What is toner?

When blogger Lily Pebbles took to twitter to bemoan the fact that her hair had turned orange post colouring a frenzy errupted on all the ways she could correct it. Which got us to thinking here at Layered HQ about the power of toner – because that’s what we would have recommended had we been involved in the chat. Because did you know that it’s toner that saves hair from colour drab to colour fab (not to mention an amazingly skilled colourist) and that if you’re after gorgeous grey, subtle pink, light lilac, or the more extreme unicorn or rainbow hair, it’s toner that’s going to get you there.So we thought we’d speak to one of those amazing colourists, AJ Blackadder. He is on the speed-dial of many a celeb, works his hair colour magic on film sets all over the world and if you want an appointment with him can be found at Gielly Green.
Here he tells us why toner is so important to achieve the hair colour of your dreams.“When you lighten or lift hair you’re taking hair up through the natural undertones. The darker the hair the more red and orange there is, the lighter the hair the more orange to yellow and that’s the colour that will pop out on first appearance. What then transforms the undertone colour, or the raw colour, into the shade you’re after is toner.”

Toners come in a whole colour spectrum of products and shades. Think of a colour, there’ll be a toner to make it, however the confusing part is it’s not always the colour that’s applied to create the colour you want and this is all down to colour theory – remember that from art class? AJ explains more:

“If you’re looking to transform your hair to that amazing denim blue that’s around at the moment then the hair first has to be pre-lightened. That can leave the hair looking slightly yellow. If you then applied blue toner to it……well, what do yellow and blue make? Green, which is NOT the colour you’re after. So in fact what a colourist would do is apply a neutralising toner to make the hair a blank canvas and then apply the blue to get the true colour.”

And this isn’t just a process for bleached hair – although it is most common – toners are also totally necessary for all colour types, from brunettes and red heads to natural blondes and even grey hair. Especially if their natural colour has lifted in the sun and they want to bring it back down. To put it simply, toner acts on the hair like a colour correcting foundation does to your skin. It neutralises the colour you don’t want to see and enhances the colour you do.

And what about their staying power?

“It’s really dependent on how much you wash your hair, use heat on your hair, the type of shampoo and conditioner you use but on average up to 20+ washes.”

Aftercare product is key for getting the best out of your toner. AJ recommends using product with specific anti-fade and colour protecting ingredients or specific toning shampoos and conditioners for keeping your colour and toner looking fresher for longer at home.”

Post-toner must-buys