blonde hair

Why Toner is so Important to your Blonde Hair

What does a toner do?

This question definitely comes in to our top 5 questions that clients ask. All you know is your hair is lightening in those pretty little foil packets, it then gets rinsed out and your hairdresser says, “I’m just going to mix up your toner.” You smile, nod and agree, all the while having no idea what she is talking about but every hairdresser does it so it must be a thing. So peeps, it’s now time to take control and finally know what happens when we place that weird, cold solution on your head at the basin.

Basically, any time we lighten hair it throws off warmth. That’s what hair does and that’s the way it was designed and has done so since the dawn of time. It lifts through red, orange, yellow and finally palest yellow, which is where you want to be if you are wanting platinum, ash blonde or silver. No we don’t lift to white, as this is the point when hair breaks so we like it to hang out at pale yellow and remain on your head. This is where the toner comes in.


Basically a toner is used in most cases to counteract any warmth in the hair and create a more neutral colour as this is a much nicer look on your skin tone. It can also enhance or be used to create fashion colors but in the case of this blog we will concentrate on the neutralizing part of the toning process.

Say you were wanting platinum blonde, we would have to lift you light enough to get to pale yellow. We then would ‘tone’ or neutralize the pale yellow colour with a violet based blonde toner. This is because violet is opposite to yellow on the colour wheel. Remember grade 2 colour wheel activities where you mixed purple with yellow to make brown, or as we call it in hairdressing, neutral. This colour doesn't show up as brown but a neutral, clean, vanilla blonde.

Now let's just say your hair could only lift to orange, due to tint build up or your hair being darker naturally to start with, then we would use a blue based toner creating an ash brown colour. If we used a blue based toner over yellow hair, this would create a green or murky colour as blue and yellow make green. Again see Grade 2 colour mixing. This seems to be a common problem when people get toners in their hair as a lot of hairdressers only see ash (blue) as a universal toning option. This leaves the dull blonde look where hair lacks brightness and lightness. Another common toning faux pas is called ‘breaking the base’ where the toner used has a high level of ammonia which ends up lightening the natural hair around the foils, creating a warm or orange tinge to the overall look of the hair.


Toners can also be altered to create different tones on blonde hair. There are many ways hairdressers can manipulate toners to intensify fashion looks like greys and pinks, produce depth at the roots using a darker toner called a ‘root stretch, blend out balayage by using 2 levels of toner and using toner to initiate levels of fade when the hair is washed.

Toners should be soft, never burn and never make the hair look dull. A toner should look like a cellophane on the hair, neutralizing the colour and complementing your skin tone. They are an important part of the colour process and if done correctly, can give you your perfect blonde.

Here at Birdie we will always tone our clients blonde at the chair in front of the mirror as apposed to the basin. Firstly this is an easier process for us and cleaner to apply but we also do this to educate our clients as to what their hair colour looks like when freshly lightened and then to visually see what the toner does to their hair colour after application.

Please remember that toners fade from the hair like all hair colour does, but being a lighter tone, they are designed to last about 4-6 weeks. You may find that you need to visit your hairdresser around this time to get the toner refreshed. A violet based shampoo or conditioner will also help the colour from looking brassy.

Blonde Hair Problems...things to know before you join the fair-haired crew.

So we have all heard that Blondes have more fun but it is definitely a commitment and takes hard work and patience. Heres a few things to consider before taking a walk on the light side.

1. Chlorine can turn your hair green.

Public pools and Balinese hotel pools are the biggest culprit. Due to blonde being so light and yellow based and the blue of the chlorine, the hair can turn green. Avoid cheap chlorinated pools and go with salt chlorinated instead. If you do happen to end up with locks of green, we suggest neutrilising the colour with either tomato sauce or a tin of tomato soup. Coat the hair with the product, glad wrap and leave in for 20 min. Ok it may stink and be messy but its the easiest and nicest on the hair. If that fails to work, then please consult your hairdresser.

green hair

2. Your blonde will always lose tone after 4 weeks

That's if you don't use a toning shampoo or conditioner. The toner that we use in your hair to neutralise the colour breaks down over time and fades with washing. The only way to stop your colour from going brassy is with a toning shampoo or conditioner you can use at home. Alternatively, you can pop back into the salon at the 4-6 week mark and have the blonde retoned. This is especially good for balayage clients who don't necessarily need their regrowth done but need a toner refresh. This service should only take about 30 min so its an quick and inexpensive way to keep your colour looking fresh for longer.

