Here's Why Your Toner Might Be Making Your Blond Hair Gray

Keeping your natural hair color is really the only way you can guarantee its color. After dying your hair — whether in a salon or using boxed dye — there's always an element of surprise when seeing the finished product for the first time. And even after that initial outcome, your hair's color will likely shift over time thanks to exposure to the sun, water, and chemicals. Luckily — and unlike haircuts, which make reversing significant mistakes more challenging — if your hair dye or highlights don't turn out how you anticipated, toner can give you or your stylist a chance to fix whatever isn't meeting your expectations.

In an interview with InStyle, hair colorist Tracey Cunningham described using toners during her root touch-up appointments, saying that it's " ... a quick service that works wonders on hair to tone color, refresh highlights, and correct uneven tones." Often, when someone dyes their hair blond, toner is used to balance out any unwanted yellow warmth. But as much of a savior as toner can be, it can also be a disaster, turning blond hair gray at times.

What makes toner turn blond hair gray?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with gray hair. If you have naturally gray hair, you don't need to dye it, and you can even highlight gray hair to feel more empowered. But if you intended your hair to be blond, there is something quite wrong if it turned out gray after using toner. Explaining the science behind toning, celebrity hair colorist Harriet Muldoon told Glamour, "On blondes, cooler toner makes the color more silvery, and warmer toner makes it more coppery. It's the most important part of the color process."

As such, if you overdo a toner with a too-cool tint to it, you could end up sucking too much of your natural color out of your hair. This can also be done by letting it sit on your hair for longer than instructed. The good news is that this is a simple issue to prevent from happening in the first place. Simply make sure you're using the right shade of toner for your hair, and then just follow the instructions carefully, making sure you don't stray from the application methods, wait times or removal procedures. This applies to both full-coverage dye and highlights, with hairstylist Krysta Biancone telling Stylecraze, "If you are trying to cancel out brassy orange tones, an ash toner is often the best choice. For lighter highlights, a purple toner might be more appropriate."

Still, even if your toner application goes awry, this, too, can be corrected.

How to make your gray hair blond again

If toner has turned your blond locks gray, there are a few things you can do. The easiest thing would be to do nothing. If you're in no rush to get your hair back to blond, your toner will inevitably wash out and fade in about one to two months. But if this isn't the case for you and you want to speed up the fading process, you can try using a clarifying shampoo, which will give your hair a more thorough clean than traditional shampoo. It'll strip your hair of product and dirt, ultimately — and with a little luck and perseverance — fading the gray in your hair.

For something more intense, we'd recommend using a chelating treatment. This product is a deep cleanse for your hair that can eliminate substances that could be discoloring your base coat, including hard water buildup and excess toner. Lastly, if you're desperate to get your OG or dye-intended hair color back, you can try using a hair-color remover, though we only encourage this as a last-ditch option because it can lead to hair breakage. Still, if you're desperate for your hair color, it'll do; just give your hair some good care afterward, gray or not.