Beauty Edit
How to Tone Down Highlights

How to Tone Down Highlights

Whether you’ve added in highlights at home or visited a salon to highlight your locks, you may have ended up with hair that is much too bright for your liking. Or maybe your highlights have turned out brassy or orange and need a little extra help to get them to the desired color. Either way, you will need to tone down your highlights.

There are several ways to complete this process, and many of them can be done from home. The variety of available options for toning down your highlights give you the freedom to decide which one suits your hair and lifestyle best. I

n this article, we will discuss our favorite ways to tone down highlights and some foolproof ways to select highlights that suit you time after time.

The Benefits of Toning Down Highlights at Home

Toning down your highlights at home has many benefits. For one, it is cheaper than visiting a salon to get your hair color redone, especially if your highlights were made too light by a salon in the first place.

Toning down your own highlights is also a fairly easy process, and doing it at home can be a simple way to customize your style; you are able to select the process that best suits you and your hair, completely tailoring your style to your needs.

The Best Way: Tone Your Hair Again

The best, most effective way to permanently tone down your highlights is to tone your hair again using a slightly darker-colored toner color. This process is not hard to do as long as you take care to understand the steps and pick out the correct products.

Picking the Right Toner Color

Choosing the toner color for your highlights is the most important step in this process. You want to be sure the color you pick will give you the desired effect and complement your skin tone and existing hair color nicely.

When picking a toner color, it is a good idea to consult a hairdresser’s color wheel. This type of color wheel will tell you which colors are complementary to others and which colors have counteracting effects so you can select the best one for your hair.

You can also mix toner colors together to achieve your desired color. Keep in mind that toner will even out your existing shade and darken it down a few tones, but it will not dye your highlights several shades darker, and it will not lighten your hair in any way.

The Toning Process

The toning process is fairly straightforward and does not take a lot of time to complete.

For this process, you will need:

  • Your chosen toner color
  • A mixing bowl
  • 10 or 20 volume developer

It is important to not get a developer over 20 volume, or you will end up lightening your hair and making the highlight color brighter. For most hair types, 10 volume developer is the best option.

To tone your hair, follow these steps:

Mix the toner and developer together in a bowl.

  1. Once it is combined, you can apply it to your hair, either focusing on your highlighted areas or applying it to all of your hair. Toner will typically not affect the rest of your hair color when used with such a low volume developer.
  2. After the toner is applied, you can wait up to 25 minutes for your highlights to darken. Check your hair every 5 minutes to ensure that the color is changing the way you want and be prepared to wash off the toner early if you reach your desired color before 25 minutes.
  3. Once time is up, rinse the toner out of your hair with cool water.
  4. You can then dry and style it as you like. It is a good idea to avoid shampooing your hair for a day or two after toning it in order to allow the color to fully sink into your hair.

hand taking toner box

Alternative Ways to Tone Down Highlights

These simple remedies make it easy to tone down your own highlights from the comfort of your home. They may not have the immediate reaction that toning your highlights again would, but they can be great options if you are trying to cover up the color of your highlights for the day or want to encourage the highlight color to fade as fast as possible.

Wait It Out

While you may not love the color you first end up with, sometimes the problem will fix itself after some time. It can take up to 15 days for the true color of your highlights to fully settle into your hair; during these 15 days they may become darker or fade a little to a color you prefer more.

It is a good idea to wait a week or two before doing anything drastic to your hair that may make your highlight situation worse.

Try a Purple Shampoo

Purple shampoo has long been known for its toning properties on hair that has been lightened. According to the color theory, the purple pigment of the shampoo will counteract any bright yellow or oranges in your highlights, toning down the color to be more even, and in some cases, darker.

If you want to take your highlights down a tone, you could try using a purple shampoo or conditioner on your hair 1 to 2 times a week until you reach your desired highlight color.

Use Clarifying Shampoo

An effective hair cleanser, clarifying shampoo can be extremely effective in removing pigments from hair. As you wash your hair with such a powerful cleanser, any color in your hair will start to fade, which will help bring down the tone of your highlights if they are too bright.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be using a clarifying shampoo more than a couple of times a week to avoid drying out your hair or causing frizz.

Try Dish Soap

A little-known trick for toning down highlights is to use a regular dish soap on your hair. Dish soaps are very alkaline and will swell the cuticle of the hair as you wash your tresses with it. This allows your hair to release any pigment that is located in the hair cuticle, fading the highlight color and toning it down much faster than a regular shampoo would.

Much like with clarifying shampoo, you should not use dish soap on your hair often as it is extremely drying. Follow up a dish soap treatment with a moisturizing conditioner in order to help protect your hair from damage.

Add in Lowlights

Instead of completely toning down all of your highlights, you can instead try to add in some lowlights. Lowlights are a different kind of highlight that are typically a few shades darker than your base color. They can help add the appearance of volume to your hair and will help your highlights appear darker.

However, lowlights usually need to be placed in your hair by an experienced stylist and may not be the easiest option to execute by yourself.

Try Dry Shampoo

Many dry shampoos are tinted, and they can be just the thing to help you fix the color of your highlights.

Select a dry shampoo that comes in a medium blonde or brown color, depending on the color of your highlights, and spray it lightly over your roots and across your highlights. It should provide enough of a tint to take the color down a couple of tones, all while absorbing any excess grease or oil from your hair.

You should know that dry shampoo shouldn’t be used every single day, and you will have to wash it out after 3 days maximum. However, it can be a great quick fix when you need to tone down your highlights in a hurry.

Selecting Highlights That Are Right for You

To make sure you love your highlights the first time around, follow these steps for selecting the best highlights for your hair and skin tone.

Consider Your Skin Tone

Skin tone plays an incredibly important factor in finding a highlight color that is right for you. When selecting a color, take into account your overall skin tone and your skin undertone. This can help you decide whether a cool or warm tinted highlight color will suit you more.

Highlight Size

The size of your highlights and if you want any type of lowlight should be considered before heading out to a salon or purchasing an at-home highlighting kit.

  • If your hair is shorter, you may want to consider thinner baby highlights and low lights.
  • Longer hair types typically work better with ombre or balayage style highlights.
  • For thin hair, highlights and lowlights together can help bring a great amount of volume to your look.

Researching the styles of highlights and consulting with a professional about what will suit you best is vital step in selecting a great looking highlight style.

Upkeep Considerations

When choosing highlights, you want to be sure that you are prepared to upkeep them. For example, if you want highlights that start near your roots, you will have to periodically redye your hair in order to keep them that way.

Choose a highlight style that you can be happy with the entire time that it is in your hair, even when they inevitably grow out.
happy woman with highlights

Obtaining Your Desired Style

Having highlights in your hair that turn out too bright for your liking may seem like an unfixable disaster, but the truth is that you are easily able to tone down your highlight color.

Whether you choose to tone your hair again or try out one of our other tips to darken the color of your highlights, you are sure to obtain your desired highlight style in no time at all.