What Developer To Use With Permanent Hair Color

When it comes to coloring your hair, whether for a dramatic change or a subtle enhancement, choosing the right developer is crucial to achieving the desired results.

Hair developers play a vital role in the hair coloring process by helping the color penetrate the hair shaft and permanently alter its hue.

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of hair developers and guide you through selecting the best one for your needs.

What Developer To Use With Permanent Hair Color

What is Hair Developer?

Hair developer, also known as hair oxidizer, is a chemical solution used in combination with hair color or bleach to bring about a color change in the hair.

It contains hydrogen peroxide, which acts as an oxidizing agent, breaking down the natural hair pigment and allowing the new color molecules to enter the hair shaft.

Different types of hair developers are available, each varying in strength or volume. The most common developer strengths are 10 volume (3%), 20 volume (6%), 30 volume (9%), and 40 volume (12%).

The choice of developer strength depends on factors like the natural color of your hair, the desired level of lift or deposit, and the condition of your hair.

How Does Hair Developer Work?

The working of a hair developer is based on a straightforward chemical process. When mixed with hair color or bleach, the hydrogen peroxide in the developer breaks down the melanin, which is responsible for the natural color of your hair.

This allows the new color to take its place. The longer the developer stays on the hair, the more melanin it breaks down, resulting in a lighter color.

It’s important to note that excessive use of high-volume developers can lead to hair damage and dryness. Hence, it’s essential to choose the appropriate developer strength to achieve the desired color while maintaining hair health.

Choosing the Right Developer Strength

Selecting the right developer strength is crucial for successful hair color outcomes. The developer strength is typically labeled as 10, 20, 30, or 40 volumes, indicating the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in the solution.

  • 10 volume: This developer strength is the weakest and is suitable for toning, darkening, or covering gray hair. It provides minimal lift and is less damaging to the hair.
  • 20 volume: This is the most commonly used developer strength for most hair coloring needs. It provides moderate lift and is suitable for going a few shades lighter or darker.
  • 30 volume: This developer is best for lightening hair by two to three shades and works well with most permanent hair colors.
  • 40 volume: This is the strongest developer and is used for significant lightening, such as achieving blonde shades from dark hair colors. It should be used with caution as it can cause more damage to the hair.
ALSO READ  How To Strip Color From Hair

When choosing the right developer strength, consider the current color level of your hair, the desired color outcome, and the condition of your hair.

It’s best to consult a professional hairstylist if you are unsure about which developer to use.

Understanding Developer Volumes

The different developer volumes available serve specific purposes in the hair coloring process:

  • 10 Volume (3%): This is the lowest strength and is used for deposit-only color, toning, and darkening.
  • 20 Volume (6%): This is the most commonly used volume and is suitable for coloring hair at the same level or slightly lighter.
  • 30 Volume (9%): This volume lifts the hair by 2 to 3 shades and is ideal for achieving medium-light to medium-dark colors.
  • 40 Volume (12%): This is the highest volume and is used for maximum lift, taking the hair several shades lighter.

It’s important to keep in mind that using higher-volume developers can cause more damage to the hair. If you have fine or damaged hair, it’s best to opt for lower-volume developers.

Developer Brands and Products

Several reputable hair care brands offer a range of developers tailored for various hair color needs. Some popular brands include “Brand A”, “Brand B”, and “Brand C”.

Each brand’s developer products come with unique features and benefits, such as added conditioning agents, reduced ammonia content, or enhanced color vibrancy.

Before purchasing a developer, consider the specific requirements of your hair color process and choose a product that aligns with those needs. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

Developer and Hair Color Mixing Ratios

To ensure the hair color turns out as intended, it’s essential to mix the developer with the hair color in the correct proportions.

The mixing ratio varies based on the brand and type of hair color used, but a common mixing ratio is 1:1.

For example, if you have one ounce of hair color, you should mix it with one ounce of the appropriate developer. This balanced ratio ensures proper color development and application consistency.

How to Use a Developer with Permanent Hair Color?

Using a developer with permanent hair color requires careful preparation and application. Follow these steps for a successful hair coloring process:

  1. Preparation: Start by wearing gloves and protecting your clothing with a cape or towel. Section your hair for easier application.
  2. Mixing: In a non-metallic bowl, mix the desired amount of hair color with the appropriate developer, following the recommended mixing ratio.
  3. Application: Begin applying the mixture to the hair, starting from the roots and working your way to the ends. Make sure to saturate the hair evenly for consistent color results.
  4. Processing Time: The processing time will vary depending on the developer strength and the desired color change. Follow the instructions provided with your hair color product.
  5. Rinsing: Once the processing time is complete, rinse the hair thoroughly with cool water until the water runs clear.
  6. Conditioning: Finish the process by applying a conditioner or a color-sealing treatment to lock in the color and add moisture to the hair.
ALSO READ  How To Color Hair At Home

Always perform a patch test before applying hair color to check for any potential allergic reactions. If you are uncertain about the application process, consider seeking professional help from a hairstylist.

