If you’re not a natural blonde, the thrill of bleaching your hair to that fun, lighter, carefree color seems like a great idea. Until you have to maintain it. There are so many different shades of blonde and, of course, that all has to do with the undertone, or base shade.
Enter toners, which is why you will have stunning results going blonde when you go to a professional. I mean, this is what they trained for, isn’t it? That final step your colorist uses adds brightness and balance to the particular shade of blonde you choose. Toners control brassiness to keep unwanted red, orange, and yellow colors from showing through, which lead to a dull and blah appearance.
Once upon a time, it was impossible to find these things if you weren’t in the biz. But now, you can find salon-professional products to help your blonde along. Using toner is the secret to getting that gorgeous blonde hair you want, so when you toss your hair, everyone will stare in envy and desire.
Even with the best salon jobs or even your own best efforts that came out perfectly, there are many things that can affect your beautiful blondeness. Those things include the sun, hard minerals in your water, shampoo that strip the color away, and too much heat styling.
With going blonde, especially for the first time, I recommend having it done by a pro. But if you’re going to go for it, please use toner. You can help tame that blonde mane to look its best with the help of toner.
But before you click and order some, let’s discuss why it turns brassy when you bleach it and all that other good stuff, so read on!
Why does hair turn brassy after bleaching?
The pigment in your hair, melanin, dilutes during oxidation in the bleaching process. It’s a dark brown, sometimes black pigment. When the bleaching leaves some of that pigment behind, the warm tones reveal and give a brassy appearance.
It all makes sense when you learn more about the theory of colors and what happens with them. Basically, everyone’s hair has a secondary pigment, which is a natural undercoat. Even if you’ve never colored your hair before, if you sit out in the sun day in, day out, you’ll likely see it. You’ll also see this, of course, when you lighten your hair.
Here’s what else you should know about color theory:
- Going from dark brown when lightening, you will have a red undercoat
- With medium brown, you’ll wind up with an orange tone
- If your hair is light and you go to blonde, you’ll have a yellow undercoat
Undercoats are what colorists study extensively. Because they KNOW you do not want these unattractive hues coming through.
Tips and tricks on how to use toner at home without damaging your hair
Getting toner is the first step, but after that, it’s purely understanding the science of it, so pay attention! If you use too much, you dull out your hair and darken it. And if you don’t use any, you get brassy hair.
Fortunately, there are an abundance of products from rinses to drops to purple shampoos to glosses, but among the best are the toning treatments, conditioners, and masks because they deliver more moisturization.
Some stellar tips and tricks that will help you ace this part of home hair correction 101:
- Give it 2 weeks after bleaching before you do your toner thing at home (obviously, if you have it done professionally, you won’t have to worry because your stylist will have already done this for you)
- You need the right color toner for your shade of blonde which means those with a blue tint will cancel out orange and purple will cancel out yellow
- Repeat once each week to keep up the vibrance and minimize fading of your color
- Look for where it’s brassiest and apply toner to those places only (unless your whole head is brassy and discolored)
And now comes my favorite part with just about anything…shopping! I’ve put together a list of the best hair toners out there to help you get your brassiness under control!
Best hair toners
I’ve got 13 of the best hair toners out there, so one of these is bound to be your best choice when getting the best out of your blonde hair.
Wella really does take the brassiness out of your hair. My friend Lindsay was a hot mess after a home bleaching mishap. I told her she needed to use toner, but before I could give her any more pointers, she had to disconnect. About 2 days later, she called to tell me she chose Wella Color Charm and sent photos of the before and after. Fabulous!
Anyway, this can enhance or neutralize either warm or cool tones to get your ideal shade of blonde. It uses a special Liquifuse technology, which deeply saturates to get rid of brassiness, all while giving a slight lift. If Lindsay can figure it out, you can too (no offense to her), which means it’s so easy. Great consistency, ease of use, and a short amount of time (up to 30 minutes). Use the 20 volume cream developer from the Color Charm line with it for your best results
Do you have ice blonde hair? If so, Schwarzkopf is absolutely your best choice. It lasts a long time, and while it does work the best for that icy blonde, especially if you have a lot of gold hues coming through, it can work on other colors too. The downside is that it really will be best on you platinum-headed babes.
