does toner damage your hair
By Tamim Hamid Updated on 06/03/2024

Does Toner Damage Your Hair?: 3 Signs of Damaged Hair

If you are a fan of luscious locks and a healthy mane, you must know what a hair toner does. Toner is a popular hair product that neutralizes unwanted brassy or yellow tones in bleached or color-treated hair. While toner can be a useful tool for achieving the desired hair color, many people wonder if it has any negative effects on the health of their hair. So, are you curious to know whether using a toner can damage your hair?

Toner itself can't damage hair, but if used too frequently or left on for too long, it can lead to scalp irritation and even cause hair to fall out. Hair toners contain chemicals and dyes that can eventually dry out and weaken the hair strands. However, toners are generally safe for most hair types when used correctly and in moderation. In this blog, we will explore how toner can make your hair fall out and harm your hair's health and appearance, providing straightforward answers to this common concern. First, let’s learn what a toner is and what it does.

What is a Hair Toner?

Hair toner is a product used in hair care to alter or enhance the color of your hair. It is typically used after bleaching or lightening your hair to achieve a desired shade or to neutralize unwanted tones. Hair toners come in various forms, such as liquid or cream, and they contain specialized pigments that can help balance the undertones in your hair. The toner is applied to damp hair and left on for a specific time before rinsing it. It is commonly used in salons but can also be applied at home with caution and proper instructions. The main purpose of hair toner is to achieve a more desirable hair color and correct unwanted shades. For example, if you've lightened your hair but notice it has turned brassy or yellowish, a purple toner can counteract these warm tones and create a cooler, ashier appearance.

How Does Hair Toner Work?

Hair toner utilizes specialized pigments to alter the color of your hair. These pigments are designed to neutralize unwanted tones in your hair, such as brassy or yellow hues. When applied to the hair, the toner molecules attach to the hair shaft and deposit color, helping to create a more desirable shade.  The specific color of the toner is chosen based on the desired result, such as using a purple toner to cancel out yellow tones or a blue toner to counteract orange tones. The toner is typically left on the hair for a specified time before being rinsed, allowing the pigments to do their job. The effect of the toner is temporary and can fade over time, requiring reapplication to maintain the desired color.

How Does Toner Damage Your Hair?

The toner itself does not cause damage to the hair when used correctly. However, incorrect application or misuse of toner can lead to hair damage. Here are a few ways in which toner could potentially cause harm to your hair:

1. Over Processing

Leaving toner on the hair for too long or using a toner that is too strong can cause over-processing. This can make your hair dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage. To avoid this hair damage from toner, follow the instructions provided with the toner and do not exceed the recommended processing time.

2. Improperly Formulated Toners

Some toners may contain harsh chemicals or ingredients that can damage your hair. Choosing toners from reputable brands and checking the ingredient list is crucial to ensure they don't contain harsh chemicals like ammonia or excessive amounts of alcohol. These ingredients can clear away the natural moisture from your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and more susceptible to damage. Look for well-formulated toners that can help minimize the risk of hair damage and maintain the health of your locks.

3. Wrong Color Section

Choosing the wrong toner shade for your hair can result in undesirable results. For example, using a toner that is too dark or too light for your hair color can leave your hair looking uneven or unnatural.

4. Incorrect Application

Improperly applying toner to your hair can lead to damage. This can occur if the toner is not evenly distributed or applied too frequently. Uneven toner distribution can result in inconsistent color results, while excessive application can overburden the hair and cause it to become dry and brittle.

3 Signs of Hair Damage From Toner

signs of hair damage from toner

Signs of hair damage from toner can be seen in various ways. Here are some common signs to look out for:

1. Dryness and Brittleness

Hair damage from toner can cause dryness and brittleness in the hair strands. If applied incorrectly or left on for too long, the toner can strip away the natural moisture from the hair, leaving it dry. This dryness can make the hair feel rough to the touch and appear dull and lifeless. Additionally, damaged hair from toner may become brittle, making it more prone to breakage and split ends.

