How to choose the Right Developer Strength for Color, Toner & Bleach - Stylist's Pro Guide

Stylists: Learn Now How to Choose the Right Strength of Developer for Your Client!

As a stylist, do you get confused about which developer strength you should be using in your salon?

We have made it easy for you. 

The rules for choosing your developer strength with color and toner are given below.

Use 5 Vol Developer under these situations:

  • When you are looking to do a quick gloss tone on highlights that are truly well lifted

  • When you are looking to not touch the base at all.

Use 10 Vol Developer under these situations:

  • If you are looking to do level on level coloring

  • If you are doing tone down coloring

  • If you are looking to tone hair blonde on hair level 10 that is already very well-prelightened



Use 20 Vol Developer under these situations:

  • If you are looking to achieve 1-2  levels lift with ugly duckling color

  • If  you are looking to tone hair blonde on hair that is level 8-9 and still has yellow in it



Use 30 Vol Developer under these situations:

  • If you are looking to lift your client’s hair by 2-3 levels

When to use Bleach

  • If your client’s hair needs to be lifted by more than 3 levels, you will need to bleach first, then color or tone.

  • Ugly Duckling bleaches are very fast acting. 

  • Use 20 Vol with Ugly Duckling bleaches for lifting up to 3 levels.

  • Use 30 Vol with Ugly Duckling bleaches for lifting more than 3 levels.

  • Always remember that the root area will lift more quickly than the rest. 

  • It is a good idea to make a separate mix with 1 strength lower (for example, 20 Vol and not 30 Vol developer) for the root area in such situations.

NEW!  Your Personalized Guide to Choosing The Right Strength of Developer For Your Client.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does Vol mean and what does it have to do with developer strength?

The percentage of developer determines its strength. The higher the number, the more the developer will open the hair cuticle and lift the level of your client's hair.

  • 10 Vol is the weakest commonly available.  It corresponds to 3% peroxide strength. This level of developer does not open the cuticle very much. It is generally used for quick gloss toning, when the hair is already correctly pre-lightened, or for toning down.
  • 20 Vol is 6% peroxide. It is the most commonly used strength in the salon, and is good for lifting hair by 1 or 2 levels when using hair color or toner. Used with bleach it can give you up to a 3 level lift, which is perfect for lifting the roots of a client with level 6 dark blonde hair, for example. In general we don't recommend anything stronger than 20 Vol at the root.
  • 30 Vol is the next one up: 9% peroxide. Use this with color and toner and you can lift up to 3 levels. Use with an Ugly Duckling bleach and you can generally lift up to 7 levels provide you saturate and apply correctly, using foil for example to keep the heat in.
  • 40 Vol is the strongest commonly used & corresponds to 12& peroxide. Use this on ultra dark Asian hair, and that too on the lengths only and most certainly not the root. Use this for color build up cases where you don't have access to a color remover.

What is the best way of mixing the developer with the color, toner or bleach?

  • When using with Ugly Duckling toners and high lift colors, the right mix is 2 parts developer to 1 part product.
  • When using with Ugly Duckling bleaches, the right mix is also the same
  • When using all other Ugly Duckling colors, the right mix is 1 part developer to 1 part product.
  • This is also the right mix when using Blondify, Ugly Duckling's liquid gloss toners (out shortly).
  • Whatever product you are using, mix thoroughly in a bowl (or applicator for the liquid toners) and apply, segmenting the hair well and saturating very well.
  • The more the product gets into contact with the hair, the better chance it has to activate.
  • Ugly Duckling products are built with some tolerance, so it's no disaster if there is a little more developer or a little less. 
  • But please do try and stick to as near as possible to the above recommendations and you will get good results.

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