Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It (2023)

While hair toner is usually a reliable beauty product, it’s still a chemical treatment, so there’s always room for mishaps and unintended results.

Sometimes, toner turns hair grey – especially for those with blonde hair. If toner turns your hair grey, it isn’t permanent, but there are some ways to get your hair back to normal that don’t involve damaging your hair further.

Most people use toner to eliminate brassy, yellow, or orange tones. Blondes (natural and color-treated) may use purple shampoo, while brunettes stick to blue hues to tone hair at home.

Toner is an effective product for most applications, but if you get out of the shower or salon and your hair is grey, don’t panic! So, if toner tuned your hair grey and you want to fix it, read on.

Why Does Hair Turn Grey After Toning?

Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It (1)

Toning is not overly complicated, but it is surprisingly easy to mess up. As a result, we recommend getting a professional hairdresser to apply toner to your hair.

If you administer toner yourself, you may mess up how much toner needs to be in your hair. Unfortunately, messing up the amount of toner can lead to it turning grey.

You can also turn your hair grey with toning shampoos, conditioners, and at-home treatments like masks if you leave the product on your hair too long. This process happens because the toner is doing its job too efficiently.

The goal is to eliminate brassy tones, so by turning hair grey, you get rid of the orange strands – but the results aren’t what you expected.

Your toner may also turn your hair grey if you apply too much product.If you have your hair toned in a salon, over-applying is less likely.

But at-home treatments can be tricky to gauge. Start by using a dime or quarter-sized amount and add more as needed.

If you notice your hair has a grey tinge or turns completely grey, it means you applied more toner than required.

If this happens, you will want to remove it so that you are not stuck with grey hair for several weeks. Fortunately, there are a few options available to you.

Toner Tuned My Hair Grey, How Can I Fix It?

You may want to call your stylist the second you notice your hair is grey after a toning treatment.

But before hitting speed dial, check out the available options below to diminish the grey tones at home without a pricey salon visit.

1. Wash-Out Method – Best & Easiest Option

If your hair turns grey after using toner, wait it out as long as possible. Your hair should return to its customary hue after a few washes and rinses, and this method doesn’t require you to apply products or chemicals to your tresses (so no damage!)

However, you may not have time to wait a few days or weeks for your hair to return to its typical state. If you have a wedding or other significant event, there are ways to diminish the grey tones ASAP.

2. The Clarifying Shampoo Method – Best Quick Solution

Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It (2)

If toner turns your hair grey, you can use a clarifying shampoo to remove excess toner in your hair. As the name suggests, clarifying shampoo helps to rinse away buildup, dead skin, and products from hair.

Some clarifying shampoos are more robust than others, so use caution and do not use them for more than a few days.

Clarifying shampoo will not damage your hair because it does not have excess chemicals, but since they remove material from your hair, it can dry your scalp and follicles out and cause further problems.

To use a clarifying shampoo:

  1. Wet your hair with warm water.
  2. Squeeze a standard amount of shampoo into your hands and apply it to your hair from roots to ends.
  3. Scrub your hair thoroughly and let the shampoo sit.
  4. After three minutes, rinse your hair and repeat the process if needed. The number of times you need to repeat this process depends on how grey your hair turns.

Once you finish, you can apply the conditioner before rinsing again and exiting the shower. Apply a leave-in conditioner to ensure your hair does not become dehydrated.

3. Anti-Dandruff Shampoo – Best for Scalp Health

Even if you don’t have dandruff, an anti-dandruff shampoo efficiently removes toner from your hair.

These shampoos intentionally strip your scalp and strands to diminish flakes and product buildup.

Applying an anti-dandruff shampoo to your over-toned hair strips the product from your tresses and leaves your color looking fresh (and as your intended shade). Your scalp will also be free of buildup and the bacteria that causes dandruff.

4. Sulfate Shampoo Method – Best in a Pinch

Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It (3)

Alternatively, if you have healthy hair and no clarifying shampoo, you can use shampoo with sulfates to remove excess toner.

Unfortunately, this method may dry your hair, but sulfate shampoos are easy to find and may cost less than clarifying shampoos.