2. Color Fading or Unevenness

Hair damage from toner can appear as color fading or unevenness. If the toner is applied properly or the hair is overprocessed, the color can fade quickly or appear patchy and consistent. This means the desired shade achieved through toner application may not last as long or look evenly distributed throughout the hair. You may notice areas where the color appears lighter or darker than intended, resulting in an uneven appearance.

3. Scalp Irritation

Hair damage from toner can often make your hair fall out due to scalp irritation. Improper application or rinsing of the toner can cause the scalp to become itchy, red, or sensitive. You might experience discomfort or a feeling of tightness on your scalp; in some cases, flaky skin or dandruff-like flakes may appear. This scalp irritation can result from the toner's ingredients or an allergic reaction. If you notice hair loss from scalp irritation after toner application, get rid of it and consult a professional hairstylist or dermatologist.

Learn more: Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

How Often Can You Use Toner on Your Hair?

Generally, it is recommended to use toner sparingly to avoid over-processing and possible damage. Using toner every 4-6 weeks is sufficient for most individuals to maintain the desired color. However, this can vary based on hair type, color, and personal preference. If you notice fading or brassiness sooner, consider using toner more frequently. Pay attention to your hair's condition and monitor any signs of damage or dryness.

How To Avoid Hair Damage from Toners?

To minimize the risk of hair damage when using toners, follow these tips:

Choose high-quality toners 

Look for toners from reputable brands known for their quality and hair-friendly formulations. Read reviews and check for toners specifically designed to be gentle and nourishing to the hair.

Follow instructions

Always read and carefully follow the instructions provided with the toner. Pay attention to recommended processing times and application techniques. Overexposure or improper application can damage hair, so adhering to the guidelines is important.

Use the right strength

Select a toner strength appropriate for your hair type and color. If you're unsure, consult with a professional hairstylist who can recommend the ideal toner strength for your specific needs.

Limit frequency

Avoid excessive use of toners, as this can lead to over-processing and damage. Follow the recommended time intervals between toner applications. Typically, waiting 4-6 weeks between toning sessions is advisable, but this can vary depending on your hair's condition and color maintenance requirements.

Moisturize and condition

Toning can sometimes harm your hair health by causing excessive dryness, so it's important to keep hair hydrated and nourished. Use moisturizing and conditioning products specifically formulated for color-treated hair. Regular deep conditioning treatments can also help maintain hair health and minimize damage.


Improper application, overprocessing, and poorly formulated toners can damage hair. However, when toner is used correctly, your hair doesn't get harmed. That's why it's crucial to choose high-quality toners, follow instructions, and be mindful of the strength and frequency of toner usage. Additionally, maintaining proper hair hydration and seeking professional guidance when needed can help minimize the risk of damage and preserve the health of your hair.
If you're concerned about hair damage or experiencing hair loss, solutions are available to help restore hair growth. One of the best solutions is Theradome, a laser helmet designed to stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. Theradome can be a valuable tool in your hair care journey, assisting you in achieving healthier, fuller-looking hair.


How long does hair toner last?

The duration of hair toner varies depending on factors such as hair type and care routine, but on average, toner can last between 2 to 6 weeks before requiring a touch-up or reapplication.

Will toner lighten my hair?

The duration of hair toner varies depending on factors such as hair type and care routine, but on average, toner can last between 2 to 6 weeks before requiring a touch-up or reapplication.

How often should you tone your hair?

Toning your hair depends on your desired color and how quickly it fades, but generally, toning every 4-6 weeks is common.

Does toner permanently change hair color?

No, toner does not permanently change hair color. It is a temporary solution that helps neutralize unwanted tones and fades over time.

How many washes does toner last?

The longevity of toner varies, but on average, it can last for about 4-8 washes before gradually fading away.


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Tamim Hamid

Tamim Hamid

Inventor and CEO of Theradome

Sayyid Tamim Hamid, Ph.D, is the inventor of the world’s first FDA-cleared, wearable phototherapy device to prevent hair loss and thicken and regrow hair. Tamim, a former biomedical engineer at NASA and the inventor of Theradome, brings with him more than 38 years of expertise in product development, laser technology, and biomedical science. Tamim used his laser knowledge, fine-tuned at NASA, and combined it with his driving passion for helping others pursue a lifelong mission in hair loss and restoration. He is now one of the world’s leading experts.