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Blondes (may) have more fun, but they can also have a harder time maintaining their desired hair color. As any blonde will tell you, not all blonde colors are created equal—and more often than not, the difference comes down to the undertone, aka the base shade. And that’s where aptly-named toners come in.
They’re the reason why your color always looks so darn good after you get it professionally colored, the final step colorists use to brighten, balance, and perfect your specific blonde hue. Toners are particularly ideal at counteracting brassiness—those unwanted orangey, red, and yellow colors that can make your blonde look dingy—as well as imparting mirror-like shine. In order to combat these warm tones, most (if not all) toning treatments use violet and blue pigments. Some can even help counteract any hair damage incurred during the blending process.
“For bleached or light blondes, the trick here is to make your color last longer by using a toning treatment," says celebrity hairstylist Lisa Laudat, whose clients include the likes of Rita Ora and Pink. “As a blonde, you need to factor in the use of bleach and dye on your hair, so it’s important to treat it properly and give it a little bit of love and care.” Toners aren't just about color-correcting, they're also a great opportunity to add in hair-nourishing vitamins like panthenol and shine-enhancing botanical oils.
The great news? Once reserved mostly for the pros, there are now a plethora of at-home options available. From daily shampoos that even DIY novices can use to salon-worthy permanent colors, check out our favorites for making your blonde look better than ever.
Keep scrolling for the best toners for blonde hair.
Best Overall: IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Blonde Toning Drops
These drops win the game when it comes to both versatility and ease of use. All you have to do is mix the violet drops in with any shampoo, conditioner, or cream styler. (FYI, you’ll see that a lot of these products are purple. It’s because purple is opposite yellow on the color wheel, meaning it counteracts it—and neutralizes brassiness).
It comes with a convenient dosing chart that helps you determine exactly how many drops you need based on your hair color and level of toning desired (customization for the win) and also works well on all hair textures.
Best Conditioner: Kerastase Blond Absolu Cicaflash Conditioner
This is another purple-tinted formula, but the color is subtle enough that you can use it every day. Along with keeping your blonde where it should be, it’s also loaded with hydrating hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower to soften your mane. Translation: Not only does your color look perfect, but your hair looks and feels healthy, too.
Best Drugstore: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Purple Shampoo
Speaking of toning shampoos, here’s another fab option you can get at the drugstore. (Plus, at this price point, you won’t feel bad about using it daily.) Ideal for all shades of blonde or highlighted blonde hair, use it three times per week for balanced, refreshed, non-brassy blonde.
Best for Bleached Blondes: Manic Panic Virgin Snow Hair Toner
This blue-tinted toner is specially made for the lightest, most bleached blonde out there. The lighter the blonde, the more noticeable unwanted brassiness can be, making this a good toner an especially essential part of your color upkeep. Work the cream toner throughout your hair every four to six weeks to counteract any warm tones and keep your bleached blond nice and crisp. Plus, it also has conditioning benefits, always a good thing if you’re hitting the bleach regularly.
Best for Golden Blondes: Shu Uemura Color Lustre Reviving Hair Balm
The majority of toning products for blondes are geared towards cooler shades; as we said, they’re more likely to experience brassiness and yellowing. But that doesn’t mean that warmer or more golden blonde hues don’t also need a little love. Enter this unique option, a silicone-free balm that adds just a small amount of color to balance and brighten your shade and ward off fading. All you have to do is apply it onto clean, towel-dried hair and let it sit for five to 10 minutes before rinsing; use it after every two to three shampoos for the best results.
Best for Shine: dpHue Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner
Achieving any desired blonde shade requires bleaching, which takes a serious toll on your hair, leaving it dry and lackluster. Enter this formula, a semi-permanent toning color in a deeply conditioning base. It’s so conditioning that you can truly use it as often as you want, without any damage to your strands. Leave it on for anywhere from three to 20 minutes (depending on how much toning you need, it also comes in 11 different shades, FYI) and you’ll be left with refreshed color and mirror-like shine.
Best Permanent Color: Wella ColorCharm Permanent Liquid Hair Toner
If you’re fairly well-practiced in the DIY color department, go ahead and reach for this permanent toner. With special technology to improve penetration and saturation, it ensures your newly toned blonde won’t fade. Also nice: It’s available in eight different shades of blonde so you can find the one that’s just right for you, and rings in at a super affordable price, too.
Best Shampoo: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo
Using a toning shampoo regularly is one of the best ways to maintain your blonde in between salon visits. We’re especially partial to this purple option, perfect for any cool blonde, icy, or silver shades. You get the toning benefits, as well as plenty of good-for-your hair benefits. Credit the addition of antioxidant-rich sea buckthorn berry, ultra-hydrating avocado oil, as well as disodium EDTA, an ingredient that counteracts the color-dulling effects of hard water.
