What is a toner for hair?

Taryn Davies
Published: August 24, 2016

Toner is a word often mentioned during the process of dyeing your hair, but what exactly is it? And what is a toner for hair supposed to do?

Here’s what you need to know about toners for the hair.

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Gigi Hadid
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Toners are used after hair has been pre-lightened to add soft, delicate tones to freshly lightened hair.

A toner is actually a semi-permanent hair colour that contains ammonia. It will change the pigment makeup of your hair shafts. So it’s important that you’re careful when using a hair toner.

It works to correct the colour tones in hair, including unwanted brassy, coppery or reddish colours.

If you’ve ever seen someone walking around with yellow hair, more Lisa Simpson than Gigi Hadid, then it’s because they haven’t used a toner.

Toner can help neutralise the brassy yellow and orange tones on bleached hair. Usually when toning blonde hair, a purple-blue tinted toner is used because it takes it to more of an ashy, dusty or platinum colour; leaving you with more natural-looking locks.

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Benefits of using a toner on your hair

  • Adds soft and delicate tones to freshly lightened hair
  • Cancel out yellow tones, orange tones and brassiness
  • Add a particular look to your blonde
  • Softens the transition between outgrowth and coloured hair
  • Seals hair colour so that it lasts longer
  • Adds shine to colour treated hair

When do you apply toner?

Toner is typically applied by itself or after hair colouring to even out the hair colour, making the difference between colours more subtle.

The process can take up to 15 minutes, but it’s best to check colour development every five minutes.

Applying toner might slightly darken your hair colour, particularly at the roots where the hair has been processed fewer times.

You might also like: A guide to bleaching grey hair

Shop hair toners at Boots

How long toners last

Toners are a deposit colour only, which means they won’t do anything to your natural hair. They usually last about four to five weeks, all depending on how often you wash your hair.

If you wash your hair every day, expect the toner to fade out fast. If you wash it once a week, you’ll generally get a month of nicely toned hair.

Reasons why toner doesn’t last in your hair:

  • You wash it every day
  • You use a shampoo with sulphates and parabens, always check the labels on bottles when purchasing your shampoo
  • You swim in salt water, this can fade your hair very fast
  • You lay in the sun a lot, too much UV will bleach out your lovely toner

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Keep conditioning

Any time you mess with bleach or ammonia, it's a great idea to show your hair some love too. Use a leave-in conditioner, or apply a hair mask every so often. We love those on offer from MoroccanOil.

Shop hair toners at Boots