FAQ: How Do I Tone My Very Light Highlights?

I use this formula to color my roots every 6 weeks using Redken Colorgels: 35 g 6 GN + 15 g 8GN + 20 volume cream developer. My hair gets processed for 30 minutes.  In addition I get highlights every 4-5 months. Now the highlights are too light. Can I use the same formula all over my hair and the highlights will turn darker? Or do I have to use a different formula to tone down the highlights?

This is what I gather from your message: You color your hair medium-light brown most likely to cover some gray hair (at home?). You do not like just the flat color, so you then have it highlighted to a lighter shade. The shade seems too light.

Now here is where it gets little unclear to me (since I do not see your hair). I would need to know how is the application of highlights done, which can be done three ways:

  1. The colorist applies the lightener on the REGROWTH ONLY and makes it too light
  2. Your colorist applies the lightener on the ENTIRE HAIR SHAFT (from root to ends) and the root area highlighted for the first time is OK, but the anything that has been highlighted prior to 4-5 months gets lighter and the ends are the lightest
  3. Your colorist sometimes highlights only regrowth that has never been highlighted and when your hair needs blending every so often he/she applies the lightener on the entire shaft
If the highlighting is applied as described in number 1 - your colorist needs to cut down on processing time - bleach keeps lifting the color the longer as long as it stays on the hair, which could possibly solve your problem and your hair would be spared one extra step.

If the highlighting is applied as described in 2 - your colorist needs to apply the lightener only to the root area and if the color comes out the way you like it there will be no need for toner.

If the highlighting is applied as described in 3 - you need occasional toner (you can read about toner on this page).

Now finally to your question "how to fix the over lightened hair" - if you would apply the above mentioned formula as is, you would make your hair too dark. This is what I would do:
If I would like the base color (shade) of the above mentioned formula, I would mix probably 1/2 of the amount (of the above mentioned formula) and I would dilute it 50:50 with water (that means equal amounts of the formula and water, or shampoo for thicker consistency). This would make the formula less powerful. I would try to process my hair for about 5 minutes, then I would take a paper towel and wipe a bit of one of my strands (strand test) to see how the color is turning. If it would be still light, I would check again in another 5 minutes and so on. When I would achieve the desired shade/darkness I would shampoo my hair and condition it. If the hair is porous it will "suck" the tint in, yet after few shampoos it may release it.

Now if you would like a different shade than your original formula (mentioned above), you could get yourself a toner in a darker shade than your highlights, but a lighter shade than your original formula, and process your hair according to manufacturer. Then shampoo and condition your hair. 

Please, read the note below.

Credit: The above image is from website.


This post should be taken as a first step for a discussion with your hairdresser and/or colorist about your ideas, desires or problems with your hair. Under no circumstances, you should act upon this post ONLY. I strongly advice you to have your hair done by a skilled and reputable hairdresser/colorist in your area.