platinum blonde

3. Regrowth is not always your best friend

Too fresh or too long between colours. That is the age old riddle for blondes. Between weeks 1 and 5 I personally think is the right amount of regrowth. Most blondes don't want to look too fresh but there are also drawbacks with too much regrowth. Namely extra oiliness, less body and the great big black stripe down the middle of your hair. Oh and don't forget the amount of people who comment on how dark your natural hair colour is. There are ways to soften the blow. Try getting a root depth toner, where the roots are toned slightly darker than the ends. This gives more of a natural look to the hair and softens out the regrowth line when your natural hair comes through

blonde regrowth

4. Being blonde takes work and $$$

No matter what Instagram may show you, you cannot go the perfect, clean blonde in one session. Blonde takes time and a fair amount of dollars. Blonde is a specialist job and with the right Stylist and aftercare, you can hit your blonde goals and stay there for a while. Colour build up, hair condition and heat damage can all be factors in preventing you from being Instagram worthy blonde in the first session. Going blonde is a journey, so listen to your Stylist, look after your hair with at home treatments and put away the hair irons. This doesn't mean you have to be Tiger Stripped in between, but it does mean patience and some really pretty smokey blonde tones on the road to blonde Mecca.

rich blonde

5. Dry hair is part of the process

Yes peeps, your blonde hair will not be as soft and shiny as your silky brunette locks but it doesn't mean scarecrow hair. Any colour process, especially going lighter will involve some damage to the hair. This doesn't have to be major but be aware that the texture of the hair will change. Modern technology in the form of Olaplex and Fibreplex has helped keep damage to the minimum so make sure your Stylist is adding one of these into your lightening service to keep the hair healthy and with maximum elasticity. You also need to make sure you are using the proper aftercare to avoid breakage and add nutrients into the hair that are lost during the lightening process.

dry blonde hair

6. Blonde is not a phase

Please commit to your blonde hair once you have made the decision. It is a long process to get you there and it takes the patience of a monk so dont decide to go back brunette at your next hair appointment. This will not only frustrate your Stylist but begins the whole frustrating, time consuming process if you decide to lighten up again. I'm not saying that blonde is for life but be aware it is not something you can chop and change from. If you feel the need for a change from your blonde, experiment with toners. There are 100 different tones and combinations you could explore, so brunette doesn't have to be your only option. We all envy the deep rich tones of Salma Hayek, but most blondes don't look good brunette. Just be the best blonde you can be.

7. Not all blondes have to be ash

There are multiple tones of blonde. Ash is not standard. Ash should not turn grey. If it does, your hair has been overtoned or the toner is too dark. If your hair goes green then the Stylist has not lifted your blonde enough and tried to rectify with a toner. No hope. Gold does not mean brassy orange. Gold should be soft and slightly warm. Platinum does not suit everyone. Ask your Stylist to choose the best shade for your skin tone

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10 ways to get the best from your Hairdresser.

blonde hair.jpeg

So you have stalked your dream hairstylist on Instagram, read the reviews and have finally booked your appointment. Yes as a Stylist, we love our job and are very excited to be doing your hair. Here are 10 ways to get the best out of your appointment and make your Stylist love you as a client.

