How Long to Leave Toner in Hair- A Guide to Help You Tone Your Hair at Home

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There is a lot more to getting colored hair than we love to pay attention to. If you love to help yourself at home, beyond knowing life-saving hacks, you should know the facts too. For instance, for how long should you leave toner in your hair?

The best results come from the correct use and application of beauty products. There are some hair mistakes that you should not make; using toner the wrong way is one of them. Repairing the mistake can do more harm to your hair than has been done.

Therefore, you need to get it right from the point of picking a toner to the process of applying the toner to your hair.

Why Should You Use Hair Toner?

Hair toners are used to eliminate brassy and unwanted undertones that show up in colored hair weeks or months after a dye or bleach job. These undertones take the glow and beauty out of your colored hair and make it look funny (not the good funny).

Moreover, you need hair toners to add depth to your colored hair, especially if you have highlighted it. Also, it adds a natural shine to your colored hair weeks after wearing it.

Some toners can help to introduce wonderful pastel shades to your hair. This does not mean it can change the color of your hair. It rather suggests that it can fine-tune your blonde and bring out ashy or platinum shades that are in the cuticles of your hair.

In addition, you should use hair toner to protect your hair from the damage of hair dye. They are not permanent; the molecules rather coat the strands of your hair and add volume to your hair. At the same time, it helps to balance hair porosity.

What Type of Toner Should You Use?

The type of toner you apply to your hair depends on the level of permanency you’re looking to get and the brassy undertones you want to eliminate. The main purpose of using hair toner is to revive your weeks-old colored hair and make it look new again.

When choosing a color, the color wheel should guide you to pick a toner that will meet your needs. You should use a toner that will eliminate unwanted undertones. Opposite colors on the color wheel will cancel out each other.

Blue sits opposite orange on the color wheel. Therefore, if you notice orange undertones, you should use a blue toner to cancel them out. In the same vein, a purple ash toner will help transform your yellowing blonde to a platinum shade.

Furthermore, you should pick a toner that lasts for as long as you want it to. A permanent toner lasts the longest and this type of toner works with permanent hair dyes.

A demi-permanent toner does last as long as a permanent toner would. After bleaching your hair and applying this type of toner, it lasts anywhere around 20-22 washes before it fades.

Finally, you may rather prefer a semi-permanent toner that you can get out of your hair after washing about 12 times.

Should You Apply Toner by Yourself?

Yes, you can. If you understand the color wheel and how to use hair toner, you can help yourself from the comfort of your house. More so, hair toners like purple shampoo and easy to use. You can use it to revive your blonde with a simple hair wash

Ideally, it is advised that you book a salon appointment with your colorist before you apply toner to your hair. A colorist is in the best place to advise and choose a toner for your colored hair game.

He/she will determine the color that your hair needs to eliminate the unwanted undertones and the level of permanency you should use (which also determines the formula of your toner).

How Long Should You Leave Toner in Your Hair?

If you are applying toner at home, it is advised that you leave it in your hair for no longer than 20-25 minutes. Otherwise, you may overdo it. The brands differ in formulas and as such, some toners may deposit pigment in lesser time than others.

Some take longer to run their course. You may have to leave it in your hair for longer. Also, this time difference varies with the results you are looking to get.

At an in-salon appointment with a colorist, the colorist may leave it in for longer than 20 minutes, maybe up to 30-40 minutes based on the product they are using. So, if you aren’t so sure about the product, it is best to consult a colorist so that nothing goes south.

How Long Should You Leave Toner in Bleached Hair?

You should apply toner to your hair after bleaching it to retain hair integrity and balance anything that may have been altered by the process. Leave toner in your bleached hair for up to 40 minutes so the pigments can be deposited successfully.

After getting bleach, your hair is in a very delicate place and the slightest mistake can ruin your hair. During this time, the toner will eliminate the brassy and orangey undertones that steal the beauty of your blonde.

Additionally, if you feel confused about it, you may go for a purple shampoo which is simpler and easier to use, and it works excellently for bleached hair.  

How Long Should You Leave Toner in White Hair?

When applying toner to your blonde to banish unfriendly undertones, you should leave the toner in your hair for 5-10 minutes.

Some minutes after application, your hair will most likely begin to turn purple and have you thinking you got something wrong. It’s all part of the process.

