You have just colored your hair, but it has a brassy hue that you don’t like. This is where a toner comes in. A hair toner removes brassy tones like or yellow and orange from your hair. While you can use store-bought toners, the constant maintenance required (using them) can damage your hair. A simple alternative is a homemade toner. In this article, we have listed 6 DIY hair toners you can prepare in the comfort of your home.
In This Article
What Is A Hair Toner?
A hair toner is used to normalize or personalize a hair color by changing its undertone. You can use it to correct an unwanted warm or cool tone or add some pop to your hair color. It is mostly used with bleaching or highlighting to achieve the desired shade.
Toners are often used when people want to try out cool-toned hair colors like platinum blonde, gray, or blue. They are also used to attain colors like ash brown and ash blonde.
How Does A Toner Remove Unwanted Warm Tones?
People with dark hair tend to have warm natural pigments, and people with light hair tend to pick up warm yellow tones with the regular use of sulfate shampoos, hair dyes, mineral deposits from water, and product build-up. A toner removes these pigments by using tones on the opposite end of the color spectrum to neutralize the warmth.
- Brassy orange hair would require a blue toner and vice versa.
- Brassy yellow hair would require a purple toner and vice versa.
If you have light blonde hair that has been picking up yellow tones, a clarifying treatment that removes product and mineral deposits would be sufficient to tone your hair.
Things To Know About Toners
- Toners change the undertone of the colored hair without lifting the color.
- They are primarily used on bleached and blonde hair.
- They make the hair look cool-toned and can also add a tint of pop (pink or purple) to the hair color.
- A toner can also be used to add dimension to hair color.
- Don’t wash your hair immediately after toning it.
- You’ll need to retone your hair every 2-8 weeks, depending on your hair texture.
- The more you wash your hair, the more you have to use a toner to define the hair color.
- There are three main hair toner products: purple and silver shampoo, hair dye, and ammonia toners.
- Once you have toned your hair, protect it from the sun to prevent fading of color.
- Limit the usage of styling products on bleached and toned hair.
- Bleaching makes your hair thin and dry. Use leave-in conditioners and hair masks to moisturize your hair.
How To Make DIY Hair Toners At Home
Precaution: Please do a patch test to make sure your skin doesn’t feel irritated or itchy. If it turns red, itchy, or irritated, please consult a doctor before proceeding. Irritation could be an allergic reaction.
Use Ingredients From Your Kitchen
1. Baking Soda Shampoo
Baking soda shampoo makes an excellent clarifying hair treatment. This, in combination with the food color, is reported to remove product and mineral build-up while neutralizing the natural warm tones present in your hair. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this up.
In fact, research shows that products with high pH (like baking soda) can increase the risk of hair breakage, cuticle damage, and frizz (1). Hence, avoid repeated use of this ingredient.
- You will need sulfate-free shampoo, two drops of blue and purple food color each, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- In a jug, combine the ingredients with a few tablespoons of water. Set it aside and proceed to rinse your hair.
- After you have rinsed your hair with water, use the shampoo mixture you set aside to wash your hair.
- Leave the shampoo in your hair for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it out.
- Follow this up with conditioner (you can add a couple of drops of food color to your conditioner for extra toning).
- Do not use this shampoo mixture more than once a week as it can dry your hair. On the other days of the week, you can use a regular sulfate-free shampoo with a few drops of purple and blue food color.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Apple cider vinegar is mildly acidic (2). Dull hair has a higher pH, and ACV can help lower the pH and restore balance to hair. Hence, it can help in getting rid of orange/yellow tones. It also acts as a deep cleanser to remove product build-up. However, there is no research to verify its efficacy.
- Dilute 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons of water in a jug.
- Pour the mixture through your hair and leave it in for 15 minutes.
- Rinse your hair with lukewarm/cool water.
- Do not use this mixture more than 3 times a month as apple cider vinegar can dry your hair.
3. Hollyhock Herbal Toner
Hollyhock, like apple cider vinegar, can help remove unwanted warm tones from your hair.
- You’ll need 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of hollyhock herb, and 1 cup of water.
- Boil the ingredients until you get a thick liquid. Set it aside to cool.
- Once the mixture has cooled, apply it to your hair.
- Leave it in for 10 minutes and then rinse it out using cool/lukewarm water and a sulfate-free shampoo.