best hairdressers
  1. We consider ourselves as Artists and art is a personal opinion so please do your research before choosing to book in with us. Just like Tattoo Artists, we all have our own style and specialise in certain looks. Don't just be dazzled by our pretty Instagram and Pinterest pictures. Work out if this look is for you. Can you maintain the style? Is it appropriate for your job? Do you really have the confidence to wear hot pink hair? Chose the best stylist for the particular look you are after.
  2. No we don't double book like your doctor does. If we run late, it is usually due to a process taking longer than expected or the client has extra thick hair. If we have a day of back to back long, thick haired clients, this will surely throw our schedule out. Some hair takes longer to lift than others and some people take longer to consult. We make adjustment to the times when we know the client but it can be difficult with new clients so please state when booking if your hair is extra long or extra thick. We will also call you if we feel we are running really late but please don't huff and puff over 15 min. If time is an issue, give the salon a call about 30min before your appointment to see if the Stylist is running on time.
  3. We love pictures and we respect other Stylists work as inspiration, but don't be coming into my salon with a picture from a Stylist in the same town and tell me how amazing their work is but you could't get in with them or we were cheaper. If you love that Stylists work then please go and see them. We don't mind inspiration but we cannot exactly replicate another Stylists work, especially when it has been Photoshopped, filtered and Stellar lit. Show is your inspiration and let us do the work. We like to know you chose us after some research and that you have confidence in our work.
  4. Please have some idea of the look you are after. It is wonderful that you want to let us weave our magic but please give us a ball park idea. This is not a Makeover show. If you let us do what we wanted, then I am sure you would not like the mermaid/Galaxy/unicorn look we will create for you if your job is a Lawyer. We will ask you open ended questions so please answer honestly. Also be realistic on what your hair will do and your styling ability. Some of my favourite looks have been the simplest things which complement the client's look
  5. Please let us know if you are on a budget. Most salons will warn you if the price is getting over $250 but who are we to make judgements on what you find expensive. If money is an option, then ask for a quote. We would rather tell you up front then have you pass out at the front desk.
  6. You know your hair the best so if there is anything unusual it does, please tell me. A weird kick, an area that doesn't colour or patches that go lighter or darker than they should are all really helpful thing to know before I start your hair. Saves us a minor freak out later at the basin but in some cases we may be able to rectify the problem if we know about it beforehand.
  7. When your Stylists speaks, please listen. If we tell you that you will not be able to achieve your desired colour today or your hair is too damaged to lighten any further, please listen. Don't just nod and then complain at the end. Sometimes I wish we had one of those Telstra 'recording your call' services to play back to clients who refuse to acknowledge our conversation.
  8. Please don't lie to us about your colour history. Just like your parents, we can see through your lies. We can see it in your hair. Even if you put a semi permanent in your hair 3 years ago, chances are if your hair is past your shoulders, it will still be in your hair. Even semi permanents will mark the hair and we need to consider this when colouring. Your lies will only make your colour not turn out as hoped so please be honest for both our sakes.
  9. Please respect the time it takes to create the look you are after, and time is money. These days we can do double colour processes in the one day thanks to Olaplex but this does take more time and will therefore cost extra. The darker your hair, the longer it will take to lighten. Please be patient, clear your day and bring a packed lunch if you are wanting an extreme colour change.
  10. By all means, if after a week you are feeling uneasy or not liking something about your hair, call the salon. All respectable salons will amend your hair and will most likely not charge you if its a reasonable request. Obviously if it is a complete change of mind, there will be charges. Peoples variations and perceptions of a certain look or picture may vary so tell your Stylist what it is you don't like or can't do with your hair and they can rectify it. It is usually an easy and quick fix. Don't ever leave it over 2 weeks to contact the salon and definitely don't go to another salon to get it fixed then come back for a refund. You owe it to the Stylist to let them see what you don't like and attempt to sort the problem.

Why is my blonde hair breaking?

blonde hair

So you love being blonde! So pretty yet so fragile at the same time. We all know that blonde hair requires upkeep and care but there is nothing worse then when you think you are doing everything right yet your blonde hair keeps breaking. Here we show you some ways to reduce breakage and get the most from your blonde hair.

Put the irons down or at least turn them down:

Straightening your hair every day is a big no no and especially on blonde hair. The best option is to blow dry blonde hair and if you must iron it then keep it to twice a week max and turn the temperature down to the lowerst setting. It will still straighten the hair but is not as harsh and will do less damage.

Use Olaplex or a similar hair treatment once a week.

Blonde hair needs lovin care but only once a week is ample. You don't want to overload the hair. No need to walk around for 20 min with glad wrap on your head, 5 min in the shower instead of conditioner is better than nothing at all or sleep in it and rinse out in the morning. We recommend Olaplex No3 $49.95 or Mr Smith Masque $45.

And speaking of treatments...

Keep Protein to a minimum

Protein shampoos and treatments are designed to build fine hair but can also harden the hair. Blonde hair is traditionally hard and grittier so protein will just harden it more and cause it to snap. If your hair is breaking 3-4 weeks after your colour than this could be the main cause. Instead alternate your protein with a moisture based treatment.

Tying your hair up wet or too often

Bleached or lightened hair has had the cuticle removed so the diameter of the hair is thinner than uncoloured hair, therefore more prone to breaking. Wet hair should not be brushed or tied up, instead combed and dried off before tying up. Tying up wet hair also causes bacteria to form as the scalp doesn't have air, therefore will start to mould, which causes dry scalp and dandruff. Tying your hair up too often as a blonde isn't ideal either as the hair ties can cause the already thinner hair to break. If you have a line of breakage that is the same around the head then this is most likely caused form your hair tie. Instead, tie it up loosely or jump on the latest trend and wear a scrunchy.

Always comb hair with a detangling spray.

Before you even put a comb near your head, make sure you have a heat protector/detangling spray in the hair. This helps smooth out knots but gives the hair a smoother surface so there is less friction from the comb, causing less breakage. We recommend Schwarzkopf Moisture Kick Spray Conditioner $29.95 or Fibre Force Primer $29.95.

...And lastly make sure you have a kick ass colourist that undersatnds blonde hair. Do your research and find out who specialises in blonde. They will be able to give you advice on the best tones to suit your skin, the process and aftercare.