This post may contain affiliate links, which means I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What Does Hair Toner Do To Your Hair? [guide]

what does hair toner do to your hair

If you are wondering what does hair toner do to your hair, you are in the right place.

Today 90% of women with colored hair need a toner constantly to refresh and maintain color. But what exactly does toner do?

Toners make your hair the right color by neutralizing brassy reflections in the hair, depositing color in areas where it has faded, and sealing the cuticle of our hair so that it looks shiny and healthy. Toners are always the last step in a service that involves bleaching.

If you get highlights or balayage without toner, your hair will look dry, dull, and extremely brassy!

In this article I will tell you the main benefits of toners to tone your hair, and I will give you my best recommendations so that you can find the perfect color.

what does hair toner do to your hair?

As a hairdresser, toners are an essential part of my daily life. No matter what color my clients want in their hair, I always have to use a toner after doing a highlight or balayage service.

Many people think of toners as similar to purple shampoos that are used to neutralize warm highlights in hair.

But toners are something totally different!

Toners are demi-permanent dyes in which you can deposit color into your hair to tone, fill in, or refresh the current color. Most professional toner brands have ingredients in their formula to seal the cuticle of our hair and level its pH to give a maximum shine effect.

With toners you can change the reflection of your hair and even darken it, but you cannot lighten your hair with them. As toners act only on the surface of the hair they do not have the lightening power of a traditional dye.

Therefore, they are used only to shade or refresh the color.

If your hair looks dull, brassy, ​​or has faded color you need a toner ASAP!

the main benefits of using toner in your hair

main benefits of using it

Toners are always essential after a highlight or balayage service at the hairdresser. However, even if you don’t have bleached hair, you may still need to apply toner frequently to refresh your color.

  • If you have bleached hair, you should use a toner every 6-8 weeks to keep your hair color in perfect condition.
  • If you have colored hair, you should use a toner to refresh the color from mid-lengths to ends of your hair every 8-10 weeks.

The truth is that toners are very easy to use, and in a few minutes you will completely transform your hair! Therefore is important that you know how to use them properly.

There are 3 main cases in which it is recommended that you tone your hair:

  • To neutralize your hair if the color looks brassy.
  • As a tool to deposit color without damaging the hair.
  • To give a lot of shine and seal the cuticle of your hair.

Let’s see them one by one:

To neutralize your hair color

The main advantage of toners is that they are perfect for removing brassy highlights from hair. If your hair looks orange or yellowish, you need to correct the color!

In this case, you should apply the toner to damp hair to neutralize unwanted reflections in your hair.

  • If your hair has highlights and they look yellowish, you should apply a color with a violet ash reflection to neutralize it.
  • If your hair looks orange, you should apply an ash-blue color to neutralize it.

The advantage is that toners come in most colors! From very light colors to very dark colors, passing through red, purple, or gold reflections. Depending on the color you want to neutralize is the color you should apply. Therefore, I recommend that you first identify the color you want to remove and apply the toner of the opposite color to neutralize it.

to deposit color without damage

Another of its greatest advantages is that this type of dyes help you deposit color in your hair without damaging it, unlike permanent dyes. Therefore, if you are looking to refresh your color or darken your hair a bit, I recommend that you use these products instead of traditional coloring.

Just keep in mind that toners are demi-permanent dyes which usually last 4-6 weeks.

If you are looking for a dye that lasts a long time, I do not recommend them because they will fade quickly. Therefore, its best use is to refresh the color. All demi permanents and semi permanent dyes last an average of a few weeks because they deposit the colour in the surface of the hair.

For example, if you dye your hair chocolate instead of applying the dye all over your hair every time you touch it up (which damages the ends of your hair), use two types of dye. Apply the traditional dye to the roots of your hair, and apply the toner of the same color to the previously dyed ends. You will be surprised by the results!

Another example is if you wanted to darken your hair but you are not 100% sure. In this case, get a gloss service with toner! This way you can enjoy darker hair temporarily and your hair will lighten again over time. That’s why applying toner is a good choice if you want to go from blonde to brunette but you are unsure. Permanent dyes wash out slower than toners so only do it with this type of dyes if you are sure.

to give shine and seal your hair

Finally, toners are very useful when it comes to giving shine and sealing the cuticle of our hair.

