The Essential Guide to Getting Rid of Brassy Blonde Hair at Home
You might be considering going all over platinum blonde.
Or maybe you’re already a blonde but the color just isn’t quite right. Or it was right at one point in time and somehow it’s changed.
What’s the missing crucial step to achieving and maintaining the blonde hair of your dreams?
Hair toner. More specifically, AGEbeautiful Permanent Liqui-Creme Topcoat Toners.
What Causes Brassy Blonde Hair?
Hair has a level scale between 1 and 10, 1 being darkest black and 10 being lightest blonde. Level 1 has an undertone of darkest red, and level 10 has an undertone of pale yellow.
The darker your hair, the more levels of brassy undertones there are that you need to break through with bleaching and lightening your hair.
For example, if your hair is a level 5 and you’re trying to get to a level 10+, you have to start by breaking through orange red undertones all the way up to pale yellow, depending on how light you want to go.
Also, if you have color treated dark hair, it’s even harder to break through each level of brassy undertones than it is with naturally dark hair.
Another factor is the water quality you have at home. If your water has high rust content, your hair is going to soak up that mineral over time and get brassy.
What Does Hair Toner Do?
Hair toner is the key if you’ve been wondering why you can’t get that perfect shade of blonde you’ve been seeing all over Pinterest.
Or if you asked your stylist for caramel balayage highlights and ended up with orange streaks.
Basically, toner is a semi permanent hair color that deposits and corrects whatever undertone bleaching leaves your hair with so that you can achieve the results you’re hoping for.
Because it is semi permanent, that means that it won’t last forever. Refreshes will be needed.
Think color wheel. What tone do you see in your hair now? Go to that color on the color wheel and then look at the color directly opposite on the color wheel. You want to use a toner with that color as the base to correct.
Is Toner Bad For Your Hair?
The easy answer is no, toner is not bad for your hair.
The complicated answer is, it depends on what type of developer you’re mixing it with.
If you are using toner that mixes with a 10 or less volume developer, it’s going to do little to no damage to your hair. That’s because the higher the volume of developer, the more damage.
Step by Step Guide to Toning Blonde Hair at Home
I’m going to be taking you from a massive root situation and brassy yellow ends to a full head of platinum blonde hair using Zotos Professional products with this tutorial.
If you’re looking for an in-depth post about bleaching your hair at home, check out my ULTIMATE GUIDE: HOW TO BLEACH YOUR HAIR AT HOME LIKE A PRO!
If you are only reading this to learn about toning your already lightened hair, you can skip to step 4…
- AGEbeautiful Ultra Bond Powder Lightener 6 oz.
- AGEbeautiful Permanent Liqui-Creme Topcoat Toners
- AGEbeautiful 10 Volume Gentle Creme Developer
- AGEbeautiful 30 Volume Gentle Creme Developer
- Hair Color Mixing Bowl
- Hair Color Measuring Cup
- Hair Color Applicator Brush
- Hair Sectioning Clips
- Reusable Black Latex Gloves
- Processing Caps
Step One: Section the Hair
In my beauty school days, we were taught to do 4 sections of hair when doing an “all over” color or bleach.
When I’m doing this on myself, I have learned through trial and error that 5 sections are much easier to manage.
I do 2 sections in the front of my head, 1 for just the top crown of my head, and then 2 more in the back.
Step Two: Mix and Apply the Powder Lightener to Your Hair
Mix one scoop of AGEbeautiful Ultra Bond Powder Lightener to 2 oz. of creme developer. It should be about the consistency of frosting.
Because my natural hair color is bordering on a level 6/7, I need to lift my hair at least 3 to 4 levels (if not more) to achieve a platinum blonde.
That means I need to use at least 30 volume developer. But I’m a little impatient, so I tend to live on the edge and use 40 volume. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS WHEN USING ON SCALP. I have many years of experience and have learned how to make it work without causing damage to my scalp or resulting in breakage.
Because I waited wayyyy too long to do my hair, I had to resort to some extra precautions when applying the bleach.
First, I applied the bleach with an application brush to my hair about 1/2″ away from my scalp up to the pre-lightened ends. This is known as “Zone 2”.
I used this technique because your scalp gives off heat and will cause the bleach to lighten faster the closer to your scalp that it is. You don’t want to end up with “hot roots” where your hair is super light by your scalp and darker in your ends.
Once I did this and saw that it was starting to lighten in Zone 2, I went back and applied bleach to my roots, otherwise known as “Zone 1”.
