How to Use a Toner When Coloring Hair

by Chelsea Armstrong ; Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Towel

  • Vaseline

  • Gloves

  • Toner

  • 10-Volume Developer

  • Small mixing bowl

  • Applicator brush

  • Large hair clip

  • Conditioning mask

Toner is a blue, grey or violet tinted dye that removes brassy, gold or orange tones in hair. It can be difficult to find in drugstores, but is available for purchase in beauty supply stores, along with developer and everything else you will need. It is important to select the right shade of toner, so consult with a hairstylist or color professional before purchasing. Toner can also be applied halfway between hair coloring appointments to keep your color looking fresh.

When To Use Toner

In a two-step hair coloring process, the first step is to lighten the hair to the desired level and the second step is to tone. Dark hair colors often contain more orange or auburn undertones than lighter hair. When lightening or highlighting dark hair, the pigment is removed from the hair strand, leaving the orange undertone, which can cause the new blonde color to appear very brassy. Apply a toner after lightening to cancel out the brassy tones in the hair.

How To Apply Toner

Step 1

Start with dry hair.

Step 2

Secure a towel around the neck and shoulders to protect clothing.

Step 3

Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the skin all the way around the hairline. This will prevent any color from staining the skin.

Step 4

Mix equal parts toner and 10-Volume Developer in a small mixing bowl.

Step 5

Use an applicator brush to apply toner to the hair in approximately 2-inch sections from the roots to the ends.

Step 6

Secure loose hair to head with a large hair clip.

Step 7

Let toner sit for 15 minutes. Check hair every 5 minutes to ensure the proper color is achieved. Some hair may require additional time.

Step 8

Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Be sure all product is removed.

Step 9

Apply a conditioning mask to hair and leave on for 10 minutes.

Step 10

Rinse thoroughly in lukewarm water.

Hair Care For Lasting Color

To keep your blonde hair looking fresh between colorings, use a purple shampoo once a week. The violet tones in the shampoo will prevent any brassiness from recurring. Follow up with a deep conditioner to keep hair looking healthy and smooth.


  • Always use gloves when applying hair color or toner.

    Avoid washing your hair every day. Use a dry shampoo between washes to soak up any excess oil and keep hair looking clean.

    Protect your hair from mineral deposits in pool water by applying a few drops of baby oil to dry hair before swimming.

About the Author

Chelsea Armstrong is a professional makeup artist and stylist. Her love of writing began while she was studying English at the University of Waterloo. Armstrong later attended the Sonia Ryan Makeup Academy and now owns and operates her own business.