Toning: How To Formulate For Blonde Hair
Let’s talk toners—are you struggling to achieve predictable results with those high level blonde clients? When should you reach for a Level 010 toner over your routine Level 09s … and when should you grab both? We are breaking down the answers to your toner formulation questions below from this incredible lineup of hair painters: Farhana Premji (@xo.farhana.balayage), Daniel Mora (@danielmbeauty), Kasha Albert (@thesalteblond) and Makenna Young (@makennayounghair). Keep scrollin’!
1. Formulating 101: Background Colors & Tones
- Background Color: This is the FOUNDATION of the shade, aka the portion of the color base that helps produce balanced, natural color results.
- Tone: This is the portion of the color base that gives a shade it’s unique CHARACTER.
For example, let’s break it down with Redken Shades EQ:
- 010VV Lavender Ice: Its lack of background allows for a more intense color result, while the violet corrects yellow undertones.
- 010N Delicate Natural: Its brown-to-tan background creates the foundation while its blue/violet tone provides balanced, neutral results.
The Difference Between Level 010s v. Level 09s
“The major difference is EXPECTED RESULTS,” shares Daniel. “Often, we tend to mix Clear but a lot of the time we forget how much we’ve added unless you have been keeping notes on your files.” But, remember this: “Using a Level 010 won’t make your client more blonde—it simply means there’s less pigment weight in the formula so you’ll get less deposit, more refining,” adds Farhana.
Difference In Toners: Click Through & Snag The Formulas
2. When To Tone With Level 010s:
- Add Dimension & Color Melts
Kasha utilizes Level 010s in the same way she would Clear to create a luminous melt on light blondes. “It enhances the primary hue while adding a bit of softness with natural or enhances opalescence,” shares Kasha. “For instance, if your client is a Level 9, adding a Level 010 into your 09 will help create some depth for your canvas.”
- Clean Lift Without Correction
“I’ll reach for a Level 010 when I’ve achieved a clean lift and have next to no correcting to do,” shares Farhana. “For me, this means clients lifted from a Level 6 or higher—anything lower than that means I’ll need a heavier pigment weight to cancel out brassy tones.”
- Creamy Or Icy Blondes Without Losing Brightness
Want high impact with maximum brightness? “Use when the guest wants a creamy or icy blonde without taking the brightness away,” shares Makenna.
- Filling Hair BEFORE Fashion Color & Corrections
Hello, pre-toning perfection! “You can also use a Level 10 for a ‘fill’ to even your canvas before applying fun shades or corrections,” shares Kasha.
3. When To Tone With Level 09s:
- Neutralizing Harsh Underlying Pigments
“I will choose to formulate using the Level 09s v. using 010s if my client has a lot of yellow pigment remaining in her hair, and has not quite lifted to a 10,” shares Makenna. “If your client still has underlying pigment (yellow, green or blue), stick to the Level 09s,” adds Kasha.
- For example, correct without losing brightness: “[They’re] best for those pale yellow blondes that still need a bit of corrective pigment without having to drop to a Level 8,” adds Farhana.
- But Don’t Make This Common Mistake With Level 09s
“Just remember the difference between 9V and 9P as it can be confusing to some,” shares Makenna. “You can use 9V to cancel out the yellow, but if you use strictly 9P trying to cancel out the yellow, you will result in green hair due to the blue that is in 9P.”
4. Mixing With Clear v. Level 010
Let’s clear this up. If you add Clear, it’s not going to make the color any lighter, just weaker. “Mixing with Clear is diluting the formula,” shares Farhana. “You’re still getting Level 09 pigments, dispersed amongst a higher quantity of color. It’s not lighter—it’s more sheer. Before, [colorists] would mix with Clear to give the effect of a 10. But now we can tone with all Level 10 pigment, and only dilute to sheer it out even more!”
- When to add Level 010 instead of Clear: When starting with Level 010s, Farhana recommends mixing with a Level 09. Or, Daniel will mix for a creative approach if the hair has lifted too much and he wants to soften it a bit.
- When to only apply Clear: Because Daniel didn’t need to tone, he applied Clear for 20 minutes to even out the porosity. The result? This perfection!
5. Color Placement For Level 09s v. Level 010s
Use the Level 10s where you want to see the most brightness. Here’s why!
- “[Apply] Level 010 around the face for the money piece or face frame and tipped out ends,” shares Kasha. “It adds that extra pop of brightness that a Level 9 can just dull down. I love using them for Zone 2 and 3 while utilizing 09s for the roots!”
- “I like to tone the crown with Level 09s, and the hairline and ends with 010s,” shares Daniel. “It truly makes a difference in how dimensional the finished product will be.”
Tap For The Formulas & CLICK HERE For The Toner Application Steps!
- Formula A:
Redken Flash Lift Bonder Inside + 15-volume developer
- Formula B:
2 parts Redken Shades EQ 7GB + 1 part 8V + Shades EQ Processing Solution
- Formula C:
Redken Shades EQ 10N + Shades EQ Processing Solution
- Formula D:
Redken Shades EQ 5N + 7C + Shades EQ Processing Solution
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