Allow the toner to run its course for the duration before you rinse the color out. Afterward, shampoo and condition your hair with the right products. 

How Long Should You Leave Toner in Orange Hair?

After applying a blue toner all over the areas where you want the orangey or yellowy undertones replaced with warmer ones, leave the toner in your hair for about 40 minutes. If it exceeds that, you’ll be over-toning your hair.

When the toner has done its bid, then, you can rinse it off with clean, warm water. Make sure to rinse out the color thoroughly and shampoo afterward.

How Long Should You Leave Purple Shampoo in Your Hair?

How long you leave the purple shampoo in your hair depends on how much brassiness your hair has. But it should be within the range of 5-10 minutes for little to significant levels of brassiness respectively.

Squirt shampoo on your hair and lather it by working the shampoo through your hair with your fingers. When the time has elapsed, rinse out the shampoo and condition your hair with a purple conditioner.  

How to Apply Toner By Yourself

In your pack of hair toner, a developer with which you should mix your toner in a ratio of 1:2. Mixing your toner with the developer helps to make the toner thicker and deposit the pigment in the right places

  • After mixing, lay the toner aside and wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo
  • Use a towel to remove excess water but leave your hair moist so that the toner can be well distributed
  • Afterward, use a dye brush to apply toner to the areas with brassy undertones. When you have covered those areas, apply toner to the other areas of your hair
  • Leave the toner in your hair for about 20 minutes before you rinse it off
  • Use clean, lukewarm water to rinse off the toner
  • Thereafter, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. Make sure you use products that are best suited for colored hair

Is It Bad to Leave Toner in Your Hair for Too Long?

Yes, it is. Although it does not cause any permanent irreversible damage, it ruins what should have been a revived colored hair.

When you have left toner in your hair for too long, the color fades quicker than expected and it stains everything your hair touches.

Moreover, it can penetrate your strands, especially if the toner is ammonia-based. It will penetrate your hair shaft and alter the shape of your cuticles. Also, it can cause your hair to lose weight and break easily.

How Can You Correct Over-Toned Hair?

  • To correct over-toned hair, you will need a lot of water because you are about to rinse out so much color
  • Then, take a good position like inverting your head over a bathroom sink
  • Start by rinsing out the excess color with clean, cool water.
  • When you are sure you have rinsed out most of the color, wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo which will help to remove the color in a few washes
  • However, if you do not have a clarifying shampoo, you can use your regular shampoo (except that it may take more washes to get the color out of your hair)
  • After washing with shampoo, rinse your hair to see how much restoration has been done
  • If you see that the color is still on your hair and you are not cool with it, you may bleach your hair. And If you want to bleach your hair, it is best you get it done with a colorist. This is because your hair is already in a delicate place.

How Often Should You Use Toner?

Use hair toner once every 6-8 weeks to keep your colored hair looking its best. Only apply toner to your hair when necessary. Depending on the level of permanency of your toner, it should last up to 10-22 washes.

If you do not have a colored hair problem, do not get experimental with toner.


Does hair toner really work?

Yes, it does. Hair toners work to help restore vibrancy to your colored hair and give your hair a fresh-from-the-salon look even weeks after coloring your hair. Besides refreshing your colored hair, the molecules in toner coat your strands and add volume to your hair.

Should you wet your hair before applying toner?

Yes, you should. Toner works best in damp hair. When your hair has some level of moistness in it, it becomes easy to deliver the product all over your hair.

Moreover, it makes it easier to deposit pigment since the moisture will make your hair less porous. 

How long does it take for a toner to wash out?

How fast your toner washes out depends on the frequency of your washes and the permanency of the toner you used.

Also, your day-to-day activities like prolonged exposure to sunlight, frequent contact with pool water, and heat styling determine how long it’ll take for your toner to wash out.


Toning your hair is more beautiful when you’re doing things correctly. It may sound unnecessary, but you should know how long to leave toner in your hair.

When the toner has enough time to deposit pigment and work its protective features on your hair, colored hair comes out excellent.

Meanwhile, you should be careful so that you do not overdo toning and ruin your hair. Apply toner to your hair only when necessary and not for its beauty of it.

Get your toning right with the right color of toner, level of permanency of toner, and correct application and usage of the product.

Thanks for reading.

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