Hair Toners Vs. Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Temporary hair colors can be great if you're not sure about the color.

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So, you're tired of your hair color but just aren't sure what to do with your tresses. What's a girl to do? Toners and semi-permanent colors are here to help, ladies. These bad boys can whip you a slightly new look quickly and painlessly. If you end up hating it or get tired of it, no sweat. The color comes out within a month, or faster if you wash your hair often.


Some women are asking what in the world a toner is. Mike van den Abbeel, owner of the Mosaic Hair Studio in Orlando, Florida, says that a toner changes the tonal value of hair. He says that toners can't actually lighten hair, but they can make you go darker. He says that some toners don't need a catalyst, which is also known as peroxide. Abbeel says that these types of toners are more translucent and actually last for about a month. There is also a second type of toner that uses very low amounts of peroxide. He says this type will last longer and the color is less translucent.

Semi-Permanent Color

Semi-permanent hair color is a bit similar to a toner. Eli Mancha, artistic director at Lock & Loaded in Chicago and hairstylist of the year finalist for the 2011 North American Hairstyling Awards, says that semi-permanent color can slightly change the overall color of the hair, giving it a temporary change. He says that it also lasts longer than a toner. Alan Gold, creative director of the Haig & Co. salon in Philadelphia, says that the purpose of semi-permanent hair color is to actually dye or change someone's color.

Who Needs What?

So which one would be a perfect match for you? Paige Lewis of Hairs To You Salon in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, says that a semi-permanent color would be a good option for someone wanting a rinse-out hair color for a special event or just for a trial period. Lewis says that a toner would be a good option for someone wanting to change the tone of their hair. For example, to make hair more red or less red, to tone brassiness out of highlights, even to blend grays and make them less noticeable.

Which Is Better?

So, the question still remains as to which of these types of color is safer for your precious strands. Abbeel says that both types of color are safer for your hair than any dye would be. Mancha agrees, saying that both types are safer because they are not as strong as actual dyes and are less damaging.

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Alan Gold; Haig & Co. Salon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mike van den Abbeel; Mosaic Hair Studio, Orlando, Florida Eli Mancha; Lock & Loaded; Chicago, Illinois Paige Lewis; Hairs to You Salon; Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

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