We have all experienced a color treating our hair only to end up with results we were not expecting.
Whether it is salon-treated or done at home, you might have one idea in mind, and it could turn out to be something completely different. With the growing popularity in ash-toned locks, the chance for over-toning hair is higher.
Toner is used during the color treatment process, often as the final step, in order to balance the appearance of different hues present in the desired color.
Toner is meant to neutralize unwanted brassiness or warm tones that can often be hard to counteract. Ash toner in particular provides a cool toned appearance, but sometimes the hair becomes too ashy as a result.
So, what should you do if your hair is too ashy after toner? Thankfully, too ashy hair can be fixed easily and, sometimes, without having to go back to the salon. A few easy methods include washing your hair frequently, using a clarifying shampoo, trying a hair depositing mask or conditioner, and more.
Unless you were going for those trendy, gray-toned locks, if you find that your hair has gone too ashy from toner, you can fade the color quickly without damaging your hair through a few different techniques we are going to explore below.
What Does Ashy Mean?
Ash, when used in reference to hair color, is a cool tone typically meant to neutralize unwanted brassy tones.
The cool tone is usually a grayish-bluish tone, although depending on the hair shade, it can also have undertones of green or violet as well. Ash tones can be seen in a wide array of tones and can be used with many different hair colors.
There are no warm tones apparent in ash colors, meaning no reds or oranges. Often times, ash toners are used to neutralize or eliminate brassiness that is also a frequent issue with color treated hair, especially hair that is bleached.
Ash tones deposit a cool, gray undertone over top of warm, brassy hair color to achieve a neutral balance between the two shades. When depositing a cooler tone over a warmer shade, the colors cancel out and that is where the neutralizing occurs.
While ash tones are seen in many hair colors, and the cool tone has become a widespread trend in the hair color world, too much ash can have the opposite effect, resulting in hair that is too gray/green or dull and dark.
Why Can Hair Turn Out Too Ashy?
There can be a few reasons why your hair can appear too ashy after a color treatment. One common cause is that the hair is too porous.
When the color is deposited onto the hair, if your hair has a high porosity, the color gets absorb too quickly into the hair. The ash toner gets absorbed into the hair at a faster rate than normal, resulting in a color that has too much of the cool tone.
Another common mistake is that the toner can be too dark, or not the right ash tone for your hair. If the toner was applied to dry hair, it could also contribute to the end result being too ashy.
Hair toner does not necessarily darken hair color, however it does remove unwanted tones and, if the shade is not correct for the desired outcome, it can leave hair looking dull.
If the toner is left on the hair for too long, that can also cause hair to appear too ashy. Toner is used after color treating hair to neutralize any unwanted tones, especially when treating hair with bleach. Lightening the hair with bleach will often leave behind brassy tones such as orange or yellow.
Toner is used to neutralize these shades, and with ash toners in particular, are meant to give a more platinum, cool-toned finish. If the toner is left too long, the result can be a gray/green hue from processing on the hair for too long.
What Hair Color Can Ashiness Occur The Most?
Ash is a tone that can appear in a wide range of different hair colors. It is most commonly seen in blonde or platinum hair colors. However, there has been a trend in recent years of ash toned brunette shades that have become increasingly popular, like the popular “mushroom brown” or ash brown.
There has also been a huge trend of uber-platinum to silver or gray, cool toned hair. If you are wanting to go for that silver/gray shade of blonde, it can be achieved with an ash toner on hair that is lightened and color-treated properly.
The shade can also be maintained with an ash toner to prevent any eventual brassiness from occurring.
Can Color Ashiness Be Fixed?
Too much ash in a hair color is a relatively easy fix. As opposed to trying to fix brassiness, which requires color to be “lifted,” or using additional color processing, too much ash in your hair can be fixed by depositing color to adjust the tone.
Ash tones are meant to neutralize and balance, so if there is an instance where hair is over-toned with a cooler shade, adding more warmth easily reinstates the balance of different shades.
Hair is generally more receptive to warmer shades rather than cooler tones, as those warm tones can exist in hair already, making the correction of adding a warmer color to ashy hair an easy solution.
You can try something like this color depositing hair mask from Four Reasons in your referred warm shade to color correct your hair, but try using it in small amounts for short bursts to avoid over-correcting.
Best Methods to Fix Ashy Hair
If you want to try to fix hair that is too ashy before returning to the salon, one solution is to try frequent washes with warm to hot water. Washing hair frequently, especially right after the color treatment has been applied, can fade the toner quickly.
However, with frequent washes, you want to make sure you are following up with moisture-rich products, like a conditioner or hydrating mask, to ensure your hair does not dry out too much.
A clarifying shampoo can also help strip the unwanted tones. Clarifying shampoo like this one from Redken is a product formulated to provide a deeper clean to your hair, targeting product buildup, excess oils, and in general are stronger than your regular shampoo.
As it cleans the hair so thoroughly, color treatments can often be affected when clarifying shampoos are used and they can quickly strip the over toned hair from being too ashy.
It is great to include a clarifying shampoo to your hair care routine anyway, but you do not want to use it too frequently, as it can strip your hair of its own natural oils and hydration.
A clarifying shampoo will remove any product build up, excess oil, and hair pollutants that your regular shampoo might miss. However, if you are looking to fade your hair toner or color, make sure you use a clarifying shampoo that does not have any color treatment protecting claims.
