The Ultimate Guide to Hair Toners

What is Hair Toner?

Let’s get the basics out the way. Hair toner is a semi-permanent colouring product that neutralises unwanted undertones in the hair, enhances the overall tone, and adds shine. Toners are often used after bleaching or highlighting to achieve a specific shade or to maintain the desired colour between salon visits.  Now we know the fundamentals, let’s ask the age old question; to tone or not to tone?

Needed or Not?

So first and foremost, do you need a toner after your highlights? Well the answer is yes and no. No we are not sitting on the fence with this, simply put, if you already have a fairly blonde base then a toner effect will yield diminishing returns.  However with darker hair, then it becomes borderline essential. Let's dive into why toner is a must-have for anyone who's added highlights to more darker tresses. You see, when you lighten your hair with highlights, it's not uncommon for some pesky, unwanted undertones to appear. We're talking about those warm, brassy tones that can pop up and make your fresh highlights look, well, not so fresh.

Hair toner london

That "No Toner Look"

Without a toner, your highlights could end up looking more contrasting than you'd like, and not in a good way. Think orangey or yellow streaks against your natural colour, which isn't exactly the seamless, sun-kissed look most of us are going for, right?

Toner works its magic by neutralising these unwanted tones, giving your highlights a more balanced, natural appearance. It's like the fairy godmother of hair colour, waving a wand over your locks and transforming them into the stunning, envy-worthy hair you've been dreaming of! Let’s recap.

  • Toners work by depositing colour molecules onto the hair shaft, helping to:
  • Neutralise unwanted brassy or yellow undertones
  • Add depth and dimension to the hair
  • Enhance the overall tone of the hair
  • Improve hair shine and vibrancy

 How Does a Salon Apply Hair Toner?

At professional salons, applying toner is a meticulous process that ensures your highlights look their absolute best. Expert colourists start by assessing your hair's current condition and colour, then choose the appropriate toner shade to achieve your desired results. They'll mix the toner and developer, taking care to follow the manufacturer's instructions. With gloves on, they'll apply the mixture evenly throughout your hair, starting at the roots and working their way down to the ends. After allowing the toner to process for the recommended time, they'll rinse your hair thoroughly and apply a colour-safe conditioner to lock in the colour and maintain hair health. Finally, they'll style your hair to perfection, revealing your refreshed and vibrant new colour.

Hair toner london

What Does Hair Toner Do to Highlights?

Hair toner enhances highlights by:

  • Neutralising any unwanted undertones or brassiness
  • Adding depth and dimension to the highlighted strands
  • Creating a more seamless blend between the highlights and the rest of the hair
  • Increasing shine and vibrancy
  • Rinse and condition: We thoroughly rinse your hair and apply a colour-safe conditioner to lock in the colour and maintain hair health.
  • Style: We blow-dry and style your hair to your preference, revealing your refreshed and vibrant new colour.

What Does Hair Toner Do to Bleached Hair?

Hair toner will equally enhances bleached hair by:

  • Eliminate unwanted undertones: Toner helps eliminate brassy or yellow tones that can appear after bleaching.
  • Enhances colour: Toner can add depth and dimension to your bleached hair, creating a more natural and balanced look.
  • Boosts shine: By evening out the hair's porosity, toner can increase shine and make your hair appear healthier.
  • Improves hair texture: The conditioning agents in toners can improve the overall texture of your hair, making it feel smoother and more manageable.
  • Evens out colour: Toner can help even out any uneven patches or inconsistencies in your bleached hair's colour.
  • Prolongs colour longevity: By sealing the hair cuticle, toner can help lock in colour and extend the life of your bleach job.
  • Customises shade: Toner allows you to adjust the tone of your bleached hair, giving you the freedom to personalise your colour.
  • Protects from further damage: By neutralising unwanted tones, toner can minimize the need for additional colour processing, thus reducing the risk of further damage to your hair.


Hair toner london gusto

How to Use Hair Toner at Home

If you'd like to apply toner yourself at home, follow these steps:

  • Choose the right toner: Pick a toner shade that complements your highlights and targets your specific undertones. Consult with a professional if you're unsure.
  • Prepare your hair: Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup, then towel-dry your hair, leaving it damp.
  • Mix the toner: Put on gloves and mix the toner with a developer according to the instructions on the packaging.
  • Apply the toner: Apply the toner mixture evenly to your hair, starting at the roots and working your way down to the ends. Use a comb to ensure even distribution.
  • Time it right:  How long to leave in the toner? Leave the toner in for the recommended time (usually 15-30 minutes), checking on the progress periodically to ensure you achieve the desired results.
  • Rinse and condition: Rinse your hair thoroughly, then apply a colour-safe conditioner to lock in the colour and maintain hair health.

Toner YAY!

In short, using a toner after getting highlights or a bleach is your ticket to a gorgeous, harmonious hair colour that'll have heads turning for all the right reasons. So, don't skimp on the toner if needed, because your hair deserves to shine in all its glory!
With these tips, you're well on your way to achieving salon-worthy hair at home. Remember, Gusto Hairdressing is always here to help with your hair colouring needs, whether it's advice or professional services. Happy toning!


Welcome to Gusto Hairdressing, London's premier hair salon! With over 20 years of experience in the hairdressing industry, our expert team of hair colourists is here to share their knowledge and expertise on hair toners. In this article, we will address your burning questions about toners, from understanding what they are to how they can elevate your hair colour game.