Hair toner: what does it do for your hair color?

  • A toner is a hair treatment typically applied to colored hair to even out or adjust the tone.
  • Toners can also make hair look shinier and healthier.
  • Most professionals recommend that you get toner at the salon, but you can also apply toner at home.

Even though we love seasonal color changes, changing hair color isn’t just a one-time process. Depending on the extent of the transformation, there is usually some maintenance involved in keeping colored hair healthy. One treatment that is generally recommended during or after a dye job is hair toner.

What exactly is toner? Unlike a toner that you could use on your face, this is a liquid that can be added to colored or lightened hair to soften or enhance color. “Toner is added on top of a lighter hair color to tone down undertones and even out color” Carolyn Aronson, stylist and CEO of it’s a 10 hair brand, told POPSUGAR. A hairstylist will usually apply toner to naturally dark hair that has been bleached or lightened in order to get rid of undertones that could cause blonde tones to look brassy. “People with highlights typically use toners to change the color of the highlight to a softer, easier to blend color.”

While toners come in a range of colors to suit your hair’s individual needs and can help get rid of any unwanted brassy color, they can also make hair look healthier and shinier.

Who should use toner for their hair?

Your colorist can help you decide if you are a good candidate for a toner treatment, which is often applied after your color treatment. The shade of toner largely depends on what your current color needs to be adjusted; for example, if you have lighter highlights with too yellow an undertone, your stylist may use toner to add warmth and dimension. If you’ve done just one process and want a darker (or lighter) result, your stylist can apply toner to adjust the hair color to suit your needs. Or if your hair is just dull, you can also consider using a clear toner to add shine.

How long does toner last on hair color?

A toner will generally last between four and eight weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair. To keep your color fresh, you need to reapply one regularly depending on this amount of time.

Can you tone your hair at home?

We always recommend that you seek professional advice whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tone your hair at home as well. “It’s a good thing to tone your hair at home every few months because it helps even out highlights and makes your hair look healthier and shinier,” said Aronson. You can use a gloss (like those from Kristin Ess’s range at Target) or a tinted shampoo or conditioner to tone your hair, but that choice usually depends on what you’re trying to correct. Hairdressers generally recommend those who have gone from dark to blonde to use purple toning shampoos at least once a week, while red shampoos are helpful in preventing red hair from fading.

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