Toners are heaven-sent products. They save you from going to the salon earlier than you have to. And if you have bleached hair, you already know that a toner is a must-have in your hair care regimen.
But everyone has a different hair history, and toning procedures done for you may not work for someone else’s. So to tie up the discussions on how long to leave toner in hair, this article details some much-needed insights before you head to the salon or try it at home.
You have probably heard a hundred times already that toner works based on color theory. But how does it relate to a lightened hair like yours?
Toner isn’t like a permanent hair dye. It contains little to no ammonia, making it safer but less effective in depositing color in your hair.
They mostly “sit” on the hair, and their effect lasts for only a couple of washes.
Toners don’t only neutralize unwanted colors in your hair, as commonly used, but they can also fix and enhance by adding warmer undertones.
Nowadays, you won’t necessarily need a professional to apply toner to your hair.
Shampoos, conditioners, masks, and gloss toners are available commercially with lower pigment, thus safer in their formula than what you find in salons.
So whether you need it for color adjustment, color restoration, correction, or achieving the right pastel shade, you can rest easy knowing that you can do it in the comfort of your home!
Do you have bleached hair? Then a toner is for you!
Bleaching does not necessarily get rid of all the melanin in your hair. In fact, it mainly eliminates eumelanin— the melanin which contributes to the dark pigment in the hair.
But you don’t only have this dark eumelanin in your hair.
You also have pheomelanin, albeit in small quantities, responsible for the orange and red tones that are more apparent in redheads. After bleaching, pheomelanin is still mainly present.
If your hair is originally dark, the pheomelanin could resurface weeks after bleaching as yellowed roots or streaks. If you bleached your natural blonde hair, the yellow would look lighter but noticeable.
In both cases, you have to look for purple toners to neutralize the yellow tinge as purple and yellow lie opposite in the color wheel.
Are you new to the toner scene? Fret not!
While each brand has a different processing time, you can use the steps below to guide you on your DIY toning.
If you want to tone straight after bleaching, you can choose to do so. Bleaching makes hair porous, and if you are not satisfied with the shade, you can tone it to your desired level.
However, you should assess your hair first before toning right after. Bleaching already strips your hair of natural oils, and toning might aggravate your hair issues.
Generally, it is better to refer to a professional in this case. Colorists can objectively assess your hair, and even if you choose to tone it right after, a professional can minimize the damage that your hair will sustain.
Brassiness can show when you don’t follow a careful routine for your bleached or colored hair.
Exposing your hair to the minerals in hard water and chlorinated pools, pollutants in the air, the UV rays of the sun, heat, and a host of chemical treatments can also make your underlying warm pigments more evident.
But you nor everyone shouldn’t live in a cave somewhere, afraid of how the elements of the earth can sabotage their hair. It would be best to rely on an appropriate toner to solve your brassiness.
Although brassy hair is usually a problem for blondes and those with bleached hair, it can also appear in brunettes.
Yes, you heard it right! Environmental factors, especially the sun, can gradually oxidize your dark pigments (as what happens in bleach) and reveal the warmer undertones.
Although purple toners are the most popular, you can find all sorts of toners to neutralize your warm hues.
You can use a purple toner to counter the yellow streaks for those with blonde hair or blonde highlights.
For brunettes, blue toners can provide the ashiness you want to achieve if your hair starts to get brassy with orange hues.
And if you have gone gray or intentionally colored your hair silver, a silver toner with violet pigments is for you. It will brighten your locks and make your hair look fresher and healthier.
You can refer to the steps described above if you want to use a boxed toner to ashen your brassy tones. Below are some brands’ exposure times according to your hair color level.
If you are confused about how long to leave toner on yellow hair or strands went brassy, here’s a guide.
For light, very light, and extra light blonde hair (level 8, 9, and 10, respectively), you can use the following professional and home-based toners.
