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How long do you have to leave clarifying shampoo in to remove toner?

The amount of time you need to leave a clarifying shampoo in to remove toner depends on a few factors, including the type of toner used and how long it has been in your hair. Generally speaking, you’ll want to leave a clarifying shampoo on for 5-10 minutes to help break down and remove temporary toner. For permanent toner, you may need to leave the clarifying shampoo on for up to 30 minutes and repeat the process multiple times to fully remove it.

What is toner and why would you want to remove it?

Hair toner is a product that deposits pigment onto the hair to alter the tone and shade. It’s commonly used after bleaching to neutralize brassiness and create a more ashy, silver, or purplish tone. The two main types of toner are:

  • Semi-permanent toner – This temporarily coats the hair shaft and washes out over 4-10 shampoos.
  • Permanent toner – This penetrates and permanently alters the pigment in the hair until it grows out.

Reasons you may want to remove toner include:

  • You don’t like the tone and want to go back to your natural color.
  • The toner has faded unevenly and your hair is splotchy.
  • You want to change the tone to something different.

How a clarifying shampoo removes toner

Clarifying shampoos are specially formulated to deep clean and remove buildup from the hair and scalp. They contain active detergents that break down and dissolve substances that coat the hair, including toner.

When you apply a clarifying shampoo to toned hair and let it sit, the detergents start breaking down the toner molecules and allowing them to be rinsed away. This process happens more quickly with semi-permanent toner compared to permanent toner, which has penetrated into the hair shaft.

How long to leave in clarifying shampoo for semi-permanent toner

For semi-permanent toner, plan to leave the clarifying shampoo on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing out. Check the hair after 5 minutes – if the toner color looks significantly faded, it should be ready to rinse. If not, leave it on for the full 10 minutes to get maximum removal.

Here are some tips for removing semi-permanent toner with a clarifying shampoo:

  • Wet hair and apply a palmful of clarifying shampoo to the lengths and ends.
  • Gently massage the shampoo into your hair for even distribution.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it has time to break down the toner.
  • Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly with cool water.
  • Repeat 1-2 more times until you’ve removed the toner to your desired level.

In most cases, one 10-minute application removes semi-permanent toner completely. But if you still see some tint after the first round, lather and rinse the clarifying shampoo again for maximum removal.

How long to leave in clarifying shampoo for permanent toner

For permanent toner, you’ll need to leave clarifying shampoo on for a longer time to lift out the color that has penetrated into the hair shaft. Plan to leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing.

Here are some tips for using clarifying shampoo to remove permanent toner:

  • Wet hair thoroughly and work a generous amount of clarifying shampoo through the lengths and ends.
  • Cover hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap and let the shampoo sit for 20-30 minutes.
  • Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly with cool water.
  • Repeat daily until the toner is removed. It may take 2-4 applications over several days.

The process is gradual because you are slowly stripping out permanent color rather than just surface toner. Be patient and keep using the clarifying shampoo each day until you’ve reached your desired level of removal.

Tips for effective toner removal

Follow these tips to get the best toner-removing results from your clarifying shampoo treatment:

  • Use a clarifying shampoo specifically formulated to remove mineral and product buildup. Look for ingredients like sulfates and citric acid.
  • Apply shampoo to fully saturated hair to let it penetrate evenly.
  • Let the shampoo sit on hair for the full recommended time before rinsing.
  • Rinse hair with cool water first to close the cuticle and improve toner removal.
  • Finish with a moisturizing conditioner to counteract the drying effects of sulfates.
  • Repeat the process until you’ve reached your desired level of toner removal.

Other methods to remove toner

While a clarifying shampoo is the easiest at-home method, there are some other options for removing toner as well:

  • Bleaching – Bleach strips artificial pigment from hair. But it’s very drying and damaging, so should be left to professionals.
  • Color remover – This product uses a mild bleach to remove permanent color. It may work on some permanent toners.
  • Vitamin C treatment – Crushed vitamin C tablets mixed with shampoo help lift stain-based toner.
  • Baking soda wash – Make a paste of baking soda and shampoo and scrub onto hair. Rinse after 5-10 minutes.
  • Dish soap wash – Harsh detergents like Dawn can help remove semi-permanent toner.

Things to avoid

When using methods to strip toner at home, avoid these damaging practices:

  • Over-washing hair – Too much shampooing can dry out your hair.
  • Hot water – Rinse with cool water to close the cuticle and improve results.
  • Harsh rubbing – Gently massage shampoo in; vigorous scrubbing can damage hair.
  • No conditioner – Always follow clarifying treatments with a hydrating conditioner.
  • No protective treatment – Do a restorative hair mask after repeated washing.


Removing toner with a clarifying shampoo requires patience but avoids harsh chemicals. For semi-permanent toner, plan to leave it on for 5-10 minutes per wash. For permanent toner, you’ll need 20-30 minutes and likely multiple washes over several days. Monitor your hair closely during the removal process. The toner should gradually fade until your natural color shows through again. Protect hair health by always conditioning after and avoiding over-washing.

With some time and the right clarifying shampoo, you can remove toner and reset your hair so it’s ready for a fresh new color!