Haircare is a complicated process nowadays, considering the various different products that get used to achieving the exact hair color, tone, shine, length, volume, and so on. It really does make you wonder what people used to look like before the hair care industry made its numerous discoveries. However, it also makes you wonder fun questions such as “Does toner damage hair?” among many others.
It’s no secret that a lot of hair-related products are actually quite damaging for our hair’s health. And how wouldn’t they be? A lot of them are specifically designed to alter the chemical and protein makeup of your hair, to change its color, to change its volume and direction, and so on. Not to mention things like hair bleaching (we will).
But how about toner? Does toner damage your hair? Surely, toner can’t be as bad for your hair as bleach or strong hair dyes, right?
What exactly does hair toner do?
Hair toner is an auxiliary product that doesn’t dye or bleach your hair but instead removes and “tones” certain color hues from it. It’s used to correct and personalize your hair’s color, usually right after bleaching and dyeing it. It’s mostly used on blond hair to get rid of orange or yellow colors that can make it look unappealing after bleaching. However, it can be used by redheads and brunettes as well to make the hair “cooler”.
Hair toner is acid-based and this allows it to neutralize the hair after color and to add shine to what’s usually an overly tired, pale, and unappealing hair after bleaching. The toner is usually followed up by highlights by most hairstylists and those highlights are something that’s generally somewhat damaging to your hair, however, they are different from the toner itself.
Does toner damage the hair?
Yes and no. It all depends on how you define “damage” at the end of the day. A lot of hairstylists swear by hair toner and maintain that there is zero harm it does to our hair, yet there are millions of people who can testify about their hair being ruined by too much or too strong hair toner. So, what’s the truth?
Technically speaking, hair toner does damage your hair. It’s an acid-based product that tweaks and alters your hair’s color, shine, and chemical composition. However, hair toner – when used and applied adequately, as well as when it’s of the right type and quality – isn’t really damaging enough to cause an awful lot of worry. Hair dyes are significantly more straining than hair toner for the average person’s hair and they too can be easily managed so that your hair manages to remain in good health even with frequent dyeing.
Hair bleaching is the biggest offender of all these procedures and it definitely hurts our hair very much. Frequent bleaching, especially with powerful bleach and for long stretches of time, can be outright devastating to one’s hair. Compared to that, good hair toner is just mildly intrusive at most and any hair that’s properly taken care of should be able to sustain itself well enough after toning.
Does it matter what toner you are using?
Indeed it does. In fact, this is one point a lot of people skip when talking about the potential damage hair toner can cause. Just like bleaches and dyes, hair toner products have different strength and are usually divided into different strength categories, namely vols 10, 20, 30, and 40. Vol 20 is what’s usually recommended and used by hairstylists as a moderately intrusive option that still has a serious effect.
If you’re worried about hair damage, however, we’d generally recommend sticking to vol 10 hair toner. It’s the weakest of the bunch, yes, however, it still has more than significant enough toning effect and it is also as sparing to your hair as possible.
Aside from the strength of the toner, its quality is important as well. After all, if you’re about to subject your hair to frequent and intensive chemical treatments, it stands to reason that you should use professional hair care products that are of as good of a quality as possible. This means avoiding low-cost hair toners from doggy brands and sticking to quality products that are recommended by your personal achieving. We can throw some trustworthy brand names here but as every person’s hair is different, as are their needs. That’s why the personal touch and know-how of your hairstylist is crucial here.
Needless to say, it’s also important that you know and work with a good hairstylist who knows what they are doing.
How long to leave the toner on?
Using toner is all about finding the balance between perfect effectiveness and safety by not overdoing it. In addition to its strength and quality, it also matters how it’s applied and for how long it remains on your hair before rinsing.
Generally speaking, the toner should be applied to your hair right after bleaching and should be kept there for about 30 minutes. However, this can vary depending on multiple different factors:
- What type, strength, and brand the toner is. We’re bundling these three together but they all matter as different toners will have different requirements.
- What’s your hair’s original color and strength? For weaker hair, you’d want to keep the toner on as little as possible, however, if your hair needs a significant color shift you might need to keep it for as long as it’s recommended.
- What color hair do you want to end up with? This, of course, is another major factor that determines how long you’d want to keep the toner on.