Last updated: June 17, 2019
Pre-Toning 101: When And Why You Should Tone First
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“When depositing fashion tones, the starting canvas needs to be clean and consistent. Pre-toning gives you a reliable canvas by neutralizing unwanted tones. And always remember to consider the color wheel. If you apply blue on top of a yellow, your end result may end up being more blue-green than true blue.” –Danielle Keasling (@danielle.keasling), Matrix Artistic Director
“Pre-toning is one of the best ways to guarantee the integrity of your color service. When blonding or working with vibrant colors, pre-toning allows colors to blend and ensures the undertone will not affect your final result. Going the faster route will almost always result in a corrective process at the shampoo bowl.” –Leah Freeman (@leahatfuse), L'ANZA Global Healing Color Director
“When a guest has strong orange/brassy pigments and you want to soften them before creating a neutral tone or softer caramel, you can pre-tone with a strong blue pigment to counteract the orange. Once that tone is neutralized, rinse and apply the second and final toner. Just be sure there are no yellow tones present, or they will turn blue!” –Jamie Sea (@prettylittleombre), BTC's Balayage Expert
“Overly cool tones, like silvers, have taught us the repercussions of underlying pigment. When warmth exists when I’m trying to achieve a neutralized or overly-cool end result, I pre-tone. Basic examples include cool beiges, balayage applications (since sometimes these don’t lift white where we want them to) cool blondes, white blondes, silvers, lilacs and fashion colors. Kenra Color Rapid Toners are perfect for this because they process in five minutes or less (sometimes just one minute!) at the shampoo bowl.” –Cassie Siskovic (@cassielizhair), Kenra Professional Regional Education Manager
“Pre-toning ensures that when direct pigments fade, your client isn’t left with warm, yellow or gold hair.” –Danielle Keasling
“Recently I’ve been playing around with pre-toning to dictate not only the end result but also the fade out. Since I double-pigment through this process, I can tell my clients after a pre-tone that this is what they can expect as the color dissipates on porous hair. Clients love this!” –Cassie Siskovic
“I pre-tone when I want to create a tonal shift. Tone your client’s hair first, rinse, dry and then balayage or foil.” –Jamie Sea
To achieve this metallic mauve color, Cassie pre-toned a pre-lightened base with Kenra Color VP + SV Rapid Toner + 9-volume developer, then applied equal parts 10ROM + 9VM + 10SM + 10-volume developer and processed for 30 minutes. Left: after pre-toning. Right: metallic mauve end result.
Leah created this vibrant lavender by applying L'ANZA Healing Color 15g 100V + 10g 10A + 50g Demi Developer to pre-lightened hair and processing at room temperature for 20 minutes. She then applied L'ANZA Healing Color 5g Magenta + 2g Smoke + 10g Clear to the base and midlengths, processing for 20 minutes. Finally, she toned the ends with 2g Magenta + 1g Smoke + 15g Clear for 5 minutes.
During a busy day at the salon, you don’t have a ton of time to spare (OK any time to spare), and pre-toning adds an extra step…and extra time. So why do it? We asked five industry pros when they pre-tone and why. Scroll through the responses to see what they said.