DIY Toner Color Refresher

So this idea popped up in my head a while back and I’ve been tinkering, testing, and researching until I was confident enough to share with my stamp of approval.  A DIY toner. With hair down my back that is determined to turn yellow or orange when I dye it, I’ve been all over chemical toners with results ranging from waste-of-time to why-is-my-hair-blue?! And I’ve yet to come across a blue/purple shampoo or conditioner (So Silver, Shimmer Lights, etc) that did much and didn’t stink…  So I figured, why not make my own?

In fact, if you make it yourself, you can tailor it to your hair color needs AND get to use a shampoo/conditioner you like.

Now before you get excited and run out and try this, settle down and take a moment to consider any consequences of messing up and ending up with odd colored hair. If you have any fancy events to go to, or you’re meeting your significant other’s great granny, or you have a job/school that might frown upon your purple/green/whatever hair, then make sure you tread a little lightly or make sure you have a few days to fix any boo-boos because I’d hate to know you had to stay up all night with your head in scalding water using dish detergent to fade the color. How’s that for a run-on sentence? I’m just saying it’s better to find you need to add more color than to find out too late that you added too much… Also, that I’m not responsible if you have to attend a funeral with purple hair.

Ready to begin?! Then gather up the following:

  • A white/clear conditioner (or shampoo) of your choice with a removable cap
    • (I have not tried shampoo, but in theory it would work the same)
  • A deposit only semi-permanent color such as Manic Panic or Special Effects (something that doesn’t require a developer!)
    • I have Manic Panic in Ultra Violet to tone down yellow in blonde hair, but you can use whatever color you need, more on that later
  • A mixing container… preferably something that won’t stain like a glass bowl
  • A mixing instrument. Again, something that won’t stain or can be tossed. I used a hair dye brush thingy.
  • A container to put the final product in
    • I used the original conditioner bottle, but that required a funnel that Alton Brown taught me to make with a paper plate. If you’re making smaller batches you’ll need something to put it in like a tupperware container, condiment bottle, empty water bottle… something.

DIY Toner Ingredients

That’s your basic list. I also recommend having paper towels handy. Lots. And not to do this over carpet. I picked a large bottle of fairly cheap conditioner because I didn’t intend to use it often and essentially just wanted something to dilute the dye.. plus I glob it on so most of it would be wasted anyhow… Plus this bottle was transparent enough to see what’s in it so my husband won’t accidentally use it in my daughter’s hair.

So once you’ve got everything together, we’ll get to the real stuff.

Step 1) Put conditioner (or shampoo) in mixing container and add colored hair dye in small quantities. I’m saying start with half a pea size and mix it in before adding more. I ended up using less than half a teaspoon with 32oz of conditioner. People dilute these dyes with conditioner to make pastel colors on bleached hair, so don’t test the fates. You can always add more. Technically you can add more conditioner/shampoo to dilute it more, but I hope it’s not too late for your hair if you need to do this.

DIY Toner Manic Panic

Step 2) Mix together adding more color or diluting it until desired hue is achieved. It really depends on your intentions to say what your final product will look like. If you’re going to use it every wash, you’ll want it more diluted… If you use clarifying shampoo and scalding water, you may need it a bit darker… If you’re going to let it sit on your head for extended amount of time, more diluted. Just a couple minutes, darker. Slight toning, diluted. Once a month refresher, darker. See what I’m getting at? It really depends and the only way to know for sure for your needs is trial and error.

DIY Toner Mix

Step 3) Put it into a container and use! I had made a few test batches before deciding to make the full amount, which is why it’s not full (not that you care) … I also want to throw in that I rinsed the bottle before putting it back in the bottle so I didn’t have globs of non colored conditioner coming out.

DIY Toner Conditioner

Now on to some tips and stuff that you didn’t ask for but I knew you really wanted to know.

