How to Effectively Tone Brassy Hair at Home

Gone are the days when hair toning could only be done at the salon. With the increasing availability of products in the market, it’s now easier than ever to achieve safe and effective hair toning at home. However, following a video tutorial doesn’t always guarantee the desired results. So, why does your hair still have that unsightly yellow hue? Let’s dive into the factors that affect the toning process, particularly how long to leave the toner on brassy hair.

Determining the Ideal Toning Time

The duration for leaving toner on your hair can vary. While some may only need a minute, others shouldn’t exceed 45 minutes. The exact time depends on several factors, such as your hair’s starting color and health. Additionally, different toners have varying processing times. So, it’s crucial to consider these aspects before deciding on the ideal toning duration.

Understanding Hair Toner and Its Function

Hair toner is a versatile product that can enhance, brighten, and tone your hair color, whether it’s natural or dyed. It contains small amounts of pigment that counteract unwanted hues. Toner can transform yellow or golden hair into a natural-looking ashy blonde and is not limited to blondes only. Brunettes with brassy tones can also achieve an ash brown hue using toner. Furthermore, toner can maximize color intensity and boost hair shine, offering a complete hair color correction solution.

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Exploring Different Types of Hair Toners

To determine the appropriate toning time, it’s essential to understand the different types of toners available.

Semi-Permanent Toner

Semi-permanent toners, such as toning shampoos, color-depositing conditioners, and colored hair masks, are the easiest and quickest to use. They typically require only 1-3 minutes of application.

One highly recommended product in this category is the Bold Uniq Purple Shampoo. It effectively gets rid of brassy yellow tones and also offers a matching purple conditioner and hair mask.

Demi-Permanent Toner

Also known as gloss, demi-permanent toner enriches hair color and adds shine. The application and processing time usually range from 5-15 minutes, depending on the desired shade.

An excellent choice for demi-permanent toning is L’Oreal Paris Le Color One Step Hair Toning Gloss. Its easy, no-mix formula makes it convenient to use in the shower.

Permanent Toner

For significant color correction, professionals opt for permanent toners, which deliver highly noticeable results. However, these toners require the most processing time.

WELLA Color Charm Permanent Liquid Hair Toner is a go-to product for hair stylists. If you plan to use it at home, continue reading to discover the ideal duration for leaving T14 toner on brassy hair. We’ll also share detailed instructions for using each type of toner to ensure optimal processing time.

Consideration: Your Hair Color

Your hair’s starting or base color plays a crucial role in toning. If you want to enhance your existing bright, color-treated hair with a gloss, 5-10 minutes are typically sufficient. For those aiming to neutralize brassy tones, we’ve provided a guide below:

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How long to tone brassy hair:

Hair Color Degree of Brassiness Toning Time
Darker Hair Deeper pigments (red and orange) to neutralize Longer toning time

Toning Bleached Hair

If your bleach bath resulted in unsightly orange locks, a toner can save the day. However, toning after bleaching requires caution since bleached hair is already weak and damaged. Ideally, a professional stylist should handle the process, leaving the toner on for about 20 minutes. They would consider your hair’s condition and adjust the processing time accordingly.

Analyzing Your Hair’s Condition

Assessing the health of your hair is essential in determining the ideal toning time. Bleaching and dyeing can cause significant damage, leaving the strands dry and brittle. Therefore, it’s crucial to use toners carefully and avoid leaving them in for too long. If your hair is already damaged, it’s advisable not to exceed 15 minutes of toner application. However, if your hair is healthy, you can follow the specified development time on the label without any concerns. Conducting a strand test is a practical approach to determine your hair’s tolerance to the toning process.

Performing a Hair Strand Test

A strand test is highly recommended before applying toner. This test provides valuable insights into the required toning time to achieve your desired shade and helps you gauge your hair’s tolerance to the toning process. Here’s how to perform a strand test using permanent toner:

What you need:

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


  1. Retrieve a few strands of hair from the back.
  2. Gather the rest of your hair into a ponytail.
  3. Put on gloves.
  4. Mix a small amount of toner (1 part) with developer (2 parts).
  5. Apply the toner mixture to the separated strands using your fingers.
  6. Start the timer and check the strands every minute.
  7. Once the desired brassy shade disappears, stop the timer.
  8. Rinse the strands and let them dry to observe the actual outcome.
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Note the time it took to achieve the desired shade. This duration will guide you in determining how long to leave the toner on the rest of your hair.

Applying Toner at Home

Regardless of the toner type you choose for home use, it’s crucial to read the label carefully. The instructions will provide guidance on mixing ratios, application techniques, and recommended processing times. Here are specific instructions for each toner type:

Toning Shampoo:

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

Toning Conditioner:

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

Hair Gloss:

  1. Shampoo and condition your hair as usual.
  2. Squeeze the gloss into your hand.
  3. Evenly distribute the gloss onto damp hair.
  4. Leave on for 5 minutes, then rinse.

You can extend the gloss processing time up to 15 minutes, depending on the level of brassiness in your hair.

Permanent Toner:

  1. Perform a strand test (as described earlier).
  2. Mix the toner with a developer in a 1:2 ratio.
  3. Use a brush applicator to apply the toner mixture to your hair.
  4. Concentrate on areas with unwanted undertones by saturating them more.
  5. Follow the strand test time or leave the toner on for up to 45 minutes.
  6. Wash your hair with cold water.
  7. After two days, use a deep conditioner to rehydrate your locks.

The Importance of Timely Toner Removal

It’s crucial to remember not to leave the toner on your hair for more than 45 minutes. Checking your hair every 2-3 minutes during the toning process is essential. Avoid applying the toner and neglecting it while engaging in other activities. If you don’t leave the toner on long enough, you’ll still have yellow or orange hair. Conversely, leaving it on for too long may result in damaged hair with unwanted purple or blue shades. Prolonged exposure can cause the toner’s pigments to react with your hair’s natural pigments, leading to a color change. Additionally, certain toners, especially permanent ones, contain hydrogen peroxide as a developer, which can damage the hair cuticle and cause dryness and frizziness.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my hair remains brassy after toning?
If your hair is still brassy, it’s best to avoid immediate reapplication of permanent toner. Allow your hair some time to recover. In the meantime, you can use toning shampoo and conditioner to gradually reduce the brassy tones.

How often can I tone my hair?
The frequency of toning depends on the type of toner you are using. Toning shampoos can be used once a week without replacing your regular shampoo. Hair gloss should ideally be applied every 4-6 weeks for maintenance. Permanent toners can be used every 6-8 weeks.

What if the toner doesn’t work on my hair?
If the toner doesn’t have the desired effect, it might be due to using the wrong toner color to neutralize your specific brassy tones. To find the right toner for your hair, it’s best to study hair color theory. If you don’t have time for that, we can simplify it for you:

  • Consult the following table to determine the appropriate toner color for your hair:
Your Actual Hair Color Recommended Toner Color
The 5 Ws and H are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. will best answer all your questions

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