How to Fix a Bad Highlight Job on Hair

Updated February 21, 2017

Highlights can add a glowing, sun-kissed look to any hair. Even if you have very dark hair, you can find the perfect shade to give you both a natural-looking highlight, as well as complement your darker hair. However, if you do not go to a professional stylist, a lot can go wrong with highlights. Using the wrong color, leaving the color in for too long or just simply not knowing what you're doing can lead to disastrous results. Instead of stripping the highlights out of your hair--which will ultimately strip your natural hair color, as well--there is a trick that many stylists use to tone down the highlights.

Choose a toner that is about the same color--or one shade darker--than your natural hair color. The toner will help to soften the look of the highlights without changing the rest of your hair's color. Also, your highlights will fade with time, and using a toner will help to darken the highlights as they fade.

Put on plastic gloves to prevent your hands from staining. Although toners are not permanent, they still can stain skin and clothing.

Apply the toner directly to your hair. Massage the toner into your hair as you would regular hair dye or shampoo.

Leave the toner in your hair for the amount of time specified in the instructions--about 30 minutes.

Rinse the toner out under warm water. Apply a deep-conditioning treatment to your hair, as well. Keep the conditioner in your hair for about five minutes, then rinse out. The conditioning treatment will help to keep your hair healthy.

Continue to apply a toner to your hair once every six weeks or until your highlights have faded. Repeat step 5 once a week to ensure your chemically treated hair is always healthy.


It's important to know that hair toner and hair dye are different products and do different things to your hair. Hair dye deposits color into your hair, permanently altering the color--until it grows out. Toner is a semi-permanent color that "tones down" bleached, colored or highlighted hair. It will not simply dye your natural hair.

Things You'll Need

  • Hair toner Plastic gloves Deep-conditioning treatment
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About the Author

Andrea Griffith has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published by the "Western Herald," Detroit WDIV, USAToday and other print, broadcast and online publications. Although she writes about a wide range of topics, her areas of expertise include fashion, beauty, technology and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Western Michigan University.