Does toner damage hair

When it comes to bleaching and dyeing hair, it can sometimes get complicated, depending on your hair color history.

Sometimes you need to tone it to get rid of brassy shades before achieving the color you want. But it’s not always guaranteed that one application can do the trick.

So naturally, you start to get worried about the type of products you need to apply to obtain and maintain your perfect shade.

So does using toner damage your hair? And how frequently are you supposed to apply it to maintain your hair color?

So in this article, we’ll tell you the lowdown on hair toners, so read more to find out.


What is hair toner?

What is hair toner

A hair toner is for neutralizing underlying pigments on bleached or dyed hair to make it look more natural. It does this by applying color theory, where you use the opposite color of the shade you want to cancel out.

So if you want to get rid of orange hues, you’ll need to use a blue toner. But if you're going to remove yellow tones, you’ll need to use a purple toner. 

There are also other colors of toners available, depending on the shade you want to neutralize. So you can refer to a color wheel to determine which one you’ll need to get.

But since blonde hair tends to become brassy over time, you’ll need to use a toner to maintain your hair color. 

So, in this case, does purple toner damage your hair?


Does toner damage your hair?

To be frank, hair toner is just a demi- or semi-permanent hair dye that eliminates brassy undertones in your hair.

So if you use a salon-grade toner, you’ll risk damaging your hair if you misuse it.


Since most toners need a developer mixed in, you’ll have to be careful which volume developer you’ll get. Since the higher the number, the stronger the lifting power will be.

That’s why it’s essential to follow the directions indicated on the box to get the most out of your toner.

But it’s usually recommended to use a 10 or 20-volume developer since they won’t lighten your hair as much compared to 30 or 40-volume. After all, your goal is only to neutralize unwanted shades.


Does toner damage hair after bleaching?

If you have naturally dark hair and have bleached it 3-4 shades lighter, your hair might have some damage as bleaching can be an aggressive process.

But then, you’ll also need to tone after since dark hair usually leaves undertones when lightened. So does toner damage hair like bleach?

The short answer is no. Bleach lifts the pigments from your hair to lighten it, while a toner corrects its color by adding pigments into it. So it’s not as harsh as bleach.

But even though toners are not as damaging, it’s still recommended to wait for at least 48 hours after bleaching to prevent it from damaging your hair further. This allows your hair to recover from the harsh chemicals.

We know what you’re thinking; if you go to a salon, a toner is usually applied after bleaching your hair. But if you’re toning your hair at home, the risk of damaging it is higher since your hair cuticles are still open after bleaching.

So it’s safer to let your hair rest for a couple of days before applying toner over it.


Can toner cause hair breakage?

Can toner cause hair breakage

Maybe you’ve heard of the horror stories of hair falling out in clumps after bleaching and toning their hair.

It’s a common misconception that toner can cause your hair to fall out when it’s more gentle than bleach.

As long as your hair’s healthy and you’re using it the right way, it won’t cause severe damage to your hair.

In fact, it can even do the opposite. 

Aside from refreshing and correcting the colors of your hair, a toner can strengthen it by adding a protective layer over your hair whenever it deposits pigments. It also fills in the gaps in your hair shaft to level out its porosity; that's why your hair comes out shinier after.

So whenever your hair color needs a little bit of correction, don’t be afraid to use a toner. Just remember to keep an eye on your hair to avoid overprocessing it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with purple or blue hair.


Will toner burn my hair?

If you are using a toner that needs a developer, you have to assess the current state of your hair first before you apply it. Especially if you just bleached your hair.

If it feels healthy, then you’re safe to tone your hair after 48 hours of bleaching. But if it feels dry and rubbery, it’s best to postpone your toning session for a couple more weeks.

That’s usually a sign that your hair has lost a significant amount of protein when bleaching. So if you add another layer of chemicals to it, you might end up burning your hair off.

It would be a bummer to walk around with brassy hair for a few weeks, but it’s a safer route than applying toner immediately. 

In the meantime, you can focus on getting your hair to a healthy state by applying moisturizing treatments, like deep conditioner and hair serums.


Does Wella toner damage hair?

