does toner damage hair

Toner is a popular hair product that is commonly used to remove unwanted tones and create a more even hair color. However, there has been a growing concern among some people that toner might be damaging to hair. This has led to a debate on whether or not toner is safe for hair, and whether the potential benefits of using toner outweigh the risks. 

In this article, we'll give you the answer to the question “does toner damage hair”, and take a closer look at the science behind how toners work.

What Does Toner Do to Hair?

Hair toner is designed to eliminate undesired tones that may surface after hair has been lightened. Yellow and gold hues can be eliminated with purple-based toners, while blue-based ones can neutralize orange tones. The use of a toner can leave hair looking cleaner, more natural, and more multi-dimensional.

It's essential to keep in mind that toners cannot entirely alter the hair color, but they can subtly tweak the shade. It may be necessary to apply toners multiple times to achieve the highest level of brass elimination.

Is Toner Bad for Your Hair?

Is Toner Bad for Your Hair

So can toner damage your hair? Toner, while not as potent as bleach or permanent hair dye, can still damage hair and exacerbate the dryness caused by coloring or bleaching. 

While ammonia is crucial in the coloring and bleaching process, it can also cause damage to hair. Although toners typically contain lower concentrations of ammonia, they can still contribute to dehydrated and damaged hair, albeit to a lesser extent than permanent dyes or bleach. 

Therefore, it's essential to consider the type of product and application method used when assessing the damage that toner can cause to hair.

Signs of Toner Damage

Hair toners are formulated with milder chemicals and are generally safe for use when applied according to the instructions. Despite this, there is still a risk of damage, particularly if the toner is not handled properly or if it is used on delicate hair. It is important to be aware of warning signs that indicate the toner is deteriorating to avoid any harm.

Hair Loss

Using too much hair toner can lead to dryness and breakage of your hair. When the scales on your hair are damaged, it becomes fragile, dry, brittle, and prone to damage such as split ends. Excessive use of hair toner has been associated with causing harm to hair and the development of split ends.

Color Fading in Hair

The porosity of your hair determines how well it holds moisture. There are three categories of hair porosity: low, medium, and high. If your hair has medium or high porosity, it tends to lose moisture rapidly, which can result in hair color fading quickly. Overusing toner can also dry out your hair, leading to hair color fading. Therefore, excessive toning should be avoided to maintain hair color and prevent dryness.

Signs of Toner Damage

Lifeless or Dull Hair

When hair lacks proper hydration, it can lose its healthy shine and appearance over time, becoming dull and lifeless. Insufficient water and nutrients can cause this condition, which is often attributed to the use of chemical products. 

Hair toners, for example, often contain ammonia or are mixed with a hair developer, both of which can be harmful. Similarly, chemical hair treatments like toners can damage the hair cuticle and fray hair fibers, making dull hair more prone to breakage.

Dry, Brittle, or Frizzy Hair

Healthy hair has cuticles that lay flat against each other like overlapping scales, maintaining the hair's strength and providing a smooth and glossy appearance. When these cuticles become brittle or cracked, the exposed core becomes prone to breakage. 

Split ends or broken strands can result in frizzy, lifeless hair. Very brittle hair can feel straw-like and break off in clumps, which is a common side effect of using hair toner and is challenging to treat. Damaged hair with fragile split ends can contribute to hair thinning.

Split Ends in Hair

Dry and split-end-prone hair can be caused by various factors such as the use of harsh chemical products, excessive toning, and medical conditions that hinder sebum secretion. Dryness in the hair ends is responsible for damaging hair, leading to further splitting and fraying of the hair shaft.

Lack of Elasticity

If your hair lacks elasticity, vibrancy, and bounce, and seems to be dull and lifeless, it may be due to excessive use of heat styling tools like hair dryers or from handling the strands too roughly when braiding or twisting the hair. The hair ends may appear floppy or scraggly when observed closely, and they can easily break off.

Straw-like Hair

Maintaining straw-like hair can be difficult, as it appears dull and unattractive, making it challenging to style. The dryness of the hair is often the root cause of breakage and hair loss, which is why it may be likened to straw. A lack of moisture can result in hair becoming straw-colored.

How to Use Toner Safely to Avoid Damaging Hair

How to Use Toner Safely to Avoid Damaging Hair

Here are some tips for you to minimize damage when using a toner.

Choose an Ammonia-Free Toner

While not all toners include ammonia, those that are ammonia-free cause less harm to the hair. However, these products may not be as effective as those that contain ammonia. If you have already bleached and dyed your hair and notice signs of damage, you may want to consider applying an ammonia-free toner as the first step to correcting your hair color.

Use Conditioner

To repair hair that has been damaged by a color change, the best method is to use a conditioner. This is because the cuticle of the hair needs to be hydrated after ammonia has been applied to it. 

Applying a deep conditioner can create a protective layer over the hair, leading to an improved appearance. A hair mask can also help to hydrate the hair. In case you are dealing with frizzy and brittle hair, a keratin treatment may be helpful.

Avoid Dyeing Your Hair Too Often

In order to allow your hair to heal from dyeing, it is often recommended to wait for some time. If you frequently bleach or dye your hair, your cuticles may not have enough time to recover and return to their normal state.

Shampoo Less Often

Frequent shampooing can cause hair to lose its natural oils, leading to increased dryness and brittleness. To avoid this, you may consider washing your hair less frequently or using a dry shampoo as an alternative, which can help to prevent the removal of natural oils from the hair.

The Bottom Line

So, does toner damage hair after bleaching? The answer is yes, toner has the potential to harm your hair. Nevertheless, the majority of the damage you observe will probably result from the previous products you used, such as permanent hair dye and bleach, prior to applying toner. 

If you wish to alter your hair color, ensure that you use a hair mask or conditioner to moisturize and repair some of the damage. Have a great time coloring!