The reason? You have to really know what you’re doing to work with other shades. But white blondes will love this, and I mean REALLY love this. I have a neighbor I wouldn’t say is a friend since I don’t even know her name, but we always make small talk in passing, and when I saw her recently, her hair looked immaculate. I asked what she did, and she said she used the Blonde Me Toning Ice for her platinum blonde hair. I had to admit; I loved it. She looks good that way.
Ok, now this one is a cool option that makes things really easy. Keracolor Toning Drops can make any shampoo, conditioner, or even a cream-based styling product into your very own toner. You can rinse them out or leave them in. It easily enhances or neutralizes while boosting pigment and shine.
It also has keratin, that awesome hair protein that helps strengthen your hair strands. Coconut and caster oils deliver more hydration and seal damaged cuticles so you’ll come out of this looking sleeker, smoother, and ultra-fab. Well, some of you anyway. If you need a big boost, this is probably not going to do enough for you. Those of you that need just a bit of help will certainly love it for maintenance though between colorings. I’ve used it before to enhance my color and prolong it with great results using it as upkeep. If you’ve got big brassiness coming from a home bleaching job, though, a full-fledged toner is going to be your best friend.
Not everyone has blonde hair problems, this I know. Truss gets you too with this intensive color booster that sprays on and leaves your hair soft while helping remove those unwanted reds and oranges from your hair. There are a variety of colors for it too that can be used on gray or even fine hair (or both).
It’s great for repairing too. My friend Melissa swims daily, and her hair was a mess before she started using this. There are no metals or oxidants either, and I can tell you, after seeing Melissa’s hair, I was quite impressed. So much so that I got some too to give it a try, and I’ve noticed much more manageable, vibrant-looking hair.
Luseta is a brand several of my hairstylist friends have recommended. The Purple Shampoo and conditioner is great for blondes or those with gray hair. Each of them said the same things, that it was rich and very neutralizing to rid hair of brassiness.
One of them, Marie, explained that she had a client with ends that were a disaster. After using Luseta’s purple products, this client’s hair was so much better. It was glossy, shiny, and getting healthier by the day.
I haven’t tried it myself, but with that kind of pep talk from several stylists, it seems like a good bet. Plus, I personally love things that are free of nasty junk like sulfates and parabens. And if you’re a gluten-free gal, it’s also perfect for you. It restores pH balance to your scalp and helps hair flourish, so give it a shot if you’re blonde or you’re rocking your grays!
Another one that was highly recommended by one of my favorite colorists who lives in Miami is GBG Purple Shampoo. She’s worked on some big-name famous blondes out there. I’d tell you who, but she wouldn’t tell me because she prides herself on keeping things mellow and doesn’t want the paparazzi swarming around her salon and scaring celebs away.
She did dish on some of the ultra-rich clientele she has down there and how one client had gone to another salon with horrid results. She fixed her hair and then sent her off with the GBG from their salon shop. The client came back weeks later while out lunching, popping in to tell her just how much she loved this stuff.
Normally, she’d have needed a touchup at that point, but GBG had kept it looking luminous, bright, and healthy. One thing that’s especially important, especially in hot, sunny places like Miami, is that this features a photo stabilizer UV protection in the formula and collagen to keep hair looking healthy and beautiful despite all the environmental antagonists working against it. Made with coconut oil organic compounds, it’s a remarkable toning product for your blonde hair to control brassiness while leaving hair way better than it found it.
For a big, or dare I say “Bold” difference in your platinum, ash, silver, or gray hair, try BOLD UNIQ. It promises zero yellow with this purple shampoo while neutralizing brassiness. It absolutely lives up to that promise with salon-like results.
It’s not tested on animals and has no harmful chemicals, which makes me happy. Nourishing with vitamin B5 leaves your hair soft and utterly incredible. I had the chance to use this myself, and after leaving it on just a few minutes, I was completely impressed. My hair looked fabulous, and it stayed that way until it was finally time to color it again since it prolonged my hue.
Another thing I loved… the packaging is completely recyclable, even the box it comes in. I don’t know about you, but I love products that help you care for yourself without chemical agents and without clogging up our environment.
Same brand as the last one, but this is the purple conditioning mask. I definitely recommend this for dry, dull blonde hair. It gets rid of those brassy and yellow tones as it conditions, and your hair will feel like silk in your hands.
