Learn how to use blue toner for orange hair undertones in our complete guide. You’ll find out what blue toner is, how it works, and how to apply it for the best results, along with pros and cons of using this unique product.
Thinking About Using Blue Toner for Orange Hair? Start Here
When bleaching your hair doesn’t quite turn out the way you envisioned, orange or yellow-orange tones can be the unfortunate result.
Whether you didn’t process long enough, used an under-powered developer, or just have super-dark locks that are difficult to lift, ending up with a shade of orange after bleaching happens more often than you’d think.
Luckily, blue toner is a quick fix that can make it all better. We’re going to talk about using blue toner for orange hair and how this color-adjusting step can make all the difference in your final shade of blonde.
- What blue toner is
- How blue toner works to counteract orange hues
- How to choose and apply the right toner
- The best blue toners to try
- Pros and cons to consider before toning your hair
If you’re not loving the current Carrot Top aesthetic, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about toning with shades of blue to cut the orange brassiness and reveal the pretty blonde you’re after.
Now that we’ve set the tone (couldn’t resist), let’s begin with the basics. What is blue toner and how does it work?
What Is Blue Toner?
Blue toner is a semi- or demi-permanent hair color that is used to counteract brassy orange tones. All hair toners have the same purpose: to change the overall hue or shade of hair color, bleached hair, or highlights.
When you use a blue toner specifically, you’re using blue pigments that lay on top of the existing hair color to make the overall color look cooler (as opposed to warm tones) and remove orange brassiness.
Blue toner isn’t the right choice for everyone. Stylists and cosmetology professionals typically use blue toner on hair with unwanted orange, brassy tones. These orange tones usually occur when hair is bleached to lift the color to a shade of blonde.
As the color molecules in your hair are oxidized and lightened with bleach, the hue changes in a natural progression from brown to red, orange, yellow, and finally, light yellow or white.
If you stop the bleaching process before you reach the light yellow stage, your final result will be orange and brassy. Even if you process your hair for the recommended amount of time, you can still end up with orange hues after bleaching for a few different reasons.
Using an under-powered developer is a common reason. Grabbing a 10- or 20-volume developer to bleach dark hair often results in an unwanted orange color. This is because the developer is too weak to lift dark hair to the desired light yellow color.
If you have extremely dark hair (black or brown), you might find that you end up with orange-toned hair after bleaching, even if you use a 30- or 40-volume developer.
If this happens to you, toning is the safest way to fix the problem. Bleaching your hair again too soon can result in hair loss and breakage because the harsh chemicals severely damage and weaken your hair.
Now that you’ve got a good sense of what blue toner is and what it’s used for, let’s talk about how blue toner actually works to counteract orange tones in the hair.
How Blue Toner Works
You’ve probably heard that blue toner cancels out orange tones. But how does it actually work? To find out how blue toner works, we need to take a quick look at the color wheel.
Take note of the positions of blue and orange on the wheel. See how they’re directly across from one another? This makes them complementary colors. Complementary colors (sometimes called opposite colors) actually cancel each other out when used together.
When you combine blue and orange, or any other complementary color combination, the result is a white or black grayscale color because the two colors will cancel each other out.
This is key when you’re trying to get rid of unwanted tones in your hair. The blue toner essentially acts like a color eraser for orange. So when you use a blue toner on orange hair, you remove both the unwanted orange tones in the hair as well as the blue tones from the toner.
If you’ve been stumped on how adding blue semi- or demi-permanent hair color can remove warm orange tones without making your hair appear blue, this is your aha moment!
Using Blue Toner for Orange Hair
If a recent bleaching sesh left you with orange-hued hair, you can definitely use blue toner to get rid of the warm orange tones. The result will be a cooler, more balanced shade of blonde without the harsh warmth of orange peeking through.
You can tone your hair at home, but it’s essential that you do your homework beforehand to ensure you know what you’re doing. Toner is a semi- or demi-permanent hair color and you’ll need to get the application and mixture just right to get good results.