When it comes to hair toners, Wella is usually a go-to brand as it has 3 collections of hair toners.

You’ve probably heard of their Color Charm line, which contains 8 different shades of toners for 3 hair colors. Their Blondor line includes 5 shades of toners for blonde hair. Lastly, their Color Tango toner is a cream-based formula available in 4 shades. 

So will using any of the Wella toners damage your hair?

Since Wella toners need a developer for application, it’s still important to assess the condition of your hair even though a lot swear by using their products.

Wella recommends using a 20-volume developer so that it will lift 1-2 shades of your hair color. So you have to make sure your hair is healthy enough to undergo that process. Otherwise, it will make it dry and frizzy.

It’s also essential to follow the instructions on the toner to get great results and do a patch test if you haven’t tried using this brand before.

To do a patch test, apply a dollop of toner on a small area of your hair, preferably near the back of your neck. Let it sit until you get your desired color, then rinse.

Wait for 24 hours, and if your hair feels healthy and you have the result you want, you’re safe to apply the toner to the rest of your hair.


How often can you tone your hair without damaging it?

Since hair toners eventually wear off, you’ll need to make several applications if you want to maintain your hair color.

That’s why it’s recommended to tone your hair every 6-8 weeks. But only if it starts getting brassy since hair toners will still damage your hair if you use them excessively.

But how often you should apply toner also depends on the color of your hair. So if you want the effects of your toner to fade out longer, you’ll need to change your hair care routine.

Switching to sulfate-free or color-protecting hair products can help preserve your hair color. So it won’t strip as much pigment every time you wash your hair. 

Washing with cold water also helps as this prevents your hair shaft from opening.

Prolonged sun exposure can also fade your hair faster, so use an umbrella or wear a hat if you need to go out in the sun.


How can I tone my hair without damaging it?

How can I tone my hair without damaging it

Toning your hair isn’t as difficult as long as you have the right supplies and follow the recommended directions.

If your hair is really brassy, you’ll need to use a 20-volume developer to neutralize the shade. Just keep in mind that this will lighten your hair slightly.

But if your hair doesn’t need a lot of toning, you can opt for a 10-volume developer as it deposits more pigments without lightening your hair.

To start, mix 2 parts developer to 1 part toner to avoid turning your hair darker. Apply the mixture to damp hair, and let it sit for a maximum of 20 minutes.

Remember to check your hair every 5 minutes as the toner processes quickly. Once you’re satisfied with the color, rinse your hair and apply a color-safe conditioner.


Other types of hair toners

If you’re nervous about using a developer to tone your hair, there are other types available that are more gentle. So here are a couple that is okay to use even on slightly damaged hair:

Toning shampoo

A toning shampoo is a type of shampoo that contains pigments to help neutralize brassy tones in your hair. It’s a type of toner that doesn't damage hair, as it doesn’t need to use a developer.

So you’ll need to make several applications as the shampoo takes the brass out gradually.

You’re probably already familiar with purple and blue shampoo, as these are the most common ones. But other colors, like green and red shampoos, are also available.

You can apply a toning shampoo like a regular shampoo. While some brands even have a conditioner that pairs well with the shampoo.

But remember only to use these products when your hair is brassy, as the pigments can alter the color of your hair.

Hair gloss

A hair gloss treatment is usually for adding shine back to dull hair. But it can also be for refreshing and toning brassy hair.

But keep in mind, it can only remove the undertones subtly but will make your hair color more vibrant.

You can get it professionally done, but there are also hair gloss kits available that you can do at home. Just make sure you have the right color if you want to tone your hair.

A hair gloss is also easy to use. You only need to apply it all over your hair and let it sit for 15 minutes, depending on the instructions on the box.

Then rinse, and you’re left with softer and healthier hair.

CHECK OUT: What to do right after bleaching hair


The bottom line

Bleaching your hair blonde can be an exciting change, but you have to remember to take care of it if you want the color to last.

That’s why toners are really handy if your hair starts turning brassy.

So you have to choose the right type of toner and learn how to use it correctly to avoid damaging your hair.

But of course, going to a professional hairstylist is still the best way to go if you want to maintain your gorgeous hair.

Last Updated: April 11, 2022

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