Client with toner on hair

A common question clients ask is whether toner is damaging to their hair. Here at Salons Direct, we’ve created this handy guide to cover everything you need to know about hair toner as a salon professional.

Join us as we delve into the science, myths, and practicalities surrounding toning treatments!

What is a hair toner?

As a salon professional, toner will be a big part of your everyday arsenal of products, but let’s take a look at what the definition of hair toner actually is.

Toner is essentially a type of semi-permanent hair colour used to neutralise or enhance certain tones in your client’s hair.

Whether they are aiming to colour correct, banish brassiness, add some cool undertones, or intensify their colour, a toner can swoop in to save the day.


Think of a hair toner as the secret sauce for achieving that perfect shade after colouring. It is like the final touch of magic that takes your client’s hair from good to gorgeous!


Plus, it’s typically gentler than permanent hair dye, making it a popular choice for maintaining colour vibrancy without causing too much damage.

The Science Behind Hair Toning

Understanding the science behind hair toning is crucial for achieving desired results and maintaining the health of your client’s hair.

Here’s a breakdown of the scientific principles involved in toning…

Hair Porosity

Bleaching or lightening treatments can increase hair porosity by opening up the hair cuticle to remove natural pigments. Toning takes advantage of this increased porosity to deposit pigments into the hair shaft, where they can help neutralise or counteract unwanted tones.

pH Balance

Bleaching treatments often raise the pH of the hair, making it more alkaline. Toning products are formulated to restore the hair’s pH balance, which helps to close the cuticle and seal in moisture. This results in smoother, shinier hair with improved manageability.

Colour Theory

Understanding colour theory is essential for effective toning. Opposing colours on the colour wheel neutralise each other when combined. For example, purple toners are used to counteract yellow or brassy tones in blonde hair because purple is the opposite of yellow on the colour wheel. Similarly, blue toners can neutralise orange tones in brunette hair.

Chemical Reactions

Toning products contain pigments and sometimes developers or activators that work together to create chemical reactions on the hair shaft. These reactions can vary depending on the type of toner used and the hair’s condition. Demi-permanent toners penetrate the hair shaft and deposit pigments without lifting or lightening the natural colour, while semi-permanent toners sit on the surface of the hair and gradually fade over time.

Hair Condition

The condition of the hair before toning is crucial for achieving optimal results. Healthy, well-maintained hair will respond better to toning treatments and produce more predictable outcomes. It’s essential to assess the hair’s health and integrity before applying toner to prevent over-processing or damage.



Does Toner damage your client’s hair?

The potential for toner to damage your client’s hair largely depends on various factors, such as the condition of the hair, the type of toner used, and the application process.

When applied correctly and on healthy hair, toners typically do not cause damage.

However, there are considerations to keep in mind…

Hair Health

Toning can exacerbate damage caused by previous chemical treatments or excessive heat styling. It’s essential to assess the hair’s condition before applying toner and use conditioning treatments to restore moisture and strengthen the hair when necessary.


Overlapping the toner application or leaving it on for too long can lead to overprocessing, which may result in dryness, breakage, or a change in texture. To avoid overprocessing, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and monitor the toner’s development time.

Product Formulation

Some toners contain harsh chemicals or high levels of ammonia or peroxide, which can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause damage if used incorrectly or excessively. Opting for gentler, ammonia-free toners or semi-permanent formulations can minimise the risk of damage, especially on delicate or previously treated hair.

Tips for using Toners Safely

Using toners safely is essential for achieving beautiful results while minimising the risk of damage to your client’s hair.

Step 1: Assess Hair Health

Before applying toner, assess the condition of your client’s hair. Avoid toning hair that is excessively damaged, brittle, or overly porous, as this can increase the risk of further damage. If the hair is compromised, focus on improving its health before proceeding with toning treatments.

Step 2: Select the Right Toner

Choose a toner formulation that is suitable for your client’s hair type, condition, and desired results. Opt for gentle, ammonia-free toners or semi-permanent formulations, especially for delicate or previously treated hair. Consider the desired tone and level of lift when selecting the toner shade.

Step 3: Perform Strand Test

Always conduct a strand test before applying toner to the entire head. This helps you assess how the toner will react with your client’s hair and ensures that you achieve the desired colour result without causing damage or unwanted undertones.

Step 4: Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when mixing and applying toner. Pay attention to recommended development times, mixing ratios, and application techniques to achieve optimal results while minimising the risk of overprocessing or damage.