Schwarzkopf Blondme T-ice Irise and Pravana ChromaSilk Violet have a processing time of 20 minutes. Both brands market to hair professionals. The at-home options like Wella Color Charm T10 and Color Brilliance Ion Ultraviolet toner will require 30 minutes max.
If you have blonde, dark blonde, or light brown hair, you likely have orange undertones and would require a blue toner. This does not only apply to a brassy orange but dyed vivid orange too.
If you wonder how long to leave toner on orange hair, the answer lies in your hair's color intensity and porosity.
If you have dark orange hair that you want to ashen by several degrees, perhaps a blue toner for professionals like Pravana Ash Blue or Schwarzkopf Steel Blue will suit you. They only take 20 minutes at max.
Lastly, if your hair color level is 3 or 2, designated for brown and dark brown, respectively, your undertones may lie in the reddish hue.
In that case, you should use a green toner. It’s not a common at-home toner, but there are professional toners that you can buy if you must. Pravana has an Ash Green toner that works for 20 minutes. So check it out if you find yourself with red undertones.
You don’t always have to follow the maximum time since your hair may react to the dye faster. If you leave it longer than recommended or what you need, your hair color can turn darker, and some can even cast a tint of the toner used! It can also cause brittleness and dryness.
A more convenient way to color-correct or neutralize is by using toning shampoos. Purple shampoo is a perfect way to maintain or gradually change your yellow blonde hair.
At this point, the effectiveness of purple shampoo is widely-known. These types of toners make the application easier. They also come with conditioners, so the middle and ends of the strands get coated with the pigment.
You can use purple/blue/green shampoo and conditioners just as you would a regular shampoo.
The only difference lies in how long you should leave it on your hair. It typically requires no more than 10 minutes, but you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions and check this specific detail.
Unlike regular shampoo, it’s not recommended to use it daily but only once or twice a week. Adding a conditioner helps add pigment to your hair, so you should secure one when you buy.
If your troubles are from reddish brassy tones, it may be hard to get a professional toner. You can use green shampoo instead. It’s more convenient that way too. For a more comprehensive shade selection, you have to look for brands like Matrix or Celeb Luxury Viral.
CHECK OUT: Does toner darken hair
Redken is a brand that specializes in hair care, hair color, and hair styling products. Their product line, Shades EQ Gloss, aims to do it all— color correct, tone, or gloss. If you are a newbie and don’t know which brand to trust, this is an excellent place to start.
To spare you some time searching “how long to leave toner in hair Redken” and sifting through procedures, you can just read through below and get all the info you need.
While the name may sound like it does not have anything with toning, don’t jump ship yet!
Shades EQ is a demi-permanent color with an ammonia-free formula that can correct unwanted tones in your hair. It also helps balance your hair’s pH level back to its natural state.
More importantly, it has a range of shades to correct brassy hues of yellow, orange, and red. You can check their website to skim the available glosses or consult a colorist on what Shades EQ gloss suits your current hair.
Shades EQ may seem intimidating to try at home, so for a friendlier option, you can opt to get their toning shampoo and conditioners first.
If you have blonde and highlighted hair, you should incorporate their Color Extend Blondage System, including a purple shampoo and conditioner.
Meanwhile, for highlighted and natural brunettes, their Color Extend Brownlights is your go-to, while for those who want to tone gray or silver hair, the must-have is Color Extend Graydiant.
If you aim for a cool-toned blonde and don’t know what to pick, Wella Colour Charm Toner T14 is one to try. If your hair shows orange or copper tones, you don't need to google “how long to leave toner in hair T14” anymore!
Wella T14 and T18 are two of the most popular toners. They both need 30 minutes of processing time and require a 10 vol or 20 vol developer to work. T14 works well on those with dark yellow to orange undertones since T14 has a blue-violet-based pigmentation.
T14 toner is easy to mix and apply. However, you should note that you should use a sulfate-free shampoo to avoid the deposited pigments from being washed off when rinsing off.
Whatever your choice of toner is, learning to follow the recommended exposure time is crucial for a successful toning session. So read carefully!