Which Should I Use, Toner or Dye After Bleaching?

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If you have naturally dark hair and want a drastic color change, step one is to bleach your hair. But hair bleaching is risky, and it can be damaging to your hair. Even if done correctly, there can still be some damage. 

Once you’ve done the bleaching procedure, you might wonder whether to use toner or dye after bleaching. The two are similar, but there are significant differences between them. The answer will depend on what result you want to achieve. 

To make that clearer, let’s differentiate what toner and a dye do to your hair. We’ll also tell you when you can tone and dye your hair after bleaching.


Hair Toner Vs Hair Dye

Before we help you figure out what to use after dying your hair, let us first differentiate a hair toner from a hair dye. That will help you determine which is more suitable to use depending on the results you desire to get. 

Hair Toner

Hair Toner

Hair toners are products that can change the color of your hair by canceling out the shades that you don’t want to see. Toner doesn’t remove the current pigments in your hair. They simply cancel out the colors so that they won’t be obvious.

A classic example is L'Oreal Feria Power Hair Toner .

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In order to know the right toner to use, you have to figure out what color you want your hair to be, and what color you want to hide. For bleached hair, it will usually have yellow, red, or orange tones that could make your hair brassy. 

See how to neutralize red tones in hair.

Toner is a great product to cancel unwanted color tones. By using the color wheel, you can find the opposite color that cancels out the yellow tones. For example, a purple toner  is used to hide yellow tones. 

However, that doesn’t mean that your hair will be purple! It will just cancel out the yellow tones so your hair could reveal a cooler shade of blonde. The final result will still depend on the hair color you currently have.

Hair Dyes

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Hair dyes, on the other hand, add pigments of different colors to your hair. However, unlike toners that don’t lift color or remove the color from the hair, hair dyes can make the hair lighten a few shades. 

The developers that are mixed with the dyes are responsible for that. By lightening the hair for a few shades, the dye can better color the hair. 

Typically semi-permanent hair dye is used in a similar manner to toners. This Clairol Semi-Permanent Dye  is a good example.

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Bleaching Your Hair

L'Oreal Bleach

Bleaching your hair is an essential step in changing your hair color. That is especially true if you want a drastic change in hair color or when you are starting with very dark hair. 

Pastel colors can only be achieved when you bleach your hair. That’s because you first need to remove the pigments in the hair before you can turn them into the color you want. 

Remember that hair dyes can only lighten the hair a few shades. So using hair dyes on dark hair is not enough to bring it up to the pastel pink shade.

Bleaching  essentially removes the existing pigments on your hair. It is usually done on naturally dark-colored hair, or on hair that has previously been dyed. 

However, there are times that you don’t really need to bleach hair to change the color. If your goal is to slightly alter the hair color, you can simply use a hair dye. 

Let’s say your hair is black and you want to make make it to dark brown . You could just use hair dyes and skip bleaching because hair dyes can already lift some of the dark colors on your hair.

But if you want to go further, you’ll need to bleach.

Once you’ve bleached your hair, it’s a blank canvas, ready for color! However, it’s also likely in need of attention. See how to hydrate hair after bleaching.

Do You Use Toner Or Dye After Bleaching? 

So when do you use a toner or a dye after bleaching? That will depend on your bleached hair and the final hair color you want. 

Do you just need to cancel out some color tones?

If the final hair color you are aiming for can be achieved by simply canceling out the other unwanted tones in your hair, you’re going to want a toner. 

For example, you just want to have blonde or No products found. colored hair. Sometimes, you can simply cancel out the yellow tones to achieve that look.

However, you must be prepared to maintain that by reapplying the toner to keep the unwanted tones hidden.

Do you want to change the shade further from your current color?

But if you want to push the shade, or if the hair color you want is a highly different color like green or pink . Using a toner won’t be able to produce that.

That’s because even if it cancels out the unwanted tones in the hair, you’re not going to find green or pink in there!

For this scenario, you are better off using hair dyes after bleaching. Sometimes, people who bleach their hair find that it is too brassy and orange.

One way to remedy that is to use a darker dye that could hide the brassy orange color of the hair. 

Pre Toning Hair

In some cases, some hair color artists also pre-tone the hair. That means that they use a toner after bleaching, before dying the hair.

Although bleached hair is ready to receive color, using a toner before dying helps improve the base color. 

This can help you better achieve the color of the hair that you really want. For example, your goal is to make your hair blue.

If you pre-tone it, you remove the excess yellow tones first so the dye can make the hair a deeper blue than a blue-green shade. 

Final Thoughts

Drastically changing the color of the hair can be done using either a toner or a dye after bleaching it.

You can use a toner after bleaching if the desired color is achievable by simply canceling some of the existing tones in the hair. 

On the other hand, using dye after bleaching can also be done if the color you want cannot be produced by canceling out unwanted tones in the hair. If you need to add more color, a dye should be used after bleaching. 

In some cases, hair toner is applied to bleached hair before using a hair dye. This produces more vibrant or more exact hair colors and shades. 

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).