Do You Shampoo After Toner?

One perplexing question often arises during makeup: Should toner precede or follow shampoo? The dilemma leaves many scratching their heads, searching for clarity amid the foam and serums. 

But fret not, for within these lines lies the key to unlocking this puzzling enigma. Get ready as we delve into the depths of haircare science, clarifying the order of operations for a pristine complexion.

Hair Toner: What is it and How Does it Work?

Hair toner is a semi-permanent hair colour that helps counteract brassy or unwanted tones. These tones may appear after bleaching or lightening hair. It comes in various forms, including liquid, cream, or gloss, and is available in shades to cater to different hair colours and needs.

How it works

When hair is bleached or lightened, it undergoes a process that removes its natural pigment. However, this process often reveals underlying warm tones, resulting in an undesirable brassiness, especially in blondes. This is where toner comes into play.

Hair toner contains colour pigments that help neutralize or counteract these unwanted tones. For example, purple toners are commonly used to counteract yellow tones in blonde hair, while blue toners can neutralize orange tones.

The science behind toning

Colours opposite each other on the wheel cancel each other out, a concept known as colour theory. For instance, purple is opposite yellow, and blue is opposite orange. Therefore, toners with purple or blue hues can effectively neutralize yellow or orange tones respectively.

Do You Wash and Shampoo After Toner?

No. After applying toner, avoid washing your hair immediately. Wait at least 24 hours. Washing too soon can strip toner, affecting results. When washing, use a sulfate-free shampoo. This helps maintain toner longevity and hair health. Follow with conditioner to nourish and hydrate strands.

Choosing the Best Shampoo

Selecting the right shampoo after toning your hair is pivotal for maintaining both your colour and hair health. Go for either of the following choices:

Dandruff shampoo

If you struggle with dandruff, opt for a dandruff shampoo formulated with ingredients like zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole. These ingredients combat dandruff-causing fungi while being gentle on coloured hair.

Clarifying shampoos

Clarifying shampoos are excellent for removing product buildup and excess oils without stripping colour. Look for formulas free from sulfates and harsh chemicals to prevent premature fading.

Moisturizing shampoos

After toning, replenish moisture with a hydrating shampoo enriched with argan oil, shea butter, or glycerin. These shampoos nourish and hydrate the hair, promoting vibrancy and preventing dryness or brittleness.

How to Apply Toner and Shampoo After Toning

Step 1: Prepare your hair

Begin by thoroughly wetting your hair with lukewarm water. This opens the hair cuticles, allowing for better product absorption and effectiveness.

Step 2: Apply toner

Pour a small amount of toner into your hands or a tinting bowl. Start applying it evenly to your hair, focusing on areas that require toning, such as brassy or yellow sections. Use a comb to ensure even distribution from roots to ends.

Step 3: Leave toner on hair

Follow the instructions provided with the toner for the recommended processing time. This typically ranges from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the desired result and the toner’s strength.

Step 4: Rinse

Once the processing time is complete, rinse your hair with cool water until the water runs clear. This removes all excess toner from the hair, preventing overtoning or staining.

Step 5: Shampoo application

Apply a small amount of shampoo to your palms and lather it gently in your hands before massaging it into your scalp and hair. Focus on the scalp to remove buildup and oils, then work the lather through the lengths of your hair.

Step 6: Rinse again

Rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water until all shampoo is removed. You may need to repeat the shampooing process if your hair is particularly oily or dirty.

How long to Wait to Wash Hair After Toning?

After toning your hair, wait at least 24 to 48 hours before washing it. This waiting period allows the toner to settle into the hair cuticle fully. Plus, your hair gets optimal colour retention and longevity. Washing too soon can strip away the toner prematurely and affect the desired results. So be very patient. 

Addressing Common Hair Tones and Undertones

Blonde and light hair often exhibit unwanted yellow or orange undertones, resulting in a warmer appearance. Combat these with purple or blue-based toners, which neutralize these tones effectively. 

Similarly, brunettes may have yellow or orange undertones, alleviated by green or blue toners. Here’s a quick guide: Purple for yellow, blue for orange, and blue or purple for brassiness.

Ways to Protect and Nourish Toned Hair

Use colour-safe hair products

Opt for shampoos, conditioners, and styling products specifically formulated for color-treated hair. These products are gentle and free from harsh chemicals that can strip away toner and colour.

Limit washing frequency

Wash hair only when necessary to prevent toner from fading prematurely. Consider using dry shampoo between washes to absorb excess oil without stripping colour.

Wash with cool water

Rinse hair with lukewarm or cool water to help seal the hair cuticle and maintain toner longevity. Hot water can open the cuticle, leading to color loss.

Minimize heat styling

Reduce the use of heat-styling tools such as flat irons and curling wands. Excessive heat can cause toner to fade and hair to become dry and brittle.

Apply heat protectant

Before using heat styling tools, apply a thermal protectant spray or serum to shield hair from heat damage and preserve toner colour.

Deep condition regularly

Incorporate weekly deep conditioning treatments into your hair care routine to replenish moisture and keep toned hair soft and vibrant.

Protect hair from sun

Wear hats or use UV protection sprays when spending prolonged periods in the sun. UV rays can cause toner to fade and hair colour to become dull.

Avoid chlorine and saltwater

Protect hair from chlorine and saltwater by wearing a swim cap or rinsing hair with fresh water before swimming. These chemicals can strip toner and colour from hair (Here’s more about swimming after bleaching hair). 


Which is better, warm or cold water after toner?

After toning, opt for cool or lukewarm water rather than hot water. Hot water can open the hair cuticle, leading to colour loss and toner fading. Cool water helps seal the cuticle, locking in the toner and preserving your desired hair colour for longer.

What is the best shampoo to use after toning?

The best shampoo after toning is one specifically formulated for colour-treated hair. Look for sulfate-free formulas to prevent stripping the toner and colour from your hair. Additionally, choose shampoos with hydrating and nourishing ingredients to maintain the health and vibrancy of your toned hair.

How long does toner need to sit in hair?

Toner should typically sit in hair for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the desired result and the toner’s strength. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided with the product to avoid overtoning or underperforming. This ensures optimal colour correction and prevents potential damage to the hair.

Does purple shampoo help after toning?

Yes, purple shampoo can be beneficial after toning, especially for maintaining cool or ash tones in blonde or lightened hair. Purple shampoo helps neutralize yellow or brassy undertones, keeping your hair colour vibrant and fresh between toning sessions. Incorporate it into your hair care routine once or twice a week for best results.

Wrap Up

Armed with clarity, you stand poised to conquer your haircare regimen with newfound confidence. Let each wash become a ritual of self-care, a moment to cherish as you journey towards radiant hair.  

Remember, in the labyrinth of beauty routines, knowledge is your guiding light. Embrace it, and let your haircare journey be a testament to the power of understanding. With every step forward, you move closer to unlocking the secrets of timeless beauty.

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