Toner made my hair too dark

By: | Last Updated: July 6, 2022

If you’re big into lightening your hair, you must have encountered toner at least once or twice. When you go blonde or light brown, it’s often recommended to use toner when your hair gets brassy.

But have you ever experienced grabbing some toner with the hopes of making your hair bright and blonde, only to end up with darker, duller hair?

Or maybe you went into the salon for a touch-up and found yourself saying, “Oh no! The hairdresser made my blonde hair too dark.”

Here’s a better look into what toner does, why it can darken your hair, and how to lighten it when it happens. 

Is toner supposed to make your hair darker?

Is toner supposed to make your hair darker

Toner is popularly known for neutralizing red and brown tones that tend to make light-colored hair look brassy. 

But did you know that toner can give your hair more personality in the hands of a professional?

With toner, you can create the perfect hue that complements you best. It can enhance warm, natural tones or bring out more vibrant ones, depending on what kind of toner you use. 

So, toner isn’t supposed to darken your hair if used correctly. Toners are made to add small tonal nuances into a color you already have. 

Another fact to note is that toner is usually an ammonia-based product that relies on a developer, working the same way bleach does. This leaves a bit of room for error too. 

Using a developer with the wrong volume can also cause your hair to be dark. 

Does toner make your hair look darker?

Now that you know toner isn’t supposed to make your hair darker, is it still possible for it to make your hair look darker? 

Of course, it can.

It all depends on the technique and intention you have behind using the toner. If you meant to make it look darker, blue or, purple-toned toners can add a layer of depth to a lighter color. 

However, there are situations when it’s more of a miscalculation, and using the wrong toner can end up with you having greenish, brown, or muddy dark hair.  

What toner makes your hair darker?

What toner makes your hair darker

Toner makes your hair darker when you use the wrong color. What does this mean, exactly?

There are several kinds of toners out there with varying colors. Each color has its own purpose and works best on a different base. 

Let’s talk about the kinds of toner to use when you want to neutralize unwanted tones in your hair first, as this is usually what you’d like to do at home. 

It’s all about the color wheel. Stylists would usually take the color wheel and choose a complementary color to cancel out the tones that you want to get rid of in your hair.

For excess red, use green. If yellow tones in your hair are too intense, you’d usually use purple. Meanwhile, blue toner is used to eliminate orange tones in the hair. 

So, with all those different kinds of toners working best at neutralizing a specific color, it could be quite easy to pick the wrong one with an untrained eye. 

When used improperly, blue toners can mix with yellow to create a mossy green color, while blue can mix with red to create dark inky purple. 

All of this could then result in an unwanted dark color because of a combination of the wrong tones. 

How much can toner darken hair?

Toner can darken your hair by 1-2 levels. So this is best to keep in mind. If you’re using it to purposely darken your hair, know that it won’t be too drastic a change.

Meanwhile, if you only want to correct your hair’s tone and keep your original lightness level, it’s also good to know that too much toner or using the wrong kind can result in your hair going a shade or two darker. 

What to do if toner made my hair too dark?

What to do if toner made my hair too dark

Okay, so you’ve grabbed your toner and applied it. But maybe you misjudged, got the wrong kind, or used too much. 

You might be saying, “Oh no! Toner turned my blonde hair brown!” Here’s what to do if you tone your hair too dark. 

How do you get rid of dark toner on hair?

The first question to consider is: does dark toner wash out? 

Well, if you’d rather give it some time and try washing toner out, you’re in luck because, thankfully, the discoloration isn’t permanent.

In fact, you can even try using anti-dandruff shampoo or clarifying shampoo to speed up the process. 

Will dark hair toner fade? Yes! 

While clarifying shampoos are often no-no’s when it comes to colored hair, they’re great for remedying a toner job gone wrong for the exact reason. 

Sulfates, which we usually avoid because of how stripping they are to the hair, are key to helping you fade out the developer. 

They bind with the pigments in your hair, making them easier to get washed out in the shower.

You can try using a clarifying shampoo every day or every other day until you reach your desired color. But make sure you have a nourishing conditioner in handy to prevent dryness. 

You can even deep condition your hair once a week to lock in moisture.  

Otherwise, if you’re ready for a big change, you can try to double down on the dark hair and dye it even darker. 

Just make sure the color you use complements the hue of your toner, so you don’t end up with a muddy mess. 

CHECK OUT: How to remove toner from hair

How can I lighten my toner?

If you find your toner too dark, how to lighten it is probably the next thing on your mind. So, while it may be tempting to try and use bleach while you ask yourself, “Toner made my hair too dark. How to lighten it?”, avoid giving in to that urge at all costs. 

Because of the ammonia and developer that’s in typical toners, bleach is only going to cause you more damage. So, stick with clarifying shampoos and nourishing conditioners; eventually, it’ll lighten up before you know it!

Toner alternatives

To prevent this from happening in the first place, maybe leave toning to the professionals. But if you really need to toner your hair on your own, try other alternatives: 

  • Colored shampoos work like a toner but are less potent, so you can give these a shot if you think you can be a bit heavy-handed with color. 
  • You can also try mixing just a little bit of semi-permanent color with a conditioner to give you the same effect.

CHECK OUT: Do you put toner on wet or dry hair


So, the next time you find yourself googling “how to lighten toned hair too dark”, just remember to stay as far away from bleach as possible. Instead, grab an anti-dandruff or clarifying shampoo and wash your worries away. 

You can go for a new look and darken your hair too!

But next time, remember to choose your developer color carefully and use it in the right amounts. Practice and the right information make your hair perfect! 

Leave a Comment