Which is better - hair coloring or toning? The question is quite common. Well let's figure it out

Hair Toning vs Coloring: What's the Difference?

To begin with, we offer a closer look at each of the procedures separately.

Hair coloring in a nutshell

Hair coloring is a beauty procedure using special compounds, as a result of which, as you might guess, the strands change their color.

It is carried out not only in the salon, but also at home. In time, the process can take from 1 to 9 hours (in the case of complex staining techniques). During the procedure, a composition is applied to the curls, including dyes that replace the original hair pigment and, therefore, change their color.

Hair toning in a nutshell

Hair tinting is a method in which the paint acts superficially, affecting the structure of the hair.

As a rule, toning is chosen by those who prefer more gentle than coloring ways to refresh the image (there really is a difference) and understand that the effect will be short-lived.

You shouldn't count on a lasting result, although modern tint products can pleasantly surprise you - this is also proved by the photo below.

Difference between toning and coloring

It's not always clear at first glance which color change method was preferred in a particular case. To understand how not only the procedures themselves differ, but also the final result, you need to dig a little deeper.


As a rule, persistent hair dyes penetrate the hair cuticle due to the presence of ammonia, peroxide or other components in the dye composition that have a similar principle of action.

They are the ones that allow you to cope with the most problematic hair for coloring - gray, very dark or red. Lightening strands is also carried out using hair dye products.

During toning, there is a more gentle effect on the hair. The original pigment is not forced out, the new pigment rather envelops the hair.

Evgeniy Sedoy Color expert, GarnierToning involves the surface of the hair and does not change their natural color. Therefore, it is not able to lighten the strands. Coloring, on the contrary, works with natural pigment, changing it.


The main difference between toning and hair coloring is the durability of the result, so first you need to decide how long you plan to change your hair color.

Of course, the duration of the effect is influenced by various factors, ranging from the frequency of shampooing to the individual characteristics of your hair. On average, high-quality dyeing products allow you to get a color that stays unchanged on the strands for up to 8 weeks. Tinting products noticeably lose, losing ground after 7-14 days.

Toning technique

Let's give a step-by-step instruction on hair tinting using the Colorista Washout balm as an example. Don't forget to test for allergies before toning! How to do this is indicated on the package.

  1. It is not necessary to stock up on additional tools for toning - the product can be distributed through the hair with your hands, after putting on disposable gloves.

  2. Toning is often carried out only on part of the hair, highlighting individual strands or tips with a different color. After distributing the composition in accordance with your plan, let it work for 15-30 minutes. The longer the balm lingers on the curls, the more intense the result will be.

  3. By the way, you can wash off the balm without shampoo - just rinse your hair thoroughly with water.

Coloring technique

Do you still vote for the good old coloring? We tell you how it usually happens at home.

  1. Before the procedure (48 hours) test the product on a small area of skin for a possible allergic reaction. How best to do this is usually explained in the paint instructions.

  2. Experts recommend washing your hair not before the procedure, but 1-2 days before it, so that there is a protective barrier on the hair and skin during dyeing.

  3. Apply the composition carefully, but quickly - it is important that the exposure time of the product on the hair in different areas is plus or minus the same.

  4. After you wash off the product, it is important to apply a balm to the curls to help close the cuticle scales and fix the color.

And in the video below you can clearly see all the stages of coloring at home:

Popular questions about the difference between toning and coloring

How will toning differ from coloring if the hair is black?

With the help of toning, you definitely will not be able to get an ash blond or another tone that is radically different from black. But if you just want to refresh the color or, for example, give the strands a bright shade (green, blue, etc.) for a while, then the tinting agent is the best fit for this. However, the darker the hair, the weaker the effect may be.


I have brown hair and want to do an ombre with a light blonde tint. Which method to choose - toning or coloring? And what's the difference?

If your natural color is rather dark, then you can’t do without preliminary clarification. If your chestnut is relatively light, then you can try tinting products, but keep in mind: you will not be able to change the color by more than two or three shades.

How is toning different from coloring when it comes to painting over gray hair?

Everything is clear here. It is possible to effectively paint over gray hair only with the help of resistant paint. Tinting formulas are not designed for this.

Can I combine toning and coloring?

During one procedure, of course, you should not do this. But you can tint previously painted strands. Often, in order to neutralize a color that has unsuccessfully appeared on the hair (for example, a red or green tone), purple or red tinting balms are used, keeping them on the hair for a minimum period of time. Or you can tint overgrown roots if staining is delayed.

How often can I wash my hair after coloring and toning?

There are no special recommendations - you need to focus on the condition of the scalp and hair. Of course, frequent washing can contribute to the accelerated washing out of the dye. But do not walk around with a stale head. Therefore, to maintain the shade, it is important to use shampoos specifically for colored hair. In the case of toning, shampooing is a way to quickly part with the color.

Review of tinting and coloring products

What is the difference between toning and hair coloring, we found out. Now we will tell you what funds will be needed for these procedures.

For coloring

Manufacturers of modern dyes produce products that give hair a beautiful color quite gently.

Hair coloring is gradually turning into a multifunctional beauty procedure. As a rule, balms, masks, special shampoos are included with permanent dyes, which help not only fix the color, but also restore hair after dyeing, making it soft and shiny.

Another innovation is the move away from the use of ammonia in permanent dyes. For example, the Garnier brand in the Olia line has abandoned this component.

What's more, the formulas are enriched with nourishing flower oils that help deliver color pigments to the hair structure. And this replacement did not affect the ability of the tool to effectively paint over gray hair.

By the way, if you dream of changing your hair color, but don't dare to do it, we offer you to test different shades at least virtually!

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For toning

Yes, hair tinting products cannot promise record-breaking results. But sometimes it's for the best. If, for example, you decide to try on an unusual hair color - pink or green - think about whether you need a long-lasting effect?

With Colorista Washout balm, you can always take a step back - either wait until the pigment is washed off in several shampoos, or use the Colorista Remover brightening hair cream.

It remains only to choose how to tone your hair, we have a variety of textures at our disposal: balms, jellies, sprays.