This Is “Absolutely Essential” for the Perfect Hair Color

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Hailee Steinfeld hair
Photo: Courtesy of @haileesteinfeld

Award-winning hairstylist Michael Van Clarke, who oversees a bustling London salon with over 50 staff members, is your guide to everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hair toner – from what it does to how long it lasts. Van Clarke describes toner as, “A semi-permanent color that can enhance and correct natural or artificial tones.” While it is ‘color’ for your hair, it’s actually depositing really small doses in order to control tone. 

“For example,” add Van Clarke, “you can [use toner on] bleach highlights to create a warm or cool tone in order to give a natural highlighted effect.” When highlights are bright and streaky, toner can soften them and make them blend in more naturally with the rest of your hair. In other words, toner is absolutely essential to getting the perfect color results.

While it is very often used on bleached hair, that’s not its only use. “Toner can be used on all hair types and color. For a client whose color has faded and wanted more vibrancy in the hair, we would use a rich toner to add a warm tone back into the hair,” says Van Clarke. It’s also used to create fashion-forward hues. “If a client wanted a soft crazy color, after a scalp bleach, we could put a pastel pink toner over the top to create a soft blush pink.”

Jenna Rozario hair highlights
Photo: Courtesy of Jenna Rozario

Considering it is an essential part of the coloring process, you’re probably curious about how it works. The answer is simple. “Toner is usually applied to shampooed hair at the backwash, and can be left on for anywhere from five to 25 minutes,” explains Van Clarke. The longer it’s left on, the stronger the warm or cool tone will be.

While it’s not as strong as bleach, it can cause an itchy sensation, especially if your hair has just been bleached. On top of the usual price, toner will add about AED 140 to your bill. The good news is that, in the hands of an expert, toner is very safe to use. “Toners are very mild and do not impact [hair] condition,” says Van Clarke. If you want to maintain your expertly toned color, ensure its longevity by using a leave-in conditioner between appointments, and you can shop our favorite, below.

This Is “Absolutely Essential” for the Perfect Hair Color

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