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How Long to Leave Toner in Hair?

Toning hair is essential after bleaching or dyeing to achieve your desired color and a shiny finish. For best results, the toner should only be left on the hair for a stipulated time.

If it is washed off too soon, the undertones will not have been removed. If it is left on the hair for too long, it will alter its color. Overtoning the hair also makes it look dull and limp.


How Long to Leave Toner in Hair?

The right amount of time to leave toner in hair ranges between 5 and 45 minutes. It depends on the type of color treatment done on the hair, hair texture, and instructions specified by the toner’s manufacturer.

For color-lightening treatment, the toner should be left on the hair for 30-45 minutes. If the hair is brassy, the hair toner should be left for 15-35 minutes.

Toning time for freshly colored hair is 30-45 minutes. On the other hand, if you are looking to freshen up previously toned hair, 5 to 20 minutes are sufficient.


Below is a look at how long to leave your toner on your hair, depending on the type of toner.

Permanent Toner

How Long to Leave Permanent Toners on Hair

Permanent toners cover the hair completely and replace the original color. It is mixed with a developer and applied to the hair after bleaching. It should be left on the hair for 30-45 minutes before rinsing and washing off with a sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo.

Follow up the wash cycle with a deep conditioner to hydrate the hair strands. If you leave a permanent toner on the hair for too long, it oversaturates the hair with color.

You may also experience color shedding for the next few weeks. Worse still, over-toning with a permanent toner can cause extreme damage to the hair, such that you would have to cut your hair to fix the damage.


Demi-Permanent Toner

These types of toners are ammonia based and work by penetrating the hair cuticles. They have a lasting result that lasts 12-18 washes. Ammonia-based toners are best suited for blonde hair.

Allow a few days after bleaching your hair before applying it to prevent further damage. Processing time for ammonia-based toners is 5-20 minutes.

Leave it for 5-10 minutes for lighter-textured hair with mild undertones and up to 20 minutes for coarse hair with deeper undertones.


Semi-Permanent Toners

How Long to Leave Semi-Permanent Toners on Hair

These are the easiest toners to use and can be used at home without professional guidance. They include toning shampoos and conditioners. They are a great option for delicate hair or if you simply want to replenish the color of your hair. They last 4-8 weeks.

Below is an overview of how long to leave semi-permanent toners on hair.

Toning Shampoo

Toning shampoo should be left on the hair for 2-5minutes—longer if the hair is brassy and shorter if the hair is near your desired color or if you are toning to replenish the hair color.

For warm blonde colors, leave the toning shampoo for 1-3 minutes, 3-5 minutes for neutral blondes, and up to 15 minutes for cool blondes. If your hair is bleached or dyed platinum blonde, grey, white, or silver, you can leave the toning shampoo for 15-30 minutes.

Purple and blue shampoos should not be used daily but rather two to three times a week. Once you achieve your desired hair color, minimize their use to fortnightly or two to three times per month.


Toning Conditioner

A toning conditioner should be left on the hair for 2-10 minutes, depending on the instructions provided by the manufacturer and the hair color you want to achieve. However, for white or gray hair, you can leave the toning conditioner on the hair for up to 15 minutes.

Note that a toning conditioner alone is not as effective as a toning shampoo at correcting hair color. It mainly refreshes the color and hydrates your hair.



Always check the toner packaging for the manufacturer’s recommendation on how long to leave the toner on your hair. Also, check the hair strands every few minutes to confirm if you have achieved the desired color.

Wash the hair immediately so it becomes the right color to avoid over-toning. Keep toned hair hydrated and avoid washing it too frequently to preserve the color.