Step 5: Protect the Scalp and Skin

Apply a barrier cream or petroleum jelly along the hairline and on the scalp to protect the skin from potential irritation or staining during the toning process. Use gloves to protect your hands from staining and irritation as well.


Discover our guide on how healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp!


Step 6: Avoid Overlapping

Avoid overlapping toner application onto previously toned or coloured hair, as this can lead to uneven colour results and overprocessing. Apply toner carefully and precisely to avoid unnecessary damage and maintain the integrity of the hair.

Step 7: Monitor Processing Time

Monitor the toner’s processing time closely and check the hair regularly to ensure that you achieve the desired colour result without overprocessing. Rinse the toner out promptly once the desired tone is achieved to prevent further processing and potential damage.

Step 8: Post-Treatment Care

After toning, rinse the hair thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any residual product. Follow up with a nourishing conditioner or treatment to restore moisture and condition the hair. Advise your client on proper at-home haircare to maintain the toner’s vibrancy and keep their hair healthy between salon visits.


Shop Professional Toners at Salons Direct

Pulp Riot High-Speed Toners 




The Pulp Riot high-speed toners offer a matte finish, enhancing the canvas for impeccable colour results.

Key Features:

  • Prolongs colour life.
  • Achieves hair tones in just 5 minutes.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • True-to-tone silver toner.
  • Faster development than standard toners.
  • It provides conditioning shine, boosts elasticity, replenishes moisture, and creates a protective barrier against environmental damage.

30 Hair Artists, 30 Pulp Riot Recipes – Salons Direct 30th Anniversary Special

Matrix Tonal Control

Matrix Tonal Control



Matrix Tonal Control is a reliable acidic gel toner that offers real-time visible oxidation for precise post-lightening control. Its smooth gel consistency ensures effortless application and delivers enduring colour results.

Key Features:

  • Colour longevity up to 24 washes.
  • Acidic technology prevents base shift.
  • Pre-bonded with exclusive Bond Protecting Concentrate.
  • Ammonia-free and vegan formulation.


Find out more: Everything you need to know about Matrix Tonal Control.

Indola Colour Mousse

Indola Color Mousse




For a gentle toning system, the Indola Colour Mousse offers a temporary hair colour solution that effortlessly elevates both natural and dyed hair.

This versatile product enhances shine and conditions and enriches natural hair colour while being easily removed with shampoo. Ideal for refreshing permanent or tone-on-tone colour in between treatments, it also effectively neutralises unwanted tones and pre-pigments and assists in colour correction.


Discover how to Integrate new services in your salon with Indola Color Style Mousse.

Wella Color Fresh Mask

Wella Color Fresh Mask




Introducing the Wella Professionals Color Fresh Mask, a gentle colour-depositing mask that revitalises your client’s hair without any damage. It’s also ideal for selling as part of your salon retail offering, as it can be used as an easy weekly at-home treatment.

Key Features:

  • The zero-damage formula for a temporary colour refresh.
  • Weekly use to neutralise yellow tones in blonde hair.
  • Beautifully fading colour effect.
  • Enriched with nourishing avocado oil and free from silicones and animal-derived ingredients.
  • Visible colour results in just 10 minutes.
  • Creamy texture with a refreshing fragrance that enhances the overall experience.

Schwarzkopf BLONDME Deep Toning Toners






The Schwarzkopf BLONDME Deep Toning Toners offer a versatile selection of intermixable deep toners, providing endless creative possibilities.

Key Benefits:

  • Deep toning to enhance blonde tones or neutralize unwanted warm tones.
  • Low ammonia content for gentle toning.
  • Interchangeable with all BLONDME Lifting and White Blending Creams.
  • Specifically formulated to complement BLONDME Premium Developers.

Fudge Headpaint Toner




Introducing a curated selection of essential enhancing and neutralising toners, meticulously crafted to achieve customized effects through dual-system technology.

Key Features:

  • Formulated for application on light hair colours.
  • Prolongs the vibrancy of colour.
  • It provides a luxurious, healthy feel and enhances shine.


So, there you have it, the full scoop on whether toner is a hair hero or a sneaky saboteur! While it’s true that toning can be a game-changer for achieving that picture-perfect shade, it’s essential to do your due diligence and use it wisely and with care.


Shop Salon Professional Hair Toners at Salons Direct

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How to Use Pulp Riot Toners – Pro Tips & FAQs

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