How To Darken Highlights With A Toner? - Lauren+Vanessa (2023)

Getting highlights has been so popular for decades now. There is a variety of highlights you could get – so you have plenty to choose from!

The most popular types nowadays are balayage highlights or babylights. Babylights are very subtle and they only make your hair look a bit sunkissed.

Balayage, on the other hand, can make your hair look drastically different. It looks like a soft transition from a darker, usually natural tone to lighter, blonde or gray tones. The lighter tones don’t have to be grayish or blonde, they can be dyed into any color, as long as it’s lighter than the roots!

Highlights are usually used to spark up your look. But, if you commit to having babylights for a while, you could get bored after a while.

So many people get bored with their hairstyles, and you heard from some friends that you can darken highlights with a toner, which sounds amazing.

How to darken highlights with a toner? What’s the best way to darken highlights? Continue reading to find out the best methods out there!

What’s The Purpose Of A Toner?

Since changing your hair color can come as a bit of a shock, many people stick to highlights for their first dye job.

The change could still be drastic, but less so than changing your entire hair color. Many people stick to various highlights for years and eventually, they get bored.

Or the highlights turned out way too light for their liking this time – either way, you don’t love the look now. That’s where toners come in.

Toners are traditionally used for light hair, processed and dyed – usually. Toners are used to remove unwanted tones from your entire hair or highlights.

(Video) ✨How To do TEASY LIGHTS, Root shading, AND Color Melting || Full TUTORIAL and FORMULAS!

Today, the most popular hair tones are cold and gray. Gray tones have become so popular that people pay huge amounts of money to hairdressers to achieve that viral, gray balayage.

Unfortunately, you will find out that gray hair is achieved with toner – and toner is not permanent. At best, it will last five washes before your hair gets that brassy, yellowish look.

So, you will need to tone your hair once a week or once every two weeks. The same story is if you want your highlights to have that gorgeous golden tone or to make it more neutral.

Toners are an ideal alternative to dyeing your hair because it doesn’t damage your hair at all. It’s not permanent, but the toner gives you the desired tone in just a few minutes. Another plus is that applying toner is easily done at home!

See Also: Can You Mix Toner With Hair Dye?

Can Toner Be Used To Darken Highlights?

We have already established that toner doesn’t exactly dye your hair – the toner just removed the unwanted tones from your hair. The toner just gives your hair a slightly different look, depending on the tones you want to remove – be that cold or warm tones.

So, can you use toner to darken highlights? Actually, yes!

It won’t give darken your hair a lot, but it can be done. Picking out the appropriate toner for this can be a bit of a hassle, but it can be done.

We found that there are there is only one, the right way to darken highlights with toner, so let’s get on it!

How To Darken Highlights With A Toner: Choosing The Toner

To start, you will need to know how light your highlights are – and you can do that using a color chart. It will be best to use the color chart of the company whose toner you want to use – this is the ideal way because you’re more likely to pick out the correct shade.

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Hold a strand of your highlights close to the chart and figure out what’s the color closest to your real hair. Most tones range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the darkest and 10 (sometimes 12), being the lightest.

When you pick out the brand you want to use for toning, search the web for their hair color chart. You must use the chart of the brand you’re set on using for the best results.

If your highlights are extremely light, almost white – they likely belong in the 9 or 10 tones on the chart. Now, pick out the color you want your highlights to be. Usually, you would want your highlights to be at least a few tones darker, according to the chart.

Then, go to the beauty store of your choosing. We strongly recommend going to the beauty store in person, rather than shopping online. This way, you can consult the shopping assistants if you have trouble picking out a toner.

The toner you pick should be the color you’d want your color to be. When you’re going from dark to light, it can be hard. On the other hand, when you want your hair to be darker, it can be pretty easy to pick a toner – but be careful nonetheless.

Even if you make a mistake, don’t sweat it. Toners are demi-permanent and they don’t penetrate the hair follicle – they just deposit the shade over the hair.

That’s why toners wash out so quickly, but they are useful if you don’t want to commit to just one hair color. Toners, unlike dye, just neutralize the intensity of the hair color underneath it – making it less light in this situation.

