What Does Hair Toner Do? Here’s How to Revive Colored Hair

Share this:

As a colored hair beginner, you may be wondering what your colorist means when she says something about applying a hair toner during a dye or bleach job.

Start with understanding that a hair toner is not the same as a hair color. It does not change the color of your hair or add extra color to it. If you want a simple term, call it the fine tuner of colored hair.

If you have altered the natural color of your hair, you will need a hair toner somewhere in your journey as a colored hair girl.

Keep scrolling to see what this hair care product actually does for your colored hair. Plus, I have included a detailed guide on how to apply a hair toner by yourself, from the comfort of your bathroom.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Your Hair?

A hair toner is a colored haircare product that gives the finishing touch to your colored hair. This product works just as its name implies. Hair toners tone your hair.

How does it do this? By removing and replacing undertones (very good hair math).

Sometimes, during the dyeing process or in between different appointments, your colorist introduces this product. Hair toners help to give your colored hair a good finish and revive weeks-old colored hair.

Weeks after toning your hair, unwanted brassy undertones appear and ruin what was an admirable colored hair.

Toning your hair removes these unwanted undertones and adds beautiful ashy, blonde, and platinum shades. As a plus, hair toners add a natural shine to your hair. Moreover, the color molecules are larger than that of hair dyes.

Rather than penetrating your hair shaft, the molecules coat your strands and add volume to your hair. In the end, you have better-looking colored hair with a natural glow and extra volume.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Highlights?

If you’re a lover of highlights, you need a hair toner. This product deepens the color of your highlights and makes them look better. Highlights are smaller colored areas of your bleached hair.

Just like colored hair, over time, it develops orange tones that don’t look good in the mirror. Toning will help to realign these tones and revamp your look.

Hair toners realign your highlights by coating the surface of your hair with molecules of pigments. Additionally, highlighting your hair alters your hair porosity. Using a toner balances porosity and improves the integrity of your strands.

To apply toner to your highlights, you need the color wheel to correctly choose a toner. Opposite colors on the color wheel cancel out each other.

The right choice of toner will perfectly fine-tune your mane and make the highlights blend with the natural color of your hair.  

What Does Hair Toner Do to Bleached Hair?

Naturally, bleaching and toning work hand in hand. Bleached hair is the colored hair that needs hair toners the most. With bleached hair comes brassy yellow and golden undertones.

An ashy or platinum blonde is perfectly achievable if you will tone your hair after getting bleach. 

A few days or a week after applying bleach to your mane, you should apply an ammonia-based hair toner to balance out your blonde. It produces a uniform shade and preserves the longevity of your hair color.

Applying bleach to your hair has a damaging effect on your hair. It leads to porous, dry, and limp strands. Hair toner becomes the miracle here. It deposits pigments in form of a coat over your strands and prevents permanent damage to your hair.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Blonde Hair?

To start with bleached hair and blonde hair are not the same. Bleach strips your hair of its natural color while blonde color lifts a natural blonde or lifts natural brown hair a few shades up.

Hair toners add fun to blonde hair. If you’re looking to give your blonde a lift and make it look more on the purple side, you need a hair-toning product.

A purple toner will eliminate brassy yellow undertones and brighten up the blonde. When your blonde looks lighter, toners help to deepen the color and make it look like a darker blonde shade.

As said earlier, hair toners do not add color to your hair. It tunes your blonde to look newer, shinier, and with more volume.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Red Hair?

Brunettes and redheads are bold-colored hair. However, with time, the red is distorted by orangey undertones.

Also, if you aren’t a natural brunette or redhead; when your hair begins to grow, the natural hair will certainly not be colored. And this creates a funny contrast.

A green toner will eliminate the unwanted orangey shades and restore your hair to an intense, bold red. You can use this toner to tone down bright red hair to look cooler and classier.

In addition, when your brunette or red hair begins to fade, you can use purple shampoo to bring out the color from your hair cuticles. More so, hair toners are safe to use; they prevent your hair strands from the permanent damage hair dyes can cause.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Brown Hair?

With time, the ammonia dye used to color your hair brown oxidizes into orange and red undertones. These undertones make your hair look unnatural. Applying toner to brown hair gives you a better shade and makes the color last longer.

Ash toner eliminates the orange and red undertones. Also, washing your hair with a blue toning shampoo and conditioner can help to realign your brown hair.

If your brown hair has blonde highlights, you can use purple toning shampoo to add intensity to your hair. As a plus, using this product on brown hair can help protect and restore your hair from the damage of UV rays.

