If you're deeply rooted in the world of hair color, you know that the term "gloss" is thrown around willy-nilly. Glosses add shine and tone the hair. Toner and gloss are interchangeable terms, but many suggest the term "gloss" gained favor to help ease clients' nerves. In the salon business, toners can also be considered an add-on or upcharge, so it's worth noting that if a colorist suggests you come in every few weeks for one, it could be a red flag.
"I've heard colorists who worked near me tell their clients that they need to come in a month or two after their appointment for a gloss to tone down brassiness. This is not OK," said colorist Ariel Hauck. Ariel is becoming one of the most popular colorists in both Los Angeles and New York because of her technique, Signature Color, which gives clients the natural, low-maintenance color that's rampant on Instagram without the eight- to 12-hour salon day.
If you're making followup appointments shortly after your initial coloring session, listen up: "This means the colorist has not highlighted your hair correctly and is covering over it with a toner," Ariel says. "Run far away. A correct session with a colorist should leave your hair with the correct tone for months and months after a session."
That said, it depends on the look you're going for; if you're covering grays or get single-process color (all-over color), you have to hit the salon more frequently than if you were just getting highlights.
Glosses can fine-tune your look so that it matches the expectation you had when you first sat in the chair. "You can use it to add warmth or cool it down. And you can darken the color, but the one thing that clients need to know is that glosses will never make the hair lighter or brighter. It does the exact opposite," said Ariel. That said, glosses don't hurt the hair, so if you are getting them, you don't need to worry about it damaging the hair. Just make sure your expectations make sense. If you're unhappy with your hair color, it might mean that the colorist didn't place the highlights correctly or didn't lift the color enough, and that won't be solved with a gloss.
"Toning or doing a gloss will only be the right tone over a correctly lifted highlight," said Ariel. "If it's not lifted correctly, the toner will look off. Maybe not when you leave the salon, but after a few washes when the toner fades, you're left with an ugly highlight."
For anyone who notices their hair goes brassy after a few washes, you can add time between appointments by using a purple shampoo, but Ariel stresses it's not a cure-all and that it isn't something you should use consistently. "Overuse of purple shampoo can lead to your hair to looking 'muddy,' so only use it once a week, tops."