By Molly Harris

Opting to use a hair toner can often lift and improve the appearance of color-treated hair. Toner neutralizes and color corrects dyed hair without further lightening the shade. Dull hair often looks brighter and additionally blends highlights into the overall shade for a more natural look. Given the benefits of applying a toner, the desire to quickly pick one up can take over. Be sure to shop around, though, to score just the right color to complement the undertones of both hair and skin complexion.

Blue eyed sensuous woman isolated against colored background
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How to Choose a Hair Toner Color

Choose Carefully

Depending on the shade of hair dye, the undertones of color-treated hair may appear yellow, orange, red, blue or green. To color correct with a toner, select the shade opposite the overtone on the color wheel. This will help neutralize the undesired color. For example, yellow, orange or red tones will be canceled out by blue or cool-colored hair toners. Blue or green overtones are neutralized by red or warm toners. Remember when applying toner that the color may be lighter at the roots than at the tips due to natural heat radiating from the scalp.

To select the correct color based on skin tone, consider the combination of the complexion and natural hair or eye color. All three are not necessary, but either the eyes or hair should be paired with skin tones listed for both cool- and warm-colored toners.

Rich, dark shades or white hair along with dark, cool eyes like dark chocolate brown or deep ocean blue are best suited to cool-color toners. If either hair or eye colors are featured on someone with bronze, dark or rosy skin, a cool toner is the way to go. To double check that you meet at least two of these color combinations, turn to your wardrobe. If jewel-toned clothes like blues, greens, magentas and blue-based reds work well, a cool toner will also.

Eyes with gold and blue-green hues paired with golden, red or dark hair will require warm-colored toners. If either the eye or hair colors listed are combined with brown or pale skin with pink or golden undertones, warm hair toner colors are best. Again, try on clothes that are earth-toned to see whether the warm toner is best suited to you. Clothing colors may range from yellows and oranges to browns and orange-based reds.

Get the Most Benefits

Toners can benefit the appearance of hair not only by color correcting, but by adding shine and conditioning to locks like a topcoat that polishes off the look. The subtlety of hair toners also adds dimension while sealing in the complexity of the color combinations. To use a hair toner at the foundation of a color treatment, choose a color that complements the preferred shade of hair dye. Apply after bleaching to pre-lighten hair. This will help hair more accurately absorb the color of the dye.