner could make your hair look too light. 

Finally, we’ll explain how to fix it.


Toner Vs Color Depositing Shampoo

First off, we should clarify the difference between hair toners and color-depositing shampoo (e.g. purple shampoo, blue shampoo, etc.)

This is a hair toner:

Hair Toner

This is a color-depositing shampoo, aka purple shampoo or toning shampoo:

Purple Shampoo

Toners work like hair dye, toning shampoos work like shampoo. True toners are much easier to screw up than toning shampoos.

Unless you know what you’re doing (i.e. you’re not reading this article) you should use toning shampoo instead of toner. It’s way easier to make adjustments with a toning shampoo, but you have to continuously reapply.

Toners are a one-and-done process that can last for many weeks, but if it goes wrong, tweaking is more difficult.

Unless you know what you’re doing (i.e. you’re not reading this article) you should use toning shampoo instead of toner. It’s way easier to make adjustments with a toning shampoo, but you have to continuously reapply.


Toner Made My Hair Too Light: What Happened?

You probably started with bleach.

Bleach First

In order to lighten your hair, you likely used bleach to get rid of those dark pigments.

Bleach is really rough on your hair. And if you’re not familiar with how to use it, you should absolutely go to a salon to have it done by a professional.

Poor bleaching technique can result in a “bleach fail” with your hair falling out. Really!

Once your bleach was done, your hair is lighter, but the color tones are probably be off. In order to fix it, you likely used a toner.

Toner Time

The toner’s job is to balance out the colors by canceling out the brassiness, reddish or orange tones in the hair. Toners don’t technically lighten the hair, they cancel out the opposite tones.

When you bleach the hair, you may end up having reddish or yellowish hair because the bleach doesn’t remove those pigments efficiently. Bleach is likely to remove the darker pigments instead of the reddish ones. 

Some people bleach their hair again to further remove the darker colors but the yellowish ones are likely to stay.

It is the toner’s job to get rid of that brassiness.

When the toner cancels out the orange, red, or yellow tones, your hair may end up lighter in color than you would like, because you canceled too much of the opposite colors. Of course, sometimes, it isn’t the toner that causes your hair to lighten too much but the multiple bleaching procedure that you did. 

Maybe you aimed for platinum blonde and landed on grey or even white? It happens.

When the toner cancels out the orange, red, or yellow tones, your hair may end up lighter in color than you would like, because you canceled too much of the opposite colors.

You probably wanted the orange, yellow, and red tones in your hair that’s why you thought that the toner lightened it too much. In that case, the brassy tones that were canceled made the hair appear not as vibrant as you would like it to be. 

It is possible that you messed up the toner and developer proportions. Instead of canceling out the reddish tones of your hair, you also removed some of the darker colors. 

Using an expired toner could lead you to have lighter hair especially if you use a developer. That will just lift some of the dark colors and won’t cancel out the bright yellow, orange or red tones on your hair. 


How To Fix Hair That’s Too Light

If you find your hair is too light after toning, you can attempt to fix it using a color depositing shampoo. You should not try to tone your hair again, at least not for several days to weeks. 

1. See a Professional Stylist

When you look at your too-light hair, are there some tones that are too light, or is everything blown out? If everything’s way too light, we would recommend seeing a professional. You may need to dye it back to the correct color or otherwise treat it.

2. Wait it Out

If the color of your hair turns out different than what you would like due to the toner you used, it is possible to correct it by simply waiting it out. Remember that the effect of the toners won’t last forever.

The effect of the toner is only temporary. In time (4-8 weeks), it will fade and the canceled-out tones in your hair will begin to show up once again.

3. Hit it with a Clarifying Shampoo

The too-light tones will naturally fade from your hair. You can just wait it out until you reach the shade you like, or you can speed up the process by using a clarifying shampoo .

Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo, 8.5 oz
  • For Hair Burdened by Buildup
  • Color Safe
  • No Sulfate Phosphate Paraben

4. Use a Color-Depositing Shampoo

If your hair has funky tones of one color or another, you could try to use a blue or purple shampoo to neutralize that tone and rebalance your hair.

You would choose a toning shampoo the opposite color from the one you want to tone down. Let’s look at the color wheel:

For example, if your hair has too-light red tones, you would apply a green shampoo to balance it out. If it has too-light orange tones, use a blue shampoo to balance it out. You can mix these shampoos or alternate if the tone is somewhere in the middle.


How To Avoid Making Your Hair Too Light

Most of us have already tried to bleach, dye, and tone our hair on our own at least once in our lives. Sometimes, it turns out pretty well, but there are times when it doesn’t. 

As mentioned above, for people who have not gone to cosmetology school, it’s way easier to use color-depositing shampoos than toners. Stick to that, and have the pros use the pro tools.

Be sure you understand the color wheel and how to cancel out those opposite tones.

That will help you dial in the color that you want for your hair. Sometimes, salons and professional hair technicians will mix multiple toners to achieve the exact color that you want. 


Don’t Risk Your Hair

As mentioned above, the bleaching process is tough on your hair. Add in toners and potentially other dyes and you can really cause a negative impact, especially if you don’t know what you’re done.

Don’t be afraid to spend some money at the salon to have it done right. Consider it an opportunity to learn the ropes and learn what these products do to your hair. Once you’ve gone through it with guidance, you can try it yourself.

Often you can pay a small amount for a consultation with a stylist to go over product and color strategy options.

Often you can pay a small amount for a consultation with a stylist to go over product and color strategy options.

It would always be better to have your hair lightened at a hair salon rather than do it on your own at home. The use of toner isn’t the only dangerous step when it comes to lightening the hair. 

Bleaching the hair is dangerous and can lead your hair to fall off if your hair is damaged. It is best not to risk your hair especially if it isn’t in its healthiest state. 

If you want to do your hair at home, it is best to follow the instructions included in the kits carefully. 

You may also want to first get a lot of information by watching videos on proper techniques on how to do it. That way you lessen the risk of having hair that is too light for your liking or hair that is damaged beyond repair.


Conclusion

If toner or excess bleaching has made your hair too light (or too dark!), you can try to fix it with a toning shampoo or clarifying shampoo. You can also wait it out and let the tone fade naturally, or visit a professional and get it fixed.

Written by Kayla Young

Low-Maintenance Haircuts For Women: 15 Inspirational Styles

What Shoes To Wear With A Maxi Dress