Should I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner before toner?

before applying it on her dirty hair

  • You SHOULDN’T wash your hair with shampoo or conditioner before applying toner.
  • If you apply toner to your freshly shampooed hair, the 20-volume developer can irritate your scalp and possibly injury it.
  • Also, the moisturizing ingredients in the conditioner can interfere with settling the toner color.
  • If you need to wash your hair before applying toner, you can use a pH-balanced shampoo and, in a few moments, I’ll tell you why.


We all like our hair clean and shiny.

After all, it’s the frame of the face and our focus point.

Also, I must confess, as a stylist, I’ll always be more willing to practice my art with well-kept hair, and that includes hygiene.


  But sometimes, and for certain coloring jobs, dirty hair is the best. 

Of course, I don’t mean hair that hasn’t been washed in twenty days.


I mean hair that hasn’t been washed for at least 48 or 72 hours.

And that applies whether you want to color your hair or toning it.


 Why shouldn’t you shampoo before applying toner? Because it’s a way to protect your hair. Also, to make sure that the toner settles better in your hair.  

Preparing your hair to apply toner?


Then, to make sure you succeed, take a few minutes and read the following, because I’ll tell you:

  • Why you shouldn’t wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner before toner
  • pH-balanced shampoo before toner: for emergencies only
  • Other tips before applying toner

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Why you shouldn’t shampoo before toner

Do you know what happens to your hair when you don’t wash it?


You do a big favor to it!

The sebaceous glands in your scalp produce sebum. It forms a layer of oil up to 3 or 4 centimeters along your hair fiber. That’s the most powerful protection for your hair, especially against toner.

Toner is applied with a 20-volume developer, which is hydrogen peroxide. It’s an irritating chemical that can cause injuries and burns on your skin.


 If you shampoo just before applying the toner, you remove that layer of oil exposing the skin of your scalp. Then, when you apply the toner, its developer can irritate your skin. 

Even if your skin is too sensitive, it can cause burns that will last for days. So, you should also use moisturizing creams to heal your skin.


That’s why it’s important to avoid shampooing before toning. If your hair keeps its natural oils, it’ll be more protected.


What if I apply conditioner instead of shampoo to protect my hair before toning?

That would be a big mistake!

Conditioner contains moisturizing agents or hydrolyzed oils, such as coconut or argan oil that would prevent the toner from settling on the hair.



Because when you apply a conditioner, you’re looking to moisturize the hair fiber by coating it with a thin layer of moisturizing agents.

 If you apply toner to that thin layer, the pigments in the toner won’t be able to penetrate it. Or, they will, but unevenly. 

What will be the result, then?


An uneven color because toner will have settled only in some areas.

Do you really need to wash your hair before applying toner?


If you want to wash your hair before using the toner, you should use a pH-balanced shampoo

washing removes color

What is a pH-balanced shampoo?


 A shampoo that is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. Therefore, it doesn’t alter the hair cuticles, doesn’t cause irritation, and doesn’t strip the scalp of its natural sebum. 

However, use a small amount and wash your hair once before applying the toner.


There is something you should definitely avoid: conditioner. You’ll have time to moisturize your hair after toning.

If you want to get an even color after the toner, conditioner is absolutely forbidden.


Other tips before applying toner

brown and dark hair

Well, we know it’s best not to use any shampoo or conditioner before applying toner. Also, pH-balanced shampoo is only for emergencies.

It also works for people who can’t stand dirty or greasy hair for more than five minutes.

But, another question comes to mind, should toner be applied to wet or dry hair?


 Actually, you can apply toner to both wet and dry hair.  My advice?

Apply it to wet hair, especially if you’ve previously bleached it. After rinsing out the bleach, apply the toner and leave it in for 5-20 minutes according to the shade you need to neutralize.


Also, applying toner to wet hair makes it easier to distribute and manage.

However, be careful. I said wet hair, not soaked. So it’s important that you wipe away excess moisture with a towel before applying toner.


Remember to work quickly because toner works fast. You need to get an even and consistent process on all your hair.



The best way to apply toner is on wet hair without washing it first.

This way, you can make sure that your hair doesn’t get damaged and that the color settles correctly on the hair.


If you need to wash your hair before toning, use only a pH-balanced shampoo without conditioner to avoid washing out the hair’s natural oils.


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