How Long to Leave Toner on Brassy/Orange Hair? 20 minutes maximum, but keep in mind this

toning brassy hair at home

  • If your hair is brassy dark, you should leave the toner on for a maximum time of 20 minutes.
  • If your hair is brassy medium, you should leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • And if your hair is brassy light, the exposure time of the toner should be between 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In any case, do the strand test before using the toner. I’ll tell you how to do it later. Also, check minute by minute how the toner acts on your hair


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Why is it so important to carefully control the time you leave the toner on your brassy hair?


Because toners act immediately. It’s different from hair dye, which has an exposure time of 45 minutes.

In other words,   the toner begins to neutralize the brassy shades from the first minute you apply it to your hair. Then, the reaction ends after twenty minutes. 


Of course, the manufacturers mention an exposure time of 20 minutes.

However, they don’t know about the color intensity of your brassy hair.

That’s why they refer to “maximum exposure times,” which will always be twenty minutes.

Now, what would happen if your hair is a light brassy shade and you leave the toner on for 20 minutes as per the instructions?


All your hair would end up blue or an indescribable color!

To clarify this, let’s look at an example that has nothing to do with hair: cooking pasta


apply toner with brush

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If you like your pasta al dente, you shouldn’t cook it for more than seven minutes.

Alternatively, if you like it medium, you should cook it for twelve minutes.

Finally, if you like it overcooked, you should let it boil for twenty minutes.

The same happens with toner. However, if you like your pasta al dente, but you overcook it, you can still eat it.


 On the other hand, if you overdo the toner exposure time, your hair may end up bluish. 

So, how do you know how long to leave the toner on?

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To find out how long you should leave the toner on your brassy hair, you need to check the color level

So, what is the color level?


The different levels represent the colors in the palette.

If your hair is brassy, it’s for two reasons:

  • You bleached your hair, and it turned orange
  • You applied an orange hair dye


  • If you bleached your hair and it turned orange, then your hair was one of the colors in the middle of the palette. They contain orange pigmentation, which are light brown 5, dark blonde 6, and blonde.

So if you bleached your hair light brown 5 or dark blonde 5, you should leave the toner on for a maximum of 20 minutes.

Then, if you bleached your hair blonde 7, leave the toner on between 10 to 15 minutes.


  • Now, what if you dyed your hair orange?

In this case, it’s easy to know the level you are in. Hair dyes are identified with a number, which is the tone level.

Therefore, you’ll simply have to look at the number of hair dye to know how long you should leave the toner on.


For example, if you applied a dark coppery blonde hair color 6.4, and you want to neutralize the orange, you should leave the toner on for a maximum of twenty minutes.

Alternatively, if you dyed your hair coppery blonde 7.4, you should leave the toner on for ten to fifteen minutes.

And, if you applied a very light coppery blonde 8.4 or very light coppery blonde 9.4, the exposure time of the toner will be between five to 10 minutes.


 Identifying the level of orange in your hair is essential to know how long to leave the toner on to get a stunning ashy look. 

Now, I understand that if you don’t have much knowledge of colorimetry, you may find it hard to identify the level of orange in your hair. In that case, you can appeal to a foolproof tool.


If you aren’t sure about the level of orange in your hair, do the strand test

determine how long to leave toner on orange hair

Even stylists often perform the strand test.

In my case, when clients visit me in the salon with dehydrated hair and ask me to bleach it, I do the strand test

  It’s the only way to know if your damaged hair will resist the process, even using Olaplex. 


The strand test has other goals too.

For example, to find out how the hair will absorb a hair dye color, or to determine the exposure time of the toner.

In this case, you’ll use it to find out how long to leave the toner on your orange hair.


What do you need?

  • Toner
  • A 20-volume peroxide
  • Gloves
  • Plastic container
  • Kitchen or cell phone timer


Once you have everything, you can start. Here’s the step-by-step:

  • Comb your hair into a ponytail and release a strand at the back.
  • Put on gloves. In the plastic container, prepare a small mixture using one part toner and two parts peroxide.
  • Using your fingers, apply the blue toner from the roots to the tip to the strand you separated.
  • Start the timer and check your hair.
  • Stop the timer when the brassy shades have completely disappeared and rinse your strand.


 Now, watch the timer. That’s how long you should let the toner act on all your brassy hair. .


You should also remember the following:

Toner application is not something you can do while cleaning the house or watching a show as you can do with hair dye or moisturizing masks.

Instead, you must check the process every minute and see how your color progresses to avoid ending up with blue hair.



There are several toners to use on your brassy hair.

However, if you have no coloring experience, I recommend you opt for Wella Color Charm T10 or T18, which are for home use.


Professional toners like Pravana Chromasilk Vivids or Schwarzkopf Blondme can leave your hair blue in a matter of minutes, as their pigmentation is strong.

Also, remember that you should determine the level of your brassy hair to carefully control the toner exposure time.

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