How To Tone Down Blonde Hair That Is Too Bright – 8 Super Simple Ways.

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Yikes! You’ve dyed your hair a fab new blonde hair shade that’s brightened up your look – too much! Now you need to know how to tone down blonde hair, fast. That’s why we’re here!

It’s a simple problem to fix, don’t worry. All it takes is some simple supermarket products or common household items and you can make your hair color look totally fab again!

We’re here with 8 easy tips to take it all down a notch. Let’s go!

How to fix blonde hair that is too bright infographic - Method	Instructions
1	Purple shampoo	Apply to wet hair. Leave on for suggested time. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat each wash until desired tone is reached.
2	Cool, ash-based dye	Choose a dye close to your current shade. Apply evenly. Rinse thoroughly after suggested time. Follow with conditioner.
3	Clarifying shampoo	Lather hair root to tip. Massage in for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Condition after.
4	Dish soap	Mix with cold water. Lather hair. Leave on a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Follow with conditioner.
5	Lemon juice	Squeeze juice of 1 lemon. Dilute with water if desired. Apply evenly to hair. Leave on 15 mins. Rinse thoroughly. Condition after.
6	Coffee-infused shampoo	Brew strong coffee. Mix equal parts cooled coffee & shampoo. Apply evenly. Leave on 10-15 mins. Rinse thoroughly. Condition after.
7	Apple cider vinegar	Apply to dry hair. Leave on 10 mins. Rinse with cold water.
8	Ash-based toner	Mix 1 part toner & 2 parts 20-vol developer. Wear gloves. Apply evenly. Leave on 30 mins, adjusting time as needed. Rinse thoroughly. Let air dry.

How to tone down blonde hair that’s too bright.

Whether you want to know how to tone down blonde hair, take the edge off blonde highlights or dull down bleached hair, this is the guide you need.

It’s time to tone down that hair color! Here are 8 simple ways to tone your hair at home:

#1. Use A Purple Shampoo

how to tone down blonde hair with toning shampoo infographic

If your hair’s looking too bright or brassy after dying it, go for a color correcting shampoo or hair gloss to keep it cool.

Blondes – you’ll need purple shampoo with violet pigments that will neutralize nasty yellows.

If you’re a brunette or you have balayage hair – you can use blue shampoo which will get rid of any orange color, darken and cool your color.

Silver shampoos – can be used on blonde on silver/white hair or bleach blonde shades like platinum.

What to do:

  • Grab your color-correcting shampoo or gloss and apply it evenly throughout your wet hair.
  • Allow it to do its magic for a few minutes (each product will have a suggested time on the label) before rinsing out thoroughly.
  • Remember, patience is the key here; you might not see dramatic results with the first wash, but keep at it, and soon your hair will start to tone down to the shade you desire.
  • Repeat the process every time you wash your hair until you reach the desired tone.

Keep in mind that overuse can lead to hair color shifting too far in the opposite direction, creating a whole new hair dilemma. So, moderation is the key!

We also recommend toning hair masks once a week to revive color and replenish lost moisture to color-treated hair.

“A purple shampoo or conditioner is an absolute must as an aftercare product for anyone with dyed blonde hair. The purple pigment inside the product is designed to neutralise any yellow or brassy tones that can occur, especially if you live in a hard-water area.

Hannah Phillips, Co-owner and Senior Colorist Bangs Hair & Beauty Salon talking to the Independent.

#2. Try a cool hair dye.

how to tone down blonde hair with ashy hair dye

This is a great rule for life: ‘If in doubt, use ash-based hair dye’ is a good motto to live by. Why?

Because ashy hair tones or hair dyes with purple hues will tone down any brassy or yellow-based hair color.

This creates a cooler, more refined look that’s free of brass, easy to maintain and more flattering for your skin tone.

What to do:

  • Choose an ash-based hair dye that closely matches your current shade. Try ash blonde, natural blonde or cool rose gold hair dye to add ashy dimension.
  • Apply the dye as per the instructions given on the box, covering every strand from root to tip.
  • Allow the dye to sit for the advised time period – but be sure not to exceed it, ash-based dyes can darken significantly over time.
  • Rinse out thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Remember to follow up with a conditioner to soothe and hydrate your hair.

This method should neutralize the brassiness and leave your hair with a cool, sophisticated tone.

Expert Insights

It’s always a good idea to do a strand test first, to see how your hair will react to the dye and make sure there are no color surprises!

Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

#3. Use a clarifying shampoo

how to tone down blonde hair with clarifying shampoo infographic

A clarifying shampoo can cut through vibrant tones left in your locks by deposit-only hair colors (e.g. Manic Panic, Arctic Fox, Punky Color etc.) and allow the toner to do its job.

Clarifying shampoos are great for removing any last traces of color before toning down hair dye that is too bright, especially if you used a semi-permanent or demi-permanent color recently!

The result? A more even tone on bleached or lightened hair.

What to do:

  • Lather up with your chosen clarifying shampoo, ensuring that you cover from root to tip.
  • Massage the shampoo into your hair for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
  • After rinsing, condition your hair to keep it well hydrated and supple.

You may need to repeat the process a couple of times to completely remove the previous color.

Expert Insights

“Before you invest in the a shampoo to strip color, remember that it is advised to use a good clarifying mask or conditioner after using the shampoo.”

Alexandro Vasquez, Stylecraze.com

#4. Dish soap works well too!

how to tone down blonde hair with dish soap infographic

Yes it does – one amazing tip I learnt from my stylist when I had way too blonde hair was this: Use dishwashing liquid soap with cold water to bring down vibrancy.

We strongly recommend you do a tiny patch test first to make sure your locks won’t fade too much, but on the whole it’s a safe and cheap trick!

What to do:

  • Mix a small amount of dish soap with cold water and apply it to your hair, just like you would with regular shampoo.
  • Work it into a lather and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Be aware, this method can be a little harsh on your hair, so make sure to follow up with a hydrating conditioner or a deep conditioning treatment!

Expert Insights

“If you truly hate your hair color, you can wash it once with fairy liquid that will help strip some of the colour making it fade quicker. Sun does the same but usually the more you wash hair color, the more it fades.”

Nicky Leanne, Former Hairdresser at Split Ends Salon 

#5.Lemon juice

how to tone down blonde hair with lemon juice

Lemon juice is another option for toning hair that’s too yellow or brassy.

Lemon juice lightens hair in the same manner lemon juice lightens your skin – through a chemical reaction that occurs when the acid reacts with the pigment in your hair.

So it can strip some unwanted tones from your hair color.

What to do:

  • Squeeze the juice of one fresh lemon into a bowl.
  • You can dilute this with some water if you prefer a less acidic solution.
  • Apply the lemon juice to your hair, making sure that it’s evenly distributed from roots to ends.
  • Leave it in for about 15 minutes (you can go a bit longer if your hair is particularly stubborn) and then rinse it out thoroughly.

As with the dish soap method, this can be drying to your hair so be sure to follow it up with a generous slathering of conditioner.

“This process removes the protective coating on hair to allow a different color to come through. If you have darker hair, lemon juice and sunlight probably won’t deliver your ideal color. ”

 Jenny Liu, MD, talking to Everyday Health

#6.Homemade Coffee shampoo

how to tone down blonde hair with coffee infographic

If you’re dark blonde, you can also tone your hair by mixing coffee into your shampoo.

If you don’t mind the smell of coffee, this is another great option that will help to tone down brightened hair.

What to do:

Brew a strong cup of black coffee (you can also use black tea) and allow it to cool.

Once cool, mix equal parts coffee and shampoo in a bowl.

If you’re worried about the coffee overpowering your shampoo’s scent, you can add a few drops of essential oil for a more pleasant fragrance!

Apply this coffee-infused mixture to your hair, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed from roots to ends. Leave it on for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse out thoroughly.

Follow up with your usual conditioner to keep your hair well-moisturized.

You’ll find that your hair color has subtly toned down and given you that perfect blonde shade.

Expert Insights

“Coffee makes the hair soft and shiny. So, if you suffer from dull or dry hair, coffee may be a good way to fight the dullness while promoting hair regeneration.”

 Sarita Sanke, MD | Dermatology

#7. Apple cider vinegar

how to tone down blonde hair with apple cider vinegar infographic

It may smell like a salad but apple cider vinegar has some awesome toning and clarifying properties and acts as a great substitute for traditional purple shampoo!

What to do:

  • All you need to do is mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water.
  • Apply it to your wet hair after shampooing.
  • Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then rinse it out thoroughly.

This simple trick will give your hair a more subtle and natural hair color tone, while also adding shine and reducing frizz.

Expert Insights

“You want to make enough mixture to evenly coat your scalp and hair. Use your fingers to massage it through. Let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes then rinse it really really really well. Afterwards you can use a good conditioner on your hair to help kick the smell.”

