By Diane Small
Summer can be hell on hair – especially if it’s got highlights. Swimming in chlorinated water can give blondes a greenish hue, and spending hours in the sun can make your bayalage look burnt.
So no wonder hair toners are now a ‘thing’.
Hair toners make your tresses look more natural than processed by eliminating the warm/brassy tones that result from, well, life. You can kill off yellow shades in your hair with a violet toner, while Trump-like orange shades are nullified by a blue toner. Highlights looking a bit too ‘Ronald McDonald’ red? Tone them down with a green toner.
Think of hair toners as being a kind of foundation for your hair – just as foundations even out skin tones, so hair toners even out hair tones, making your highlights and colour look super-natural.
Thing is, as with makeup, there are all kinds of toners, ranging from the chemical to the clean. Here’s a quick primer, below.
Three Kinds of Hair Toners
An ammonia-based toner is just a semi-permanent hair color that contains ammonia. It will change the actual pigment in your hair. Be careful – this is strong, chemical stuff, and if you’ve undergone a lot of bleaching, your hair may already be quite delicate.
Purple or Blue Shampoos
Have you ever heard of old ladies getting a ‘blue rinse’? That’s actually just a toning shampoo, and it’s a hair toner that takes the yellow out of gray hair. Purple shampoos are great for blondes who want to neutralize brassiness. You can use it to maintain ashy tones every time you wash your hair, but you might need to try a couple of different brands to get the strength of toning that you need.
Another method people use to tone their hair is to just use hair dye. It’s technically not really “toning,” but it gets the job done to neutralize brassy tones IF you take a wee bit of blue hair dye, such as the one by Saachs Organics below, and mix with with a few blobs of conditioner. Apply to hair for 15 mins or so and rinse out. Voila!
When to Tone
Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting your product and not achieving the desired results. So, once you’re at a light light yellow, you’re free to tone.
In general, you want to make sure that your hair is the desired level of blonde that you want, and that it’s in a place where it can take more treatment (is not too damaged).
Depending on your hair washing habits, you may have to re-tone anywhere from 2-8 weeks in. Make sure you don’t wash your hair directly after toning, because the color will start to slip out.
The less frequently you wash, the longer your color will stay in. Not to mention, you really shouldn’t be washing your hair every day . . . it strips out your natural oils and dries out your hair. Which is really not the best thing to do when you’ve just been bleaching and toning!
The Best Natural Hair Toners for Dyed Hair
1. Madison Reed
Operating under strict EU regulations to create non-toxic, high-performance hair colouring products, Madison Reed is well known for having created the first ever Smart 6-Free permanent hair colors that are free of ammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates, and gluten. Argan oil, and ginseng root extract and other natural ingredients are added to their hair dyes and coloring products to protect and pamper your hair, too.
Madison Reed’s natural toners come in four hues, and are perfect for anyone with faded highlights. The toner is a demi-permanent glaze that promises to refine your hair tone, reduce brassiness and condition hair for the ultimate balayage refresh!
We love it because: It comes in four different colors, from vanilla to coffee – and no matter which shade you select, you can rest assured that you’re using one of the most effective, but least damaging, hair toning products on the market.
These henna based hair colors may sound punky (I mean…indigo?!), but if you use a touch of the powder in your shampoo or hair conditioner after every wash, you’ll get a hair toner that is natural, and works with the power of plants!
Use the following table as a guide, and remember that different hair types will take to the hair toner differently – this is where strand tests to determine colour will be useful. Apply the henna first, then use the indigo, and….
- Leave on for 5-10 minutes for copper to tone light browns
- Leave on for 10-15 minutes to tone medium browns
- Leave on for 20-30 minutes to tone medium to dark browns
- Leave on for 40 60 minutes to tone dark browns
We love it because: It’s versatile: use as much or as little as you want, depending on whether you want to dye your hair or just tone it.
Price: Around $15
This breakthrough eco-luxe conditioner is the height of evolved haircare! It will help you to maintain color for a longer period of time whilst boosting shine, bounce and softness with its pure, plant-based ingredients. It diminishes the stressful impact of color on your strands and protects against breakage, splitting and frizz.
We love it because: It really works, and is 100% natural and non-toxic, too!
Price: From $11-$42 depending on the size
No matter what your hair color – or whether it’s highlighted or natural – Infuse My Colour offers gorgeous iridescent tones for blondes, fiery coppers for redheads, creamy, chocolately shades for brunettes – and more! In fact, these shampoos are some of the best natural hair toners around, and no matter what your hair color, there’s an Infuse My Colour™ shampoo for you.
The PETA approved, award-winning formula adds plant based pigment to your hair as you shampoo. Easy, right? You’ll never have faded hair color again!!
We love it because: It’s 100% vegan, smells great, is super easy to use, and doesn’t cost a mint.
Price: Around $15
This transformative hair mask uses pure, plant-based ingredients to keep your hair color looking fresh. Professional-strength and designed to work like an in-salon treatment, this mask uses an exclusive color protection complex to enhance your chosen shade, while morete oils from the Amazon rainforest nourish each strand.
Scented with the intoxicating fragrances of gardenia flowers, this treatment leaves color-treated hair looking soft, strong, radiant, and shiny – and it also helps the Amazon stay forested, as the use of indigenous materials from there encourage communities to keep them there!
We love it because: Rahua is a tried and tested, all natural – and mainly organic – hair care brand that helps to preserve the rainforest, and that really works!
ArtNaturals Purple Shampoo and Conditioner are specially formulated to tone, balance, and protect silver-colored and bleached blonde hair. Using these two products in tandem will help to neutralize brassy tones and hydrate and revitalize dry and brittle tresses.
The shampoo’s surfactant-free formula locks in the color while the conditioner moisturizes your scalp, thereby preventing your hair color from fading. Both the shampoo and conditioner contain 93% natural coconut oil and vitamin E that help in repairing split ends and damaged hair follicles.
We love it because: It hydrates the scalp, repairs damaged hair, promotes hair growth, and prevents colour from fading…and did I mention it smells great (thanks to the use of natural plant based oils)?
Although there are plenty of ‘purple shampoo’ hair toners on the market, this one claims to be stronger than most, and is suitable for all types of gray, blonde, bleached, highlighted, color-treated, and natural hair. It eliminates brassiness, neutralizes yellow tones, and boosts the cool tones in your hair by enhancing the blonde, white, and silver coloring.
The sulfate-free, paraben-free, and pro-vitamin B5 formula of this product helps in restoring the luster and softness of your tresses. The innovative UV filters present in this shampoo protect your hair from the harmful UV rays.
We love it because: It’s cruelty-free and vegan BUT the ingredients are not as natural as the other hair toners listed here.
Got damaged hair from bleaching it blonde? This is perfect for you! It’s a deeply hydrating treatment that neutralizes unwanted yellow and brassy tones, thanks to its natural ingredients which include rosemary leaf extracts, cocoa seed butter, coconut oil, and Arnica montana leaf extracts that help to boost hair health and growth.
We love it because: It’s as natural as can be, and is also super easy to use.
This violet-tinted toner is designed to tone down brassy blondes down to the most natural, lightest shade possible. This ultra-gentle, vegan-friendly cream-based toner immediately neutralizes yellow tones and brightens blonde hair, but it can also revive the color in dark-tinted tresses. And did I mention it’s free of ammonia, PPD, and parabens that not only harm your hair, but your health, too?
We love it because: This product also acts as a conditioner and helps in hydrating your locks.
10. LUSH Daddy-O
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