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A lady wearing gloves and massaging purple shampoo into her hair.

What does toner do to hair?

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

Hair toner may be the secret ingredient which transforms an average dye job into a great one. Toner helps to enhance the vitality of hair colour by removing neutral elements. The result? Hair that looks glamorous and salon-fresh for weeks after dyeing. Most hairdressers now recommend using a toning product between salon visits. Toning products are relatively new to the high street. Still, they help maintain the luminosity of dyed hair by neutralising unwanted tones.

What is a hair toner?

Hair toners are semi-permanent colours that hairdressers apply to lightened hair at the final stage of the colouring process. Toners remove unwanted tones from the dye, such as yellows, greens, oranges, and auburn. Blondes are more likely to receive a toner treatment at the hairdressers than brunettes and redheads. However, those colour types can benefit from toner’s neutralising effects, too. Toners only work on coloured hair.

What does hair toner do?

Toners typically neutralise unwanted tones on pre-lightened and pre-coloured hair. Some toners add warmth, like peach, caramel, and vanilla hues. Others add cool notes to hair with silver or champagne tones. The toner used depends on the colour you want, and the colour of your dye.

Types of hair toner

Hair toner comes in two main types:
  • Salon toners. Salon toners are applied after your hair’s been dyed, foils have been removed, your hair’s been rinsed and lightly towel dried. Once used, toner takes between 5 to 20 minutes to work its magic.
  • Toning products for home use. Toning products to use at home help to maintain your colours’ vibrancy between visits to the hairdresser. Blondes are typically advised to use a silver or purple shampoos once a week after dyeing, to keep hair cool.

What does purple shampoo do for hair?

Purple shampoo, which is sometimes called violet or silver shampoo, helps blonde styles look their best between salon visits. Ingredients in regular shampoos, the sun, and water all impact how fast blonde tones become brassy, or brunette tones become auburn. Purple is opposite yellow on the colour wheel, which helps it to neutralise yellow and orange tones.

How to extend the shelf-life of your toner

You can make toner last longer by washing your hair less often. Because toner doesn’t permanently effect the colour of your natural hair, you can wash it out. If you wash your hair every day, your toner won’t last very long, whereas, if you wash your hair only once a week, your toner will last for a very long time. Avoid swimming in the sea, as salt is a clarifying agent and can strip the toner from hair. Shampoos which include sulphates and parabens are especially bad for coloured hair as they can spoil tone and luminosity. Read more: What colour should I dye my hair?  Shop Hair Colour Care Expertly reviewed by: Last Updated: 2nd December 2020

Author: Manisha TaggarSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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