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Does Toner Damage Hair?

As anyone with colored or highlighted hair knows, toners are a necessary part of the hair coloring process. But, does toner damage hair?

What is toner, and what is it designed to do? Can using toner cause you issues with the condition of your hair? I’m going to share how toners affect different types of hair and some tips on how to use hair toner, without risking toner damage your hair.

Does Toner Damage Hair?

What Are The Different Types Of Toner?

When it comes to hair toning, you have several types of toners to choose from. Understanding the different options makes it easier to select the one that suits your needs, hair type, and desired outcome.

Let’s break down the different types of hair toners you can use:

1. Ammonia-based toners: These toners are typically used in professional salon settings. They are more powerful and can significantly alter the color of your hair.

Ammonia-based toners penetrate the hair shaft, allowing the color molecules to bond with the hair’s natural pigments. However, their use might also result in more damage to the hair.

2. No-ammonia toners: As the name suggests, these toners do not contain ammonia. Instead, they can be either semi-permanent or demi permanent, providing a more gentle toning process for your hair.

Such toners deposit color without penetrating the hair shaft, making them less damaging. They are ideal for refreshing existing hair color and toning down unwanted hues.

3. Purple and blue shampoos/conditioners: These toners are designed to neutralize undesired warm tones, such as brassiness in blonde or silver hair.

Purple shampoo is used for neutralizing yellow tones, while blue shampoo targets orange and red hues. They are easy to use and maintain your color at home between salon visits.

4. Color-depositing masks: These hair masks are formulated with color pigments to help neutralize, enhance, or intensify your hair color.

They gently tone your hair while providing deep conditioning and nourishment. These are perfect for maintaining your color in-between salon appointments or reviving faded, lackluster locks.

What Are The Benefits Of Hair Toner?

What Are The Benefits Of Hair Toner?

Hair toner can work wonders for your hair, and using it has several benefits. Here are a few that you may find helpful in deciding whether to use toners:

  • Even out hair color: Toner can help eliminate brassy or yellow tones from your hair, giving you a more consistent, natural-looking color. This can be especially helpful after lightening or dyeing your hair.
  • Enhance shine: By balancing your hair’s pH, toners can increase your hair’s natural shine. Healthy, shiny hair is always a confidence booster.
  • Increase manageability: Toned hair can be easier to manage and style. Removing brassy tones can result in smoother hair with less frizz, making it more manageable overall.
  • Customize your color: Hair toners come in a variety of shades, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect color that suits you best. So, if you’ve always wanted to give yourself a cooler blonde or a warmer brunette, hair toner can help you achieve that.

Always remember to follow the instructions on the product label and consult a professional if you’re unsure about using hair toner.

Proper use of hair toners will ensure you reap these benefits while minimizing any potential damage. Be sure to care for your hair with regular treatments and gentle products to maintain its health and shine.

How To Apply Toner For Best Results

Before applying toner, make sure you have chosen the right shade for your hair. To ensure the best results, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare your hair: Start by washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any product buildup or residue. This will help the toner to penetrate your hair evenly.
  2. Mix the toner: In a non-metallic bowl, mix the toner with a developer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to follow the recommended ratio for optimal results.
  3. Section your hair: Divide your hair into four sections: two at the front and two at the back. This will make it easier to apply the toner evenly.
  4. Apply the toner: Put on gloves to protect your hands from staining. Starting at the roots, apply the toner evenly to each section of hair, working your way down to the ends. Make sure to cover all strands. You may want to use a comb or brush to help distribute the toner evenly.
  5. Timing: Leave the toner on your hair for the recommended amount of time, which is usually between 15 and 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the clock and do not exceed the suggested time to avoid over-processing your hair.
  6. Rinse and condition: Rinse your hair with lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Next, apply a deep conditioner or hair mask to hydrate and smooth your hair. Leave it on for the specified time, and then rinse it out.