If you’re not super confident in your ability to tone your hair at home, you have a couple of options.
First, you can call your stylist to book an appointment instead. They’ll be able to pinpoint the toner shade you need to perfectly counteract your warmth and brassiness. There’s no shame in leaving the job to a professional!
Second, you can opt for a blue toning shampoo instead of a traditional semi- or demi-permanent toner. The application process is much easier and it’s impossible to mess up the results of a toning shampoo!
Here’s a look at the toning process a stylist would use so you’ll know what to expect. If you’re planning on doing your own toner, you can follow along with these instructions! Learning how to tone hair is easier than you might think.
Step 1: Select the Right Blue Toner
The first step to toning the orange out of your hair is choosing the right shade and type of toner for your needs. You have a few options here and things to consider.
- Toner or toning shampoo? Choose a traditional toner (semi- or demi-permanent) if your orange tones are bold and obvious. You’ll get the best results from a traditional toner. Typically, a toning shampoo is a viable option if the orange tones in your hair aren’t very dramatic and you’d just like to lend an overall cooler tone to your hair color.
- Semi-permanent or demi-permanent? If you’ve decided that a traditional toner is the best choice for you, decide if you need a semi- or demi-permanent toner. Both are temporary dyes, but demi-permanent lasts longer (24-28 shampoos) than semi-permanent (3-6 shampoos). If you choose a semi-permanent toner, you may need to grab a blue toning shampoo to keep up the results over time.
- Blue, blue-violet, or violet toner? Make sure a blue toner is actually what you need. Blue tones orange, purple tones yellow, and blue-violet tones yellowish-orange brassy color. If the predominant tone you’re seeing is orange, blue toner will fix the problem.
You’ll see our recommendations for the best blue toners in just a bit.
Step 2: Mix the Blue Toner With Developer
- Grab vinyl or latex gloves, a color bowl, and color brush
- Mix 1 part toner with 2 parts developer (10- or 20-volume)
If you’ve chosen a blue semi- or demi-permanent hair color to tone your hair, you’ll need to activate the toner by mixing it with developer. You should use the developer volume your toner recommends. That’s usually a 10- or 20-volume developer.
Most demi-permanent toners recommend a weak 10-volume developer because demi-permanent colors only deposit color without lightening the hair. A stronger 20-volume developer may be needed for semi-permanent toners.
The general rule for mixing toner with developer is 1 part toner to 2 parts developer. This is true regardless of the developer volume you use. The mixture should be a creamy consistency without being runny.
Put on some vinyl or latex gloves to protect your hands from getting stained. Mix the toner and developer in a color bowl with a color brush until they are thoroughly combined.
Step 3: Apply the Blue Toner to Orange Hair
- Start with clean, damp hair
- Part and section the hair with clips
- Apply the toner with a color brush
- Set a timer for 5-10 minutes
After you’ve mixed the toner and developer together, you can apply it to your hair wherever the orange tones are showing. Shampoo your hair and towel-dry for the most even application. Usually, you’ll want to tone the entire head.
If the orange tones are only peeking through in a few spots, you can spot-tone instead of toning all over. To ensure an even application, part your hair down the middle and split each half into two sections.
This gives you 4 quadrants to work with and will make application much easier. Secure each section with a clip to keep it out of your way as you work.
Load plenty of toner onto the color brush and begin applying from the roots to the ends. If you’re toning your entire head, you can also apply the toner with your gloved hands. Make sure the hair to be toned is fully saturated with the toner/developer mixture.
Once you’ve finished applying toner, set a timer for 5-10 minutes (or however long your toner recommends). Pop a shower cap over your hair to hold in heat and help the toner penetrate better.
Step 4: Rinse and Reveal
- Check the toned color and rinse when ready
- Shampoo and condition after rinsing
- Reveal your new toned color
Once the timer goes off, you should do a quick spot check to see if your hair has finished toning. Use a towel to remove the toner mixture from a few strands and check the color. If it’s still orange, you can give it a few more minutes.