Shampoo with sulfates will fade the grey toner in your hair. You will need to apply the shampoo for a few consecutive days. You can also add baking soda with the shampoo for faster result.

Note that excessive sulfates on color-treated hair lead to fading and can ruin your base shades, so only use this method in a pinch or if you have virgin hair.

If you want to try the sulfate shampoo method:

  1. Apply the shampoo to your hair from roots to ends.
  2. Rub the product around your entire head to create a lather.
  3. Rinse and add a moisturizing conditioner. Leave the conditioner in your hair for a few minutes before rinsing to give your tresses a moisture boost.

Keep an eye on your hair for dryness, and apply an oil or serum to your ends if necessary.

Can Purple Shampoo Remove Toner?

Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It (4)

Most methods to eliminate the grey color in your hair will thoroughly remove the toner. There are options if you do not want to remove all the toner from your hair.

Notably, you can use purple shampoo to dull the color of the toner and give it more of its intended color. This method is not 100% effective. It can work for some people depending on the toner, but it does not always work.

It works best for people with naturally blonde hair. Remember that toning shampoo also has the potential to turn your hair grey if you use it every day or apply it too much!


Even though you have read through 3 effective methods of removing toner from your hair, you might still have a few questions. Here we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding toner turning hair grey.

What toner turns hair grey?

Unfortunately, there is not only one toner to avoid if you do not want your hair to turn grey. Any product can result in grey strands if you apply too much or leave it on too long.

Will it wash out if toner turned hair grey?

Yes, you can wash toner out of your hair. You can use a clarifying shampoo to remove grey toner from your hair quickly.

If you do not have a clarifying shampoo on hand, you can use one with sulfates to remove grey toner from your hair. The second method will take three or four washes.

How long will it take to wash out the grey toner?

How long it takes to wash out grey toner depends on several factors. The first and most crucial factor to consider is the toner you use. Some toners are stronger than others, so they stick to hair more than others.

Those toners take more time to wash out of your hair and typically come from a salon.
Your hair can also affect the time it takes to remove the toner from your hair. If you have thick, coarse, or curly hair, it may take more elbow grease than someone with thin hair to remove the toner.

The average toner should not take more than a few days to wash from your hair. If you use clarifying shampoo, you should be able to remove the grey toner from your hair in one sitting. However, if you choose to use shampoo with sulfates, it will take three or four days.

Can hair get overtoned?

Overtoning is not only possible, but the primary reason your hair turns grey after toning. To avoid this pesky mishap, remember that you do not need tons of toner to create your desired look.

Also, ensure you read the instructions on the bottle or box before applying the product to your hair. That said, thick hair may need more processing time after application than thin or damaged hair.

Watch your strands closely to ensure you get the perfect balance during toning. If you’re worried about purple shampoo or products turning your hair grey, keep a mirror in your shower to observe your hair during processing.


You most likely apply toner or toning products to eliminate brassy tones in your hair. No matter what product you use, your hair has the potential to turn grey from toner.

While your hair may not be turning grey from age or natural causes, it can still cause panic after leaving the salon (or at home).

If you want to ensure your color stays toned but not overly so, avoid applying too much toner or leaving it on for extended periods.


Why Toner Turns Hair Grey and How to Fix It? ›

Clarifying Shampoo

Most toners are not permanent, therefore eventually, after several washes, the 'cool' tones will fade. If you want that toner gone quicker, 2-3 washes with a clarifying shampoo will start to remove the blue, grey or purple stains.

How do you fix grey over toned hair? ›

Clarifying Shampoo

Most toners are not permanent, therefore eventually, after several washes, the 'cool' tones will fade. If you want that toner gone quicker, 2-3 washes with a clarifying shampoo will start to remove the blue, grey or purple stains.

How do you get rid of grey toner? ›

Start by washing your hair with a strong clarifying product, such as clarifying shampoo, dandruff shampoo, baking soda, or dish soap. If you need a slightly more powerful solution, try removing the toner overnight with lemon juice.

