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Everything You Need to Know About Hair Toner

Enrichen the look of your hair with hair toner to add color and balance out unwanted tones. Whether you have messy golden curls or blue and black space buns, toner can revitalize dull-looking hair to give it a healthy shine and desired tone.

Continue reading to learn more about what hair toner is, how it works, and when to use it for your hair. 

What is A Hair Toner?

Hair Toner

Hair toner is a gel or glossy-looking liquid, is made of different chemicals that work together to control brassy color and maintain your desired color. It’s not for lightening hair, just for “warming” it up.

Toners are different than hair dyes. While you can go to a hairstylist to tone your hair – and that will probably happen if you go in for a professional dye job – you can also buy hair toner in stores or online. It is not typically used for hair that hasn’t been colored or bleached – both of these treatments usually require it for perfecting the tone.

On light hair, the toner will literally add a tone over it to protect it from discoloration. For dark hair, the toner will improve its shade. Overall, hair toner works by bringing out or muting shades in your hair and also adds shine. Something we can all use, right?

What Does Toner Do to Hair?

Hair toner revitalizes brassy hair to give it a refreshed look and adjusts the tone of your hair. By neutralizing unwanted tones, it helps transform brassy tones into flattering platinum whites, caramels, honey, mushroom browns, and more.

How Does Hair Toner Work?

How Does Hair Toner Work?

Hair toner is a demi-permanent color, also called gloss or glaze, that adds color to your hair and neutralizes unwanted tones caused by lightening your hair.

Hair toner neutralizes unwanted colors by counteracting them with the opposite color on the color wheel. So, to use hair toner, you must remember color 101 to achieve your desired look.

For example, hair with a golden tone that wants to go silver will need a hair toner with purple to neutralize the yellow-gold.

Consider the tone level of the hair you’re toning. Tone levels range from one to ten. You won’t see results if you tone your hair with a toner lighter than your hair level.

Instead, you must tone your hair at the current tone level or darker. Then, you can further lighten your hair for a non-brassy finish with your desired color.

Types of Hair Toner

Types of Toner

From demi-permanent to semi-permanent products like purple and blue hair toners, there is something for any girl looking to improve her hair’s shade.

For women who are no stranger to coloring their hair and do it every couple of months, a demi-permanent gloss is a good option. Not only can you use it at home on your own time without leaving the house, but it will do wonders for your dye job as far as keeping it vibrant and healthy.

Purple toners are best for women with blonde hair. If you have ever noticed your blonde hair yellowing after you colored it, a purple toner (such as shampoo) is the best solution for nixing that.

Violet clashes with yellow to eliminate it for pure blonde results. If you are a brunette, use a blue shampoo to prevent orange shades. Both toners will make your hair lusher as well!

For at-home use, check out DpHue Color Boosting Gloss, RedKen Color Extend Purple Shampoo, or SheaMoisture Purple Rice Conditioner.

Pros and Cons of Using Hair Toners

Check out some pros and cons of using a hair toner on dull or brassy hair.


  • Neutralizes unwanted warm or cool hair tones
  • Adds luster and shine to brassy hair
  • Helps produce popular hairstyles and natural-looking shades
  • It makes your hair look healthy and refreshed
  • Allows you to personalize your hair color treatments to your hair tone


  • Not permanent
  • Additional charge for hair toner treatments during coloring or lightening sessions
  • Doesn’t lighten hair

How to Use Hair Toner

how to use hair toner

The first thing to know is that if you are wanting a major dye job, such as all-over color, then you will want to see a professional hair colorist.

While box dyes do work at home as a DIY, it does not really need to be said that a professional can always do better work. Plus, if you have any shade of hair that is not naturally blonde and that is your desired color, you will need bleach work. You can get all of this and hair toning done at a salon without the worry of messing it up yourself.

If you’re simply want to manage the results of a professional dye job, then you can purchase toning products online or from your local salon to use at home. For hair that has been given silver highlights or gray color, there are special Overtone products that will keep the color looking it’s boldest and best.

