Can You Use Toner On Brown Hair? (Answered)

Anyone with blonde hair is familiar with toner as an essential step in obtaining the specific shade of blonde they are looking for. It might surprise you to learn that toner can be just as beneficial for people with brown hair. It can help infuse shine, deposit subtle color, or add much-needed warm or cool tones to hair. 

can you put toner on brown hair

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using toner on brown hair. We will explore how you can use toner on brown hair, what results to expect, and things to be careful about. 

Can you use toner on brown hair? 

Toner is not just for blondes! Although it’s a popular final step in any blonding service, don’t be surprised if your stylist uses toner on your brown hair too. 

Toner is a very beneficial step for anyone who dyes their hair any color.

You can use toner on any shade of brown hair if you want to make subtle changes to your hair color to make the tone more flattering. 

What does toner do? 

Toner is usually applied as a glaze at the end of your hair color treatment to help you achieve the specific color you’re looking for. 

There are different types of toner that are meant to either enhance or tone down your color:

Warm tone

A toner with a warm, rich shade is often used to infuse golden or reddish tones or to counteract cool tones. 

This is popular for brunettes who want a beautiful caramel or chocolate shade of brown. 

Cool tone

A cool toner is most often used to offset overly warm-toned or brassy hair

If your hair naturally pulls a warm, golden, or reddish tone and you are trying to achieve more of an ashy brown, using a cool toner can get you there. 

Do you use the same toner on blonde and brown hair? 

Do you use the same toner on blonde and brown hair

Toner itself deposits very little color, so many hairstylists use the same toners regardless of your hair color.

They most likely have a few that they like to work with that are designed to play up or minimize cool and warm tones in your hair.

Toners are semi-permanent dyes that fade over time and the amount of toner deposited depends on how long it sits on your hair. 

For bright blondes or hair with multiple colors, applying a toner for only a few minutes is usually preferable. 

For darker brown hair, you can leave the toner on much longer and allow the color to really deepen without risking making the color too dark. 

How does toner differ from hair dye? 

Toner is actually a type of hair dye, but it’s a semi-permanent hair dye.

It can be layered on top of permanent dye or highlights to change the shade or correct the tones in your color. 

While toner does make temporary changes to your hair color, it is designed to wash out over the course of a few weeks or months. 

This is often why you start to notice the tone of your hair changing right about the time you are due for your next hair appointment. 

Do I have to use toner on my hair? 

No one has to use a toner if they don’t want to. 

If you are happy with the natural tone of your hair or the color you had done, there is no need to add an extra step and tone it if you don’t want to. 

There are certainly benefits to it, but it is a completely optional step. 

Toner is most often used to help you achieve a specific shade or to neutralize unwanted tones in your hair color like overly brassy, orangey, or ashy hair.

If you don’t need to do this, you may not need a toner. 

If you don’t want to change your hair color but you are looking for the boost of shine that comes from a toner, ask your stylist to use a clear gloss. 

Usually, this will achieve the same outcome as a toner without the color-depositing aspect. 

How do I ask for toner at the hair salon? 

Talk with your stylist about your hair color goals during the consultation. 

Let them know the tones that you prefer to play up and minimize so that they know exactly what you are trying to achieve. 

Some colorists may refer to toner as a glaze or a gloss, so if they say any of these words they are most likely referring to a toner. 

Let them know you are interested in adding this on to either boost shine, adjust your color or both. 

Can I use toner if I don’t dye my hair? 

A common misconception is that toner is only for people who dye their hair. 

While it is a popular tool used on dyed or bleached hair to either correct or adjust the tone of the artificial color, it can do much more than that. 

Toner can actually be used even on virgin hair (hair that is not currently or has never been dyed) if you wish. 

Because it washes out in just a few washes, you don’t have to worry about what to do if you hate the way it looks. It will be gone before you know it. 

Toner is a fun way to play with color in a non-committed way if you are not used to dyeing your hair. 

Toner can help you neutralize brassy tones when you get natural highlights from the sun or just help you add some extra richness and shine to your natural hair. 

Is toner only used for color correction?

Is toner only used for color correction

Toner is one of the not-so-secret weapons of any stylist who does color corrections

Corrective color is usually done to correct a bad dye job, either from another stylist or someone who tried to color their own hair. 

Toner is a miracle product that can take a bad dye job and make it much better, but that’s not all it’s for. 

There are only so many color choices when you color your hair, and sometimes you’re looking for a custom color formulation. 

Toner is a subtle, soft color that can bring out warm or cool tones in your hair and help you achieve the exact color you are looking for, and infuse lots of shine into your hair.

Can I use a toner on brown hair at home? 

Toner is a very forgiving product, so it’s something you can use at home safely.

If you are hoping to tweak your color slightly, you can use a toner or even a product that has toning aspects to bring out the color that you want. 

It’s important to use the right toner for your specific hair color and hair goals. 

Toners deposit subtle semi-permanent color and can change the tone of your hair from cool to warm (or vice versa) depending on what type you choose. 

If you are going to try to tone your hair at home, buy your products from a reputable beauty supply store. 

They should have a licensed cosmetologist on staff who can counsel you on the right toner for your specific situation so you will get good results. 

What types of products can tone my hair?  

What types of products can tone my hair

When you think of toner, most people think of the semi-permanent dye that is applied as a gloss step at the end of your color appointment. 

While this is the most popular way that toner is used, there are other products that you can buy like shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in treatments that also tone your hair. 

If you aren’t sure if you need a toner or just notice that your hair starts to get warm or cool between styling appointments, look for color-depositing hair products. 

These work in the same way as a toner applied by your stylist, but usually with more subtle results.

You can apply these products as a leave-in conditioning treatment, hair mask, or just buy a color-depositing shampoo. 

The results with these products are sometimes minimal, but they are helpful if you need to quickly fix your hair for a big event or get through to your next hair appointment. 

Final Thoughts 

Many people are surprised to learn that toner can actually be used on any color of hair. 

It is actually a great treatment for brunettes as well as blondes because it can be used to soften or change the shade of your hair color. 

If your hair tends to show overly cool or warm tones naturally, you can use a toner of the opposite color family to counteract the color and neutralize the unwanted tones. 

Depending on what color toner you use and how long you leave it on your hair, you can control the intensity of the color. 

Even if you don’t get a toner done in the salon, you can also purchase color-depositing hair products to make subtle changes to your color. 

This is a good way to see if you like how your hair looks warmer or cooler than it is before committing to dyeing it, or if you prefer to color yourself instead of in the salon. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is toner permanent? 

Toner is a semi-permanent dye or treatment applied to your hair. It is meant to wash out in approximately 30 washes. Some toners and color-depositing products last even less time in the hair, so it’s a great way to play with your color without the long-term commitment of permanent hair dye.

Will toner remove brassy tones in my brown hair? 

If you are looking for an ashy, silvery brown, you can achieve that with a toner. A cool-toned toner can remove brassy tones, orange or red hues, and unwanted golden shades by counteracting the warmth of your natural hair and depositing cool color on top. 

Is toner good for my hair? 

Many people love getting a toner treatment on their hair because it can make your hair look healthier, shinier, and softer. Because it is a semi-permanent dye, it does not strip anything out of your hair. In fact, most toners are infused with lots of hydration and leave your hair feeling silky and soft. 

Is purple shampoo a toner? 

Technically purple shampoo is a type of toner. Purple shampoo is often used to minimize brassy, orange tones in blonde hair, and it does so by depositing cool, purple color onto your hair. Unlike a toner applied as a dye, purple shampoo needs to be applied consistently because it washes out quickly. 


Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee Poulsen

Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she's always happy to recommend you her favorites.