Hair Toner - Everything You Need To Know

To anyone outside of the hairdressing industry, hair toners can be quite the mystery. Do I need a toner when colouring my hair? How often should my hair be toned? Why does it cost extra? I’m going to break down everything you need to know about toners and how they are used without the technical hairdresser terms. You may be surprised, as toners are not just for blondes!


Hair toner is any product that when applied can change the tone of your hair. Toners aren’t just one particular product; demi-permanent colours, glosses and tinting shampoos/conditioners can all be classified as toners because they contain pigments that adjust tone. Toners are most often used with highlighting and bleaching services to balance out any unwanted warm/brassy tones that occur during the lightening process. Colour treated hair fades over time so when your existing colour starts to fade, toner can bring it back to life without the need to reapply permanent colour as often.


● To adjust colour after lightening

● To restore colour

● To create fashion or pastel shades

● To colour correct

● To create gloss enhancement



With little or low ammonia, toners are now gentle on the hair and leave it shinier and glossier without lifting the natural colour base. Toner usually comes in a gel or gloss-like formulation that won’t completely alter the colour, but it will help adjust the shade. Natural blondes and bleach blondes with yellow or golden undertones can often tone out unwanted warm shades with a purple shampoo. Unwanted redness is toned with green, and if your hair is throwing too much orange, a blue toner is used to neutalise.

The toner lies on the surface of the hair, just like a topcoat. It can strengthen the hair by creating a protective barrier around the hair strands. Toners also add volume and shine by plumping the hair cuticle to make it fuller. It can increase the hair’s softness and even help reduce the appearance of split ends.


Toners are quick to apply and most formulas take 5-20 minutes to process. They are usually applied at the basin and can be applied to specific sections of the hair using foils, but generally it’s an all over application. Your colourist will apply the toner to damp hair and then shampoo out when processing time is up.



Toners can last between 2-6 weeks depending upon the health of your hair. Your current tone, how often you shampoo, the quality of your at-home products, how often you heat style, medication and swimming pools can all affect the longevity of your toner.

So there you have it, all hair colours can benefit from a toner. Toners are a great option in between your full colour visits to maintain and refresh the vibrancy of your hair. But always consult your colourist to determine exactly what toner will be best to use for your particular hair colour as there is no one-size-fits product or approach.


Full article published in @gtmagazine 26/2/22

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