How do you know which toner to use? How does hair toner actually work? Here’s everything you need to know about hair toner so you can maximize its power.
If you’re thinking about color treating your hair, you’ll need a good toner. Why? Bleach and chemical color treatments can bring out unwanted brassiness. Hair toner balances the shade and leaves your color bright and natural looking.
Simply put, hair toner — as its name suggests — tones the color of your hair. It brightens, enhances shine, and cancels out any unflattering brassiness brought out during the bleaching process.
All hair has underlying shades of yellow, red, and orange pigment in it. When you lighten your hair, the bleach has to work through each of those pigments to lift away your natural color. Before toning, the result often appears dull and garish.
Hair toning products don’t change the actual color of your hair. They just alter the undertones to help you neutralize brassiness and achieve a shinier, more natural shade. Depending on where you are in the color treating process, you may want to use different hair toning products. Here are the three different types of hair toners.
“Hair toning products…alter the undertones to help you neutralize brassiness and achieve a shinier, more natural shade.”
So now you know what hair toner is, you might still be wondering what it actually does and how it works. For that, we need to bust out that old art class color wheel.
As we mentioned before, any time you lighten your hair, you’ll reveal the natural orange, yellow, and red undertones that make up your color. Though that might not sound terrible, those undertones often look dull, harsh, and unflattering. That’s where toner comes in.
In order to get a shinier, healthier, more natural color, you need to cool down those undertones. Blondes usually have underlying tones of bright yellow and orange. If you look at the color wheel, you’ll see purple and violet sit directly across from yellow and orange. This means that toners with purple and violet pigments will help cancel out brassy yellow and orange tones in bleached hair.
The same principle applies to brunettes. Dark hair usually has tones of red and deep orange. What’s across from these colors on the color wheel? Blue. So color-treated dark hair will need a toner with blue pigment to help eliminate those unwanted red and orange undertones.
Save salon toners for the salon unless you want to run the risk of a color disaster. Instead, tinted shampoos, conditioners, and color-refreshing glosses are excellent tools to have in your arsenal for caring for color treated hair. Here’s how to safely tone and maintain your color at home.
If you’re using a tinted shampoo or conditioner:
First, it’s important to choose the right tinted products.
Still not sure about hair toner and hair toning products? Here are some frequently asked questions to help ease your mind and get on your way to perfectly toned, salon quality color.
Is hair toner bad for you?
No. In fact, it’s an essential part of the coloring process to help you get a healthier, shinier, more natural color. Toner isn’t as intense as bleach or even the hair dye that colored your hair. It only has a little bit of pigment in it to help neutralize brassy undertones and leave you with the color you desire.
What hair toner should I use?
Blonde hair has natural undertones of yellow and light orange, so purple-tinted toners work best on light hair. Dark hair has undertones of deep red and orange, so blue-tinted toners are best for brunettes.
Can I use hair toner at home?
We strongly caution against using ammonia-based hair toners at home. These are best saved for the salon, where a trained colorist can help you achieve your desired tone. Use a blue or purple toning shampoo, a color-depositing shampoo, or a color-refreshing gloss instead to help cancel out brassy undertones and boost shine.
How long does hair toner last?
The hair toner your colorist uses at the salon will last about six to eight weeks. After that, you may need to take a trip back to the salon for a color refresh. Using toning products can help restore shine and extend the life of your color.
Loving your vibrant, perfectly-toned color? Check out more John Frieda hair color tips here.