- Do not use this hair toning solution more than once a week.
4. Lemon For Toning
Anecdotal evidence suggests that lemon can help in bleaching hair. Honey has humectant and emollient properties, which can help condition your hair (3). Using this mixture a couple of times can tone your hair to make it at least a couple of shades lighter.
- Take ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a spray bottle and add ¾ cup of water to it.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of honey to the blend and shake the bottle well.
- Spray the honey-lemon mixture onto your hair. Ensure that you aren’t saturating your scalp with the mixture.
- Leave it in for 2 hours.
- Try to spend 30 minutes of these 2 hours out in the sun.
- Rinse the mixture out with a sulfate-free shampoo and condition your hair.
- Do not use this mixture more than 3 times in a month.
5. Green Tea For Toning
Green tea was shown to promote hair growth in the dermal papilla cells of the scalp (4). Its green color is not too strong, which makes it a good toner. Depending on the color of your hair, you can try black or oolong tea as well.
- Take 3 bags of green tea and boil it with 2 cups of water.
- Wait for it to obtain a light green shade.
- Apply it to your hair and wait for about 30 mins.
- Keep checking your hair to see if the desired color has been achieved.
- Wash it off.
6. Virgin Olive Oil
A study shows that olive oil can not only aid hair growth and prevent hair damage but also enhance the hair color (5). If you had slightly darker hair before bleaching or coloring your hair, olive oil could help darken your hair pigments to balance brassy tones.
- Depending on the length of your hair, take some virgin olive oil in a bowl and heat it up.
- Massage the oil into your scalp for an hour.
- Wash it off with sulfate-free shampoo.
7. Indigo For Toning
The dark indigo color is obtained from the indican substances from the indigofera tinctoria plant. Indigo can enhance the color and shine of your hair (6). This color will help even out brassy orange tones.
- Take 1 tablespoon of indigo powder and mix it with 4 tablespoons of white conditioner.
- Apply the mix to your hair.
- Keep checking your hair color.
- Once the desired color is achieved, wash off the mix with water and a sulfate-free shampoo.
Hair Dye Boxes And Food Coloring
1. Ash Blonde Box Dye
Ash-toned box dyes help remove yellow/orange tones. They do this by neutralizing the warm tones with cool ones.
- You will need an ash blonde dye box, gloves, a mixing bowl, and an applicator brush.
- Following the instructions on the box, mix the dye in a plastic bowl.
- Apply the dye to your hair and leave it in for the amount of time specified on the box. (usually 30 minutes.)
- Wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo and condition.
- You will only need to do this once.
2. Purple Dye
Purple and blue are the most common colors used to tone yellow/orange hair. They are on the opposite end of the color spectrum and help neutralize the warm tones.
- You will need 1 tablespoon of purple hair dye and 3 tablespoons of conditioner.
- Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl until you get a lavender mixture.
- Apply this to the parts of your hair that need toning.
- Leave it in for 30 minutes and then wash it out with a sulfate-free shampoo.
- Repeat every time your hair starts to take on yellow tones.
3. Green Dye
If you have brown hair or have dyed your hair brown, this is the toner for you. This toner is suitable to remove orange and red tones from brown or dark hair.
- Add 2-3 drops of green food color to your conditioner or 2 drops of green food color and 1 drop of blue food color if you have more orange tones.
- After shampooing your hair well, apply the mixture to your hair, and leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Wash it off with cool water.
Why Opt For Homemade Hair Toner Solutions?
These toning solutions are not likely to get rid of strong orange tones. In such a situation, you can always get a professional to tone your hair. But light yellow tones are easy to tone out without the added expense of getting a salon treatment.
Subtle changes in your hair care routine, such as switching to a sulfate-free shampoo, and regularly using clarifying treatments, go a long way when it comes to keeping warm tones out of your hair. Most of these treatments are also not as harsh as a chemical toning session would be.
Keeping the warm tones out of your hair takes a bit of work, but the gorgeous color you get at the end of the day makes all the efforts worth it.
- The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality? International Journal of Trichology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect, Medscape General Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Human hair growth enhancement in vitro by green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Phytomedicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- PLANTS USED IN TRADITIONAL HERBAL SHAMPOOS (THAALI) OF KERALA, INDIA : A DOCUMENTATION, Asia Pacific Journal of Research, ResearchGate.
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