What Does A Toner Do To Your Hair?

5 July 2023 | Hair Care

We’ve all heard of hair toner, but how many of us actually know what it is? If toner is a complete mystery to you, you’re not alone. Although toner is one of the most important parts of colouring your hair, few people understand why it’s necessary and even fewer use it.

When hair is dyed the colour changes and oxidizes over time, creating brassy tones; think of warm or platinum blonde hair turning yellow. It’s not a vibe! 

Whether you’ve bleached your hair blonde or you’re a brunette with dyed highlights, the bottom line is anyone with dyed hair should be using a toner.

So let’s get into it, what is toner and what does a toner do to your hair?  Keep reading to find out.


What is a hair toner?

Hair toners are dye products used to colour correct the hair, making it possible to achieve and maintain your desired colour. They are used to adjust the tone of your strands, by fixing, enhancing and neutralising unwanted undertones.

Toners can either be demi-permanent or semi-permanent depending on the ammonia content, meaning some toning products such as hair glazes simply sit on top of the hair, whereas glosses bind with your strands.


What does a toner do to your hair?

A toner temporarily deposits colour onto the hair to either neutralise unwanted undertones or add pigment to enhance hair colour that has faded.

Unlike permanent hair colour, toners gradually wash away much quicker due to having less staying power. It’s like a ‘top coat’ for your hair because it does not penetrate as deeply into the hair strand.

As well as giving you a dreamy hair colour, certain toners can also add shine and depth to the hair, and who doesn’t want vibrant luscious locks?


What are the different types of toner?

There are various types of toning products such as ‘hair gloss’ and ‘glaze’, that you can be used to maintain your colour-treated hair. You’ll find that some colourists use these terms interchangeably, but there are some differences – learn more here.

Depending on whether your goal is to enhance or tweak your hair colour, under the ‘toner’ umbrella, you’ll find, colour-correcting shampoos, pigment-depositing masks, glazes and glosses, as they all contain pigments that adjust the tone of your hair. 

Checking what’s in a hair toning product can help you decide which is right for you depending on your hair type and what you’re trying to achieve as not all toners come in the form of a hair dye. For example, glosses (which are not dyes) do not contain ammonia and wash out easily, only lasting around a week, whereas other toning products such as glazes (which are dyes) may contain a little ammonia and last around four to six weeks. 

The most commonly used at-home products are purple toning shampoos and conditioners and blue toning products to combat brassiness. 

Purple toners are a blonde’s best friend as it distributes violet pigment across the hair to minimise yellow tones and eliminate brassiness.

Then there are blue toning products which are perfect for brunettes as the blue pigment helps to cancel out orange tones and increase the hair’s lustre.


What are the benefits of using a toner?

Along with achieving the hair colour you’re after, using a toner has many other benefits. As well as restoring and enhancing your hair tone, they can also add some much-needed definition to your hair colour and combat discolouration. 

But toners don’t just correct your hair colour, they can also add shine, increase softness and reduce the appearance of split ends (music to the ears, right?). If your hair is looking a bit dull and washed out, using a toner can give your hair a whole new lease of life making your strands more vibrant.

As if that isn’t good enough, another brilliant benefit of using a toner is that it can strengthen your hair by forming a protective layer around the strands.


How long do toners last?

Well, first of all, no toner ‘lasts’, this is the reason why coloured hair changes tone and fades. There is no set answer to this one, it really does depend on your hair type and the type of hair toner product that you’re using.

As mentioned earlier in the article, some toners can last a week, but these tend to be the ones which are not dyes and focus more on conditioning the hair and slightly boosting the colour. Whereas others, particularly high-quality salon toners containing dye, can last up to six weeks.

Hair that has been previously coloured is more porous, meaning it’s less retentive and holds colour for less time in comparison to ‘virgin’ hair, which has never been colour-treated or chemically processed and can hold colour for a lot longer.

Another factor that will determine how long the pigment delivered in a toner will last on your hair depends on how frequently you wash your hair. Every time you do, you’ll be washing the toner away, reducing the time it will last.

If you’re using toning shampoos and conditioners, you should use this once or twice a week, but it’s best to check the instructions on the packaging of your product.



We hope this article has left you feeling empowered to look after your coloured hair. Whether you’re looking to refresh your colour or you’re now feeling more confident about dying your hair, our team are here to make your hair goals a reality!

Are you ready to schedule your next appointment with the best hairdressing salon in Hertford and let’s make your hair colour the best it’s ever been? 

Book your appointment online now and we’ll look forward to seeing you very soon!