Don’t let the toner sit for more than 20 minutes total. Once your hair has reached the tone you’re looking for – or once 20 minutes is up – it’s time to rinse out the toner to reveal your newly toned hair color!
Rinse the toner out thoroughly with warm water, then shampoo and condition. Follow up with a cool water rinse. Since your hair has been through a lot recently with bleaching and toning, it’s wise to allow your hair to air dry instead of blow-drying it.
If you just can’t wait to see the finished results, make sure to spray some heat protectant throughout your hair before blow drying on the lowest setting. The result should be perfectly toned hair without a hint of orange or brass!
The 7 Best Blue Toners for Orange Hair in 2023
You’ve seen the process and know what to expect. Now, let’s take a look at the best blue toners for orange hair!
These are the top-reviewed blue toners in every category, from budget-friendly to best overall. If you’re not sure where to start looking for a good blue toner, there’s a great option for you on this list!
1. Best Value Blue Toner
If you don’t want to spend a lot on your blue toner, try L’Oreal Paris Feria Anti Brass Power Hair Toner. It offers the best value on our list at under $10. This blue toner is perfectly formulated to neutralize brassy orange and yellow-orange hues in your hair color.
It will make your current hair color less warm by cancelling out the orange shades in your lightened hair. This blue toner does not lift your hair color.
It’s made purely to tone and neutralize brassiness. It comes with gloves, the blue toner, and 10-volume developer cream, so you get everything you need (minus the color bowl) for a super affordable price.
2. Best Blue Toner for Lifting and Toning
If you need to lighten your hair a bit while you tone out the orange, grab Wella Color Charm T28 Blue Toner. This lifting toner will help you get rid of unwanted orange tones in your hair while achieving a lighter shade of color at the same time.
When you mix Wella Color Charm T28 with 20-volume developer (recommended), it starts to turn blue before your eyes. The blue pigments in the toner will neutralize any orange or yellow-orange tones in your hair.
Since you’ll use a 20-volume developer with it, you can use this toner to gently lighten your hair a bit more. You can achieve 1-2 levels of lift with Color Charm toner. So it’s like a 2-in-1 process with lifting and toning. Perfect for brunettes going blonde who need a little more lift!
3. Best Long-Lasting Blue Toner
If you’re looking for a blue toner option that works amazingly well and lasts for a long time, nothing beats Pravana Chromasilk Ash Blue Hair Color Corrector and Toner.
Pravana is one of the most respected names in the beauty industry and they’re known for making some of the longest-lasting professional hair colors in the industry. This blue toner is no exception!
Pravana’s Chromasilk line can be demi-permanent (when used with a no-lift 10-volume developer) or permanent (when used with a 20-volume or higher developer).
We love that you can decide how long you want the results to last by tweaking your developer choice! If you want to tone once and be set for up to 6 weeks, this is the best blue toner to choose.
4. Best Blue Toner Overall
If only the best of the best will do for your ‘do, don’t mess around. Grab Schwarzkopf BlondMe T-Steel Blue Bond-Enforcing Toner to get professional, salon-quality toning for orange hair at home.
Schwarzkopf is a trusted salon brand that has been around since 1898 and they launched the very first branded hair wash powder.
This semi-permanent toner (in the shade Steel Blue) is formulated to perfectly balance and tone brunette to blonde hair color to remove all traces of orange brassiness. Whether you’re aiming for a light brunette shade sans warmth or a light shade of cool blonde, this salon-quality toner will do the job.
Your results should last up to 28 shampoos when you use this blue toner. Supplement with the recommended Matrix blue toning shampoo below to extend the results!
5. Best Blue Toning Shampoo
- Strengthens the blue pigment in your hair
- Extends life of the color while creating shine
- Scent of vanilla and rose
- Can be rough for curly hair
- Can dry hair out
Matrix Total Results Brass Off Blue Toning Shampoo gets 4.5 stars and has more than 23,000 reviews on Amazon. It’s good stuff, especially if you’re unsure about using a true semi- or demi-permanent blue toner to correct orange tones.
