What is Hair Toner?


Haircolor Pinterest Board Sunnie Brook

Let’s talk about those zebra stripes, Ladies… I see them running around everywhere like a safari gone wild, and I don’t mean Katy Perry! Most of us have been there in the salon chair hoping for the beautiful moment when the chair whirls around… only to see we have bars running across the top of our head?? No, that’s not what we were hoping for, huh?!! Well, I’ve the heard stories and seen the tears; I’ve fixed this tragedy so many times and I know the solution. It’s called (que the music and tap dancer)… HAIR TONER! Yep, this one product is your fairy godmother and let me tell you how . . .

What is toner?

Toner cancels out and corrects unwanted tones in your hair — brassy yellow, gold, orange, red or ash tones, but it does more than that!

How to use toner

1. Evens out hair color or highlights. If you’ve been getting your hair colored for years there is a long story on your locks. When your hairdresser lightens your hair you will see some of that story unveiled. The toner can camoflouge or act as a filler to even out the hairs porosity making your hair flawless from roots to ends.

2. Softens the look of regrowth on your highlights. I love highlights that have a seamless transition from the root to end. Similar to what you see in children’s hair that has just been kissed by the sun. Sometimes your roots can come out brighter because that part of your hair is the most “virgin” and closest to your head (a source of heat). The toner can go in and take your color a few steps darker to get a match with your previous highlights.

3. Acts like a topcoat for your hair, similar to what a topcoat on your nails does. It adds incredible shine and richness to your hair, and seals your color so it will last longer.

*More questions? Come and see me at the salon!

A Thousand Words

Tip: Bring a picture of your desired look. It will speak a thousand words. I created a pinterest board of some of my favorite haircolor looks to help you.

If you need a quick fix, try using a purple shampoo like this one  or this one. It can help remove brassy color and be a good go to when you can’t see a hairdresser right away!


Have you ever been zebra’d? Which haircolor is your favorite? What else would you like to know about haircolor?

Haircolor collage sunnie brook

  • Franzi

    Can you recommend any toners? Also some that are available in Europe, that would be great!!

    • veronika

      yes please, toners in europe ; )
      i need a toner for my dark blonde, which turned brassy during the summer. is there any help for that?

      • admin

        Hi Veronika,

        Check out the malibu treatment in the post! It will remove the minerals that build up in your hair causing your
        blonde to go brassy. It’s chemical free and easy to do at home. You can follow the link to order. XO

        • Michelle

          Where can I buy it and will it work on my hair it was dyed 2 and a half months ago. I got it bleached blonde with brown lowlights but now it’s fading out and just look light brown can I correct this with toner? I really don’t wanna get my hair coloured again

  • Kiss & Make-up

    Hm I didn’t know this, cool!

  • Magi

    Not sure what is avalible in europe but i use Wella Color Charm Toner. It is not pre mixed though so you have to mix it yourself with Vol 20 Developer…2 parts developer for 1 part toner. The bottles are almost 1.5 floz.

  • Sarah

    I don’t see any suggestions for toners on here? Can you advise??

    • Sunnie Brook

      Hi Sarah,
      Did you want a specific brand? I suggest going to your hairdresser to help you find the best toner for your hair though as they will be able to access which one is perfect for you.

  • Jamie

    Hi! My hair has a crazy gold tone to it that always ends up coming right through any new dye I put on. I’m going for a very natural medium brown. Thanks!

    • Elisa Moran

      Hello, my hair is the same way? Any insight as how to fix it yet?

  • Andrea

    Brooke or Admin,
    Unfortunately live in different state so can not visit you;( I need an advise please…perhaps guidance of what to do with the hair color. Short story long went to the different hairdresser who I thought will be great as he said he is very good with the color. Works at very prestige salon + gay so I thought I hit jackpot. But he only cost me too much $ & 2x wasted time & ruined my color. Anyway, had around 5inch growth of my natural darker blond hair as I gave a birth 7 m ago and had no chance to go to the salon. The rest was similar to your Jeniffer Aniston picture. Darker blonde underneath with 2 diff. highlights I guess. Very nice & natural. Anyway, told him I like to match the bottom. He put highlights through my hair which turned to white/ashy. So my top section was zebra highlights with my natural underneath and the rest of my hair was my old warm blonds with his new highlights. Looked like to different sections. Didn’t like it so went back and he colored my top section first and then pulled the color down to rest of my hair. Now my roots are almost reddish/orange color and the rest is ok however lost the jeniffer anisten look as am too blond on the rest of the hair too. Went to my old hair stylist & she said she will research what to do & recognized my hair as hot roots & muddy/ashy greenish blond at the bottom, over processed hair. Please, help on how to get the jeniffer aniston look back or at least on how to get a nice vibrant tones of blond as JA in my hair & most importantly the roots what toner/color shade my hairdresser should go with. She has not been the stylist for very long & I can not afford any more mistakes.Do you think the toner will do it & if which one? I can even send you a picture of me so you can see. Please Brook help, I would really appreciated. I have an appointment on 8th. So if you like to help a stay at home mom of 6m old baby please please reply before then. Thank you! PS; Love all the pics on (toner) site 🙂 PLUS thank you for helping woman like me with your website 🙂

  • Andrea

    If you can be specific to color/toner brand and shade no. that will be fantastic!