Stephanie Johnson, Cosmetologist

#8. A toner is your best bet!

how to tone down blonde hair with hair toner infographic

If you’re not ready for a new hair color just yet, then using an ash-based toner on bleached or lightened hair can tone down that brassy/too vibrant color easily and quickly.

It can also get rid of unwanted green or orange tones in your hair and counteracts unwanted yellowness too.

What to do:

  • Mix one part of ash-based toner with two parts of 10-volume developer.
  • Put on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the mixture.
  • Apply the mixture to your hair, starting from the roots and moving towards the ends. Ensure that you’re evenly distributing the toner.
  • Leave the toner in your hair for about 30 minutes, but keep an eye on the color.
  • If it reaches the right shade earlier, rinse it immediately. Toning is all about timing!
  • Once done, rinse your hair thoroughly and apply a conditioner. Now, let your hair air dry.

Voila! Your hair should now sport a less brassy and more natural-looking color.

Keep toning every few weeks to keep that brassiness at bay.

Expert Insights

“Be glad you went too light and find one of many semi-permanent colors to get closer to your shade. Be careful when choosing that you don’t grab the first ash that a sales person or hairdresser recommends. Go down a step at a time. Find a darker color close to what you already have, and if it’s still too light, go a little darker.”

Paul Eliades, Liscenced Cosmetologist at Western Beauty Institute

Watch and learn: How to tone down blonde hair.

Here’s a great video that shows you how to tone hair color and bleached hair that’s too bright step-by-step.

YouTube video

Why is my hair color too bright?

Your hair color can look too bright when there’s a significant difference between your new hair color and your natural shade.

If you have gone from dark to light, or from very intense to more subtle it’s likely that your hair appears brighter than normal.

It could be the professional dye product you used, or maybe you decided to DIY your new look at home with a box dye kit. Or maybe you’re just going through a phase of funky hair colors!

It’s particularly common in blonde hair shades and blonde highlights which are tricky to keep cool and unbrassy.

Here are the most common reasons why new hair color might seem too bright:

Reason #1 Not the right shade for your skin tone

If your chosen color clashed with your natural coloring or skin tone, it can appear way too bright.

This happens most when people who have warm undertones go for ashy light hair colors – and vice versa! Make sure you’re choosing colors that suit you.

If you have fair skin, go for a cool-toned blonde like ash or pearl.

If you have medium or olive skin, opt for a warm-toned blonde like honey or golden.

And if you have dark skin, you can go for just about any shade of blonde – from platinum blonde to wheat.

Reason #2 Not the right hair dye

Second, make sure to use the right formulas. If your hair is on the dry side, look for an ammonia-free demi-permanent or semi-permanent hair color.

These formulas deposit color while also adding moisture and shine. If your hair is normal or oily, a permanent hair color should be fine.

Reason #3 Overbleached hair

This is the worst case. It will take a LONG time for this hair to recover, so always try not to overdo it with bleach!

The damage harsh chemicals like peroxide can be disastrous and visible even after toning down your new dye job.

Reason #4 Untoned hair

If you have bleached blonde hair, the most likely problem is that the toner didn’t tone down your hair enough after the bleaching. Or you didn’t use it at all!

Blonde hair toner before and after.

How To Tone Down Blonde Hair That Is Too Bright- blonde hair toner before and after

I dyed my hair too light how do I darken it naturally?

Whatever color you dyed your hair, or if you bleached your hair and it’s too light for you, all is not lost. There are natural methods to darken your hair without causing any damage.

Here are a few natural ways to tone bright hair color using ingredients or items you already have in your kitchen cupboards!

#1 Coffee

Before you throw away those coffee grounds, you can use them to darken your hair.

Brew a strong pot of coffee and let it cool down. After you shampoo and condition your hair, pour the coffee over it and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

Rinse it out thoroughly and voila – darker locks that smell like your favorite morning beverage!

#2 Black Tea

If you’re not a coffee fan, black tea can be used to darken your hair too.

Steep 5-6 tea bags in hot water for about 15 minutes.

Once it cools down, apply the tea to your hair and let it sit for an hour. Afterward, rinse it out with cool water.

This method works particularly well on natural brunettes with brassy tones, but it can also work on lighter hair too.

#3 Apple Cider Vinegar

Not only is apple cider vinegar great for your hair’s health, but it also helps to darken it.

Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, then apply it to your hair after you shampoo and condition it.

Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse it out.

This method is a good one for redheads, as it adds depth and richness to their hair color.

#4 Henna

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to your hair color woes, henna hair dye may be the answer.

Henna is a natural plant-based hair dye that can create a range of shades from copper to black.

