Everything you need to know about hair toners

They’re not just for blondes!

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / October 31 2019

There’s nothing quite like leaving the hair salon with your hair freshly coloured… until your dark colour starts to fade or your blonde colour begins to look brassy. However, there is a way to keep the colour looking fresh in-between hairdresser visits: with in-salon and at-home hair toners. 

When we hear the word hair toner, we instantly think of a purple shampoo. But hair toners are in-salon treatments too, and they can impact your end colour result. Here’s everything you need to know about the confusing topic of hair toners. 

What does toner do to your hair?  

“Hair toners are semi-permanent hair colours that are used to alter the colour of your base hair colour,” says Jordan Hone, Director of Sloans North Sydney and L'Oréal Professionnel Guest Artist. “They can either tone down warmth or add warmth, depending on the desired outcome. Usually those with lighter hair, like blondes, will opt to use hair toners, although it’s not unlikely to see brunettes, coppers and redheads come in for toners to enhance the depth of their colours.” Using a hair toner is especially important after bleaching, to prevent your hair from turning orange or yellow.

How long does toner last? 

“This can vary depending on the porosity and density of the hair,” explains Hone. “An in-salon toner usually lasts anywhere from two to four weeks, however pastel tones can fade quicker, say, around two weeks.” 

Does toner damage hair?

“No, toner shouldn’t damage your hair,” says Hone. “In fact, many in-salon options are infused with nourishing ingredients to improve the quality of your hair.”

Can I get a hair toner at the salon?

Yes, the most effective way to customise your hair colour is at the salon. There are quite a few options to pick from, but two that stand out to us are:

L’Oréal Professionnel Dia Light: This in-salon service is a demi-permanent colour that lasts longer than semi-permanent colour, and is ace at neutralising and customising your hair colour. What we also love about this product is how incredibly shiny it can leave your hair  - like a clear gloss has been applied over it. 

Redken Shades EQ Gloss: This demi-permanent colour is loaded with moisturising properties that can improve the health of your hair, and it won’t lift the natural base (so when it washes away, you’re left with your original hair colour). Plus, it has the ability to correct even the most stubborn of brassy tones (try 'Lavender Ice’, a silver toner that gives a really cool-toned effect) and can even cover grey hair. “I love how Redken Shades EQ Gloss features 102 intermixable shades, which gives me the freedom to create endless tones in all different depths,” says Sheree Knobel, founder of Bixie Colour Hairdressing and Australian Redken Artist. 

Once you leave the salon, you should then use at-home hair toners to maintain colour vibrancy and tone. 

Best at-home hair toners to buy for blonde hair: 

#3 / Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Xpander Foam
Remove brassiness with Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Xpander Foam, a keratin-rich toner for blonde hair that can also strengthen your locks. Apply this post-wash treatment after washing your hair (with something like John Frieda Violet Crush Intense Purple Shampoo For Blondes) and before drying it. 
Cost: $21.99

#2 / Nak Blonde Plus 10V Toning Foam
If you’re hoping to achieve more of an ash blonde colour, then use Nak Blonde Plus 10V Toning Foam. All you have to do is wash your hair, apply the purple hair foam all over (we recommend sectioning your hair for a more even application), wait 15-20 minutes, then wash it out. 
Cost: $19.95

#1 / Redken Color Extend Blondage Anti Brass Mask
Redken Color Extend Blondage Anti Brass Mask is one of the best hair toners we’ve tried. Straight after shampooing, apply this all over to correct yellow blonde hair. We love how quickly this mask works (yep, you’ll see impressive results in just five minutes). 
Cost: $43

Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Xpander Foam

Nak Blonde Plus 10V Toning Foam

Redken Color Extend Blondage Anti Brass Mask

Best at-home hair toners to buy for brown hair: 

#3 / Revlon Professional Nutri Color Crème in Deep Chestnut
If a salon-quality result is what you’re after, then Revlon Professional Nutri Color Crème in Deep Chestnut is one of our top picks to try at home. Apply this to towel-dried hair, leave it in for up to three minutes, then wash it out with cold water. 
Cost: $25.95

#2 / Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care in Warm Chestnut 
Reduce dullness in dark hair with a serving of Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care in Warm Chestnut. Inside, discover a tinted mask that can enhance the colour of brown hair *and* nourish it, all thanks to ingredients like almond butter and buriti oil.  
Cost: $67

#1 / John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss For Cool Brunettes
Those with dark hair can use something like John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss For Cool Brunettes. This cheap yet effective toning treatment adds a rich brown tint to medium and dark brown hair. 
Cost: $16.99

Revlon Professional Nutri Color Crèm

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care

John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss

Best at-home hair toners to buy for red hair: 

#3 / Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo 
Top up your red hair colour with Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo - it’s a red pigment-based toning shampoo that even features UV protection to prevent your colour from fading. 
Cost: $25.46

#2 / evo colour boosting treatment in chestnut
Not only can evo colour boosting treatment in chestnut refresh the colour of red-based hair, it can also soften it, reduce frizz *and* boost shine. 
Cost: $39.95

#1 / De Lorenzo Novafusion Colour Care Shampoo in Cherry Red
De Lorenzo Novafusion in Cherry Red is a toning shampoo that’s boosted with botanical ingredients to protect your colour, along with red pigments to improve vibrancy on red and copper hair colours. If you have pink hair, try the Novafusion Colour Care Shampoo in Rosewood.
Cost: $28.90

Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo

evo colour boosting treatment

De Lorenzo Novafusion

Looking to go blonde this summer? Here’s all the platinum blonde inspiration you could ever need. 

Have you tried an at-home hair toner before? Which one did you try, and what did you think of it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 Main image credit: Getty

Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and previously in SHOP Til You Drop and Cosmopolitan.