HAIR TONER 101: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Hair toners correct your hair color and enhance the tonality of bleached or dyed hair.

blow drying hair

blow drying hair

blow drying hair

Want to go blonde? Make sure you pick up the right toner. You probably already know that in order to lighten your hair, you have to use bleach. To achieve a natural-looking blonde rather than a garish yellow or brassy orange, you need to apply a hair toner to your bleached mane. How does it work, you ask? Here are the details.

 
What Is Hair Toner?

Hair toner can be any product that changes the tone of your hair, and it refers to anything that has some pigment to enhance, brighten, and tone your hair color after it is dyed. Toning is the process of removing brassy tones and overall correcting your hair color to the actual color you desire.

Toners can take bright yellow or golden hair to a more natural-looking dusty, ashy, or platinum blonde, such as with purple shampoo. You can also use toner for brunette hair, like blue shampoo, to get rid of brassy orange tones. And they can be a lifesaver if your bleach job has gone horribly wrong and you’re now walking around with a brassy orange mane.

Tinted shampoos and conditioners, demi-permanent colors, and glosses can all be considered hair toners because they contain ingredients that adjust the color of your hair. You can even apply hair toner to targeted areas, such as highlights or roots, to change the shade. The trick is choosing the right toner to achieve the shade you want.

 
How Does Hair Toner Work?

Unless your hair is naturally a very light blonde, it has shades of red and orange pigment in it. When you lighten your hair, the bleach has to work through each of those pigments to lift the color away. Depending on how long you leave the bleach in, your hair may still have unflattering brassy undertones. That’s where hair toner comes in.

Hair toner works to change your hair’s undertone. It won’t completely alter the color of your hair, but it will help you manipulate the shade of your naturally blonde or lightened locks. In a nutshell, hair toner products neutralize unwanted warm or brassy tones to help you achieve a shinier, healthier, more natural-looking shade.

"In a nutshell, hair toner products neutralize unwanted warm or brassy tones to help you achieve a shinier, healthier, more natural-looking shade."

 
What Are the Different Types of Hair Toner?

Hair toner comes in several different forms. All of them are formulated for the purpose of toning down unwanted brassy tones and enhancing your desired color, but it’s up to you to decide which type you want to use.

  • Gloss: Color-refreshing glosses are available for both blonde hair and brunette hair. These hair-toning glosses go on your hair after a wash and conditioning, are left on for three minutes, and then rinsed out. They work to refresh and revive color-treated hair so that it can be just as vibrant and shiny as the day you got it colored.
  • Salon-level toners: These toners have a higher concentration of pigment. Because of this, they should only be used by professionals. You can book toning appointments at your salon in between coloring sessions to maintain the vibrancy of your color.
  • Tinted shampoos: Blue and purple shampoos are easy to use and as simple as swapping out your regular shampoo for these toning ones. These products are specifically formulated to knock out unwanted brassy tones and make your color brighter and more vibrant.

 
When Should I Use Hair Toner?

Any time you apply bleach to your delicate strands, you’ll need an excellent toner to neutralize unwanted undertones. As a result, toners are a must for any colored hair.

In between coloring sessions at the salon, and especially right after getting your hair colored, use a toner to get rid of brassiness and maximize your color.

You can expect the effect of salon-style toners to last around three to four weeks before a refresh is needed.

 
 
What Type of Toner Should I Use?

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If you’re planning to tone at home and just need a little color enhancement and toning, try tinted shampoos. Natural blondes and bleach-blondes with bright yellow or golden undertones can often tone out unwanted warm shades with a simple purple shampoo. The purple neutralizes warm, brassy tones for a cooler, more natural-looking blonde.

“Natural blondes and bleach-blondes with bright yellow or golden undertones can often tone out unwanted warm shades with a simple purple shampoo.”

For brunettes, try blue shampoo to work with the darker shades of brassiness. Brunettes naturally have shades of copper, red, and orange, so a blue shampoo works to combat those unwanted tones.

But if you’re going through a more dramatic color change, purple shampoos alone may not cut it. You may need a stronger, ammonia-based toner, especially if your bleach job has resulted in brassy orange locks. The trick is choosing the right color toner to achieve the gorgeous blonde shade you desire.
 

 
How Do I Use Toner?

Once you know which type and color toner to use, toning your hair is as easy as 1-2-3. Here’s how to tone bleached hair and keep it looking natural.

  1. Mix your toner with a developer in a 1:2 ratio.
  2. Use an applicator brush to work the mixture into your hair, focusing on the areas with unwanted undertones.
  3. Leave the toner in for up to 45 minutes, then rinse, and wash with a moisturizing shampoo and deep conditioner.
Color-treated hair fades over time, and bleach blonde hair develops brassy tones as it oxidizes. Refresh your color with a toner every 6-8 weeks to keep that natural, healthy-looking blonde.

If you’re using a toning shampoo:
  1. Gently massage shampoo into wet hair.
  2. Lather and rinse well.
  3. For especially stubborn brassiness, you can leave the shampoo in for 2-3 minutes before rinsing.
If you’re using a color-refreshing gloss:
  1. Shampoo and condition your hair normally.
  2. Squeeze a quarter-sized amount of gloss into your hand.
  3. Spread from root through the entire length of your hair.
  4. Repeat 3-5 times ensure your hair is evenly saturated.
  5. Leave gloss on for 3 minutes, then rinse.

 
How Do I Choose the Right Ammonia-Based Toner?

Ammonia-based toners are color-depositing dyes that actually change the pigment of your hair shaft. They come in all different colors, so a basic knowledge of color theory comes in handy.

Decide what you want your end color to be, and choose a toner that will work to neutralize unwanted pigments to get the cool, natural-looking blonde you want. If you’re trying to cancel out orange tones to achieve a dark, ashy blonde or light brown, a blue toner is your best bet. Going for a platinum or silvery blonde? Use a violet-based toner to remove yellow undertones.

Choose wisely. The wrong color toner can leave you with an unsightly mane of green. But if you’re hit with a color disaster, don’t fret. Here’s how to color-correct and achieve blonde beauty.

Now go rock that gorgeous, perfectly toned blonde. Loving it? Check out more John Frieda hair color tips here.

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