There are also many color depositing hair masks, like the one we mentioned previously from Four Reasons, and treatments available on the market that can be used to deposit a different tone to the too ashy locks. Color depositing treatments are semi-permanent and are to be used in your regular hair washing routine.
The more often and consistently they are used, the more the color is maintained, and can be a solution to adding more warmth to hair that has gone too ashy.
Ultimately, if the color is not as you desired, going to your salon for your next color treatment and having your stylist incorporate more warm tones will give you the most long-lasting fix.
Balancing the ash tones with shades that are warmer and more golden will help to blend and neutralize strands that are too cool toned or gray/green.
Best Toners To Prevent Ashiness
Aside from depositing and neutralizing hair color, toners can also provide extra shine, which is sometimes needed when going for ashy tones.
While permanent toners are salon-level and should only be used by a professional hair stylist during your appointment, there are at-home products you can add to your hair care routine to refresh and tone your hair in between your trips to the salon!
First, based on your hair color, deciding what type of toner is right for you will guide you in selecting the correct product.
Toners cannot lighten hair, but will add gloss, shine, and vibrance back to your color-treated hair. If you are looking to maintain the ash tones in cooler hair colors, looking for products that a blue or violet pigments will refresh the color.
Depending on your hair color, a product like this color depositing deep conditioner from dpHUE comes in a variety of shades to suit your needs. It is a semi-permanent treatment that boosts and maintains hair color’s vibrancy and delivers immediate high shine to your processed tresses.
However, even if your hair is natural and not color treated, this product will help to enhance your hair color, while providing moisture and a glossy finish to leave hair looking and feeling healthy.
If you have ash blonde hair, a toning product like this one from TRUSS, which is an in-shower, 10 minute treatment, will help to neutralize and correct any brass shades.
Used as a treatment, after shampooing your hair, the violet pigments will work to counteract any yellow or orange tones. Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner, and your ash-toned blonde will stay protected and the correct tone in between salon visits.
If you do not want to add any semi-permanent color, but you still want the shine afforded from a toner, a clear glossing treatment like this one from dpHUE will provide you with high shine and soft locks. The clear deep conditioning treatment will not affect your existing hair color but will add extra shine that can be lost over time.
Especially with cool-toned ash shades, hair can sometimes appear dull in between sessions. Ash tones tend to absorb the light, while warmer tones tend to reflect it, giving a brighter appearance.
A semi-permanent, clear glossing treatment like the one mentioned above will not only be able to counteract any dullness apparent in ash tone hair, but give you the appearance of freshly applied hair color.
If you want to avoid any user error when it comes to toning your hair, take a look at this great video from hairdresser Sam Vay on YouTube explaining how to use toner properly.
Best Products For Color Maintenance
After color treating our hair, we want to make sure the results last as long as possible! Depending on our daily hair care routine, color can sometimes fade sooner than we planned.
Aside from very pale blonde, most natural hair colors have warm tones already existing in the color, so when going for an ash-toned shade, unwanted brassiness can start to show through earlier than expected, resulting in more toner needed to neutralize it.
Making sure we are taking care of our hair is a must, but especially if we want to preserve our color; cool toned shades especially!
Starting with the shampoo and conditioner you use, looking out for products that claim to protect color treated hair, like this duo from Nexxus will keep your color extended between washes.
Shampoo and conditioner are used so frequently in our hair care routine, looking for color protecting formulas that are sulfate-free is also recommended.
Sulfate-free formulas are more gentle on color treated hair, as they won’t strip the color as harshly, and will prevent hair from losing any needed hydration.
To incorporate with your regular shampoo and conditioner routine, using a purple pigment depositing shampoo every few washes will help to extend and maintain your ash-toned locks.
As warm tones are naturally occurring in most natural hair colors, and ash-tones can fade out of hair quickly, purple pigment shampoos like this one from Redken or this one from Joico help to keep those cool tones intact.
The rich purple shade of the shampoo neutralizes and banishes warm orange, yellow, or red tones to maintain the appearance of gray, silver, or cool-toned shades, while providing extra hydration and color protection as well.
After color treating your hair, especially with bleach, the locks can feel dry or in need of additional moisture. Adding a color protecting hair mask into your hair care routine not only extends the color treatment, but provides added hydration to your overly processed strands.
A hydrating mask like this hydrating one from Pureology uses essential nutrients to protect hair color while also incorporating much-needed moisture to protect and preserve your hair’s health.
Similar to purple pigment depositing shampoo, neutralizing hair masks such as this one from Redken cancel out errant brassy tones to extend the look of your cool-toned strands.
Switching up our hair color can be such an easy change to our appearance, but so often we are hesitant to make the jump because we are unsure of the end results.
Knowing what the steps are in your color treatment routine is a helpful guide in achieving the correct results. Mistakes with hair color can happen, but also knowing how to prevent those mishaps should alleviate any stress that can be caused from not receiving the correct shade.
Being able to fix those mishaps at home, without having to go back to the salon, is an ideal solution. Thankfully, excessively ashy hair as a result of being overly toned is one of those easy fixes.
The ash toned hair color trend does not appear to be stopping any time soon and is even making its way from the predominantly blonde locks to cool toned brunette tresses.
Over toning hair to be too ashy can happen, leaving hair that is too dark, gray, or dull. However, the solutions to fixing hair that has gone too ashy listed above are relatively easy and won’t cause any additional damage to your already color treated locks.