Do You Put Toner on Wet or Dry Hair: The Ins And Outs of Hair Toners

We quench all your queries related to hair toners, Do you put toner on wet or dry hair, you ask? Keep scrolling to all about its usage, benefits, and purpose.

Updated on Mar 01, 2024  |  02:50 PM IST |  459.5K
do you put toner on wet or dry hair
do you put toner on wet or dry hair

Once we enter the salon for a dye job or get a touch-up on those colored tresses, we put all our trust in the hairdresser and never worry about the products that are being used. However, there are certain products for color-treated hair besides the designated shampoos, conditioners, and masks that must be added to your home-based hair care stash. Enter the hair toner. A plethora of questions revolve around this item, ranging from what it’s made of to who it is for and do you put toner on wet or dry hair. To answer such questions and more, we have given below a low-down on all things hair toners, based on our expertise. Keep scrolling for a wholesome guide to upgrade your haircare glossary and treat your tresses with the color care they deserve. 

What Is a Hair Toner And What Does It Do?

Let’s begin by understanding how hair toners work. These multi-purpose gel or gloss-based potions are used to neutralize brassy tones, refresh faded colors, and add shine to dull hair. For tinted shampoos, conditioners, masks, and gloss toners to work, the hair needs to be pre-lightened with bleaches or other coloring agents. Hair toners are necessary for maintaining the tones and adjusting the pigments in all kinds of colored-treated hair, including demi-permanent ones. 


The added benefits of these multi-use products include their capacity to soften the hair and make it appear healthy with reduced split ends. 

Acting as a top coat, toners fill in the hair shaft, previously stripped by coloring. By depositing pigments and sealing the hair cuticles, these toners not only tone and customize your color, but also strengthen them, adding life and volume.


How to Use Hair Toner? Should I Apply Toner on Wet Or Dry Hair?

Toners like purple shampoos are ideal for blonde hair, platinum hair, or ashy-gray dyes to eliminate brassiness or nasty yellow tones. On the other hand, blue toning products are essential for balancing brunette tones that might have faded over time. There are berry-toned hair colors, wood tints, and several red toner products for redheads or red-hued browns. Certain brands cater to the bevy of rainbow or pastel colors that you paint your tresses with and offer toning agents for easy, at-home color maintenance. You can also find clear glazes to add glossy shine to your locks and increase luster. 

Initially, your hair stylist will apply a relevant toner, if it’s a major or drastic change in color you are looking for. Depending on whether it’s a slight tweak, adding gloss, or enhancing the existing color, at-home toners then come into play. 

Primarily the options are culled down to pigmented shampoos, conditioners, masks, and glosses with toners imbued in them. In the ever-growing and innovative beauty bazaar, you can also find toning drops that can be mixed with any of your haircare items, like shampoos, conditioners, hair creams, or oils to create your bespoke toner. These products can be incorporated once or twice a week in your haircare rotation. 

Toning shampoos, conditioners, and masks are to be applied on wet or damp hair, simply as per your regular shower routine. If you are going for tinted or clear glosses, apply the formula on damp hair, leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your hair’s needs, and follow up with a thorough wash. 

What Happens If Toner Is Applied on Wet Hair?

There’s a huge party of toners available to match your medley of hair colors. Once you determine your purpose and understand the crux of your dye process, it’s best to ask your hair expert for product suggestions and lean on the online guides for picking up your best toner-mate. 

The process of toning essentially narrows down to the kind of hair product you are using, your hair color, and the type of hair.

Results tend to vary based on whether the hair is dry or wet. With wet hair, the toning effects are diluted, affecting its longevity and color. It is best to apply your toner on hair when they are damp (unless the product states otherwise) to avoid over-compensating for the color or miscellaneous mistakes. 


For How Long Will the Effects of Hair Toner Last?

Generally, a toner’s effect will last for up to two to four weeks, as all toners deliver temporary results and require constant touch-ups. It must be noted that depending on your hair type, hair color, UV exposure, and hair wash rotations, the effects of toners can be altered. To enhance the effects of your hair toner, follow the upcoming tips dictated by experts.

Tips for Long-Lasting Toning Effects

Hair color:

If your hair is previously dyed or bleached, it will hold the pigments for a shorter time as compared to virgin hair. 

The type of toner:

It’s no secret that a salon-based toner used by professionals will last longer due to the presence of extra pigments than the at-home ones. 

Hair wash:

If you are using a pre-shower toner, you must wait for at least 48-72 hours before using a regular shampoo. Lathering the shampoo will wash off the pigments before they settle into the hair shafts. If you must, go for sulfate-free, chemical-free, and natural shampoos. It is also recommended to use a cold shower and avoid hot water. 

Sun protection:

Exposure to sun and UV rays affects the toning process and may lead to discoloration as well. It is recommended to stay away from the sun for a few days or cover your hair with a scarf or hat. 

Heat styling:

Consistent use of hot tools brings a potential risk of damaging the hair and this can also affect the toning of your hair color. It is best to minimally engage in heat-based styling and use necessary products to minimize hair damage and protect your locks. 

Sharing some more information about toning, our contributor Kristle Jones, a licensed cosmetologist, says, “Toning, sometimes called glossing, is the best way to bring your pH levels back to normal after any hair service as well as reduce any unwanted undertones in the hair. Like any hair service, you may be wondering how long you have to wait to use any heated tools. Luckily, you can style as normal immediately as long as you use a heat protectant before.”

Pro hack:

Look for products that are deeply nourishing and hydrating so that your mane is moisturized and healthy at all times. 



Bleached hair, blondes, brunettes, redheads, pastel hues, or rainbow colors — a toner is a holy grail for anyone with a dye job. Whether you are looking to refresh your color, enhance the tones, re-adjust the faded colors, eliminate brassy hair tones, or just add a megawatt shine to your tresses, hair toners are your best friend. Some frequently asked questions about toners include how to apply toner to hair and do you put toner on wet or dry hair. We have uncovered all the details on hair toners. From using a purple shampoo to going for a clear glaze, here’s everything you need to know before indulging in a salon-like toning session at home. 

Contributor: Kristle Jones, Licensed cosmetologist and Owner - Kate Lane Salons


ALSO READ: 10 DIY Ubtan Recipes to Achieve Healthy And Radiant Skin


What can happen if I put toner on dry hair?
If toners are applied to dry hair, it will end up looking uneven. The colors may appear dull and dark.

How long should I leave toner on dry hair?
Firstly, you must apply toner to damp or wet hair. Secondly, for lighter hair, you may leave the toner for 10 minutes and 20-30 minutes if your color has darker shades.

What can happen if toner is left on the hair for too long?
If you put your purple shampoo for long, the blondes will show blue and lilac hues. Similarly, the color results will change for any other hair dye. The toner may also end up stripping off your hair’s natural pigments, leaving them dull and dry.

Can I tone my hair twice?
Toners can be used once to twice a week, based on the type of toner and your hair care.

Why did my roots turn out lighter?
The roots grow as your natural hair color which is devoid of pigments and pre-lighteners, whereas the remaining hair strands have color deposited. This variation may lead to a change in the results.

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About The Author

Neha Tiwari, a certified Haircare coach, an experienced writer, educator, translator, and editor, has been catering to the content



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