It’s a safe and natural alternative to traditional chemical hair dyes, as it’s free from harsh chemicals that can damage your hair and scalp.

Keep in mind that henna can be messy to work with, so be sure to wear gloves and old clothes during the process!

#5 Walnut Shells?

Yes you read that right! Although not the most common method, walnut shells can be used to darken your hair naturally.

Crush up some walnut shells and place them in boiling water to create a stain.

Once it cools down, apply it to your hair and let it sit for 30-40 minutes. Rinse it out thoroughly, and you should notice a subtle darkening effect.

Can you tone hair to darken it?

You sure can! Toning your hair is an easy process.

Essentially, the toner will ‘correct’ your hair color while protecting it at the same time. Toner works by depositing a color pigment on your hair so it darkens your dye job.

Toning is often done by using opposing colors on the hair color wheel to cancel out unwanted tones and brassiness.

For example, if we want to tone down orange hair tones we would use a violet toner (the opposite color on the wheel). Green and blue toners are also used sometimes to correct orange pigments and brassiness.

It’s called color theory and it’s an important part of getting your hair color perfect for you.

hair color wheel from pinterest

What do you do if your blonde is too bright?

If you’ve already tried one of the above tips or hacks to tone down hair color and it’s still too bright and blonde, don’t worry!

In this case, it might be time to consider going darker with your locks.

This tone down your overall look and get rid of any brassy undertones and give you a sophisticated and cool-toned vibe.

If you’re thinking about going dark with your blonde or silver/platinum locks, try consulting a stylist first for some great style inspiration!

We’re loving dirty blonde and beige blonde for a more muted sassy style.

How to tone down red hair color that’s too bright.

So you’ve gone to your stylist and gotten the perfect red hair color…only to find out that it’s a little too bright for your liking.

Or maybe you’ve decided to dye your own hair copper at home, and the results are a little too intense. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips on how to tone down red hair color that’s too bright.

Use purple shampoo: Yes, this tried-and-true method for blondes is good for toning down red hair color too.

Purple shampoo neutralizes brassy yellow and orange tones, so it’s perfect for taming next-level reds. Just be sure to use it sparingly, as too much purple shampoo can make your hair look gray or purple.

  1. Try a gloss: A gloss is like a conditioner with color pigment in it, and it can help tone down hair that’s been colored too light or too dark. If your red hair color is looking a little bit washed out, try using a gloss with a reddish tint to give it some new life.
  2. Play with lowlights: Adding lowlights is another great way to tone down overly bright or vibrant red or copper hair color. Lowlights are usually 1-2 shades darker than your actual hair color, and they help create depth and dimension. If your red hair is looking flat, ask your stylist about adding some lowlights.
  3. Go for an ombre: Ombre is a gradation of color, usually from dark to light. So if you have very bright red hair but want something more subtle, an ombre might be the right choice for you.
  4. Get a trim: Sometimes, the best way to fix overly bright or intense hair color is to simply get rid of it…or at least most of it. Getting a trim or even just lightly dusting the ends of your hair can help take away some of the brightness and give you a fresh start.

Toning down excessively bright or vibrant red shades can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be!

There are plenty of ways to achieve a more subtle look, whether you dye your own hair at home or go to a professional stylist. With some trial and error (and maybe even a little bit of damage control), you’ll be rocking your perfect shade in no time!

Will toner damage my hair?

We’re always being asked if toner can damage your hair.

Well, there’s no simple yes or no answer – because it really depends on how you use it.

When used correctly, toner can darken highlights and tone down any brassy or yellow tones after bleaching.

It’s important to avoid overusing as this could cause dryness/irritation and leave your hair feeling limp.

But with the right after care and routine, you can have cool colored tresses and healthy, vibrant hair.

How to remove hair toner.

If you’ve ever accidentally ended up with unwanted toner in your hair, don’t worry: it’s easier than you think to remove toner without the help of a hairdresser.

All you need is some shampoo and a clarifying conditioner.

First, wet your hair with warm water. Then apply a generous quantity of shampoo and massage into the scalp and throughout the length of your hair strand-by-strand.

Rinse out with plenty of lukewarm water until all of the shampoo has been removed (you’re going to want to make sure that no residue remains).

Finally, finish off by applying a clarifying conditioner just to your scalp. The end result? Toner-free tresses!


Parting words

So there it is! A few ways to help you tone down blonde hair and other hair colors that are too bright!

If all else fails, please do consult a professional!

They’ll be able to give you advice and the right products based on the current color and condition of your hair.

Good luck!

Authors

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.