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How Do I Choose the Best White Toner for Hair?

By Kathleen Howard
Updated May 21, 2024
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To achieve white-blond or silver hair, toner is usually required to cancel out any unwanted tones that appear during the bleaching process. There are several different types of hair toner for bleached hair. To choose white toner for hair, select a product based on the hair color you want to create and the tones you need to eliminate. You will also need to choose a product based on the severity of the tones that appear during bleaching. Hair can be toned using a semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or permanent hair toner.

In the majority of cases, white hair must be created in a two-step process. Unless you have very light blond hair, you must first remove the pigment from your hair using bleach. Once the hair has been bleached to a light yellow, toner can be used to remove these tones from the hair.

If you are hoping to create a bright white hair color, you need a toner that contains purple pigment. Purple-based white hair toners will counteract any yellow undertones in the hair. When used exactly as directed, a white toner for hair will turn the strands a bright white. If left on for too long, purple hair toners can give the hair a slightly gray or purple appearance. To avoid this, carefully follow the product’s application instructions.

To create silver hair, you need to use a toner that contains blue pigment. Using a silver hair toner directly after bleaching will give the hair a slightly silver tinge. The longer silver hair toners are kept on the hair, the more pigment it will absorb. Blue toners can also be used if the hair has turned orange during bleaching. When used on orange hair, a blue toner should neutralize the color and give the hair a white appearance.

While choosing white toner for hair, it is important to understand that most toners are deposit-only colors. Depending on the porosity of the hair, most products will work as a semi-permanent hair toner or demi-permanent hair toner. This means that a toner deposits color onto the hair without lifting any of the hair’s natural pigment. If your strands look slightly yellow after applying bleach, a deposit-only toner will be sufficient in creating the white or silver color you want.

If your hair looks very brassy after bleaching, you may need a permanent white toner for hair. When permanent hair dye is used as part of a two-step coloring process, it is referred to a permanent toner. To get rid of unwanted brassiness, choose a platinum or white-blond permanent hair dye. While this will be more damaging than using a toner, the permanent dye will lift brassy tones while depositing the color you want. If unwanted tones remain after using the dye, either rinse the hair with a deposit-only toner or consult a professional hair colorist.

What Toner To Use To Get White Hair

Of the various toning shades available, purple toners are the most common choice for counteracting brassy tones. The market has been flooded with purple shampoos and conditioners recently, so there are options at a range of price points. Olaplex, a high-end salon supplier, has released its own toning shampoo to counteract yellow and orange tones in blonde hair, but it sits at about $30 for a small bottle. More affordable options include the OGX line, which makes the same claims of neutralizing unwanted pigments, but for a bit cheaper at $8.

Instead of using a daily toning shampoo and conditioner, there are also toning masks that you can apply to your hair once or twice a week. These formulas tend to be more concentrated, so you don't have to use them as frequently. Many masks also deep-condition your hair, which is necessary after damaging treatments like bleach. Toning masks are a good compromise for saving money if you don't want to sacrifice the quality of a higher-end brand.

What Are Sulfates and Parabens?

Another thing to consider when choosing a toner is whether or not you will allow ingredients like sulfates or parabens. Sulfates are cleansing salts used in many personal and household cleaning products. They typically involve synthetic chemicals and can cause harm to people, animals, and the environment. A lot of people are allergic to certain sulfates like SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate, without even realizing it. Having itchy, watery eyes, or dry irritated skin after using certain soaps, lotions, or cleansers may be an indication of an SLS allergy. While they are not all outright dangerous, many people have opted to stick to products that are sulfate-free.

Parabens are artificial preservatives used to prolong the life of your product. While they do some positive work, like preventing mold growth in your shampoo, they can also cause skin irritation and hormone disruption. The potentially harmful effects of sulfates and parabens have caused many major brands to switch to a cleaner formula, but some companies still use these ingredients. If you want to use a toning product free from these types of synthetics, be sure to read the label before you buy it.

What Toner To Use for White Blonde Hair

If you happen to be one of the few people naturally blessed with white-blonde hair, your head is a blank canvas when it comes to choosing colors. If you are wanting to opt for another natural-looking shade, you could try using a gloss. Glosses are toning conditioners that deposit color while providing moisture and enhancing shine. They typically last for a couple of weeks and are much healthier for your hair than dyeing it with an all-over color.

If you're feeling more adventurous, you could use a pastel or bright colored toner, since your hair is so light to begin with. Most people that want to dye their hair a color like pastel pink will have to go through several rounds of bleaching and toning, but having naturally white-blonde hair means you can skip those steps. These formulas are typically applied like a mask and will deposit color while hydrating your hair. The color should fade after about a month, at which point you can reapply or try something new.

How To Remove Toner

If you try a toner and do not like the results, a natural method to speed up the removal process is by using lemon juice. Since toners are depositing color and not lifting it, you can try to prematurely fade the color using the acidic properties of a lemon juice rinse. Simply mix the juice of two lemons with a spray bottle of water and distribute it throughout your hair. You can also rub the lemons directly onto the scalp for a quick dose of vitamin C. Do not use lemon juice as an ingredient in home hair care if you like the way your toner or color looks.

Is White Vinegar a Good Toner for Blonde Hair?

Another option for eliminating yellow or orange tones from blonde hair is by using a white vinegar rinse. The acids present in vinegar can counteract brassy tones, as well as maintain the color for longer by helping reset your hair's PH balance. You can dilute the vinegar with equal parts of water and then use it to rinse out your shampoo. Follow with conditioner as usual. If you don't have any white vinegar on hand, you can also make a rinse with apple cider vinegar. It may not be as strong when it comes to counteracting unwanted tones, but it has its own unique benefits for scalp and hair health.

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Discussion Comments

By Heavanet — On Mar 06, 2014

That's a nice observation about your grandmother, Talentryto. I think too many people fuss over keeping the gray out of their hair, though so many people look great if they just go with their natural hair color. Hair that has a blue or purple cast doesn't look attractive though, either, so it helps to have advice on keeping silver hair looking its best.

By Talentryto — On Mar 05, 2014

My grandmother uses white hair toner for her beautiful silver hair. She gives her friends advice about how to measure the exact amount of purple or blue-based toner to keep hair looking silver without unnatural coloring. They listen to her, because her hair always looks great.

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