How Long To Leave Toner On Brassy Hair: Hair Toning At Home

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Gone are the days when hair toning can only be done at the salon.

Now, more and more products are becoming available in the market for safe and effective hair toning at home.

young worried woman about her damaged hair

Hair toning is also easier to do because of all the DIY toning tutorials online.

But we know how frustrating it is to follow everything on a video tutorial and get a different result.

Why is my hair still an unsightly yellow?

Well, we’re here to help you understand how the toning process can be different for everyone, especially when it comes to determining how long to leave the toner on brassy hair.

There are many factors, and we’ll tell you about them below.

How Long Should You Leave Toner in Your Hair?

Leaving toner in your hair can take as quick as a minute but should not exceed 45 minutes.

There’s no exact time because how long the toning process will take differs from person to person. It will depend on the hair’s starting color and health.

It also varies between products because each type of toner has its own processing time.

What Is Hair Toner and How Does It Work?

Hair toner is a product that can boost, brighten, and tone your hair color, whether it’s natural or dyed.

It has little amounts of pigment that deposits into the hair and cancels out your unwanted color.

Toner can turn yellow or golden hair into a natural-looking ashy blonde.

But it isn’t just used for blonde hair. Brunettes with brassy tones can also achieve ash brown hair using a toner.

What’s more, toner isn’t just for neutralizing undertones. It can also maximize the color and boost the shine of your hair.

When you tone, you are correcting the overall hair color to get the exact shade that you want.

Types of Hair Toners

To understand toners better and to help figure out how much time toning should take, let’s talk about the different types.

Semi-permanent toner

This is the easiest and quickest toner to use because it will only take 1-3 minutes to apply and leave in your hair.

Toning shampoo, color-depositing conditioner, and colored hair masks fall into this category.

It’s your quick fix for that nasty brass.

Our favorite? Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo. It’s perfect for getting rid of brassy yellow tones. This variant also offers a purple conditioner and a purple hair mask.

woman applying toner shampoo on her hair

Demi-permanent toner

Also known as gloss, this is ideally used for enriching hair color and adding shine.

Application and processing time can last from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the shade you want to achieve.

The best demi-permanent toner for us is L’Oreal Paris Le Color One Step Hair Toning Gloss. It has an easy, no-mix formula that can be used in the shower.

Permanent toner

For significant color correction, permanent toner is used. Hair professionals prefer it because it gives the most noticeable results.

However, it takes the most processing time as well.

Hair stylists recommend WELLA Color Charm Permanent Liquid Hair Toner. If you plan to use it at home, continue reading to see how long to leave T14 toner on brassy hair.

We’ll also share more detailed instructions on using each type of toner to make sure you give it enough time to process.

Your Hair Color

The starting or base color of your hair is an important thing to consider when toning. After all, this is the color that would need adjustments.

If you only want to enhance your bright color-treated hair with a gloss, 5-10 minutes are enough. This will make your hair look fresh and polished.

If you’re using the toner to neutralize your brassy hair, take a look at our guide below.

How long to tone brassy hair:

Hair ColorDegree of BrassinessToning Time
Brassy dark hairRed20 minutes
Brassy medium hairOrange10-15 minutes
Brassy light hairYellow5-10 minutes

Generally, darker hair needs more toning time because there are deeper pigments (red and orange) to neutralize.

Bleached Hair

If your bleach bath has gone terribly wrong and you can’t go beyond nasty orange locks, a toner can save you.

Bear in mind that toning after bleaching is delicate work. Bleached hair is already weak or damaged, so toning can make matters worse if not done correctly. 

woman with bleached hair holding a container of hair product

Of course, it’s best to let professionals do it. Ideally, your stylist will leave the toner on for about 20 minutes.

But since they’re experts in hair coloring, they would know if your hair can’t reach the maximum time because of its condition.

Your Hair Condition

Is your hair healthy, or is it bordering on damaged?

Determining the current state of your hair is also needed to know how long to leave toner in it.

Bleaching and dyeing can greatly harm your hair. That’s why you’ll notice that the strands feel dry and brittle after. And going through another process can add to the problem.

Though toners are less harmful compared to dyes, you should still use them with care and not leave them in for too long.

We would suggest that if your hair is already damaged, don’t leave your toner in your hair for more than 15 minutes.

As for those with healthy hair, you can follow the specified development time on the label without worries.

It’s best if you do a strand test to see how much time your hair can take in the toning process. 

Hair Strand Test

Just like what’s written in the toner’s instructions, we also recommend that you perform a strand test before toning. This is crucial in achieving the best results.

