How Long Should a Hair Toner Be Left on Highlights?

by David Arnold ; Updated September 28, 2017

Toners are used to remove brassy colors after dying or bleaching hair.

hair image by Dubravko Grakalic from

Tones Unwanted Color

A toner is a more transparent type of hair color that is used to eliminate unwanted tones in hair that has been bleached or colored improperly. For instance, bleached blondes may have unwanted brassy yellow colors or some reds have hints of orange tones. In order to tone out the brassy colors, toners are applied to remove those unwanted colors.

Alters Hair Color

Choosing the wrong shade toner alters hair color. For instance, if a green or blue based toner is applied to yellow blonde hair, the result ranges from a gray to green tint. Therefore, it is important to choose the toner correctly to tone out brassy tones while maintaining the overall hair color.

Bottom Line

According to, toners should be left on hair for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Choose the appropriate color and perform a strand test before attempting to apply the toner. Toners are not created equally and have different instructions for use. Therefore, follow the directions on the box or bottle of toner for the best results.

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About the Author

David Arnold became a freelance writer in 2004. He has worked as a phlebotomist and world traveler for more than 8 years, accruing a wide range of medical and travel knowledge. David enjoys writing about travel, DIY projects and health related topics. He attends the University of Missouri St. Louis and South Western Illinois College in pursuit of a nursing degree.