Should You Be Using a Toner For Your Hair? Here's What to Know

  • A toner is a hair treatment typically applied to color-treated hair to even out or adjust the tone.
  • Toners can also make the hair look shinier and healthier.
  • Most professionals recommend you get a toner at the salon but you can also apply a toner at home.

As much as we love a seasonal color change, switching up your hair color isn’t just a one-and-done process. Depending on how drastic the transformation, there’s typically some maintenance that goes into keeping color-treated hair looking and feeling healthy. One treatment that’s typically recommended during or after a dye job is a hair toner.

What exactly is a toner? Unlike a toner you might use on your face, this is a liquid that can be added to color-treated or lightened hair to either soften or enhance the color. “A toner is added on top of a lighter hair color to tone down the shades and even out the color,” stylist and CEO of hair brand It’s a 10 Carolyn Aronson told POPSUGAR. A hairstylist will usually apply a toner to naturally dark hair that’s been bleached or lightened as a way to get rid of any undertones that might make the blond tones look brassy. “People with highlights usually use toners to shift the color of the highlight to a softer more blendable color.”

While toners come in a range of colors depending on your hair’s individual needs and can help to get rid of any unwanted brassiness, they can also make the hair look healthier and shinier.

Who Should User Toner For Their Hair?

Your colorist can help decide if you make a good candidate for a toner treatment, which is often applied after your color treatment. The shade of toner largely depends on what about your current color needs to be adjusted; for example, if you got lighter highlights that are too yellow in undertone, your stylist might use toner to add warmth and dimension. If you did a single process and wanted a darker (or lighter) outcome, your stylist can apply a toner to adjust the hair color to suit your needs. Or, if your hair is simply looking dull, you can also consider using a clear toner to add additional shine.

How Long Does Toner Last on Hair Color?

A toner will typically last you between four and eight weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair. To keep your color looking fresh, you should reapply one regularly based on that time frame.

Can You Tone Your Hair At Home?

We’d always recommend going to a professional whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also tone your hair at home. “It’s a great thing to tone your hair at home every few months as it helps even out the highlights and makes your hair healthier and shinier,” Aronson said. You can use a hair gloss (like the ones from Kristin Ess’s line at Target) or a tinted shampoo or conditioner to tone your hair, but that choice generally depends on what you’re trying to correct. Hairstylists typically recommend those who’ve gone from dark to blond to use purple toning shampoos at least once a week, while red shampoos are helpful at keeping red color-treated hair from fading.

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