Difference between hair toners and glosses

As a hair colorist, you’ve likely heard about toners and glosses. Understanding the difference between these two popular salon services is confusing. While they sound similar, hair toners and glosses work differently to alter color results. Toners are used after bleaching or highlighting to neutralize unwanted brassy or yellow undertones. It deposits translucent pigment to cancel warmth and even out color. It adjusts the hue and enhances shine without significantly changing the lightness level. Overly warm, orange hair is toned to achieve an ashier, cooler blonde. Toner lasts through several shampoos gradually fading over 2-4 weeks.

How does it work?

Toner uses low levels of violet, blue, or green pigment to counteract yellow-orange tones by neutralizing complementary colors on the color wheel. Like any hair dye, the toner must penetrate the hair shaft to deposit or remove color. Porous bleached hair readily absorbs toner. Using a low-volume developer activates the toner without damaging the hair. The ideal palette after toning is bright yet natural-looking.

Toner is mainly used by blondes and highlighted brunettes. Bleaching lifts color but also exposes brassiness. Toner subdues this by evenly adding a pale tone over lightness. Redheads also benefit from special red or copper-based toners to perfect vibrancy and remove harsh yellow oranges. Toner should only be applied to pre-lightened hair since it does not affect dark strands.

Toners contain lower amounts of peroxide, dye, and ammonia than permanent color. The formula is translucent, not opaque. When applied after highlighting, toner blends grey or yellow bands between foils for seamless color. Wella, Redken, Matrix, and Schwarzkopf are top professional toner lines used in hair salons fort lauderdale. Purple shampoos help maintain toning results at home between salon visits.


Gloss is deposit-only with no lifting or lightening effect. The conditioning formula coats the outside of the hair with bold color pigments that adhere lightly. There are clear glosses that add shine only and colored glosses that boost red, copper, black, or chocolate shades making them appear deeper. Gloss cannot lighten or darken the existing color. The color molecules are too large to penetrate the hair shaft, so they wash off easily.

What it does do? 

Unlike toners, glosses don’t alter existing color. Glosses enhance the shine, smoothness, and conditioned feel of hair. They also temporarily coat strands with luminous, reflective pigments to amplify color. It intensifies vibrancy and richness without permanency. The effects wear off by the next shampoo. Glossing is great for boosting color between dye jobs.

Gloss adds a dazzling effect to colored hair for a temporary period of time. Brunettes get glassy dimension from clear gloss. Redheads and ravens get punchy color vibrancy from colored glosses matching their hue. Blondes also use clear gloss for shine between toning sessions. Gloss gives hair an instant boost without the commitment of permanent dye. It’s great for short-term special events.