The last step is picking out a developer – it’d be best to use 10 volume. When you mix the developer with the toner, the mix will deposit the color to your hair. We advise you to pick a developer from the same brand as the toner.

Read Also: How To Cancel Out Pink Tones In Hair? Tone Down Pink Hair?

How To Darken Highlights With A Toner: Application

How To Darken Highlights With A Toner? - Lauren+Vanessa (1)
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The first thing you should do is mix the toner with the developer, and be vary about the ratio. Usually, the ratio is one part toner to two parts developer. Mix it well in a bowl, until the mix gets a thicker, gel-like texture.

What happens if you put too much developer in your dye? Is that dangerous? Read our article to find out!

Section out your hair to at least a few sections to do a more precise job. Use clasps to put up the hair you have already colored

Using the dye brush, transfer the mix onto your hair. You can apply the toner to your highlights only, but you can use it on your whole hair, too.

Begin at the roots and work your way downwards – and start at the back of your head. If you apply it to your darker strand, don’t panic – it will likely not change anything.

When you’re done, comb out your hair. This will ensure all your strands are covered in toner – start at the roots and comb your entire hair.

Depending on the toner, you should leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes before you wash it. Check out the color of your hair as the time is almost up. If it doesn’t seem dark enough yet, hold it for a few minutes longer, but no longer than 30 minutes.

Use cold water to remove the toner from your hair. Use your fingers to massage the scalp and remove the toner from your roots. Don’t shampoo your hair right away, because it can make your hair lighter than you wanted it to be.

See Also: Realistic Stages Of Lightening Dark Hair: How It Really Looks

How To Darken Highlights With A Toner: Color Correcting

If your hair didn’t get the exact tone you were looking for, you can use a purple or

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Apply purple cleanser to your hair to address the brazen tone. Purple shampoos are used for removing brassy and yellow tones.

Use the purple shampoo every week, and leave in for a few minutes to get the colder tones. Don’t use it during every hair wash, because it can dry out your hair.

Also, stay away from too light highlights from now on. Processing damages your hair, and if you tone it darker afterward, what’s the point of shade 10 highlights?

Furthermore, if you didn’t achieve the color you wanted with toner, consider going to a professional. A professional may even use regular hair dye to give your highlights a darker, more subtle look.

They may even advise you to stick to babylights or a balayage. After all, they are the more subtle types of highlights.

On the other hand, can you go from golden blonde to platinum? Read our article to find out!

How To Darken Highlights With A Toner: The Bottom Line

To conclude, darkening the highlights can be done with toner. However, you have to be careful to choose the correct color according to the chart.

If you’re having trouble choosing the color or you’re not satisfied with the results – there is a way. Make an appointment with your hairdresser and they will help you get the shade you want!

Related Read:

  • How To Fix Over Toned Hair? Easy Tricks You Can Try At Home
  • Can You Tone Your Hair Twice? How Many Times Can You Use Toner?


Can I use a toner to darken highlights? ›

If your new highlights are too light, there are a couple ways you can fix them from the comfort of your own home. Applying a toner and developer on your highlights will help take away the brightness while darkening the highlights a bit.

How can I darken my highlighted hair? ›

The easy way to temporarily tone down your highlights is to tone your hair using a toner. Toners work by depositing pigments on the surface of hair strands, so they can darken color that appears too light.

How do you make blonde hair darker with toner? ›

3. Use the Correct Shade of Toner to Darken Your Hair
  1. Mix it with an equal amount of developer in a bowl. Learn what developer to use here.
  2. Apply the toner to your hair, starting at the roots and working your way down to the tips.
  3. Leave the toner on your hair for 20-30 minutes, then rinse it with warm water.
15 Sept 2022

What do you do if your highlights are too light? ›

What to do with highlights that are too light? First things first, try a toner. While your highlights may seem too bright, it could be that you're actually seeing undesired tones in them, and a toner can help level things out.

