Tone up, look sharp

Toners are great, aren’t they? Perfect for banishing unwanted hues, adding a temporary shade or refreshing shine between colour appointments – but are you making the most of their capabilities in your salon?

Scroll through your Instagram feed, and you’ll notice the hair colours getting a whole lotta love at the moment are the shades that look perfectly toned, gorgeously glossy and almost edible. From biscuit blondes, to chocolatey browns, social media and consumers are eating them up. Often these shades can be applied as a service that doesn’t cost hours or a lot of cash. This is the power of the not-so-humble toner, and truly their time is now.

Robert Eaton for Wella Professionals
ASP Infiniti

“Toning should be big news in all salons,” asserts Robert Eaton, UK and Ireland technical director of Wella Professionals and creative director of Russell Eaton salons. “We’ve really focused our education to explore creativity with toners and the technical knowledge that goes alongside it. Everything from instant colour, our colour blow-dry service to longer-lasting toners and glossing services. There isn’t much you can’t suggest a toner for.”

Change in seasons


“We’re seeing a return to really natural ‘virgin’ shades and less-is-more colour placement this season,” says Steve Rowbottom, co-director of Westrow salons. “After years of celebrity-endorsed bleached-all-over platinum and seasons of Insta-friendly high-octane shades, this trend for high-maintenance hues has done a U-turn. We’re now seeing a refreshing return to more natural hues, akin to the untouched and untreated virgin colours we were born with.”

‘Normcore’ trends burst into the limelight through fashion, hair and beauty a few years back but now it’s more grown-up, with a high luxe finish. Think everything from strawberry blonde to mousy brown, but with various tones scattered throughout the locks to replicate one’s natural colour.

Steve suggests working with toners to create this effect on clients. “A lot of our clients think toners are mainly for blonde hair, but we use them effectively on all hair colours, and have found that redheads and brunettes can really benefit from using them.”

What’s on the menu?

Sophie Gibson, art team member of the salon group Hooker & Young, emphasises the importance of a toning menu. “It’s important to make it clear that colour is a journey,” she says. “Offering toner services after a previous colour service is vital for maximising profit and loyalty.”

Clarifying everything on an easy to understand menu opens up the potential for developing conversations and interests from clients, suggests Daniel Rice, colour director at Williams & Rice. They might not be up for a full colour change – but might be willing to try a twist on the usual. “Satisfying that curiosity can open fresh opportunities with a wide variety of clients; experimenting with tonal shades can lead to something more complex, with more commitment and a more expensive service. But toners can also be an inexpensive way of introducing colour as a new service to clients.”

Redken supports its salons with regular service menu campaigns, each one working hard to deliver beautiful hair that’s perfect and using beauty vocabulary to chime in with conversations that clients are hearing elsewhere. With its Toning Tweakments menu, complete with before and after images, guests are offered four distinct services using its Shades EQ portfolio to deliver a real impact on their hair colour, and in as little as 20 minutes.

“Clients love this!” says Jo Pilbeam from Blend about the Tweakments menu. “They can see exactly how to maintain their beautiful salon colour and keep the shine without damaging the hair. We got a lot of interaction from clients asking what we used to make the colours we share on our Instagram feed and asking questions about Shades EQ. I think of it as lip gloss for hair.”

New hues

Offering quick colour options at an affordable price was a driver between the No Strings Attached Colour menu from Wella Professionals too, and its new blonde glazing menu – curated by its UK colour trend expert Zoe Irwin – aims to leave no blonde untoned.

As Trevor Sorbie’s Emma Beveridge admits, with balayage in particular, clients are coming into the salon less often, so offering a toning service is a great way to see them more regularly. “At the moment I especially like using the Majirel Glow range from L’Oréal Professionnel, as it has a great selection of pastels and more vivid tones,” she adds.

Emma Beveridge

All of this interest in glossing and toning has naturally driven innovation from colour houses to ensure that colourists have all the tools they need to deliver what clients want. Majirel Glow was just the tip of the iceberg – following its launch last year, L’Oréal Professionnel has also unveiled INOA Glow, with a palette of shades that run from ashy to mocha while preserving the hair’s natural transparency for luminous results.

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