By Jacqueline Samaroo
Once upon a time, purple shampoo was the only kind of toning shampoo people spoke about. It was THE staple hair care product for brightening gray/silver hair. Then, purple shampoo became (and has remained) hugely popular among blondes (natural and dyed) as a way of keeping brassiness at bay.
Next, came a wave of interest in blue toning shampoo for brunettes, and in particular, blue shampoo for light to medium shades of brown hair. And, using blue shampoo for black hair and darker shades of brown was considered okay — back then.
Then, green toning shampoo burst on the scene with its formula specifically created for color-correction in dark brunette and black hair. It has been a real game-changer and much-welcomed addition to the lineup of black hair products.
Keep reading to find out all about toning shampoos and whether you should be adding a toning shampoo for black hair to your haircare arsenal.
This post covers:
- What is toning shampoo?
- A close look at what is meant by undertones in hair color.
- How toning shampoo is matched to hair color and undertones.
- Benefits of using a toning shampoo.
- How to use toning shampoo for best results.
What is toning shampoo?
A toning shampoo is a pigment-depositing shampoo that helps to cancel, or neutralize, unwanted undertones in hair color. Toning shampoos are most often seen in blue, purple, and green. They contain dyes that coat the outer layer of each strand of hair. They are often referred to as color-correcting shampoos.
Before we look at how toning shampoos work, let’s get a better understanding of what they are designed to work on – undertones in your hair color.
What are undertones?
No matter the type, texture, or color of your hair, it naturally has undertones to the color you see when you are looking at it. Undertones tend to be warm colors: red in dark and black hair; yellow in blonde and gray hair; and orange in light to medium brown hair.
These undertones tend to show up in hair that has been lightened. Their effect is referred to as brassiness. The lightening of your natural hair color may be from intentionally bleaching your hair or from a highlighting color treatment.
It can happen unintentionally over time, too, such as from continued sun exposure. Additionally, lightening can be caused by chlorine in the water your hair gets exposed to as you wash your hair or go swimming in a pool.
Chemical processing that damages the outer layer of your hair and excessive use of heat styling tools can also lead to lightening and unwanted undertones.
How does toning shampoo work to correct undertones?
Toning shampoo works on the simple principle that colors across from each other on the color wheel will cancel out or neutralize each other. Take a look:
Green and red are opposite to each other. Blue sits across from orange. Purple (violet) is on the other side of yellow.
How is this applied to toning shampoos?
- We use green toning shampoo for black hair and dark brown hair to neutralize the red undertones that show up.
- Blue toning shampoo works on covering unwanted orange undertones in light to medium brown hair.
- Purple shampoo rids blonde and gray hair of the yellow undertones they are susceptible to.
Benefits of Using a Toning Shampoo
A toning shampoo for brassy hair is beneficial to anyone – even if you are not having an issue with undertones showing up in your lightened hair color. That’s because toning shampoo doesn’t just cover up undertones.
- Toning shampoo can be used on virgin, unprocessed, non-color-treated hair to deepen your color. It’s one of the lesser-known benefits of using toning shampoo. For instance, toning shampoo for black hair will make your hair color look richer, shinier, and more consistent.
- You can use a toning shampoo to neutralize unwanted shades in an all-over dye job, too. For example, purple or blue shampoo for brassy hair will combat brassiness in hair that is dyed blonde or brown.
- Plus, a toning shampoo is usually sold with complementing conditioner and hair mask (or deep conditioning treatment). They help to hydrate and moisturize your hair, ensuring you get the best results from your toning shampoo for brassy hair color correction.
- Toning shampoos extend your color and can save you time and money. You won’t have to visit the salon so often for touch-ups to your dyed hair.
For more tips on how to care for color-treated hair, read: Caring for Your Natural Hair Before and After a Dye Job – 11 Tips.
How to use toning shampoo
Basically, you use a toning shampoo just like you would a regular shampoo. However, there are a few things you can do to help you get the best results.
- Rub the shampoo between your hands first, then apply it to your wet hair. This helps to avoid staining of your hair by the shampoo.
- Follow the instructions on the bottle for how long to leave the shampoo in your hair. Leaving it in for too long may cause it to stain your hair but, rinsing it out too quickly might not give you sufficient color correction.
- Wearing gloves is sometimes recommended since toning shampoo may stain your hands.
- ALWAYS follow up your toning shampoo (or any shampoo, for that matter) with a conditioner and keep up weekly deep conditioning of your hair.
We usually think of toning shampoos as being for color-treated, highlighted, and lightened hair. While these types of hair can benefit big time from using toning shampoos, there is so much more that toning shampoos can do.
The reality is that toning shampoos can work on all types of hair color. That means hair with highlights, permanent hair color, gray hair, and yes, natural hair color, can all benefit from using toning shampoo!
The bottom line is that it is your hair color that will determine whether you use purple or blue shampoo for brassy hair. Or, if green toning shampoo for black hair is the right one for you.
Do you use a toning shampoo? Tell us about it!