  • This could be used to make any color last longer. So if you dye your hair blue with Manic Panic already, you could mix a blue batch to extend the life. Or say you use a permanent red (which still fades like crazy) you could refresh the red tone with a red batch.
  • You can mix the colors to make a custom color. I recommend testing a small patch first before applying to entire head.
  • Using color theory, you can use complimentary colors to cancel out unwanted tones (hence the purple to remove yellow)
  • If you make this too strong, it can stain skin or transfer if you don’t rinse it out well, so keep that in mind.
  • The longer you leave it on, the more color will transfer to your hair, so be careful if you leave conditioner in for extended lengths.
  • More porous hair will absorb more color, so watch your ends or highlights to ensure they don’t come out crazy.
  • This doesn’t have to be used in the shower. You can apply it just using the conditioner to dilute and carry the color let it sit, or process with heat (be careful!)
  • As with any dyes, it’s best to do a patch test to make sure you or your hair won’t have any adverse reaction.

There you have it. Your own homemade toner of your own choice to fit your own needs. Pretty simple, huh?

DIY Toner Color Refresher by

13 Responses to “DIY Toner Color Refresher”

  1. I’m not blonde anymore, but genius! I was actually researching this method to refresh my permanent red color with some Vampire Red + conditioner & I’ll probably mix in some protein filler while I’m at it.

  2. You didn’t specify an approximate time to leave it in! I made mine a little darker last night and let it sit for 3 minutes and it only worked on my ends.. Going to try letting it sit for longer today on my roots!

  3. If your hair soaked up more color than the roots to mid way down the strands, you can use a neutral protein filler (get it at Sally’s) on your entire head. This will make all your hair equal in terms of the porosity. Before coloring, shampoo hair, do not condition, then apply the neutral protein filler all over entire hair (start at the top and work your way down) and comb through very gently with a wide tooth comb. The neutral protein filler’s consistency is similar to water so poor it into a spray bottle for easier and a more thorough application. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, your hair may feel “crunchy” that’s ok, then apply the manic panic conditioner mixture. The amount of time you would allow the conditioner/manic panic mixture to process is depending on your desired results. The protein filler smooths out porous texture in the hair shaft so I would leave it for 45 minutes, wipe off a strand to see where the process is at, then you can determine from there if you want to leave it on longer depending on what color you would like to achieve. Hope that helps:)

  4. Sorry, forgot to say my comment was to help Amanda, good luck honey:) Hope your hair turns out fabulous!

  5. When doing this, shampoo does not work. I’ve tried it before all it does is foam up.

  6. Design line has a combo shampoo and conditioner usually 2 for 20 in pints the shampoo is purple and conditioner is blue and it works great try that before you try this !!!! They carry it at all the tgf and WalMart salons its for grey and highlighted hair

  7. I’m wanting to use this as a daily thing to make my red dye last longer. Would I need to fully dry my hair after every shower to keep it from staining or stripping or soaking into anything?

  8. Do I use this before I wash my hair (on dry hair) or do I just use this as a conditioner after washing my hair? Will it work if my hair is wet when I apply it? I have silver hair (natural) and just trying to keep the yellow tones out. The purple shampoos haven’t been working well for me.

  9. I have been researching DIY colour depositing conditioners, and all of them say to use semi or demi-permanent. Is there any reason to not use permanent? Thanks!

    • I think most if not all permanent hair dye needs peroxide to develop. It would kill hair in less than a week if used daily.

  10. Ashleigh says:

    My hair has been bleached blonde for over a year and I’m trying to return to my natural very dark brown but I’m worried the dark would take well as hair is damaged and less pourous. I’m going to try the neutral protein filler and mix some dark dye in with conditioner regularly, but I’m wondering if I can just put permanent dye in the conditioner as I’m trying to get my hair darker not lighter? Would you recommend this or just stick to semi permanent and any other advice? Ps thank you so much!!

    • Samantha says:

      Use a dark red non permanent color in ur shampoo and conditioner and also add a bit to the color mix when u dye ur hair to add depth and shine and to avoid a dull grey or green overtone on the new darker color

  11. Ashleigh says:

    Dark dye WONT take well **

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