What happens if you put toner on highlights? ›

Toner revitalizes brassy and dull highlights to their original silky, shiny, and not-orange state. Blonde streaks, brunette balayage, and platinum hues can benefit from a toning treatment. With time and effort, your highlights can look salon-fresh between appointments. What is this?

What happens when you put a toner on highlighted hair? ›

Toner evens out the porosity of your hair, camouflaging differences in the exposed color, which is why colorists use toner after highlighting. Some argue that toning is actually the most important part of the highlighting process.

Can toner make hair darker? ›

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know. While toner doesn't darken your hair as such, it can be used to tone down or neutralise bright brassy yellow and orange tones in bleached hair. A toner helps achieve more natural tones like dusty, ashy or platinum.

Will purple shampoo darken my highlights? ›

It's important to note that the pigment in purple shampoo isn't a lightener or hair dye but a gentle toner that works overtime. So it can't darken your hair or make it any lighter.

How can I tone down my highlights naturally? ›

Purple pigment naturally tones down any bright yellow or orange in your highlights. Try using purple shampoo or conditioner on your hair once or twice a week until you start to see the highlight color you want. You can find purple shampoo at Ulta.

What toner cancels out blonde? ›

Purple formulas help cancel unwanted yellow or brassy tones, as purple and yellow are opposite on the color wheel and neutralize each other. Blue formulas are best for orange undertones and brassiness, and perform that same function.

Does toner get darker the longer you leave it on? ›

What happens if you leave toner in for more than 30 minutes? If you leave it on for more than 30 minutes, you may end up with a color that is too dark or too light. Leaving it on too long will also deposit too much color in your hair – which could end up looking green!

How long does it take for blonde toner to fade? ›

They are a deposit colour only, which means they won't do anything to your natural hair and they last about 4 to 5 weeks depending on how often you wash your hair . If you wash your hair every day, expect your toner to fade out FAST. If you wash it once a week, you will generally get a month of nicely toned hair.

How can I tone down my bright blonde hair? ›

A toner is your best bet! If you're not ready for a new hair color just yet, then using an ash-based toner on bleached or lightened hair can tone down that brassy/too vibrant color easily and quickly.

What to do if you don't like your highlights? ›

Tell your colorist in a calm way that you are unhappy with how the look turned out, and he or she will be understanding,” Hazan says. Try to explain exactly what you don't like about the color.

How do you reduce highlights in your hair? ›

Add Lowlights

Want to tone down the intensity of your highlights, while still keeping some dimension? Lowlights may be the answer. “Lowlighting is a process where you can either foil or Balayage darker pieces into your blonde hair,” says Gillen.

How long do you leave toner on highlights? ›

Leave the toner on for approximately 8-10 minutes for lighter hair and up to 20-30 minutes for darker hair. This toner removes “brass” for perfect blonde hair. To achieve the best results, you should lighten your hair before applying the toner.

How long does toner last on highlights? ›

Depending on you hair type and hair condition, toner can last between 2-to-6 weeks. Hair that has been coloured previously can sometimes hold toners for less time than hair that has only been coloured once, so may need more regular toning.

What color toner should I use for highlights? ›

You should use a toner created for dark hair, like purple or blue shampoo. If you want to get rid of orange undertones or red highlights, use green shampoo twice every month.

Why do hairdressers use toner instead of dye? ›

It's gentle on the hair. Less hydrogen peroxide means that it's a healthier alternative to dye. For this reason, many stylists will opt for toner. Unfortunately this formulation also means that the results are semipermanent, rather than permanent.

What does toner do to already bleached hair? ›

Hair toner is a product used on hair after it has been subject to strong chemical bleaching and lightening processes in order to get rid of brassy hair tones. The toner works most noticeably on light hair as it does not lift or permanently alter the color of hair, but rather adds a tone over it.

How can I darken bleached hair without dying it? ›

Walnuts. Walnuts are also a good option for darkening your bleached hair a shade or two. You can use any walnut type except black walnuts – these may darken your hair too much. The more of the crushed shells you use, the darker the finished color will be, so start with just a few.

