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What Does Hair Toner Do?


This article was originally published on September 24, 2019.

Hair toner is an essential product when it comes to maintaining hair color. Whether you want to maintain your hair dye or enhance your natural hair color, hair toner can help keep your hair vibrant.  

But what is hair toner and what does toner do to hair? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Hair Toner?

Hair toner is used to bring out or neutralize undertones in your hair. It is most commonly used to reduce brassiness. While hair toner changes the tones in your hair, it won’t drastically alter the color like hair dye. Hair toner has minimal to no amounts of ammonia, so it is considered a semi-permanent hair dye. It enhances your hair color.

Those who regularly dye their hair are familiar with hair toner, as it helps maintain the color between colorings. It is most frequently used in hair salons but can be used at home as well. Colorists use highly pigmented toner to adjust the tone of your hair, but not the shade. Hair toners for at-home use usually come in the form of shampoos and conditioners, like purple shampoo. 

Even if you have two-tone hair, it’s important to use toner to preserve both hair colorings. Two-tone hair is hair that has both light and dark tones, typically one being your natural color and the other a highlight. For example, balayage is a type of two-tone hair. For two-toned hair, we recommend going to your hair colorist for toning. Toning two-toned hair requires proper proportion mixing of different toners to get the right effect. 

For those who don’t have dyed hair, hair toner can still help diminish certain unwanted tones in your hair. For example, purple shampoo will reduce orange tones in blonde hair. It also acts as a top coat on your hair, so it provides a lot of shine and gloss. 

Toner for Blonde Hair

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Brassiness is the number one enemy of blondes. The good news? Hair toner can eliminate brassiness. Brassiness is yellow or orange tones that creep into hair in between salon appointments. To keep your blonde hair neutral, use a purple hair toner.  Why? The answer lies in color theory. On the color wheel, purple is the direct opposite of yellow, so these colors neutralize one another. 

Toner for Orange Hair

You can also use toner to diminish overly vibrant orange shades.

If you are looking to tone down bright orange tones in your hair, blue toner is effective. This is a common remedy when dark hair is not bleached correctly and it results in a bright orange shade. Using blue toner helps create an ashy blonde color. 

While this can help tone down the brightness, the best way to fix a poor dye job is a trip to the salon. 

Toner for Brown Hair

Before and after photos of woman with part clearly showing missing hair and fuller hair on the right (due to Toppik Root Touch-Up)
Before (left) and After (right) with on user Holly

While toning down blonde or orange hair is common, those with warmer hair colors may want to use toner for different results. 

Do you want to enhance natural red tones in your hair? Red hair toner can do this, as it brings out red and even magenta tones. Do you want to reduce the red tones in your hair? Green toner will neutralize it. 

Does your light brown hair have too much orange in it? Blue toner can help reduce the orange. Do you want to add more warmth? An orange or copper toner can help you achieve this.

How Else Can I Protect Hair in Between Dye Jobs?

Keeping up with healthy hair practices is the best way to maintain your hair color. Using shampoos and conditioners that don’t have sulfates will help, as well as using ones designed for color-treated hair. Using a high-quality heat protectant and keeping your tresses out of the sun will also increase the longevity of your hair coloring. 

Our Colored Hair Thickener can also help when you are between salon appointments and need a quick touch-up on your roots. It can also help conceal thinning spots on your scalp and give you the appearance of fuller, thicker hair. 

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Want more information on how to keep your hair fresh in between trips to the salon? Read here for some tips!

Do you use hair toner on your hair? Let us know in the comments below! 

Colleen Welsch is a freelance beauty writer and blogger specializing in hair care, hair growth education and beauty.

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