What is a hair toner?

Updated April 17, 2017

From toning highlights to refreshing dull colour, hair toner is a multi-faceted product. It can be purchased over-the-counter at most beauty supply stores; while, toning services are offered at professional salons. Hair toner is the same thing as a semi-permanent hair colour, and is better used when darkening hair to prevent unnecessary chemical damage.

Hair toner features

Toners are used to counteract unwanted hues in highlighted hair and as a semi-permanent product to refresh dull or faded hair colour. Hair toner comes in a thin, liquid (and sometimes, gel-like) form, and is best applied with a colouring bottle versus a brush and bowl. It works with a variety of chemical ingredients, minus ammonia or peroxide, and can be considered a weakened version of hair colour.

Semi-permanent colouring

Semi-permanent colour is a less damaging way to darken hair colour versus using permanent hair colour. Since a hair toner is often just a semi-permanent colour, it can be used to darken hair with little damage. A semi-permanent hair colour or hair toner will also fade from the hair faster than a permanent colour.

Toning highlights

When hair is highlighted, especially dark hair, there are often unwanted brassy tones leftover when the lightening mixture is rinsed away. To counteract this effect, a hair toner is used in a balancing shade to achieve the desired colour. Use hair toner to darken highlights that are too bright or to add a splash of colour on lightened hair.

Colour refresher

Colour and highlights often fade with time. Use a hair toner to refresh or revive hair colour without causing lasting damage. Choose a hair toner over a permanent colour when refreshing the ends of hair during touch ups.

Expert insight

As a professional stylist for over seven years, I use hair toner on a daily basis. I most commonly use it for these three things and if my client wants to save a little money at the salon, my suggestion is for her to come into the salon for a root retouch. She can then purchase an inexpensive DIY hair toner to refresh her ends at home.

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About the Author

Kristle Jones, a freelance writer out of Southern California, uses her education, expertise and personal experience to write and blog articles for the Web. Kristle loves writing beauty, health and parenting articles and hopes to share her thoughts with her readers.