Fair reminder, many stylists will warn against using toner other than shampoos at home. They can be difficult to play with and you could end up damaging your hair. When in doubt, you can ask your local salon for advice. You definitely don’t want to end up over-toning your hair or choosing the wrong one.

For hair toning shampoos, they work like regular products: wash them in and out just once per week for best results.

How Much Do Hair Toners Cost?

You can expect to have as much as $20 tacked onto your regular color or cut at a salon. Simple shampoos and conditioners will cost between $20 and $30. If you see your stylist every three months for a cut and color touch-up, that’s perfect for doing a hair toning treatment.

When to Use Hair Toner?

When to Use Hair Toner?

Using hair toner is a fantastic way to refresh your locks between colors. Hair toner is a temporary solution that draws out dullness for a pop of color with beautiful tones.

Salons often apply hair toner right after a color or lightening. Getting a hair toner treatment after your coloring is an excellent way to enrichen your hair, especially after a harsh lightening treatment.

Experts recommend using hair toners once every four to eight weeks to add a cooler or warmer tone to your hair and give it some extra vibrance.

How Often Should I Tone My Hair?

At home, shampooing your hair with purple or blue shampoo once per week is enough unless you shampoo your hair pretty regularly. The rule of thumb is the more you wash it, the more often you’ll need to apply hair toner.

Either way, if you consider how your hair will look after using a toner once per week at home or each time you visit the salon, the cost is worth it. We all know it costs money to keep our hair looking gorgeous!

Ultimately, your stylist will tell you how you can manage a gorgeous, healthy color with hair toner.

How to Make Hair Toner Last Longer

How to Make Hair Toner Last Longer

Hair toner typically lasts between four to eight weeks, depending on your hair porosity, heat styling, and how often you wash your hair.

  • Minimize how often you use heating products to make hair toner last longer. If you need to use these tools, apply heat protectants to your hair and avoid using hair tools at their highest temperature.
  • Shower with a shower cap to avoid washing your hair daily and stripping it of oils, color, and toner.
  • You can test your hair porosity by placing a strand of product-free hair in a glass of water. Floating hairs have low porosity, while ones that sink to the bottom have high porosity. Use moisturizers, hair masks, and oils to improve your hair’s porosity and make your hair toner last longer.
  • Other ways to keep your hair looking are to avoid over-washing, and conditioning regularly.

Put your faith in your hairstylist, and you’ll never be steered in the wrong direction!


Learn more about hair toner with answers to commonly asked questions about popular hair products below.

Can I use hair toner at home?

Yes. You can purchase hair toner treatments and hair toner shampoos for home use online, at a store, and at hair salons.

How long does hair toner last?

Hair toner lasts between 24 washes or four to eight weeks, depending on how well your hair absorbs moisture if you frequently use heating products, and how often you wash your hair.

Do only blondes need to use hair toner?

No. Hair toner is not just for blondes. You can use toner on undyed hair to add life to your ‘do. For example, dark hair colors, like brunettes, benefit from hair toner to achieve warm mushroom brown tones and other popular looks.

Can I use hair toner for brunette hair?

Yes. Natural and dyed brunettes can use hair toner to refresh their color and remove brassiness and dullness.

By toning with a hair toner at your hair’s current tone level or darker, you can say goodbye to a boring brunette and enjoy flatteringly dark hair with dimension.

What is the best type of toner to use at home?

Some of the best types of hair toner for home use include brands like the following:
– Redken
– dpHue
– Davines
– oVertone
– L-Oreal

Is hair toner similar to hair dye?

Hair toner and hair dye are similar because they change the appearance and color of hair. However, hair dye is a permanent treatment, while hair toner is a demi-permanent treatment that doesn’t lift color or lighten.

Is there any difference between a salon toner and an at-home toner?

Salon toners have more pigment than off-the-shelf toners at your beauty store. While at-home hair toners are a great way to maintain the vibrancy of your hair, salon treatments last longer.
Likewise, having a professional do the chemistry and color theory for your color better ensures you get the look you want.