Which Hair Colors Should You Use Hair Toner To Tone Your Hair?

When it comes to toning your hair, it’s important to choose the right hair colors that benefit most from the use of a hair toner.

The main purpose of toner is to neutralize unwanted tones in your hair and enhance its appearance. Here are some hair colors that can greatly benefit from toning:

  1. Blonde hair: If you have bleached or naturally blonde hair, using a toner can help eliminate any brassy, yellow, or coppery shades, leaving your blonde hair fresh and cool-toned.
  2. Brunette hair: For those with brunette or dark hair, toners can help to remove any redness, brassiness or green tones that may have developed after swimming or exposure to the sun.
  3. Highlighted hair: For individuals who have highlighted their hair, a toner can help blend the highlights with your natural hair color, creating a more seamless and natural look.
  4. Silver or gray hair: Hair toners can also be extremely beneficial for those with silver or gray hair, as they minimize the appearance of any yellow or brassy tones, making the hair color more vibrant and true to its hue.
  5. Pastel or bright colored hair: If you have dyed your hair a pastel or bright color (such as pink, blue, or purple), a toner can refresh the color, getting rid of any tones that may have faded or deviated from the desired shade.

When using a hair toner, it’s important to consult a professional hairstylist or closely follow the instructions on the product to ensure the best results.

Remember, the outcome of the toning process will depend on your hair’s texture, porosity, and current shade. 

Should You Use Toner After Bleaching or Dyeing

Should You Use Toner After Bleaching or Dyeing

So, you’ve just bleached or dyed your hair, and you’re wondering if you should use a toner. The short answer is: it depends on your desired outcome and the current state of your hair. Let’s dive a bit deeper.

If you’re aiming for a clean, cool color or want to eliminate brassiness after bleaching, using a toner is a good idea.

Toners help correct unwanted undertones in your hair, leaving you with a more polished and even color result. Remember to choose the right shade of toner that complements your hair color.

It’s important to evaluate the health of your hair before using a toner. If your hair has become extremely damaged or brittle after bleaching or dyeing, it may be best to give your hair some time to recover before applying a toner.

In the meantime, use deep conditioning treatments and protein treatments to strengthen and nourish your hair.

When you decide to tone your hair, always follow the instructions on the product carefully.

Overuse or leaving the toner on for too long can lead to unwanted color outcomes or cause further damage to your hair. It’s also a great idea to do a strand test before full application to ensure the desired result.

Finally, keep in mind that using a toner is just one step in maintaining a beautiful hair color. Don’t forget to use color-safe shampoos and conditioners to extend the life of your color, and protect your hair from heat styling to prevent fading.

How Often Should You Use Toner?

When it comes to using toner on your hair, it’s essential to find the right frequency for your specific hair type and needs.

In general, you should use toner every 4–6 weeks. However, this can vary depending on factors such as the toner type, your hair color, and how often you wash your hair.

For lighter hair colors like blonde or light brown, you might need to tone your hair more frequently, like every 3–4 weeks, to maintain the desired shade and avoid brassiness.

On the other hand, for darker hair colors, you can stick to the general guideline of 4–6 weeks.

Pay attention to how your hair is responding to the toner. If you notice the color starting to fade or become brassy earlier than expected, it might be time for a touch-up.

Remember, though, that overdoing it with toner application can lead to damage, so be cautious not to use it too often.

It’s also important to consider the type of toner you are using. Permanent toners tend to last longer than semi-permanent and temporary ones, which means that you can space out your toning sessions accordingly. If you’re using a semi-permanent toner, you might need to apply it more often, like every 2–4 weeks.

Washing your hair frequently can also affect how long your toner lasts. If you wash your hair daily or use harsh shampoos, the toner will fade faster.

To maintain your toner results for longer, consider washing your hair less frequently and using color-safe, sulfate-free shampoos, and don’t leave toner in for too long, as it could dry out your hair.

