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Hair Toner Vs. Hair Dye: What’s The Difference?

Hair toner and hair dye are two products that are often confused for one another. However, these two products have two distinct purposes which come together to give you the perfect hair dye that you’ve always wanted. Continue reading to learn about the difference between hair toner and hair dye.


What Is a Hair Toner?

Hair Toner

A hair toner is a product you use when you want to adjust your hair dye to eliminate uneven bleach unwanted shades like yellow and orange. Though you can use a toner for other dyes besides blonde, toners are most common when someone has bleached their hair and needs to dye correctly.

We have warm undertones in our hair, which are the last to break down during the bleaching process. It’s typically a bit challenging to get your hair completely lightened to the state that you want it because of the fear of damaging your hair cuticles irreparably.

When you finish bleaching your hair and you still have those yellow, gold, or orangish shades, it can ruin the final look you’re going for. This is where the toner comes in. The toner will cancel those shades by coating your hair with a different pigment. This is different than hair dyes, which can change the dye of your hair.

The toner merely adjusts the dye, using low ammonia levels to enhance or neutralize the tint. Over time, toner gets washed out, and you’ll have to reapply it to keep up with the dye you want.

You can also use toner to adjust for other popular hair dyes such as red, brown, and even platinum. 


What Is Hair dye?

Hair dye

Hair dye is a chemical that changes the dye of your hair by penetrating deep into the hair shaft. Once the dye reaches the hair shaft, the dye can get deposited.

However, before this can happen, the dye has to penetrate beyond the hair cuticle; the cuticle functions like tree bark. Its job is to protect your hair from getting damaged. Penetration occurs from using ammonia within the dye to raise the pH balance of your hair and to relax and lift the cuticle.

After the cuticle gets lifted, you can now dye your hair. When dyeing your hair, peroxide breaks down the natural pigment of your hair. The cuticle remains lifted as the peroxide developer sits, allowing the dye to penetrate the open cuticle and hair shaft.

Keep in mind that the longer the cuticle lifts, the more that your hair will weaken. But after you rinse your hair, the cuticle will close, and your hair will be the dye of the dye.

There are demi-permanent dyes that only partially penetrate your hair, and there’s a semi-permanent dye that does not puncture your hair. It stays on the surface and washes out much faster than the other dyes.


Hair Dye vs. Toner: The Key Differences

The most notable difference between hair dye and hair toner is what they accomplish in the end. Other differing factors are their durability, application, and maintenance afterward.

First things first, what look are you going for once you’ve finished the treatment?

Ask yourself these questions:



Hair dyes vs. Toner Application

Hair dye gets applied using a 20-volume developer, but toner uses a 10-volume developer or no developer at all.

Remember that you’re trying to initiate a chemical reaction to get the dye you want to permeate your hair strand and enter the cortex.

You will mix the dye with peroxide and apply the mixture to your hair, starting bleaching at the roots down to the ends. Lastly, you let the dye sit and wait for the change to occur.

That’s usually about a 45-minute wait; that means you can do something else while you’re waiting on your hair to process. You don’t necessarily need to have any advanced knowledge of dyes to dye your hair.

If you want to get rid of certain brassy tones, you’ll need a different treatment. Applying a toner hair treatment is more complicated.

For starters, you have to know which toner dye neutralizes which shades. 

Additionally, toner starts working quickly, and you cannot take your eyes off your hair even for a few minutes. You have to check the progress of your hair from minute to minute after application. Do not leave toner in your hair for more than 20 minutes.



The hair dye will change your dye, while the toner will cancel out unwanted tones and shades.


User Requirements

hair dye and corrective toner chart

Anyone can use hair dye, but the toner requires more advanced knowledge. This requires knowledge of the color wheel and dyeing.



If you use a permanent hair dye as toner, it lasts from five to seven weeks. The toner only lasts for two weeks.


Final Thoughts

Although hair dye is considered a type of hair toner by stylists, there are huge differences between the two. They have different purposes and achieve different dyeing outcomes.

Remember, you have to decide what you want to do with your hair, which will lead you to pick the best product for the job. That is where the difference between hair for and hair toner lies.

Going for a significant change in hair dye? Get the dye. It doesn’t take as much to maintain, and it lasts for a longer period.

If you have some undesirable hair tones, get the toner; it won’t last as long, but it’ll leave your hair looking shinier, and it’ll cancel out any dyes you don’t want.