Kinky Curly Toning and Coloring

This may sound like scolding, but I can’t in good conscience continue without saying this: Toning your hair is NOT for those that don’t know anything about hair care or the coloring process. I started coloring my hair when I was 20 years old. I am now 26, so I’ve had many years of getting the hang of things. I’ve also been natural since I was 17, so curly hair routines are no stranger either. What I will do in this post, for those with some experience equivalent or near that of my own, is outline how I tone my hair following a bleaching session.

What you may not know is that I tone and color my own hair. I also curly cut my own hair, which I’ll address in a separate post (no worries)!

By no means do I ever try to bleach my hair on my own! Bleaching hair is a very dangerous and sensitive process and there is a reason that your stylist has a license and you don’t. Yes, I have tried it before, and yes, it did RUIN my hair, so please don’t make my previous mistake.

I have successfully found a stylist here, in Kansas City, MO, that is very sensitive to curl pattern and has done well with the thickness of my hair. I used the DevaCurl website to look for Deva-certified stylists in my area. My stylist’s name is Heather at Salon Halo, and you can reach out to her on social media (IG: @heatherkcmo) or through the salon site (which is preferred). We do two appointments, one for the top sections of my hair and one for the bottom sections, to try and make sure everything is even.

Although Heather does tone my hair at the salon, it can be quite the undertaking, with time and quantity of hair, to get the toner evenly distributed. I have struggled with this issue since my very first bleaching, so this is not something unique but does require some at-home maintenance from me. Above are the salon results, and below are the results after my at-home maintenance. My desired color is ash, which can go violet or blue depending on your desired color. Right now I am more violet, which I love (Heather’s suggestion and a great one)!

I use Color Charm Wella Toner in T18 (lightest ash blonde) and a 20 volume Oreor Creme developer by Loreal Technique. I buy pretty much everything from Amazon, so yes, that is where I purchased these! If you have never toned your hair before, I highly suggest you DO NOT start with a 20 volume developer, because that is quite strong. I suggest you start lower until you are more comfortable with the process. The process of mixing is quite simple: I do not ever stray from the instructions on the box or bottle. I have mixing-bowls with measuring lines on the inside and application brushes, which I purchased from Sally’s Beauty Supply (but I’m sure you can also find them on Amazon 😉 )


  1. Section hair into 8 to 10 small braided sections.
  2. Go through each of the three strands, from each braid, with the toner/developer mixture using your application brush
    1. As you can see, from above, different sections of my hair take bleach differently, depending on the location. For this reason, I individualize how I apply the solution, depending on how the strands look: For darker sections, I saturate more and begin in the darker part of the hair (even if that’s in the middle of the strand)
  3. Comb through each small section with a fine-toothed comb, to ensure even distribution.
  4. For the color pictured below, I left it on for 20 minutes, with 30 minutes maximum.

This process took me about 15-20 minutes (I can go pretty fast because I’ve done it so many times).

All pictures above are unedited, outside of cropping

Color Conditioner

  1. Mix 3 parts AG Hair Care – Restore Conditioner (Keratin Repair) with one part Maria Nila – Lavender Colour Refresh.
    1. My desired color was light purple, so you can change that for your desired brightness. the Maria Nila brand also has other colors, as well!
  2. Use the same application process as you used for the toner/developer solution.
    1. Because your hair is no longer in the braids, this means you’ll use clips or hair-ties.
  3. For the color pictured above, I left this mixture on for 15-20 minutes (one-half to one-quarter episode of Monk)
  4. Follow with the Kinky Curly Bleached Hair Routine!

CAUTION: I ALWAYS use gloves when coloring hair, especially with harsh chemicals!

*I am not a licensed beautician or professional. I am a fellow member of the natural hair community with useful advice. I am not liable for any advice I give that does not receive equal results or produces damage, injury, or otherwise.*