Common Mistakes When Using Hair Developer

Using hair developer incorrectly can lead to undesirable outcomes and damage to your hair. Some common mistakes to avoid include:

  1. Choosing the Wrong Strength: Selecting the wrong developer strength can result in hair color that is too light or too dark.
  2. Overlapping Color: Applying hair color over previously colored hair can cause uneven color results and damage.
  3. Leaving Developer on for Too Long: Leaving the developer on the hair for an extended period can lead to over-processing and damage.
  4. Skipping the Patch Test: Neglecting to perform a patch test can result in allergic reactions and skin irritation.
  5. Using Expired Developer: Using an expired developer can affect its effectiveness and the final color outcome.

To avoid these mistakes, carefully follow the instructions provided with the hair color and developer products and take the necessary precautions during the application process.

Benefits of Using the Right Developer

Using the correct developer with permanent hair color offers several benefits:

  1. Accurate Color Results: The right developer ensures that the hair color turns out as intended, achieving the desired shade and tone.
  2. Long-Lasting Color: Properly formulated hair color with the appropriate developer results in color longevity and fade resistance.
  3. Reduced Hair Damage: Using the right developer strength minimizes the risk of hair damage and keeps the hair in good condition.
  4. Enhanced Color Vibrancy: The correct developer helps the color appear more vibrant and rich.
  5. Even Color Coverage: A suitable developer ensures even color distribution and coverage throughout the hair.

Tips for Maintaining Hair Color

To extend the life of your hair color and keep it looking vibrant, follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Use Color-Safe Shampoo and Conditioner: Opt for products specifically formulated for color-treated hair to prevent premature fading.
  2. Limit Washing: Wash your hair less frequently to preserve the color and natural oils.
  3. Protect from Sun Exposure: Cover your hair or use hair products with UV protection when exposed to the sun.
  4. Avoid Hot Water: Rinse and wash your hair with cool water to prevent color loss.
  5. Avoid Heat Styling: Reduce the use of heat-styling tools to prevent damage to the colored hair.

Alternative Hair Color Techniques

Apart from traditional full-head hair coloring, there are various alternative hair color techniques worth exploring:

  1. Balayage: A hand-painted technique that creates natural-looking highlights.
  2. Ombre: A gradual color fades from darker roots to lighter ends.
  3. Highlights: Lighter strands are added strategically to create dimension.
ALSO READ  What Is PPD In Hair Color

These alternative techniques also use hair developers in varying strengths to achieve their unique effects.

Understanding Patch Tests

Before using a new hair color or developer, it’s essential to perform a patch test. This test helps identify potential allergic reactions or skin sensitivities to the hair color products.

To perform a patch test, apply a small amount of the mixture behind your ear or on the inner forearm and wait for 48 hours to observe any adverse reactions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens if I use the wrong developer strength?

Using the wrong developer strength can lead to unexpected color results, hair damage, or poor color retention.

Can I mix different brands of developer and hair color?

It’s best to use the developer and hair color from the same brand to ensure compatibility and desired results.

How often should I touch up my hair color?

The frequency of touch-ups depends on how fast your hair grows and the desired level of color maintenance. On average, touch-ups are done every 4 to 6 weeks.

Is it necessary to use a developer with demi-permanent hair color?

Demi-permanent hair color typically requires a low-volume developer to activate the color molecules and enhance the results.

Can I lighten my hair color without using a high-volume developer?

High-volume developers are more effective at lightening hair, but you can achieve some lightening with lower-volume developers, though it may take longer.


Selecting the right developer is a critical step in achieving the perfect permanent hair color.

By understanding how developers work, choosing the appropriate strength, and following proper application techniques, you can ensure a successful hair coloring experience.

Remember to consider your hair’s condition and consult a professional if you are unsure about which developer to use.

With the right developer and care, you can enjoy vibrant, long-lasting hair color that complements your style and personality.

FAQs – What Developer To Use With Permanent Hair Color

Can I use a higher-volume developer for faster results?

While using a higher-volume developer can accelerate the color development process, it may also cause more hair damage. It’s essential to strike a balance between achieving your desired color and maintaining the health of your hair.

Are there developers specifically for sensitive scalps?

Some developers are formulated with ingredients that are more gentle on sensitive scalps. Look for products labeled as “sensitive” or “gentle” to minimize irritation.

Can I mix two different developer volumes to get a custom strength?

It’s best to avoid mixing different developer volumes, as it may lead to unpredictable and potentially undesirable results.

What’s the difference between permanent and semi-permanent hair color?

Permanent hair color uses developers to penetrate the hair shaft and create lasting color changes, while semi-permanent color does not require developers and gradually fades over time.

Can I color my hair at home, or should I visit a salon?

While some individuals successfully color their hair at home, it’s generally recommended to seek the expertise of a professional hairstylist, especially for significant color changes or correction of the previous color.