If you’ve ever bleached your hair, chances are good you’ve heard of hair toner. Unless you had an in-depth conversation with your colorist about the ins and outs of salon color, however, you’re probably not exactly sure what hair toner is—which is a shame, because it’s one of—if not the—most important step of your hair color service.
No idea what hair toner is? You’ve come to the right place. We teamed up with Cory Hoffman, Matrix brand ambassador and master colorist, to teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hair toner. Whether you have dark brown hair or ash blonde locks, your perfectly toned strands will thank you.
What is a hair toner?
Hair toner is a demi-permanent service that can alter the hue of your hair by depositing color onto the strand.
Hair toner is what changes the color or tone of the hair.
Because hair toner can only deposit color onto the strand, not lighten it, it is typically used after hair is bleached. We all know bleach is required to achieve blonde hair, but it isn’t actually what makes your hair that perfect ash or buttery blonde. Bleach simply lifts the color from your strands, leaving a blank canvas for your colorist to deposit your final color. That’s where hair toners come in.
“They will either neutralize the hair’s tone or make it warmer or cooler,” Hoffman explains. “Sometimes it can deepen the color depending on the toner you choose. They are not permanent and will mostly fade off the hair.”
If you’re after an icy blonde, your colorist will use a cool-toned hair toner with a silver base. For sunkissed blonde, your colorist will apply a warm-toned hair toner with a golden base.
It’s important to note that bleach will always cause damage, but your colorist will work with you to choose a toner that can help you maintain the look and feel of your strands.
Who can use a hair toner?
Even though toners are typically used after pre-lightening services, you don’t have to be a blonde or even have color-treated hair to use one. Hair toners can be put to work on red and brunette shades to slightly alter the hue or get rid of unwanted brassiness. You can also apply hair toner to virgin hair to enhance your natural color and boost shine.
“Anyone can use a toner—just keep in mind that they do not lighten the hair,” Hoffman says. “As long as you are looking to refine a color that is already there, then you can use a toner.”
How often should you use hair toner?
Unlike bleach or permanent hair dye, toners aren’t permanent and typically fade after several weeks and shampoos. If you want your hue to look salon fresh at all times, prepare to head back to the salon for a touch-up every four to six weeks. If you want to lengthen the time between touch-ups, however, there are a few products you can use at home to help maintain your perfectly toned strands.
If you’re a blonde, you’ll want to invest in a purple shampoo to help neutralize any unwanted brassiness and minimize the appearance of dull, yellow tones. We love the Matrix Total Results So Silver Color Obsessed Shampoo. Brunettes, swap your regular shampoo out for a blue shampoo that can help reduce any brassy tones. We recommend the Matrix Total Results Brass Off Color Obsessed Shampoo. For best results, follow both of those shampoos with the Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed Conditioner.
Which hair toner is right for me?
As with any color service, we always recommend making an appointment with a salon professional. While you should allow your colorist to recommend the products and services they believe are right for you and your hair, there are a few new hair toners on the market that your colorist is bound to stock their back bar with. The Matrix Color Sync Sheer Acidic Toners and ColorSync 5 Minute Toners are here to change the game.
The Matrix Color Sync Sheer Acidic Toners are cool-toned hair toners that help to create frosty hues while keeping any unwanted warmth at bay.
“The Matrix ColorSync Sheer Acidic Toners are great for blondes, especially with compromised hair,” Hoffman explains. “The low pH helps to close the cuticle on especially delicate hair and give a high shine finish.”
The Matrix ColorSync 5 Minute Toners are perfect for anyone who wants salon-worthy color in a fraction of the time.
“The ColorSync 5 Minute Fast Toners are a quick way to balance warmth and create an even palette for creative color or color correction,” Hoffman says. “Because they are so fast, they are perfect for a pre-toner and won’t require much extra time.”
Equipped with all of this information your hair color will look toned and flawless every day!
Interested in having your hair toned? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.