Photo Courtesy of Chary Jay

Tone represents how warm, cool, or neutral a hair color is. Tone is the underlying pigment that peeks out from our hair color. The level of a color refers to the lightness and darkness of a color; this is also called depth or shade. Light, medium, and dark blonde are examples levels. Levels go from one to ten.

Level one being the darkest color black and level ten being the lightest blonde. Each level of color distributes a different undertone as the level of color increase. A level one black could have a blue undertone. Although you see black hair color with the eyes, a blue tone is the underlying pigment that peeks through. Examples of warm colors are red, yellow, orange, and gold. Cool colors are blue, green, or ash. Violet is a neutral color and falls somewhere in between warm and cool. A level six is a dark blonde hair color that can have orange, neutral, or ash undertones depending on the desired result. Undesirable tones can be corrected by understanding the relationship between colors.

What is toning shampoo?

Toning shampoos get rid of unwanted yellow, orange, or brassy tones on permanent hair color, natural hair color, highlights, and gray hair. You can also use toning shampoos to reduce color fading and enhance hair color. Toning shampoos work by following the complimentary color theory. Complimentary colors are located directly across from each other on the color wheel. The color wheel is a tool hairstylist use to understand how colors relate. Complimentary colors are also known as neutralizing colors and are used to cancel out unwanted tones.

A violet toning shampoo, such as Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo, is violet because it neutralizes unwanted yellow tones on gray, silver, and blonde hair.  You would use this violet shampoo to achieve a cool or ash tone for your hair color.

Violet and yellow are complimentary colors. Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo can help get rid of unwanted orange tones on naturally dark brown hair that has been lightened with permanent color or lightening powder. Blue is on the opposite side of orange on the color wheel and cancels orange or brassy tones.

Why do you need a toning shampoo?

Toning shampoos work much like temporary rinses and remain in the hair until the next shampoo. Toning shampoos deposit color on to the outer layer of the hair. They can temporarily stain porous blonde or gray hair, leaving a violet tone on the hair if the shampoo is left on the hair for too long. Unless you want violet hair color, which is a popular hair color today, timing with toning shampoos is everything. Leave your toning shampoo on the hair for three to five minutes and rinse.

You can use a toning shampoo two or three times a week, alternating with your regular shampoo. Rub the shampoo into the palm of your hands to dilute the shampoo before you apply it to your hair to avoid a purple or violet cast on the hair. Toning shampoos can also be used to enhance or preserve hair color as well. Try Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo to reduce red hair color from fading, as red permanent hair color is the fastest color to fade.