Should I Cover My Hair When I’m Toning it? Yes, except for one instance

woman with hair covered after applying toner

  • You should always cover all of your hair when you’re applying toner, whether you want to tone highlights or all of your treated or bleached hair.
  • If you only want to tone a single section of your hair, for example, fringes or strands around your face, you should apply the toner to that section, avoiding the rest of your hair.
  • And in both cases, it’s essential that you cover your head with a cap when toning, to maintain the temperature of the toner’s reaction.


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When I get these kinds of questions in my inbox, I’m always left wondering, “what do they mean?”

  •  Do you want to know if you should cover the whole of your hair with toner? 
  • Do you think you should only tone the bleached sections of your hair?
  • Do you have doubts about whether you should  cover your hair with a cap for the toner to work properly?

Although I’d love to be one, I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t know your exact situation. So today I’ll answer all these questions about whether you should cover your hair when toning it. That way you’re sure to find the answers you need.


But since I’m guessing you’re more lost than Adam on Mother’s Day right now, let’s start with some basics.

  • Toner is a professional tool that’s used to remove intense colors that appear in the hair after bleaching.
  • It can also be used to tone down color-treated hair, i.e. to remove orange, reddish or yellowish colors.


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So, when you talk about toning hair, what you’re talking about is neutralization, that is, applying an opposite color on the color wheel to the one you want to remove.

  •  If you want to tone orange hair , you should apply a blue toner.
  •  If you want to tone red hair , you should apply a green toner.
  •  If you want to tone yellow hair , you should apply a purple toner.


It’s also important to understand that toner is applied with 20 volume developer, so it can severely damage your hair if you’ve recently bleached it.

Did you know all that?


Then it’s time to answer your specific question. Shall we find out the answer?


If you’ve applied highlights or dye or if you’ve bleached all your hair, you need to tone all your hair

highlighted hair
 To tone your hair, I recommend you do it the same way you do it when you apply hair color or a hydrating hair mask. 


And since I don’t know how you do it, I’ll tell you how we colorists do it: we generally separate the hair into four sections, and apply the toner from the roots to the ends, evenly and uniformly.


Because  if you leave any section of your hair without toner, you won’t get rid of the intense colors left by bleaching or dyeing. 

And remember to leave the toner on for a maximum of 20 minutes.

When exactly should you cover ALL your hair with toner?

  • If you bleached all of your hair.
  • If you applied highlights or streaks.
  • If you dyed your hair and some intense colors appeared.


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If you bleached your fringe or the strands around your face, just tone those sections

woman toning sections of her hair

Some time ago, a trend from the 90s made a comeback: bleaching your fringe or bangs around your face.

This is what hairdressers call “face-framing highlights”, which means bleaching the strands of hair that surround the face. It illuminates and creates a special focus on the face.


And even if they’re just small sections of hair, bleaching can also leave intense or strong colors, which you should tone.

 In this case, you don’t need to apply the toner to all of your hair, since the section you want to tone is very specific. Because it wouldn’t make sense to subject your whole hair to the chemicals in the toner, in this case.

How can you tone just these sections without staining the rest of your hair?

  • Carefully separate the bleached sections of hair with a fine comb.
  • Gather the rest of your hair into a ponytail or bun, to avoid smudging it.
  • Apply the toner only to the hair you left loose.
  • Allow the suggested time to elapse, a maximum of 20 minutes, and rinse.


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When you finish applying the toner, it’s important to cover your hair with a shower cap

woman in bathrobe wearing a shower cap after toning

Once you’ve finished applying the toner, it’s a good idea to cover your hair with a thermal cap, shower cap or nylon gauze.

This is because the toner is permanent coloring. That is, you apply it with 20 volume developer, and it contains ammonia. Therefore, it fixes the color in the hair.

 But for the color to set, the chemical process needs heat . Your head radiates heat, 36.6°C (or 97.9°F), which heats up to six inches out (15 cm) from your roots.


But the rest of your hair will stay cool. So to keep the chemical reaction generated by the toner going, you need to cover your hair with a shower cap to keep the heat in.

This way, you’ll evenly tone your hair. Remember that it’s important to check the process every five minutes.



Do you want to tone all of your bleached, colored, or highlighted hair? You should apply the toner to all of your hair.

And what if you want to tone a section of your hair, such as a fringe? You should apply the toner to just that section, avoiding the rest of your hair.

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