I let the bleach sit on my hair for about 20 minutes AFTER I was done applying Zone 1.
To check your own hair to see if it’s ready to rinse, use a paper towel to wipe away the bleach. The color should resemble the inside of a banana peel.
Step Three: Wash the Bleach Out of Your Hair
Using warm (not hot) water, thoroughly rinse all of the bleach out. Then, use a high quality shampoo and conditioner to wash and condition your hair.
I like to use AGEbeautiful Ultra Bond Synergy No. 1 Cleanse Shampoo and Ultra Bond Synergy No. 2 Conditioner because the shampoo is free of sulfates and great for color treated hair, and the conditioner contains bond-building arginine, silk amino acids and keratin.
TIP: If your hair is super healthy and soft, you might want to skip the conditioner before you use hair toner! This will help the toner “stick”.
Because my hair is already super blonde, and has gone through many chemical lightening processes already, my ends are very porous.
This is why I always use conditioner before I proceed to applying hair toner so that it doesn’t soak it up too quick and turn my ends purple.
Trust me, I’ve made this mistake before! I just make sure to concentrate the conditioner on the pre-lightened ends more than the roots.
Step Four: Mix Your Toner with Creme Developer
I was going for as platinum blonde as possible and because my natural hair was already pretty dark with a lot of orangey undertones, I went with the Silver Ash Blonde AGEbeautiful Topcoat Toner.
This toner has blue undertones which help counteract the maximum amount of brassiness.
AGEbeautiful Topcoat Toners come in 3 different shades:
- Silver Ash Blonde (blue undertone)
- Pearl Blonde (blue/violet undertone)
- Beige Blonde (violet undertone)
How do you know which developer to use with the toner?
10 volume will allow the toner to deposit more color, 20 volume will deposit less.
I’ve also found that 20 volume will continue to lighten your hair slightly so be careful about applying it on the areas you don’t want to tone. Again, I’ve made this mistake before so learn from me 😀
Once you decide which toner shade and developer you will use, measure using a hair color measuring cup and mix 1 oz. toner to 1 oz. creme developer using a hair color application brush and mixing bowl.
Depending on how thick your hair is, you might need to mix more. I personally have pretty thin hair, so 2 oz. total was plenty for me.
Step Five: Apply the Toner to Your Hair
The directions on the package say to apply toner to dry hair.
Through my personal experiences, and with how “thirsty” my hair is, I like to tone when it is slightly damp and towel dried. Again, this is from many years of doing my own hair.
If you’re unsure if you should do this damp or dry, do a strand test on a small section of hair in the back before applying to your entire head.
I applied the toner to Zone 1 & 2 first since they were the brassiest after bleaching and because pre-lightened ends of hair will soak up toner faster than roots.
Once I saw the toner start to take effect, I applied toner to the ends of my hair.
Once I had applied the ends, I checked my hair every 5 minutes until I was happy with the results. Then, I shampooed again and treated my hair with Ultra Bond Synergy No. 2+ Deep Conditioner Treatment to really seal in the toner.
Here is my hair (wet) BEFORE and AFTER using the AGEbeautiful Topcoat Toner…
After giving myself a good solid trim (yep, I also cut my own hair when I don’t give myself the time to get in to my amazing friend and hair stylist) here are the results…
You guys, I could seriously cry. Although I still have access to some of the same products I used to use when I worked in the salon, the Zotos Professional AGEbeautiful line is the PERFECT dupe for my favs!
As you can see, my blonde isn’t a super ashy blonde like you might have expected from the name of the toner. But that’s because my roots were pretty dark with a lot of brassy undertones to counteract.
I knew I needed to get those darn mega roots under control first, and now that my hair is on the same page blonde-wise I can experiment with going ashier 🙂 That’s the beauty of toner!
If you are already lighter than me, you could easily experiment with the other shades of toner to get the perfect shade for you.
How Long Does Toner Stay in Your Hair?
This depends on some factors including…
- if your hair was previously lightened or colored
- how often you wash your hair
- how much you’re in the sun
- how hot your showers are
The bare minimum a toner will last is approximately two weeks. That’s if you had previously colored hair, washed your hair all the time in super hot water, and were in the sun all the time.
If you tried to limit hair washings, used cooler water when you did, and didn’t spend a lot of time in the sun, you could probably spread that time out to about 6 weeks.
The good news is, you can also extend the life of your toners with color-depositing shampoo and conditioner! That is why I use a purple/blue depositing shampoo and conditioner every other week to maintain my platinum.