Using the Wrong Hair Toner Can Wreck Your Color—How to Pick Your Perfect Match

If you color your hair, I'm sure you've asked your stylist once or twice what shampoo and conditioner are best to use for upkeep (maybe even a hair mask or two), but you're also missing one key item that can keep your hair color extra vibrant for longer.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know much about hair toners until I asked a hairstylist or two. To sum up, they're really useful if you're trying to eliminate unwanted tones from your hair color. Downside? You absolutely need to choose the right one for your specific color, otherwise, it could end very badly. No need to worry, though—I've asked the experts to give us the full rundown on the best hair toners and which one you should use. Keep reading for what they had to share.

What are hair toners and what do they do?

Best Hair Toners



I know all the salon jargon can get confusing, so let me start by explaining exactly what a hair toner is. Celebrity hairstylist Glenn Ellis breaks it down. "A toner, or sometimes called a gloss, is a semi-permanent hair dye," he says. "This means it's not permanent and it fades. It's primarily used to adjust the tone of your hair. Clients who get their hair lightened often get a toner in order to neutralize the brass or yellow and orange tones they see. The toner is what really personalizes your color."

A toning treatment can be done in the salon, but there are also great at-home options you can use to boost your natural hair color or keep your color-treated locks looking vibrant. Ellis says "at-home toners really work for neutralizing the unwanted tones you see and often are pigmented shampoos and conditioners. If you are blonde, you'll want to reach for one that is purple-based in order to get rid of the yellowy tones. If you are brunette, you'll want to reach for one that is blue-based to get rid of orangey tones. I also recommend talking to your colorist after you get your color done about what products they recommend in order to help preserve your specific color and what at-home toners they recommend." Although Ellis prefers in-salon toners, celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Korab offered a few at-home options she loves below. 

Korab loves this at-home gloss from Pureology to tone and revive the hair. It lasts up to eight washes, neutralizes unwanted tones in your color, and includes hydrating ingredients like oat milk and camellia oil.

As far as in-salon toners go, Korab loves Redken's EQ Gloss. Korab isn't the first to tell me how great this one is, either. Stylists love this pigment-depositing option since it can be used as an all-over color, color corrector, or as a shine-boosting treatment on natural color.

Color-depositing conditioner can be another great option for toning the hair, especially this boosting gloss and conditioning treatment from DpHue. It comes in a variety of shades and adds serious hydration to strands that might be damaged due to coloring.

Davines' Alchemic Conditioner also comes in a variety of hair-toning shades. It intensifies and illuminates your natural hair hue or your color-treated locks. It will also help colored strands appear vibrant for longer.  

Blondes will love this toning shampoo from Olaplex. It's purple to help neutralize brassiness in the hair and contains Olaplex's next-level bond repair ingredient to restore strength to brittle or damaged strands.

This toning shampoo and conditioner set from Matrix is another great option for blondes and those with gray or platinum-toned hair. It eliminates dull, yellow undertones while adding major hydration to the hair.

Brunettes looking to keep their rich chestnut hue will want to try a blue-toned shampoo to neutralize any orange tones.

If you've been dealing with some damage or your colored hair is just a bit on the dry side this winter, try this keratin mask on Amazon that also neutralizes yellow/brassy tones.

IGK also offers this color-depositing mask in a great variety of shades to help add vibrancy to your color. If you dye your hair black, using this shade is a great way to keep it looking fresh.

I always talk about how great Kristin Ess formulas are and this shampoo and conditioner set is yet another winner from the celebrity hairstylist. It's also pretty affordable for the set, which I also love.

This color-enhancing mask from Christophe Robin is a temporary color mask that boosts your hair's red hues and infuses it with hydrating botanical oils to hep repair strands.

These color-toning drops from Bouclème is enriched with deep blue tones that you can add to your shampoo, conditioner, or deep conditioning treatments. These drops are also made for those with curls so they add some serious additional moisture.