How can I darken my bleached hair at home? ›

Slightly Darkening Bleached Hair: A Summary
  1. Assess your hair's condition.
  2. Choose the dye color.
  3. Wear protective gear.
  4. Mix the dye based on the written instructions.
  5. Divide your hair into four parts and clip them.
  6. Apply the dye in each section.
  7. Leave the dye to process.
9 Aug 2022

What does too much toner do to your hair? ›

Permanent toners

Permanent toner contains ammonia and is mixed with a 20-volume developer. Take note, a volume that's higher than 10 lifts the hair. Lifting means the hair cuticles open up. And once they do, the hair loses its strength, making it frizzy and dry.

What does purple shampoo do to blonde highlights? ›

Purple shampoo acts as a toner to get rid of brassy tones and return your hair to a cooler, salon-fresh blonde. Using purple shampoo is a key step in helping dyed blonde hair look vibrant and fresh. After dying your hair blonde, your blonde hue may become brassy over time.

What will purple shampoo do to highlights? ›

Purple shampoo works to neutralise the brassy or orange tones in brown hair to cool the overall look so highlights pop. If you have brown tresses with a few highlights, you can definitely use purple shampoo to keep those lighter tones fresh.

How long should I leave purple shampoo on my highlighted hair? ›

How long should you leave purple shampoo in for?
  1. Warm Blondes: Wait 1-3 minutes before rinsing.
  2. Neutral Blondes: Wait 3-5 minutes before rinsing.
  3. Cool Blondes: Wait 5-15 minutes before rinsing.

How can I make my bleached highlights look more natural? ›

If you want your new blonde hair color to look really natural, be sure to match cool colors with cool undertones and warm colors with warm undertones. If you have neutral undertones, you can go either way.

What shampoo will tone down highlights? ›

Blue shampoos are designed to counteract orange tones in brunette hair, while purple shampoos are used to banish brass in blonde hair. If you make the leap from brunette to blonde hair, make sure to switch to a purple shampoo to counteract the yellow tones that often appear in color-treated blonde hair.

What toner removes orange hair? ›

If your hair is orange, you'll need a blue toner. Try a blue shampoo to tone the brassiness and get rid of the orange. This color toner is commonly needed for darker hair.

What can I use to tone down brassy blonde highlights? ›

Use a Color-Correcting Purple Shampoo

Yellow and violet are opposites on the color wheel, so purple is used to cancel out overly warm, brassy tones. Invest in a purple shampoo to help crush brassy tones for a cooler, brighter blonde.

What happens if u leave toner in too long? ›

What happens if you leave toner in too long? Leaving toner in your hair too long can cause some nasty consequences. You may end up with a blue or violet color, or your locks may become oversaturated with pigment and shed color for weeks. You might also end up with extreme damage that only a haircut can fix.

Should toner be morning or night? ›

You can use a toner at any time of the day – morning, evening or night, but the most important thing to keep in mind is to always and only use a toner right after you have cleansed your face. It's also equally important to finish your skincare routine right after you have applied your toner.

Does toner ever fully wash out? ›

Toners fade with each shampoo, so washing your hair everyday will cause it to fade faster. Most toners last for about four weeks.

What removes toner from hair? ›

Wash Your Hair with a Clarifying Shampoo

The best way to wash toner out of your hair quickly is by using a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos are powerful cleansers that people usually use to wash out product build-up, dirt, and other substances that get in your hair. These shampoos can also remove toners.

How many times can you tone your hair after bleaching it? ›

Don't overdo it. You shouldn't be toning twice a day or even twice a week. A tinted shampoo shouldn't be used more than 1-2 times per week. Ideally, you would wait at least two weeks after your dye job before applying any toner at all.

How many washes does a toner last? ›

Depending on how often you wash your hair and your hair history, your toner should last anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks. If you wash your hair every day, expect your toner to fade out quickly!

Can you tone blonde hair brown? ›

If you're starting from a platinum blonde, your stylist will need to fill your hair—adding in the color molecules that are missing and allowing them to bond to the clear base—with pigment before adding the brunette color you're going for. It can take a few trips to the bowl to make the color stick.

