When it comes to creating the perfect shade of blonde, hair toner can be your secret weapon in a bottle.
It isn’t often that a client’s hair lifts to the ideal tone we would like. It can require an extra step to get there. Whether a client’s hair has been previously colored, the hair is prone to buildup from minerals in their water, or they want a tone that can’t be achieved naturally, your clients and you can benefit from adding toning to your service menu.
What Are Toners?
Toners are a demi permanent color service that penetrate the cuticle of the hair and remain just below the surface. Most toners can last clients between three and six weeks depending on how often the hair is shampooed and whether or not they use color-safe products at home.
Two Main Reasons to Use Toners for Blondes
When you think about toning blondes, you probably envision removing the typical unwanted pigments like orange and yellow and replacing them with more desirable ones. Pale, ashy and violet-based blondes are in high demand, and toners are often a necessity to get there. While this is one of the main reasons to use a toner for your blonde clients, there is another set of clients who are looking for the opposite.
At the other end of the blonde spectrum are the warmer, richer shades of blonde. Another main reason to reach for a toner are times when replacing these warmer tones in the hair become necessary. Toners with warmer, gold bases can be used to add pigment back into blondes and are ideal for several instances:
- Clients who are looking for a sun-kissed, natural look can often benefit from golden tones throughout the hair.
- Clients can sometimes lift to a shade of blonde that is too pale, or lacks tone.
- Clients may feel they have become “bleached out,” or too blonde in the summer sun.
- Clients may want warmer tones that would otherwise not naturally occur in their hair, such as strawberry blondes and copper.
How to Choose the Right Toner
Choosing the right toner for your blondes is often a matter of deciding the main reason toning is necessary in the first place. Are you trying to neutralize specific tones in the hair, or are you enhancing tones that already exist? A good, basic knowledge of the color wheel will provide you with all of the information you’ll need from there. Choosing and using the right toner can be broken down into four easy steps:
- Step 1: Identify the current tonality of the hair. Is it warm or cool? Do you see orange, yellow or red?
- Step 2: Determine the tone your client is looking for. Do they want to refresh the warmth in their blonde or cancel it out?
- Step 3: Choose the appropriate shade. Use the color wheel as your guide, remembering that colors that fall opposite each other can be used to neutralize each other.
- Step 4: Mix and apply. Follow the level and tonality guide for the product you are using. All systems vary slightly, so I always recommend mixing a lighter shade if you are ever unsure. It is much easier and quicker to darken a toning service if necessary than to lighten your client’s hair again.
Limitations of Toners
Even though toners can work like magic, there are limitations to what they can do.
It is important to remember that the main purpose of toners is to change the tone of the hair, not the level. Toners are deposit only, and because of this they can’t lighten hair. While you can neutralize certain tones, such as using blue to counteract orange, for instance, you will not be able to lighten past the level that resulted in orange with toner alone.
The most important benefit of a toner is the ability to correct the overall tone of blondes. But there are other reasons toning can be beneficial.
As a demi permanent color, toners are great for adding shine and gloss to hair. If you have a client with blonde hair that is very thirsty from chemical processing and heat styling, a toner can help add moisture and replace shine.
Toners also make great finishing touches to keep your clients’ hair not only the perfect shade of blonde, but also healthy and well-maintained between salon visits.