The truth is that frequent colouring, heat tools or even the weather make our hair suffer and dull.

If your hair looks dull and lifeless, you can apply a very light (or even transparent) toner just to give your hair a lot of shine and a healthy look. Since these dyes do not have the power to lighten your hair, they will only brighten your hair if you use them on very light colors.

For this reason the tones are essential after a discoloration or highlights service! Not only to make the color look good, but to make the hair look shiny and healthy.

Hairdressers who highlight without using toner make their clients’ hair (in addition to brassy) look dull and dry. The toner will always be the protective layer of hair shine!

How to use a toner in your hair

what does hair toner do to your hair and how to use it

Now that you know what toner does to your hair, it’s time for you to learn the basic rules to use it properly. How long to leave toner in hair is also essential to get the best results. Ideally you should leave the toners process an average of 10 minutes for best results. The most important key points about toners to keep in mind are:

  • The brand of dye you buy.
  • The color you choose.
  • How do you apply it.

Let’s see them one by one:

choose the right brand

First of all, the color result you achieve will depend a lot on the brand of dye you buy. The reality is that if you buy a cheap toner, your hair will dry out, and the color will not last very long. On the other hand, if you buy a good brand of toner, I assure you that your hair will look shiny, and its color will last longer.

Also, the shading pigments in high-quality toners look much prettier than low-quality pigments. The truth is that it is well worth it! My favorite toner brands are:

  • Redken Shades EQ.
  • Dialight by Loreal Professional.
  • Vibrance by Igora (Schwarzkopf).

In addition to the tube of toner, you should also buy a low volume peroxide like 6vol to 10vol maximum. I highly recommend that you buy the developer of the same brand of toner you choose.

choose the right color

Now it is important that you choose the right tone to nuance or refresh your color. The tints have two important points, one of them is the color height, and the other is the reflection:

Color height is how light or dark the chosen color is. Normally the dyes go from number 1 (which is black), to number 10 (which is blonde). For you to have a reference, from 1 to 5 are quite dark brown colors, 6 and 7 are lighter brown, and from 8 to 10 are blonde. If you are going to tone highlights, take into account the light color of the wick (which is blonde), and do not take into account the dark background color.

The reflection of the dye is the color of the pigments that it carries in the formula. The most common reflections are gold (3), red (6), copper (4), ash blue (1) and ash purple (2). Be careful as sometimes the brands change the numbers of reflections, so make sure you read the background color well.

The most common toner for toning brassy blonde hair is a 9.12. This color is a light blonde with blue and purple highlights. If you have very light hair use 10.12, and if you have darker orange hair use 8.12 (again, in somme brands the numbers can change, so always double check that the color says ashy purple.

Be careful when choosing the proper shade because otherwise you could end up with with either hair too ashy after toner, or hair not properly toned and still brassy.

how to apply the toner properly

Now that you know which brand to buy as well as the right tone, it’s time to apply the toner! Its application is very simple, so do not worry. Here is the step by step:

  1. Wash your hair to remove all residue and oils from your hair.
  2. Squeeze your hair with a towel to remove excess water.
  3. Mix your toner with peroxide in equal parts in a bowl (in some brands the proportion may be different.
  4. With the help of a brush or even with your hands, apply the toner all over your hair quickly (don’t take more than 10 minutes).
  5. Let the toner work for 5 to 20 minutes, checking from time to time that the color looks correct.
  6. Once ready, rinse well and wash your hair with a special shampoo to seal the toner such as Kerastase Chroma Respect.

Once you have finished toning your hair, it is very important that you avoid washing your hair for a minimum of 3 days to help the color seal well and last longer.

bottom line

I hope you liked this article to know what toners do in your hair!

I advise you to go to the hairdresser whenever you can to tone your hair. However, between sessions if you need to refresh your hair at home, always do it very carefully.

If you’re not sure what your color height is, apply a lighter shade just in case! And remember to read well the reflections contained in the tone you choose to be sure.

Until next time!