Hair Toner: All You Need To Know

May 25, 2022

HAIR TONER is essential in hair salons for getting the best results, but when and how should we use it? Here is a guide with tips for professionals.


  1. Hair Toner: All You Need to Know
  2. What is a hair toner?
  3. What does hair toner do to your hair?
  4. What colors can you achieve with a hair toner?
  5. Types of hair toner to use in your salon
  6. How to use hair toner properly?
  7. How long does hair toner last? 

As far as coloring is concerned, these are glorious times for hair professionals. There are now more color and styling options available than ever before, from vegan-friendly hair dyes to formulas without ammonia, semi-permanent color masks like Nutri Color™ Toning Filters, and of course—countless varieties of hair toners.

Toners are an absolute must-have in any salon if you want to deliver a variety of fantastic shades to transport your clients to coloring heaven. Keep reading to discover everything you should know about hair toner, including when and how to apply toner to hair for the best possible results.

What Is a Hair Toner?

Hair toner has many important uses and benefits in the world of professional hair coloring. This product helps hairstylists change, correct, or personalize their hair color to achieve a completely unique tone for each client. Toners help improve the tonality of the hair following an in-salon color treatment, such as bleaching. They can also be used to effectively refresh and brighten hair color in between salon visits.

Although they are commonly used to brighten and enhance blonde hues, toners nowadays can also be used on red or gray hair—or in any case where the hair tone may benefit from this product’s color-enhancing capabilities. For example, Color Excel Gloss by RevlonissimoTM offers ammonia-free* tone-on-tone shimmering hair color with acid technology in 11 shades that can create subtle changes on pre-lightened hair.

A brush with hair color dye being applied to the hair

How Does Hair Toner Work?

Now that you have a better understanding of what hair toner is and how it can improve your work, let’s have a look at exactly how toner works. First and foremost, professional hair toners must be used on pre-lightened hair in order to work. They deliver specific pigments to the hair that help neutralize yellow or brassy tones and correct any unwanted undertones that may be left behind after the service. This helps ensure that the final color is flawless from roots to tips, and creates an entirely unique and professional-looking result.

How Should You Use a Hair Toner?

With hair toner, the responsibility falls to the colorist to customize the toner in order to suit each client’s needs—whether that’s a cooler or warmer finish or even a pop of bold color. Hair toners that are used in a salon are specially formulated to be more highly pigmented than what you would find in an at-home purple shampoo or conditioner. Although purple shampoos provide a fantastic option for maintaining the hair’s overall tone between salon visits—such as RE/START Strengthening Purple Cleanser—it’s important to understand this key difference between at-home and in-salon toning products.

As an example, enhancing blond hair with two shades, like 9.12 and 9.31 from Color Excel by RevlonissimoTM, can help increase brightness and keep the color looking like it did the first day it was colored. When you use toning products on hair that has been bleached with Magnet™ Blondes Ultimate Powder 7, you can let your imagination run wild and create amazing customized color effects by mixing two toners together. For instance, you can use the shades C20 and C50 from Revlonissimo™ Cromatics to recreate the trendy, awe-inspiring orchid pink look originally created for the #JOYCOLLECTION by Revlon Professional’s VP of Education, @MiquelGarciaCotado.


What Colors Can You Achieve With a Hair Toner?

Hair toner is not a one-size-fits-all product. These customizable products offer a powerful tool to create a one-of-a-kind finish, whether they are applied all over or on certain parts of the hair to achieve a specific type of effect. Although toners are often used to eliminate yellow tones in pre-lightening blonde hair, the possibilities are really endless with the right hair toner. This can include cool, platinum shades, as well as warmer tones and even pastel or rose gold shades. It’s up to the hairstylist to decide on the right shade to match the client’s desired look.

Revlon Professional Nutri Color Filter Semi Permanent Hair Masks

Types of Hair Toners To Use in Your Salon

When selecting a range of hair toners to offer in your salon, there are a few must-haves to keep in mind. Below are a few of our top recommendations for hair toners:

Professional Toners

These toners are used on pre-lightened hair to help achieve color customization and shine. They are used similarly to a hair dye and include products such as Color Excel Gloss by RevlonissimoTM, which we recommend as the best toning option after any lightening service.

Toners at the Shampoo Bowl

Next up, there are types of toners that every stylist should have at their shampoo station, such as Revlon Professional Nutri Color™ Filters. This semi-permanent hair dye toning filter ensures flawless color from roots to tips, while also moisturizing for silky, soft and smooth hair.

Purple Shampoo

For hair that requires even more color care, you have purple shampoos at your disposal. As another essential toning product, purple shampoo helps counteract unwanted brassiness and can be utilized for at-home color maintenance or further in-salon toning. We recommend our RE/START™ Strengthening Purple Cleanser or Eksperience™ Color Protection Blonde & Grey Hair Cleanser. To learn more, check out this article on the most frequently asked questions about purple shampoos.

A woman applying purple shampoo to hair

How To Apply Hair Toner Properly

Using a hair toner is not quite as complicated as it may seem. If you’re wondering how to use hair toner after bleaching, read on! To begin, simply start by mixing the toner of your choice with your energizer cream, such as Color Excel Gloss by Revlonissmo™ Gloss Energizer. Mix well with the brush, section off the hair into four pieces, and start at the nape of the neck to apply the mixture. You can leave this product on for 5-20 minutes, depending on the toning goals and desired final effect.

And, of course, finish by using the Magnet Ultimate Post-Technial Treatment for maximum shine and a professional-looking finish.  Although the amount of time that toner lasts can vary depending on care and other factors, hair toner usually lasts from about two to six weeks.

A woman with multi colored hair

We hope you have found this guide on hair toners helpful so that your next color masterpiece serves as the perfect showcase of your skills and your salon. With hair toners, you have the perfect opportunity to shine as a colorist, with fun mixes and dazzling shades.

For more tutorials and online courses, visit our e-learning platform Always On.

*Formulated without adding ammonia.