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What Is Neutralizer For Hair?

by Gabbi

There are many variable that can effect the outcome of how your hair looks when doing a color treatment, especially if it includes using hair bleach.

One of the main concerns when coloring your hair is achieving the right tone that has an equal balance of warm and cool shades to create a shade that’s complimentary to your skin tone.

It is easy for your hair to pull specific tones when coloring the hair, especially when you are lightening your strands, that a neutralizer will help to get the hair back in balance.

Often when lightening the hair, particularly brunette colors, the results can include tones that are too warm or brassy. In order to balance out the shades, a cool-toned neutralizer needs to be applied on top in order to counteract the orange, brassy tones.

The neutralizer also helps to add more depth to the color, by adding different tones to the lightened locks.

What is neutralizer for your hair and why is it important? Hair neutralizer works to tones the different shades in your hair color to eliminate any unwanted tones. It can help to eliminate brassy tones, while also providing depth and dimension to your hair color.

Below we discuss what hair neutralizer is, how often you can use it, and the best ways to use it to create the hair color you’ve always wanted!

What Is Neutralizer For Hair?

Hair neutralizer is essentially hair toner. It is going to balance the hair color during the color treatment process. Neutralizer works to help take out any brassy, unwanted, orange tones from the hair. Especially when lightening darker hair, it can pull orange, yellow, or brassy.

Neutralizers, or toners, will help to eliminate the unwanted shades to balance out the color. Neutralizers will also help to add more of a cool, ash tone to the hair color as well.

When To Use Hair Neutralizer

Hair neutralizer is also referred to as toner, and it is best to use it as part of the hair dyeing process. After applying the hair color and developer, you want to let it sit on the hair for the required amount of time to lift and color properly.

Once the desired amount of time has been achieved, the hair dye is rinsed out and hair toner is then applied.

Typically, hair neutralizer will not have to sit on the hair for as long as the hair dye or bleach needs to. Hair neutralizer can stay on the hair for about 15 minutes before it needs to be rinsed out.

Once the required about time has been achieved, the toner can then be washed away and you can continue to style your hair as your normally would.

Hair neutralizer can also be used in between hair color appointments to eliminate any unwanted tones that may show up as color begins to fade. Specifically with blonder shades, brassy or yellow tones can easily begin to show up in between color treatments, and a toner will help to color correct those unwanted shades.

How Often To Use Hair Neutralizer

There are many ways to use hair neutralizer, both within your color treatment appointment and afterwards. The neutralizer can be used during your hair color appointment after the hair has been lifted to the desired level and the color has sat on the hair for the required amount of time.

After the hair color is washed out, then the toner is applied to eliminate any shades the hair may have pulled from the developer.

Toner is an easy at-home product to use, and can be applied in between salon appointments as a way to refresh your hair color. Most toners are semi-permanent products, and do not always require the use of a developer.

The neutralizer can last in the hair anywhere between 4-8 weeks, which makes it a perfect touch-up product to keep your hair color looking fresh.

While neutralizer is often known to tint the hair color, it can also refresh the shine that can often be lost overtime with color treated hair.

Benefits Of Hair Neutralizer

There are many benefits to using a neutralizer in your hair to help achieve the best hair color results yet. Most notable, the neutralizer is formulated to eliminate any unwanted tones in the hair, that can often occur when lightening or altering the existing color.

Often times, the hydrogen peroxide in the developer can cause warmer tones, such as orange, yellow, and red, to become more prominent in the hair color as it is being lightened, especially on darker hair that is going blonde.

While these tones may already exist in the hair, often the are not the desired end result you are looking for in your hair color.

Neutralizer is going to be a tinted toner that contains a more cool-toned shade, to counteract the orange, yellow, or red that becomes apparent in the color. The cooler tones will also add more of an ash-tone to the hair, which is a popular color to achieve.

The neutralizer can also help to add dimension to your hair. Aside from neutralizing the brassy tones in the hair, it adds a tint of color to the hair which can help to create depth to the different levels of the hair color.

Especially if your hair color includes multi-dimensions of color, such as highlights or lowlights, the toner can add an overall depth to the different shades to create a more dynamic hair color.

With color treated hair, it can lose its luster overtime. Often times it can be reinvigorated with a fresh application of hair dye, but that process can be costly and damaging to the hair.

There are many toners available that can add just a gloss to your hair, without adding any color if you so desire. Using a neutralizer in between salon color appointments, is a perfect way to keep your hair color looking fresh and shiny.

Hair neutralizers are typically semi or demi-permanent, meaning they will begin to fade over time without permanently altering the existing hair color. It can be an ideal way to add more of a tint of a particular color without the same level of commitment a permanent hair color will have.

Also, because they are usually semi-permanent, they do not penetrate the hair shaft as deeply as permanent color, causing less damage to the hair strands overall.

Toners and neutralizers are also fairly simple to use at home, instead of scheduling a trip to the salon. If you are looking to eliminate unwanted tones, add a renewed shine, or just want your color to look fresh, an at home toner application is an easy solution.

Tips For Using Hair Neutralizer

While using hair neutralizer at home is relatively easy, if you are still unsure, you can always opt for using a hair toning shampoo as an easier alternative.

Depending on the color of your hair and how you need to adjust the tones, there are many pigment depositing shampoos and conditioners available on the market to do the job. The most common is a purple shampoo or conditioner for blonde hair, as that will reduce the appearance of brassy orange tones that can easily pop up.

You can also find pigment depositing products in a range of hair colors to suit your needs in between touch-ups from natural to trendy hair colors. These products will add a tint of color and the tone you are looking for in subtle ways that becomes more apparent the more frequently the product is used.

If you are using a color depositing, neutralizing shampoo, it is best to let the product sit on the hair and scalp for several minutes to fully absorb and cancel out the unwanted tones, before rinsing it out.

When you are applying actual hair toner, it is best to work in smaller sections to ensure you are targeting the areas with the unwanted tones properly.

It is also valuable to have a knowledge of the color wheel and method behind color correction, to understand what tones need to be used to counteract the unwanted shades. The toner is applied to dry hair with a small hair color brush, to thoroughly coat the hair for the best results.

After letting the neutralizer sit on the hair for the required amount of time, it can be rinsed out with color-safe, color-protecting hair products. To maintain the correct tone, you can use a color depositing shampoo or conditioner once a week to prevent unwanted tones from appearing.


Using hair neutralizer is an important step in your hair color treatment, as it can help to perfect the overall color to be the ideal, dimensional shade.

As many colors naturally exist within our hair strands, it is easy for unwanted tones to become more apparent when we are coloring our hair to be something different.

In order to prevent the unwanted shades from taking away from our desired outcomes, using a hair toner will help to keep your color treated hair looking balanced, shiny, and healthy.

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