What’s the Difference Between Bleach, Hair Dye, and Toner?

difference between bleach, hair dye and toner

Yes, we get tired of our dark roots every now and then. We want to freshen up or look special for different occasions by trying on new colors. If you are the same as us, then you’ve most probably heard of bleach, hair dyes (semi-permanent / permanent), and toners.

So what exactly are the differences between these and what do they do?

Very simply, it is a potent chemical that removes our natural or artificial hair pigment (in contrast to dyeing). The lesser the pigment you have, the lighter your hair will be. To bleach the hair, you mix a powder bleach with cream peroxide (also known as developer) together. Depending on the peroxide volume, each application of bleach can lift the hair color from 1-2 levels to 3-4 levels.

While bleach is a very powerful and effective product, it does affect the hair and dry it out. We recommend customers to exercise care when using these products as you may fry your hair if not used correctly. Try doing a simple treatment with Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector before bleaching, as it protects your hair and minimizes the damage. Aftercare should include the use of special shampoo and conditioner, and the application of hair mask at least once every week.

Permanent Hair Dyes

Something that almost all of us are familiar with yet unsure of what happens during the dyeing process – When the hair is dyed, the cuticle is opened and color pigments penetrate our hair. Dyeing our hair with these dyes are permanent, which means that they do not wash out but grow out over time. The greater the difference between your natural hair color and the dye tone, the more visible the regrowth. Permanent hair dyes are also the common options to cover gray hair.

Temporary Hair Colors

True to its name, these products rarely last past your next shampoo. They usually come in different forms from color mousses, hair mascara, spray-on colors, and colored-tinted shampoos.

Semi-Permanent and Demi-Permanent Hair Colors

Both semi-permanent and demi-permanent work quite similarly but they are different in their formulation. Semi-permanent hair colors do not require the mixing of developers, and deposit colors onto the hair with no lightening effect. As these colors do not penetrate into the cortex of the hair, they typically last from six to eight weeks and gradually wash out with each shampoo.

While demi-permanent hair colors also deposit colors onto the hair with no lightening effect, the color molecules are smaller and they penetrate into the cortex of the hair. Demi-permanent colors require the mixing of low-volume developers, and the colors tend to last longer than semi-permanent ones. However, the shades fade when the smaller color molecules come back through the cuticles after each shampoo.


It deposits the color on your hair without opening the hair cuticle. It simply coats the exterior of your hair with the shade without penetrating the hair structure. A toner does not achieve a drastic change in color, it is mostly used to tone brassy blondes. We usually recommend customers to tone the hair after bleaching to rid the undesirable brassy shades.

We hope this post provides a better understanding of the products. If you are still unsure whether the shades suit your natural or existing hair color, simply write to us at [email protected]

The Wunders