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What is the Difference Between Hair Color and Toner?

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.

Blog posts are worthless! Be careful what you write!!!

I had realized I haven't covered the toner category in hair color.  Many of you may not know the difference between hair color and toner.  They both contribute to coloring but in different ways.

If you have read my Definitive Haircolor Guide, you are probably seeking answers to something you did wrong to your hair.  As I mentioned somewhere within the guide, if your hair color doesn't turn out the way it did, it is most likely all your fault!

Hair color is a carefully calculated chemical process.  Hair color companies know this, but you, the at-home colorist, will just think of the color process as a linear equation like 1 + 1 = 2, then I can color.  But hair color is really algebra and when you mess it up at home and go to have it color corrected, it becomes a calculus equation for the colorist.

Check out the post on The Colors, The Developers, and The Additives.

Hair Color versus the Toner

Hair color will color from the darkest black to the palest blonde.  Depending on the formula, it may only deposit color (will not lighten) or change color permanently and lighten a few levels.  What is really important with hair color is to follow directions and to use the correct developer formulation with the correct hair color formulation!!!

Toner is not for all hair color.  It is used mostly in double processing.  This means it is to be used on hair that is bleached or hair that is BLONDE

To learn how to neutralize unwanted tones from bleaching, just push the button: Neutralize

Toner is used after bleaching to get rid of those unwanted tones like orange, yellow-orange, yellow, etc. Toners are ammonia free because it isn't made to lift the hair (make the hair lighter) but to deposit.  Bleaching is a really a brutal process on the hair shaft, it removes the natural pigments leaving hair in a distressed state.  Anything applied after has to be gentle. 

Here are a few important pointers which will lead to proper results when using it.

  • Use as directed!!!! This is the number one cause of many rants!!!  Different brands have different instructions.  Follow them.  Some may tell you to use a certain volume developer compared to another.  This is because of the toner formulation of that brand.

  • Used after bleaching process or on blonde hair.  Toner is usually the end application to enhance bleached hair, this is double processing.  For blonde hair, it is to neutralize the unwanted tones or to enhance.  This is why it is called a toner.

  • Use the correct volume developer to achieve maximum results with minimal damage.  Toners should be used with developers from 5 volume to 20 volume at the most. The lowest which is 5 volume is the gentlest and used, on most likely, close to damaged hair.  This will gently deposit color and render it a demi-permanent solution which after bleaching is pretty much a permanent solution since the hair is porous.  Some of it may wash out gradually but there should be some color left.  20 volume is the strongest and if the hair is healthy enough after bleach, then this will be a permanent solution.  

  • It won't work on dark hair.  If you find some brassy or unwanted tones in your dark hair, it is better to use a demi-permanent hair color that will neutralize the tone.  Demi-permanent does not contain ammonia, therefore, like the toner it is gentle.

  • Leave it on for the allotted time of anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.  If you are really trying to neutralize a strong tone like orange or orange yellow, it is probably best to leave it on for 30 minutes since those two are the strongest warm colors.  If you trying to counteract a yellow, then most likely you are using a violet toner.  Yellow is pretty light and 5 minutes may be enough to counteract it. 

  • If you bought the product in a bottle form and didn't use the entire product, don't go saving it thinking you can use it the next time.  The color will oxidize (turn dark).  You can't use it.  But if you bought the tube form, makes sure you roll up the used up portion to remove any air in the tube; cap it tightly and use it for the next time.

  • One more thing, don't go making your own hair color to developer ratio.   If it says 1:1, stay with that! If it says 1:2, stay with that!

If you still don't understand the difference between hair color and toner, think of this analogy.  Hair color is like a paint, it will give a solid and opaque change to hair.  Toner is like a wood stain, it is sheer to keep the blonde of the hair which is why it doesn't work on dark hair. (In all honesty someone told me this when I was just learning hair color way back, forgot who it was. Sorry.)

I hope this answers some of your questions on the difference between hair color and toner.  I am sure I may have forgotten some information.  Oh yes, remember to follow the directions AS IS!!! I don't think I mention this enough!!!!!!!



*pix from sally beauty supply.*

Read by the Intelligent! Uncredited, copied, and plagiarized by the idiots!
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