Will toner lighten dark blonde hair? ›

“Toners work by depositing color, so they will only enhance the current level or go darker, says Papanikolas. “Toners will not lighten hair, so if your desire is to make your highlights brighter, then a toner is the wrong approach.”

How do you make highlights not look brassy? ›


This is where toning shampoos come in. Formulated with purple, blue and other pigmented formulas, these shampoos help cancel out brassy tones that appear in between your coloring appointments. Think of this as your at-home toning solution.

Will toner darken my highlights? ›

Toner isn't meant to change the color of hair, but it neutralizes the undertones of hair color that might be overly emphasized by dye or highlights.

How do you darken highlights in your hair? ›

Applying a toner and developer on your highlights will help take away the brightness while darkening the highlights a bit. If you don't want to use a toner, try spraying a colored dry shampoo over your hair to even out the tone.

How do you darken highlights with coffee? ›

Simply brew a couple of cups of dark coffee or espresso, using twice the amount of coffee grounds you'd use for a regular batch. Let the coffee cool, then mix the coffee with conditioner, apply to your hair as you would any store-bought hair dye, and let it sit for at least an hour.

Can I dye highlighted hair darker? ›

To put it simply, yes, you can colour highlighted hair at home. But don't expect to easily get the results you want.

How do you fix bleached hair that is too light? ›

5 Tips to Correct Hair that Was Colored too Light
  1. 1) Apply a darker shade to your hair. Be careful not to end up with the opposite problem: having to correct a color that is too dark. ...
  2. 2) Choose a color full of nutrients. ...
  3. 3) Prevent other hair dye mistakes. ...
  4. 4) Pamper your hair. ...
  5. 5) Test before going forward.

How can I darken my highlights without toner? ›

If you are not into the hair toner when trying how to tone down hightlights that are too light, you can try spritzing your hair with dry shampoo which is the colored one to balance out the tone as a way of how to darken highlights that are too light.

What to do when you don't like your highlights? ›

Go Back To The Salon

To change the tone of your highlights, colorists can apply a glaze to eliminate brassiness or deposit semi-permanent color on top of them. If your hair is too dark, they can add some highlights or use something stronger to soften the color.

How long do you have to wait to dye over highlights? ›

Standard time in between appointments is 4-6 weeks, since your hair grows on average 1/2” a month. Of course you can stretch this out to 6-8 weeks if you don't mind the roots. Being able to stretch it out usually depends on what your natural hair color looks like compared to your artificially “sweetened” hair color.

How can I tone down my bleached hair at home? ›

If your bad bleach job has come out more yellow, you'll need a purple toner. Purple shampoo can help neutralize the yellow. If your hair is orange, you'll need a blue toner. Try a blue shampoo to tone the brassiness and get rid of the orange.

What Colours go over highlighted hair? ›

Choose a Hair Colour between your Natural Regrowth and Lightened Hair. We like to use a Colour that is two Shades Darker than your Lightened Hair, with a similar Colour style, tone and reflects. For example, your Natural Hair Colour is 5 Light Brown and you've Lightened with 9.1 Light Ash Blonde.

How do I remove highlights from my hair? ›

Use a Darker Gloss or Toner

PROS: “When your gloss or toner is done correctly, it will completely get rid of your highlights, at least for a period of time,” Gillen says.

Can I dye my hair brown over bleached highlights? ›

Yes, but if you dying it more than 2 levels darker you may need to use a filler. Filler is a color that replaces the underlying pigment in the hair. It's different at each level, ranging from golden for light brown to red for dark hair colors.

How can I tone down my white blonde hair? ›

A toner is your best bet! If you're not ready for a new hair color just yet, then using an ash-based toner on bleached or lightened hair can tone down that brassy/too vibrant color easily and quickly.

Can I use coffee to darken my highlights? ›

Let the coffee cool, then mix the coffee with conditioner, apply to your hair as you would any store-bought hair dye, and let it sit for at least an hour. Rinse the mixture out of your hair, and theoretically, you'll be left with darker hued locks than before.


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