When going blonde, especially from a naturally dark color, it takes a lot out of your hair. And I don’t just mean that in the “duh” aspect of it since obviously, it takes out the pigment. But what I mean is that it takes all the moisture out of it. This toning mask gives you just what you need to go deep into the strands with hydration while neutralizing yellows and brassy tones. Additionally, it soaks up UV rays with UV filters to keep them from damaging your already-delicate hair situation. I have a friend who lives in California and is always out on the beach who was complaining about her straw-like blonde hair. I told her to try this mask, and she said she doesn’t know how she went without it for so long. This stuff is the key to beautiful blonde shades and soft, healthy-looking hair.
If you’re a brunette with highlights, you need something formulated for you. All that stuff for just the blondes isn’t going to cut it. MTRIX hasn’t forgotten about our sisters with blonde highlights, though. This hair mask deposits color to neutralize brassiness via highly-pigmented blue-violet tones.
And it does you one better. It repairs your hair and gives it added protection, so you have 10 times less breakage. The formula is really rich and designed for hair that’s looking a bit fragile. Maybe you’ve been waiting for an appointment to see your stylist, or maybe you’ve been in and out of the pool or hanging out at the beach. Whatever the case, this hair mask can help brunettes get their hair game back on track.
Not color-treated and just sun-damaged? This will work for you too, though be advised, as lovely as it leaves your hair; it’s not designed for daily use because it’s so highly pigmented.
Redken Color Extend Blondage Hair Mask focuses on anti-brass with ultra-pigmented purple that can tame those tones in only 5 minutes. The color correction and neutralization from this mask is fantastic, as my friend Kayla puts it.
She has always gone to the salon for her signature blonde hue, but her colorist broke her arm in a ski accident. She couldn’t find anyone to get an appointment with that was deemed worthy for over 2 months, so she did what her colorist recommended… buy Redken. “It solved my brassy problems in minutes, and it made my hair soft and beautiful again. It’s what kept me going until I could get into another appointment,” she told me.
Another one that you may prefer is BLONDBERRY. My friend Ria said this one is comparable to others on my list though a bit better in a few ways. She told me the jar makes it much easier to scoop out product while you’re in the shower. Indeed, I hadn’t thought of that.
Also, it’s best for that cool blonde tone, something she’s held onto very well. This product is rich with keratin and proteins, too, so it aims to repair your hair with the ultimate of care. Ria said she loved how her hair looked and felt after using it, and while the others she tried did a good job, she felt this one was her perfect match.
You can use it several times a week without worrying about over-pigmenting, and you’ll have shiny, soft, and healthy-looking blonde hair without the brassiness.
Here’s another BLONDWOOD purple hair mask though this one is for devoted blondes and not cool ones. It especially focuses on how to handle your porous and dry hair by closing the cuticle and restoring moisture and integrity to your hair shaft.
Within 5 minutes, you’ll discover a whole new you. Oh, and I should’ve mentioned before, but BLONDWOOD is also a paraben-free, sulfate-free, silicone-free, and sodium-chloride-free, so you can use it several times a week without damaging your hair. It’s ideal to get rid of that brassy appearance and tame tired, dried out, bleached out hair.
Here’s one last listing for cool blondes. Purple hair mask by REVICARE is designed to get rid of yellow undertones in just 15 minutes. While it takes longer than some of the other options I’ve listed, it does fix all your other hair concerns.
This hair toner works to infuse your hair, matching the dye molecule, and staying on the surface. You won’t see yellow in your light or ash blonde hair anymore. It also uses silk protein, retinol, aloe vera, and avocado oil to repair your hair from within so you’ll have that healthy, shiny, Hollywood starlet hair you were hoping to have in the first place.
Speaking of Hollywood, it’s made in the USA too, so if you’re a fan of buying local, or American at least, this one is for you!
Conclusion on choosing the best hair toners
If your blonde ‘do is looking less than stellar, you should check in with a toner that can help lift it to the right shade again. When you go to the salon, your stylist completes the bleaching process with one. But as time goes by, a toner can save you trips to the stylist by balancing out the harmony in your hair color when things like the sun and environmental aggressors cause your color to go all brassy.
Some come in the form of easy-care washes and masks, while others are a bit more complex. You can use them in between salon visits to keep your color looking beautiful and your hair healthy, but if you’re going to attempt to go blonde at home, it’s imperative you use a toner to ensure you balance your hair color. Keeping it up with purple shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks will give you the best of both worlds with stunning blonde colors and softness that you can touch.