Woman with red long hair
Hair Color | Hair color trend two tone

Tone, dye or bleach – which is best for me?

What is the difference between dyeing and toning hair? And how do you return dyed-brown hair back to blond? We answer these questions, and tell you everything you need to know before you experiment with a new shade

Are you feeling the need to refresh your look – perhaps with a change in hair color? If so, your choices are: tone, dye or bleach. To help you decide which method to use, you need to know what each can do for your hair. Your desired shade also plays an important role in the method you choose. A toner won’t lighten your hair, but dyeing or bleaching will. If you just want to refresh your natural color, using a toner may be the best choice. Our guide will help you decide which method is right for your hair.

What happens when you tone your hair

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What makes toner and color easy to apply? A brush!

One of the greatest advantages of using a toner is the lack of regrowth, because the color will fade within six to eight washes. Toners work without chemistry, so they do not contain a developer. The color does not penetrate the hair structure – it just coats the exterior of the hair. A toner can’t achieve a dramatic change of color, and it also won’t cover grays. Toner is mainly used to refresh color and provide shine.


Alongside light toners, there are intensive toners. These contain chemical ingredients. This makes the color more durable – it lasts about six to eight weeks, gradually fading with each hair wash – thus also avoiding regrowth. The application of an intensive toner causes the cuticle of the hair to open slightly. The color coats the outer layer of the hair as it does with a light toner, but is better absorbed by the open hair cuticle.

How dyeing works

Anyone who wants to change their hair color significantly should choose hair dye. When hair is dyed, the cuticle is opened and color pigments penetrate the hair. Hair color is always permanent: It does not wash out, but grows out over time. The more the dye color differs from your natural tone, the more visible the regrowth. Gray hair can also be covered with dye. When self-coloring, the original natural hair colors depicted on hair dye packaging provide good orientation as to whether a color may be suitable or not.

Tip: Dyeing is hard on the hair, so it’s important to use special haircare products for dyed hair. These will help maintain the radiance of the color and avoid fading.

Bleaching hair – yes or no?

Note: Already dyed hair can’t be dyed lighter. If you have colored hair and want a lighter color, this can only be achieved by bleaching. When bleaching, color pigments are removed from the hair (in contrast to a dyeing). Because this can affect the hair and dry it out, aftercare should include the use of special shampoo and conditioner for blond hair, and the application of a hair mask once or twice a week.

Even brunettes can achieve blond tresses – but only via bleaching. Tip: To avoid bleaching mishaps, it’s best to consult a professional colorist. They can lighten darker hair more gently over several sessions. Another special case: blonds seeking a darker tone. Over blond, brown hair color may leave a greenish tinge. In this case, it’s also worth visiting a professional colorist – so that the result is as you envisioned it.



Are you unsure whether your desired shade will work on your original color? Find a Schwarzkopf Professional hairdresser to advise you on the shade and coloration method to suit your hair with the help of our Salon Finder

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