What is Hair Toner?

Types of hair toner

The world of hair colors can seem overwhelming and confusing, especially when it comes to color correcting mistakes. Hair dyes can have a varying effect on your hair color. If you use too much dark hair color, you might not be able to bring back your natural shade. On the other hand, adding too much bleach to your hair can make your hair fall out.

Using a toner can help solve your hair color problems without the negative effects of hair dye. If you are not committed to permanently dyeing your hair every few weeks or have been curious about trying a new color without having to pay an expensive visit to the hair salon, a hair toner might be a good option for you.

before and after hair toning

Hair Toner Explained

Long story short, hair toner is a color corrector for your hair. For example, if you have blonde hair, but it’s looking very yellow, you can use a toner to balance your hair. If you are a brunette and you want to add some warmth to your hair, a toner can brighten your hair up.

Hair toner adds a deposit of color and can be purchased in cool, ash, or warmth to neutralize your hair. Most hair toner tends to be semi-permanent, which means it will wash out after a few weeks. It is best to apply toner to hair that has already been highlighted, such as a balayage or bleached hair color. Toner will not transform your hair into something brand new. Instead, it works in changing the tone of your hair.

Hair color wheel with levels

How Do I Pick the Right Toner?

Picking out the right toner for your hair is essential to ensure you get your desired hair results. You can’t just pick a random toner from the store and expect it to fix your hair problems. It is more than picking a shade. You have to understand the different levels of hair color and know the basics of the color wheel.

Colors that are opposite of each other in the color wheel will either neutralize or cancel each other out. For example, if you have yellow tones in your hair, you will need to use a purple toner because purple is the opposite of yellow. If you have orange tones, you will have to choose a blue toner. Understanding what your hair needs will help you achieve the hair result you’re looking for.

Once you understand the color wheel, you move on to determining your hair level. The levels are on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the darkest shade of black, and ten being the lightest shade of blonde. If you want your toner to work correctly, you need to choose the same level as your natural hair or darker. If you don’t, your toner will not work nor have any effect on your hair color.

Hair color wheel chart


What Types of Hair Toners are There and How Long Do They Last?

Hair toners come in many forms. It can be blue, purple, yellow, or orange shampoo, semi-permanent or permanent hair dye, conditioner or hair color refresher shampoo. It all boils down to which type of hair toner you are looking for. Hair toners wash out easily and last, on average, anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. It depends on how often you wash your hair, the lesser you wash your hair, the longer the toner will stay on.

Do remember that the quality and type of hair can affect the longevity of your hair color. Other external factors include UV rays from the sun, type of shampoo used, as well as hair heating tools. Always remember to keep a sulphate free shampoo for colored hair which helps extend your hair color life.

  • Purple Toner: For very light blondes at levels 7-10. Helps neutralize yellow tones.
  • Blue Toner: For light brown to medium blond hair at levels 4-6. Helps neutralize orange/ brass tones.
  • Green Toner: For black to dark brown hair at levels 1-4. Helps neutralize red tones.
  • Red Toner: For reds and red violet hair to increase brightness and intensity of red colored hair.
  • Orange Toner: For warm browns and gold blonds to increase brightness and intensity of brown blonde hair.
  • Yellow Toner: For brown tones to reduce reddish tones and enhances brown hair.

Hair coloring with stylist

When is an appropriate time to apply toner on your hair?

Right after the Bleaching and Coloring process:
Hair lightening is not created equal for everyone especially for dark colored hair. You get uneven tones and brassiness right after the bleaching process. To achieve the colors that you are looking for, you will have to use a toner as a second step.

Color Restoration and Enhancement:
Hair will start to grow and colors will start to fade along the way, and that is why hair colors seem dull after a period of time. To restore the colors on your hair, you can apply toners to remove any unwanted and uneven colors, rather than applying a permanent hair color over it. This way the hair color will look fresh and new without the need to go to a salon.

Achieving Pastel Hair Color:
Funky colors such as unicorn hair, pastel hair, silver hair… etc are some of trickier shades to achieve and maintain. Two important steps such as lightening and toning are needed. Depending on your hair root color, lightening twice is necessary to achieve a clean canvas on your head for darker shades hair, and after that, you can start toning your hair to achieve your final shade.

Correcting Hair Color:
Sometimes inaccurate application can lead to unwanted and uneven hair streaks, it can be due to slow applications of chemicals on hair or leaving it on the hair for too long. Hair toners come in handy to blend and eradicate patchy hair color problems without the need of a permanent hair dye.