Toners are a colourist’s best allies, ensuring the shade being created is spot-on. Here are some tips for the most important part of your colour service.
But First, Some Clarification
Is there a difference between toning and glossing? According to Roch Lemay, a Davines master colourist at Salon Pure in Montreal, “There are a lot of interpretations, and it usually has to do with marketing,” he says. “Toners are a demi-permanent formula that deposit pigment on the cuticle without penetrating it, but they change the colour of hair that’s been previously lightened.”
Michelle Finlayson, Western Canada education supervisor for Schwarzkopf Professional, also sets the record straight: “Glossing is used to enhance the shine and condition of the hair at any level, and can polish and intensify colour, as well. It can also be done on virgin hair by using clear gloss without any colour pigment at all.” If you want to tone and gloss in one single step, Finlayson recommends Igora Vibrance liquid-to-gel demi-colour from Schwarzkopf Professional to do both.
Picking the Right Shade
“Depending on the desired colour, and the level of lift you want to achieve, there are two different ways to pick a toner,” says Lemay. “Violet tones help neutralize the yellow that typically stays in hair after a lightening service. But if you want to see more richness in the colour, pick a toner that’s less cool.” He adds that we’re going to be seeing a resurgence of warmer hair shades for 2019 (Read: Mahogany, copper and sand). And remember, you read it here in Salon first!
Additionally, Finlayson advises always toning with the same level as what you have lightened to. “If your hair is a level eight blonde, you need a level eight toner. This ensures there is enough pigment in the toner to do its job.” For platinum shades, “Dissolve most of the yellow pigment like the inside of the banana (level 10). For a rich caramel shade, the colour of the outside of the banana (level nine) is perfect.”
The great thing about toning is that it can also be offered as a refresher service between full, pre-lightening appointments. “The average life of a toner is eight to 10 shampoos, so many clients will book an appointment every four weeks for a toner and a blowout or trim.” This keeps the colour looking fresh and beautiful, and is a good option for pre-booking and filling your appointments book.
The Importance of Toner
When hair is pre-lightened, the pigments exposed are raw, warm and often undesirable. The hair is also known to become more porous and susceptible to damage. “Toner not only polishes the final colour and allows for cooler, softer and more expensive- looking blondes, but it also seals and conditions hair so it is less likely to absorb free-radicals and minerals in water that also cause blonde shades to become brassy,” says Finlayson.
According to Lemay, blondes are the “crystal” of hair colour and, as such, require a lot of time to fine-tune the exact shade desired. The bottom line: These shades can’t be created quickly, and that’s why subtle gradations of very light hair always look expensive and rich. Because, in fact, they are!
Toners are becoming so important that colourists sometimes do “pre-toning.”
“To achieve some of the silver, pink and purple shades that are so trendy now, we need to remove the yellow first (pre-tone), and then go back in with the desired fashion pastel,” says Finlayson. Like everything else, hair colouring is constantly evolving to meet the needs of discerning clients.