Hair color can be a tricky thing. The wrong tone, the wrong shade, and your whole look is thrown off.
You may have heard about hair toner but are not sure what it does or how to use it correctly? What does toner do to hair? What color do you need? Can you do it at home? You’ve come to the right place!
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the clever color corrector that is hair toner.
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Table of Contents
- 1 What is toner for hair?
- 2 What the experts say.
- 3 What does toner do to hair?
- 4 Hair toner before and after
- 5 Does toner lighten hair?
- 6 Choosing the Right Hair Toner.
- 7 What hair colors need toning?
- 8 Types of Toners: Salon vs. Home Use
- 9 Is toner bad for your hair?
- 10 Can I tone my hair at home?
- 11 Best hair toners at a glance
- 12 When should I tone my hair?
- 13 Do you put toner on wet or dry hair?
- 14 Watch and learn: How to apply toner to hair.
- 15 How long does toner last in hair?
- 16 Making Your Hair Toner Last
- 17 Parting words
What is toner for hair?
Hair toners are semi-permanent colors applied at the final stage of the coloring process, especially to lightened hair.
Though blondes often receive toner treatments at the hairdressers, brunettes and redheads can benefit from the toner’s neutralizing effects as well.
It’s important to note that toners only work on colored hair, so they’re a must-have for anyone with dyed locks.
What the experts say.
“A “toner” is just an abbreviated name for corrective color dye (usually a semi-permanent, demi-permanent or temporary color) used to shift hair color after previous services, such as highlights, that use bleach or other chemicals to remove or alter hair color.”Nathan England, Professional working hair colorist specializing in corrective color
“The purpose of a hair toner is to take already lightened hair that has been lifted to the correct level and neutralize unwanted tones. When the correct level of lightness has been achieved the toner is used to put the desired tone into the hair.”Jo Welch, Director and Educator for licensed cosm
“Think of a white piece of paper, you can put any color on it and you will get that exact color. If the paper is tan colored and you put red on it, well who knows what will happen but you won’t get a true red to show up… It’s the same with hair color.”Adrienne Marcz, Stylist/Makeup Artist
What does toner do to hair?
Toners deposit color pigment to ‘tweak’ the color of your hair all over, or can be used in special places to add different shades and tones.
Blonde, bleached and brown hair especially are prone to unwanted brassy tones of orange and yellow showing through.
This is where toners come in – to get rid of the orange and yellow tones and keep the vibrancy and shine.
“You can also use hair toner to cover up greys or other unwanted strands of hair with a touch of color.”Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
Hair toner before and after
Does toner lighten hair?
What toner doesn’t do, is lighten your hair.
Toner is used to tone your hair color down, get rid of any brassiness or unwanted color and keep it looking natural.
Choosing the Right Hair Toner.
Toners work by depositing color correcting pigment into your hair to counteract the brassy tones.
This works because of the science behind the hair color wheel.
The hair color wheel shows us what colors neutralise each other. Opposite colors on the wheel are used to balance each other out.
Selecting the right toner involves understanding the color wheel’s basic principles.
If you’re aiming to reduce warmth in your hair, you’ll need a toner opposite your current hue on the color wheel.
For brunettes, a neutral to warm toner is ideal, while blondes might opt for a cool toner to counteract yellow and brassy tones.
However, it’s always best to leave the choice and application of toner to professional stylists, especially since salon toners usually contain a developer to slightly lift the hair cuticle and deposit the color.
Types of Toners: Salon vs. Home Use
Hair toners come in a variety of types and shades, each tailored to achieve specific color goals. The duration of their application varies based on the desired outcome. Let’s explore the different options:
Hair Gloss Toners
Think of hair gloss as a quick refresher for your hair. It adds a nice shine and a touch of color. Great for anyone who loves changing their hair color often. The best part? The color from these glosses usually sticks around for 4-6 weeks.
These toners are a bit like hair dye. They’re great for covering up an old color and work really well for darker shades or even greys. Expect semi-permanent color to last about 6-8 weeks.
Similar to the semi-permanent ones but even stronger, demi-permanent toners last a bit longer, usually 8-10 weeks. They’re a great pick if you want your new color to stick around for a while.
Got blonde hair? Purple shampoo is your friend. It helps cool down brassy tones and keeps your blonde looking fresh and bright.
If you have brunette hair and want to keep away orange tones, blue shampoo is what you need. It helps balance out those brassy elements and keeps your brunette hair looking just right.
These are perfect for blonde or silver hair, helping to keep it cool and ashy. Say goodbye to any yellow tones with silver shampoos.
Toning Hair Masks
Think of these as a weekly treat for your hair. They’re like deep conditioners but with a hint of color. Use them once a week to keep your hair soft and moisturized while adding a bit of color.
Is toner bad for your hair?
Toners are used to change or alter the color of your hair. Are toners bad for your hair? No!
Depending on which type of toner you use, they may make your hair feel a little dry, just like hair dye does. That’s if they contain ammonia or hydrogen peroxide to add in the color.
But essentially, they’re safe to use on your hair and scalp and won’t cause any damage to your structure and texture.
Can I tone my hair at home?
It’s easy to tone your hair at home. But you’ll need to know what you’re doing.
The hair color wheel will help you work out what color you’ll need to tone down the color you don’t want in your hair.
Then you’ll need to pick the right toner to do the job.
The toners that you’ll find in salons are stronger than silver or blue shampoos.
However, these products are excellent products to maintain a bright or cool color between salon appointments.
Sometimes a simple color maintenance to keep your color cool is sometimes all that’s needed.
Best hair toners at a glance
When should I tone my hair?
This will lock in the color and keep it natural.
Your hairdresser will usually add gloss or toner to your hair as part of the treatment process.
You can also tone your hair in between appointments to keep it cool.
If you’re noticing signs of unwanted orange, that’s when you need a good toner to get rid of them!
Do you put toner on wet or dry hair?
It’s best to apply toner to damp hair.
That’s because damp hair is more porous which means the color pigments from the toner will easily take and penetrate your hair more deeply.
It also means the application is easier. The liquid will smooth through your hair without leaving any patchiness.
Towel dry your hair after washing so that it’s half dry and there are no water drips.
Watch and learn: How to apply toner to hair.
Here’s a great video tutorial that shows you how to apply toner yourself at home and guides you through some tips and tricks to get it right first time.
Making Your Hair Toner Last
To extend the life of your toner, consider washing your hair less frequently.
Since toner is not permanent, frequent washing can cause it to fade.
Using the right shampoo is crucial too. Avoid shampoos with sulphates and parabens to preserve the tone and luminosity of your colored hair.
So that’s what toner does to hair and how it works.
They can be used as an alternative to shampooing or just as a styling product that offers a temporary color refresh.
They add shine and lustre without weighing down your locks with heavy chemicals such as sulfates.
And they can help give your mane an instant and easy makeover with minimal effort on your part. If your hair is in need of a new lease of life – get one today!
Found your perfect toner? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair dye success stories. Looking for more hair toning tips? Check out How To Tone Hair Color – Here’s Everything You Need To Know.