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Should I use a 20 or 30 Vol developer?


What Do Developers Do?

Developers are hydrogen peroxide-based solutions. When mixed with either hair color or bleach they create a highly alkali mix. This mix has the ability to open up the hair cuticle,  penetrate into the hair shaft,  lift out the color molecules there and  deposit new color molecules. 

What are the different volumes of developers?

Developers are available in various volumes, typically ranging from 10 to 40 volume. The volume indicates the strength or concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the developer. The higher the volume, the stronger the developer, and the more significant the lifting or lightening effect. 

Which volume developer should I use when?

10 Volume Developer

This developer is the weakest of the bunch. Use this when you are not looking to lift and only want to deposit color. Use this also when going darker. You can also use this when toning the hair when your hair has been very, very well lightened to level 10 and you now just want to neutralize and color correct.

20 Volume Developer

This is the most commonly used developer strength. When mixed with color you can lift the hair by 1 or 2 levels and when mixed with bleach you can lift the hair by 3-4 levels. You should use this one for most of your coloring and toning applications.

You should use this and not 10 Vol for grey hair coverage. The reason is that to get good quality coverage you do need to open up the cuticle properly to get an even result between the white hairs and the non-white hairs and you may not be able to do this.

You should always use a 20 Vol developer at the root area. This is the area that lifts the fastest.

30 Volume Developer

Use this with bleach or high lift color when you are looking to get lift of 3 levels and up. Don’t use this at the root area if you can avoid it. When doing root and lengths, make separate mixes, one with 20 Vol and one with 30 Vol for the 2 separate parts.

40 Volume Developer

This is the strongest developer. Never use this on the root area. And use this only when you have strong color correction cases or color removal cases. 

Does developer damage the hair?

Used judiciously it does not. This means use the appropriate strength of developer. Never use extra strong developer to compensate for a poor quality bleach or color. Please note that unlike some brands, we are not in favor of "bumping up developer strength". The Bond Protect we put inside our bleaches and toners does not require you to do this.

Can I use developer by itself to lighten the hair?

It will lighten the hair but it is not a process we recommend. Developer is made to be mixed with color or bleach.

Is there any type of hair color that does not require developer?

Semi-permanent colors, metallic and henna dyes don’t require developer. But if you want to use those you have come to the wrong site. We don’t do those.

Can I use more developer than the recommended mix to get more lift?

You can do that, and it will work up to a point. You will get more lift but you may end up with a color result that is less rich, and less 3D, so be careful. For color the maximum mix ratio you should work with is 1 part color to 2 parts developer. For bleach, the maximum ratio would be 3 parts developer to 1 part bleach.

Can I use less developer than the recommended mix if I want less lift?

Again, you can do that if you wish. You will achieve a heavier, denser color result and this may be something you may desire if, for example, you are looking to do grey hair coverage. However, the result may be less natural and less vibrant.

What is the best hair developer?

Most hair developers are compatible with most dyes and bleaches. However, you should opt for cream-based developers. They work better on the hair and are more cosmetic. You also need to make sure that the developer is very fresh. Once opened developers lose their strength, for example, and this also applies to unopened developer bottles which have been left in warm places for too long.

Ugly Duckling developers are cream based. We use batch control to make sure that the product we are sending you is very very fresh with no compromise. In general, people are not disappointed with the quality of our developers. 

If you are trying to get good color results, we would recommend you try and Ugly Duckling developer! 

About the author

Sally has been a hair colorist and trainer for many years in both the US & Europe. She currently does hair color training for Ugly Duckling. She also helps develop new & awesome products for the brand.

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