Using this shampoo 2 times per week should keep your hair nicely toned without orange. This color depositing blue shampoo adds sheer blue pigments to your hair to counteract some of the unwanted orange tones you’re seeing.
This particular shampoo features blue-violet pigments, so it actually tones hues from yellow to orange. This is a great option for brunettes who dye their hair a lighter color and need to balance out brassiness.
Things to Consider Before Using Blue Toner
Blue toner comes with its own pros and cons. If you’re ready to rid yourself of orange hair, knowing both the benefits and drawbacks of using blue toner is essential. Here’s what you should know – good and bad – before you try blue toner.
Blue Toner Pros
Here are some of the benefits you can expect when using blue toner for orange hair.
- Gets rid of unwanted orange tones: If a recent bleaching session left you with orange tones that look brassy, blue toner is the way to neutralize them. The blue pigments will counteract the orange pigments to give you a cooler or more neutral color with an ash or icy tone.
- Fast color transformation: Toner takes only a few minutes to mix and apply and it can work in 5-20 minutes. So within half an hour, you can completely transform and balance your hair color to remove unwanted orange tones.
- Easy to DIY: Toning at home can be scary for first-timers, but as long as you follow the directions closely and use the right products, you’ll love the results. Make sure you pick a toner from our list of recommended products to get a quality formula that won’t damage your hair!
- Affordable color correction: If you’re trying to stick to a budget by coloring or bleaching your hair at home, being able to tone at home makes color correction easy. If you end up with unwanted warmth in your hair, using a blue toner or blue toning shampoo will neutralize the warmth for you at a lower cost than any salon professional would charge.
- Options for extended results: When you use a blue toner, you can choose a demi-permanent toner that lasts up to 8 weeks for extended results. You can also supplement with a blue toning shampoo to help your newly toned color last even longer!
Blue Toner Cons
Blue toner is a great product for color correction, but it’s not perfect. Here are some of the potential drawbacks of using blue toner for orange hair.
- Toning isn’t permanent: When you use a blue toner, it’s not a one and done situation. You’ll need to tone again in about 2 months or less, depending on the toner you used and how well you’re taking care of your hair color.
- Toner color selection can be difficult: If you’re improperly assessing the color of the undertones showing through, you can easily choose the wrong toner color. Blue toner only works to neutralize orange tones. Blue-violet toners can work on orange and yellow-orange tones. Purple or violet toners are best for yellow tones.
- Blue toner can stain your hair: If you leave your blue toner in for too long, your hair will be stained by the color and it will take a few washes to get it out. Make sure to follow toner instructions and check it after the first 5 minutes to avoid staining.
- Pigment intensity varies: Different manufacturers use varying amounts of blue pigment in their blue toners. One brand may be very weak with little pigment in the toner, while another salon-quality brand will be highly pigmented for longer-lasting and more intense toning results. This makes toner selection very important – again, choose one from our list to ensure you get a high-quality product with plenty of toning pigment to do the job.
- Toning with lifting developers can damage hair: After you’ve bleached your hair and need to tone, your hair has already experienced some chemical damage. If you choose to tone with a lifting developer (20-volume or higher), you will cause more chemical damage to your hair and weaken it. Be cautious about toning with a high volume developer after bleaching.
There are pros and cons, but overall, blue toner is an awesome product to correct too-warm hair color with orange undertones. You should reach for blue toner if you want to achieve a cooler ash-toned or icy-toned color.
The best part about using blue toner is that it works quickly and can neutralize a would-be hair disaster in less than 20 minutes. Seriously – that counts as a miracle, right?
If you’ve bleached your hair and are seeing a lot of orange undertones in the results, grab one of the blue toners from our product list and take care of it! You’ll reveal a cooler, more balanced hair color without spending hours or tons of money at the salon to correct it.