Besides, it can help turn your hair into a pastel shade without adding color or making it blonde.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Gray Hair?

Grey hair may be natural or a result of bleaching. When your hair grays naturally, the undertones draw attention. Moreover, your strands are fewer and coarser.

Hair toners help to moisturize your hair, add volume to it and banish dullness. A silver toner will eliminate brassy undertones and give you shiny, healthy grey hair.

Furthermore, using toners on gray hair will improve the frailty gray hair comes with. The pigment coats your hair strands and improves the integrity of your hair.

If you do not want a stylist appointment, you can find a silver toner shampoo to help yourself at home.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Balayage?

Balayage may look like a blonde, but it isn’t. It details color graduation that targets lightening certain parts of your hair. Just like getting a blonde, it strips your hair of color.

However, balayage looks more natural because when your hair begins to grow, it doesn’t show any contrast at the roots.

Toning is necessary for a perfect balayage finish. This is what will bring out the eventual color of your bleach job.

Additionally, bleaching can damage your hair, and this is another reason why you need to tone your hair. It will protect your hair from severe, permanent damage. Also, it keeps your balayage looking its best for as long as it lasts.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Dark Hair?

Although toners seem to work best for lightened hair, they can be quite beneficial for dark hair. You can tone dark hair like black, dark brown, and brunette.

Hair toners enhance the dark color and even out the color. Also, it helps to balance hair porosity that may have been altered by the chemicals in hair dye.

Can You Use Purple Shampoo as Hair Toner?

Purple shampoo is a toning shampoo you can use at home to revamp your colored hair. It is a semi-permanent hair toner that brings out previously added color from your hair cuticles.

You can use purple shampoo as a toner if you do not want an in-salon toning. This shampoo deposits pigment on your hair strands; the pigments remove and replace unwanted brassy undertones.

Wash your blonde hair with purple shampoo 2-3 times a week to restore your blonde to a fresh from the salon look.

How to Apply Toner to Your Hair

To tone your hair at home, you need to be careful. You should tone when it becomes necessary, not just whenever and whichever way you want to.

Toners come with a developer in the pack; mix the toner and developer in proportion 1:2. The developer is what makes your desired look more achievable. Follow these steps to tone your hair at home.

  • After mixing the toner and developer, you should wash your hair if you did not wash it before mixing
  • Use a clean towel to dry your hair to moistness
  • Then, you can begin to apply toner to your hair using a dye brush
  • Start with the areas where you notice the unwanted undertones. Apply sufficiently there before you move on to cover the whole of your hair
  • When the toner is evenly distributed, stop and leave it to run its course for 15-20 minutes
  • Thereafter, you can rinse off the toner with clean, warm water
  • Follow up with a mild shampoo and conditioner for colored hair

Is Toner Bad for Your Hair?

Generally, toning is good for your hair. Moreover, it can protect your hair from the damage of harsh chemicals in hair dyes. Hair toners also protect and help to repair your hair after prolonged sun exposure.

However, toning becomes bad for your hair if you use ammonia-based hair toners or if you apply them wrongly. For instance, after bleaching your hair, you shouldn’t apply toner immediately. Otherwise, it will damage your strands.


Do hair toners lighten or darken your hair?

Hair toner rather gives an impression of adding color to your hair while it doesn’t. Toners neither lighten nor darken your hair. They remove and replace brassy undertones with cool, warm tones and make the color of your hair appear deeper.

How long do hair toners last in hair?

Without certain interferences, hair toners should last up to 3-8 weeks. How long toner lasts in hair depends on how often your wash your hair, heat styling exposure to sunlight, and contact with chlorinated water.

Also, the level of permanency of your toner determines how long it will last in your hair.

How often should you tone your hair?

Only apply hair toner when it is necessary. Apply toner to your hair when you notice those unwanted undertones. Depending on how long the toner should last, you can reapply toner after a few washes and when the toner begins to fade.


Hair toners become necessary in your hair care regimen if you have colored hair. It gives your colored hair a lift and makes it look as good as new weeks after getting your hair dyed or bleached.

You should know that hair toner does not add color to your hair. Therefore, you must have pre-dyed or pre-bleached your hair before using a toner. This hair product helps to bring out the previously added color that is in your hair cuticle.

In addition, as toner removes unwanted undertones, it replaces them with desirable ones. Using hair toner produces effective results when you use a toner appropriate for your hair color. So, having a color wheel at hand will surely do you a lot of good.

Thanks for reading.

Check Serum101 to read relevant articles on hair care.