Does Toner Damage Hair?

Toner, when applied correctly by a professional or following the manufacturer’s instructions, can actually benefit your hair.

It helps eliminate any unwanted yellow or orange tones, making your hair color look more even and vibrant. However, there are a few factors to consider to ensure that toner does not cause damage.

Firstly, always use a toner that is specifically designed for your hair type and color. This will help reduce the risk of any damage.

If you have very sensitive or damaged hair, you might want to opt for a more gentle formula or consult a professional hairstylist before using toner.

Don’t leave the toner on your hair for too long. Over-processing can lead to dryness, brittleness, and even breakage. To avoid this, follow the recommended processing time and keep an eye on your hair while the toner works its magic.

Using a deep conditioning treatment after applying toner can help minimize any potential damage. This will also help to replenish moisture and keep your hair looking smooth and healthy.

Lastly, remember that maintaining a healthy hair care routine is essential to prevent any damage. This includes trimming split ends, using heat protectant when styling, and nourishing your hair with regular conditioning treatments.

How To Tone Your Hair Without Damaging Your Hair

How To Tone Your Hair Without Damaging Your Hair

It’s important to care for your hair while toning it. Here are a few guidelines on how to tone your hair without causing damage.

Choose the right toner: Always look for a toner with mild, nourishing ingredients, and avoid harsh chemicals. Ammonia-free toners are a popular choice as they cause less damage to your hair shafts.

Perform a strand test: Before you start the toning process, do a strand test on a small, inconspicuous section of your hair to determine the processing time and check for any adverse reactions.

Deep condition before toning: To prepare your hair for toning, apply a deep conditioner to your hair about a week before toning. This will hydrate and strengthen your hair, reducing the chances of damage during the toning process.

Use a lower developer: When choosing a developer, opt for a lower volume, such as 10 or 20 volume, as this is less damaging for your hair. Higher volume developers can be too harsh and can cause unnecessary damage.

Apply the toner evenly: To ensure even toning, section your hair and apply the toner evenly throughout. Make sure not to overlap the product on already toned areas, as this can increase the risk of damage.

Monitor the processing time: Follow the recommended processing time for your toner and don’t exceed it. Over-processing can lead to hair damage, including dryness and breakage.

Post-toning care: After toning, rinse your hair thoroughly and apply a conditioner to replenish moisture. Use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, as well as regular deep conditioning treatments, to maintain the health of your toned hair.

How Long Should You Leave The Toner In Your Hair?

When using toner on your hair, it’s crucial to pay close attention to the recommended processing time. Typically, you should leave the toner in your hair for 15 to 30 minutes.

However, the exact time may vary depending on the brand of toner you’re using, your hair’s porosity, and the color you want to achieve.

Start by checking the instructions on the toner packaging for a specific processing time. If no time is specified, you can begin with 15 minutes and keep a close eye on your hair to ensure you reach the desired shade.

To achieve the best results, make sure to apply the toner evenly throughout your hair, starting at the roots and working your way down to the tips. You can use a tint brush or your hands (wearing gloves) to distribute the product.

If you’re unsure about the processing time or how your hair will react to the toner, conducting a strand test is highly recommended.

Apply the toner to a small section of hair follicles, preferably in an inconspicuous area, and check the color after 15 minutes. This will not only give you an idea of the processing time needed but also how your hair will look post-toning.

Be cautious, with whatever toner you use, not to leave the toner on longer than necessary, as overprocessing can potentially damage your hair or leave it with an undesired hue. 

Can Toner Cause Hair Loss?


Toner can be a great way to enhance, refresh, and maintain your hair color. Used correctly, it can help neutralize unwanted tones, bring out shine or vibrancy in your hair color, and even customize the shade.

It’s important to understand which type of toner works best for you and how often you should use it.

Always consult a professional if necessary before using toners. Also consider deep conditioning treatments before and after application to ensure that the toner does not damage your hair.