Few things feel as satisfying as stepping out of your fave salon with fresh color—you look and feel rejuvenated and fabulous. However, as soon as a week or two later, that can all change. Color can be altered by your environment—especially hard water—to the point that your expensive salon service can seem like a waste of cash. In addition to making your hair appear dull and unhealthy, hard water, shampooing, and sun exposure often leave your strands brassy.
Enter: toner. Toner is used by professional colorists to enhance or neutralize hues in your hair (it’s often used during your dye service). But that doesn’t mean you have to book an appointment every time your strands look a little orange. There are plenty of formulas you can use at home to keep your color fresh.
When looking for a toner, you’ll want to seek out a color that is the opposite of your hair hue on the color wheel. It’s not unlike picking the best eyeshadow for your eye color. In those cases, choosing the exact opposite shade will help eyes pop; with toners, it will cancel out unwanted tones. The toner color you’ll see most frequently is purple, which helps keep blondes (and blonde highlights) bright. That’s because blondes, especially those who get their color courtesy of a professional, have the most porous hair of any other shade, leaving it susceptible to color change due to environmental factors.
You’ll also see blue toners to amp up lighter to mid-toned brunette strands, greens to neutralize redness in dark brunette and black hair, and pink to battle grassy shades (“chlorine green,” anyone?). Just be sure to experiment gradually. When testing a new formula, you won’t know how that particular toning product will affect your hair color, so leave it on for just a few minutes (or the shortest amount of time recommended on the packaging) to ensure you don’t overdo it.
Not sure where to start? Don’t overthink it. Here, we share some of the most popular at-home hair toners. Whether you prefer to get your de-brassing from easy methods like shampoo, conditioner, and masks, or more advanced formulas like drops, keep reading to discover the best hair toners to keep your color top-notch.