What Is a Hair Toner?

From toning highlights to refreshing dull color, 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 color, and is better used when darkening hair to prevent unnecessary chemical damage.

  1. 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 color. Hair toner comes in a thin, liquid (and sometimes, gel-like) form, and is best applied with a coloring 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 color.

    Semi-Permanent Coloring

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

    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 color. Use hair toner to darken highlights that are too bright or to add a splash of color on lightened hair.

    Color Refresher

    • Color and highlights often fade with time. Use a hair toner to refresh or revive hair color without causing lasting damage. Choose a hair toner over a permanent color 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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