Best Splurge: Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask Baby Blonde
This multi-tasker is worth the price for several reasons. One, it has a special selection of various iris and iridescent pigments to perfectly neutralize brassy and yellow tones, all while enhancing shine and vibrancy. Two, it’s packed with moisturizing, reparative ingredients that blonde hair needs; we’re talking almond butter, shea butter, and buriti oil, just to name a few. And three, it’s specially formulated at a slightly acidic pH, which not only helps to minimize hair’s porosity but also more evenly distributes the pigments.
Best Spray: Schwarzkopf Blonde Me Tone Enhancing Spray Conditioner
The easiest way to score the benefits of a toner? Use a spray version, like this one. Infused with anti-yellow, purple pigments all you have to do is mist it onto towel-dried hair before blow-drying to keep any cool blonde color super fresh. It can be used daily, and also has the added benefit of containing hydrolyzed silk to boost smoothness and softness.
Best Styler: Color Wow Color Control Purple Toning + Styling Foam
For a simple, subtle way to keep your color refreshed, try using this styler on the reg. Not only does the slight lavender tint keep brassiness at bay, but it’s also just a darn great mousse on its own. Alcohol-free, it won’t dry out your hair and uses a unique type of rubber-like substance to create volume, hold, and fullness…without any sticky or crunchy feeling.
It also comes in a blue variant that’s perfect for counteracting brassiness in brown hair, so be sure to tell all your brunette friends about it.
Best Mask: Verb Purple Hair Mask
Ideal not only for blondies but also those with gray and/or silver hair, this does its jobs as both a toner and mask equally well. In the toning department, violet pigments neutralize brass and keep cool blonde and silver shades nice and bright. In the mask department, antioxidant-rich acai extract plus pro-vitamin B5 protect, moisturize, and smooth. Bonus points for the addition of sunflower seed extract which offers UV protection to ward from color fading, always a boon for blondes.
A good toning treatment can go a long way towards keeping your blond in tip-top shape. We love the customization and versatility of the IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Blonde Toning Drops, which can be mixed in with any shampoo, conditioner, or styler. Drugstore shoppers should nab the John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Purple Shampoo; the Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo is another great, easy-to-use, toning shampoo. And if your strands need a little extra TLC, the Verb Purple Hair Mask is the way to go, a purple-tinted mask that delivers hydrating and reparative benefits, plus UV protectors to further keep your color vibrant.
What to Look For in a Toner for Blonde Hair
Using a toner with purple pigments in it is a surefire way to freshen up your blonde and counteract unwanted yellow tones. As Laudat explains, the purple tones in the product correct yellow undertones by neutralizing them: Purple falls opposite to yellow on the color wheel, which means depositing these complementary colored pigments will effectively cancel it out.
Have more orange-tinged brassiness than yellow? To bring it back to the color wheel, toning products with blue pigments are the best option for combatting any icky orange cast plaguing your blonde.
If you’re not a natural blonde, all that lightening and bleaching takes a toll on your tresses. Choosing toners that have conditioning and hydrating ingredients built-in not only will help strengthen your strands, but also will have the added benefit of upping the shine factor of your hair, too.
What does toner do for blonde hair?
According to Laudat, toning products help correct the yellow and orange undertones that can make blonde hair look dull and lackluster. By depositing subtle amounts of pigment in colors opposite to these tones on the color wheel (namely, purple and blue), they essentially neutralize any brassiness, refreshing and reviving your blonde.
How often should you use toner for blonde hair?
Laudat recommends using a toning product once a week to keep your blonde in check, though you can use them more frequently depending on what shade of blonde you desire. “You can use them every day, but watch that the color doesn’t become too flat or ashy looking,” she says.
How do you apply toner for blonde hair?
How you apply a toning product will depend on the formula, but considering that the bulk of the above are shampoos, conditioners, and masks, Laudat recommends applying as such: “If you’ve got really yellow roots and whiter ends, I would suggest that you apply the toner immediately at the roots, rub it in, and then let the lather soak through to the ends so that the majority of the product is on the roots.” She explains that the lather on your ends will help to keep them in check, but the majority of the pigments will get to work where it’s needed the most.
However, if you’re experiencing brassiness all over, she suggests applying the product to dry hair where needed, leaving it on for as long as needed to set in, and then shampooing it out with water.
Meet the Expert
Lisa Laudat is a London-based celebrity hairstylist who has worked with the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Rita Ora, and Pink. You can find her work across various music videos, editorials, and ad campaigns.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Since she doesn’t color her own hair, she relied on expert input, lots of product reviews, and input from family and friends when writing this article. (And because she does have blonde hair, she knows the importance of a good toner.)