    • Sunnie Brook

      Hi Andrea,

      It all depends on the tone you are trying to cancel out and the condition of the hair. I’m going to try and put together some of my favorite formulas in a future blog post to answer this question.

  • Courtney

    I recently went to get my hair lightened, but it seems that all I have is streaks, or zebra stripes, in my hair when this is not what I wanted. Can toner help? Or is it better to just go somewhere to get it fixed?

  • Andrea

    Thank you Sunnie Brook! Will love that! Please make it soon! -:)

  • Mimi

    I have used the clairol 98 blonde for years.. Since I think I am getting white or grey it seemed to be too light for the past few months. I thought it would be good if I went darker so I took the clairol 108 reddish blonde.. It came out orange like a jack o lantern. Now what can I do? Any thing either lighter darker just to get rid of the Orange! My friends say put s toner. What will that do? I can’t afford a salon.

  • Jen

    Does toner have a lifting property>? I didn’t think it did…but I saw on a post you said to mix it with 20 volume, wouldn’t that lift my natural brown too?
    Why I ask is I just want to put toner on the processed part of my hair (my highlights) I just want to tone my highlights for touch up to keep the brassy out.
    When I get my hair done in the salon, they put the toner everywhere. I am worried if I do this myself, I will lift the brown in my hair due to the fact the toner is mixed with 20 developer.
    Thanks for the help!

    • skylar

      I have the same questiin

      • Nayah

        I learnt this from research but, the developer opens the hair shaft so that the colour can deposit it should be done with a very low volume developer. it shouldnt take out any colour this way.

        • tkaz

          It takes color!!! I just had this happen.

  • Maria

    I got highlights and they became orange and two days ago I put in a toner… And I want more highlights… Do I need to wait longer or can I go get it already???

    • Tk

      Go get em!

  • Leah Clarence

    I bleached my natural black hair into brownish- blonde streaks but one streak turned out a shining yellow colour. Can I add purple colour dye to my shampoo and use it as a toner so that it gets the same colour as the other streaks?

  • Sarah

    Hi – question for you.
    I have been a natural blonde by entire life, and never treated my hair with anything, no dyes, lemon juice, peroxide, etc.

    In my 20’s my hair has gotten gradually darker, and I am more of a dirty blonde. I have always had an ashy tone to my blonde which i love. I tried the John Frieda controlled lightening spray but it’s actually made my hair look a darker blonde, more of a honey shade, than light/ashy blonde.

    Would a toner shampoo help lighten my hair? Do you have any recommendations?

  • Mayra Sarmiento

    How much does a toner cost a salon.? And a full hair color dye.

  • I imposed the toner to the hair about 3 times and damn quickly flushed so I personally would not recommend it after a few days (I might add that I wash my hair every day) color was faded, but in the beginning the fact is not bad.

  • Claire Burke

    Hi my hair dresser use a silver violet toner on me. I was a brunette. so she bleached it and then used a silver violet toner. If I were to order “Kenra Demi SV Silver Violet 5 Min Rapid Toner 2.05 oz” what permenant hair color do i mix with? what volume?

    • Tk

      You don’t mix toner with color. They are two separate steps that are mixed with developer.

  • Lilliana Olis Hardesty

    My hair stylist used a toner and a color to lighten my dark brown hair (not sure if developer was involved) is there any way I could use a color remover to get my hair color back to normal??? Or is it permanently lightened??

  • gyvania

    hi, do i need to use a toner of my hair if i want to first lighten it then put lilac in it?
    furthermore if i do this, will it make a difference to the lilac colour at all?
    thank you.

  • Courtney Conwell

    I just got my hair done yesterday. She bleached and toned my hair but my hair isn’t the color I want it to be. She said it would take me shampooing my hair a few times to make it blonde. Just wanting to know how long and how many shampoos it takes to make it the right color?

  • Begum

    I recently got purple highlights (but the came out more redish looking). I don’t get a toner will the colour fade away and reveal the bleached hair??

  • Kaela

    What does the t14/18 mean on toners? I have been looking it up for a while now and I still can’t find any answers. Does it matter which one I use? And I can’t find out what the difference is between the numbers.

  • Larissa Marchiori

    I just used some toner on my hair, but I don’t think I let it sit long enough because it didn’t lighten my blonde like I wanted. So when is it safe for me to try it again?

    • Eleo

      What was the solution

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  • bubbles

    Hi sunnie, I have a question I hope you can answer I’ve made two trips to the salon to get balayage dark on top and ashy tone on bottom..But it’s still very brassy I want to give my hair a break from the bleaching process for awhile so I wanted to buy a toner and do it at home. ..my question is do I buy just toner or do I need to buy something else to mix with it? And what color toner example ashy tone as that’s the colour I’m aiming for?

  • Eleo

    Toner took out all my highlights how do I get them back

  • Linda

    Hi, I just got my hair highlighted (three days ago) and there are WAY too many and too blonde. She did the highlights from the root and I guess I wasn’t very clear as I wanted more of the biolage style. My hair is naturally medium/dark brown. What can I use to tone down the blonde highlights and how soon can I do this without damaging or breaking off my hair?