Why? It lets you know how much time it would take to get your desired shade. Plus, it will also help in determining how long your hair can withstand the toning.

We’ll teach you how to do a strand test using a permanent toner.

What you need

  • Permanent toner
  • Developer
  • Gloves
  • Plastic container
  • Timer

The steps

  1. Get a few strands of your hair at the back.
  2. Comb the rest of your hair up into a ponytail.
  3. Put on the gloves.
  4. Mix a small amount of 1-part toner and 2-parts developer.
  5. Using your fingers, apply the toner mixture to the separated strands.
  6. Start the timer and check on the strands every minute.
  7. When the brassy shade has disappeared, stop the timer.
  8. Rinse the strands and let them dry to see the actual shade outcome.

If you’re satisfied with the result, take note of the time it took to achieve that. That’s how long you should leave your toner to process the rest of your hair.

How to Use Toner at Home

Whatever type of hair toner you’re going to use at home, be sure to read the label. You’ll see the instructions on mixing, application, and how long to leave it on.

We have here a set of instructions for each type.

Toning shampoo

  1. Massage the shampoo into wet hair.
  2. Leave the shampoo in for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Lather some more, then rinse well.

Toning conditioner

  1. After shampooing, spread the conditioner evenly into wet hair.
  2. Leave the conditioner on for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.

Hair gloss

  1. Shampoo and condition your hair normally.
  2. Squeeze gloss into your hand
  3. Spread the gloss evenly into damp hair.
  4. Leave on for 5 minutes, then rinse.

You can leave the gloss on for longer, up to 15 minutes, depending on your hair’s brassiness.

Permanent toner

  1. Do a strand test.
  2. Mix your toner with a developer in a 1:2 ratio.
  3. Use a brush applicator to spread the toner mixture into your hair.
  4. Target the areas with unwanted undertones, saturating them more.
  5. Leave the toner in according to your strand test time, or for up to 45 minutes.
  6. Wash your hair with cold water.
  7. Follow with a deep conditioner after 2 days to rehydrate your locks.

What Happens If You Leave the Toner on for Too Long?

Remember, for the third time: Never leave your toner on your hair for more than 45 minutes.

When toning, you have to check your hair every 2-3 minutes to see the progress. So don’t apply your toner and do something else while waiting.

If the time you leave the toner on is not enough, you will still have yellow or orange hair.

If you leave the toner processing for too long, you might end up having damaged hair with unwanted purple or blue shades.

Why does this happen?

Toners have pigments in them to cancel out the yellow and orange tones in brassy hair. More on toner colors in the next sections!

After a long time of being left in your hair, the pigments in the toner can react with your hair’s own natural pigments, making them change color.

Aside from that, some toners (particularly permanent ones) use hydrogen peroxide as developers, so they can damage the hair cuticle.

The result? Dry, frizzy, purple, or blue hair.

beautiful woman with long and shiny wavy Hair ,coloring and toning, shatush and

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do if the hair is still brassy after toning?

If your hair is still brassy, you might want to skip another permanent toning process. Give your hair time to rest and recover.

Instead, you can use toning shampoo and conditioner in between the treatments to gradually get rid of the brassiness.

How often can I tone my hair?

How often you can tone your hair depends on what toner you’re using.

Toning shampoos can be used once a week and are not meant to replace your regular shampoo.

As for hair gloss, they are ideally applied every 4-6 weeks for maintenance.

Lastly, the frequency of using permanent toners is every 6-8 weeks.

Why is toner not working on my hair?

Your toner may not take effect if you are using the wrong color of toner to cancel out your brassiness.

The best way to find the right toner for you is to study hair color theory. You most probably don’t have time for that, so we’ll make things simple for you.

What toner color should you use for your hair?

Your actual hair colorWhat toner works
Light blondePurple-based toner
Medium blonde to light brownBlue-based toner
Medium brown to dark brownGreen-based toner

Toning Your Hair at Home

Whether you have brassy hair after bleaching or you just want to freshen up your color, toning is your solution. 

If you want to tone your hair at home, it’s important to identify your degree of brassiness to know which shade of toner to use. 

It can also help you determine how long you need to process your toner.

Moreover, it’s equally important to follow directions carefully, especially when it comes to processing time.

Leave it on for too long and you’ll have fried blue or purple hair; rinse it away too soon and you’ll still have nasty, brassy hair.

But with the right product and correct application, you can get your stunning, ashy look from the comfort of your home.

Want to learn more about hair coloring?

Check out these articles:


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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