How long does it take for grey toner to fade? ›

Depending on you hair type and hair condition, toner can last between 2-to-6 weeks. Hair that has been coloured previously can sometimes hold toners for less time than hair that has only been coloured once, so may need more regular toning.

How do you fix ashy toner? ›

How to Remove Ash Tone from Hair
  1. Washing with a Clarifying Shampoo.
  2. Mixing Lemon Juice and Conditioner.
  3. Applying a Color Remover.
  4. Doing a Bleach Wash.

What color cancels out grey tones? ›

For light skin, a yellow, peach or purple-based concealer will cancel out the gray tones created when concealer is layered over the shadowy areas. On deeper skin, use bright orange or red first, followed by a neutral or yellow-toned concealer.

What color cancels out gray hair? ›

1. Blonde Highlights. There are three reasons we recommend blonde highlights Opens in a new tab when covering grays. First up, the difference between blonde and silver shades is subtle, so gray roots won't appear as visible - even if it's been six to eight weeks since you last went to the salon.

What shampoo removes GREY toner? ›

A clarifying shampoo is specifically designed to remove residue and unwanted buildup from styling products, so it is the perfect solution when it comes to getting rid of toner stains. Not only that, but it will also help restore the natural shine of your strands, giving you a beautiful, unstained look.

Why do my blonde highlights look GREY? ›

Your lightened blonde pieces will have absorbed some of the base break colour. Highlighted hair is often porous and can take on ash tones heavily – the hair then appears greyish or sometimes even silver.

How do you fix ashy hair? ›

Washing Away Ash

The best way to repair ashy hair is a good wash. Consider washing your hair a bit more frequently than usual. Then, follow up that shampooing with a quality moisturizing conditioner.

Does toner eventually wash out? ›

They are a deposit colour only, which means they won't do anything to your natural hair and they last about 4 to 5 weeks depending on how often you wash your hair . If you wash your hair every day, expect your toner to fade out FAST. If you wash it once a week, you will generally get a month of nicely toned hair.

Why did my hair turn grey after bleaching? ›

Sometimes, hydrogen peroxide buildup caused by multiple bleaching sessions can also cause your hair to turn grey early.

What happens if you leave toner in your hair too long? ›

If you leave the toner processing for too long, you might end up having damaged hair with unwanted purple or blue shades. Why does this happen? Toners have pigments in them to cancel out the yellow and orange tones in brassy hair.

How can I make my ashy hair more golden? ›

Use a color-correcting cream

Add warmth. This can be done in a salon by adding a gloss or toner onto the hair. But if you're looking to solve your ashy issue at home, reach for a color-correcting treatment, like the Better Natured Color Refreshing Crème in Rose Gold.

What color cancels out Ash? ›

Apply reds, golds, or oranges in the form of toner

You toned your hair down to ash, now you can tone it up with the opposite side of the color spectrum. The base of ash tones is blue; reds and golds will cut through that blue and add back in some brass and shine.

Will purple shampoo help ashy hair? ›

Thanks to the innovations of hair science, stylists have come up with a solution to keep brassy, yellow shades from ruining your perfect platinum. Purple shampoo is the key to maintaining ash blonde hair. This is due to a little secret called color theory.

What shampoo removes toner from hair? ›

Luckily, there is a simple solution: clarifying shampoo. It is specifically designed to remove toner build-up and to restore the hair's original colour. It is also a great way to help keep your hair healthy and manageable.

Can you turn gray hair back to its normal color? ›

There's a lot of misinformation about gaining back your natural hair color once it's started turning gray or white. While certain nutrient deficits and health conditions may spawn premature gray hairs, it's impossible to restore your natural hair color if your grays are genetic or due to natural aging.

Can you Repigment grey hair? ›

Hair graying is a common sign of aging resulting from complex regulation of melanogenesis. Currently, there is no medical treatment available for hair repigmentation.

Why did my blonde highlights turn grey? ›

Your lightened blonde pieces will have absorbed some of the base break colour. Highlighted hair is often porous and can take on ash tones heavily – the hair then appears greyish or sometimes even silver.

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