How to choose the right hair colour developer for the best result

How to choose the right hair colour developer for the best result

How to choose the right hair colour developer for the best result

Developer is a hydrogen peroxide. Different companies will include different additives but at a base level the hydrogen peroxides job is to lift the cuticle layer of the hair. The stronger the developer the more the cuticle opens

5 Volume developer (1.5% peroxide)

5 volume is a lesser-used developer but often teamed with semi and demi-permanent colour lines for its minimal effect on the cuticle. Many colour lines will allow you to use their permanent colour with 5 volume for ‘deposit only’ results. The hair will no longer be virgin and it will shift the natural shade, however, it will not offer grey coverage or lift. Its role is as an activator for the colour and will typically be in developers specifically made for glazes and toners. When used with bleach, 5 volume can create a very slight shift in the hair, which is great for fragile baby hairs needing only1-2 levels of lift.

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7 volume developer (2% peroxide)

Perfect for toning hair that’s already been lightened and for gentle bleaching.

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10 Volume developer (3% peroxide)

10 volume will slightly open the cuticle and allow for moderate penetration of colour molecules. Similar to 5 volume, 10 volume can be used with permanent colour lines for depositing colour, however, it will not offer much grey coverage or lift. If the hair is a finer fabric it could over a slight one level lighter shift in base colour and grey blending. Ten volume is also the default developer for many toners and glazes, however, keep in mind that this higher volume developer means a possible shift to the natural base colour. When 10 volume is used with bleach it can give 1-4 levels of lift depending on the bleach, the method of application, and the hair.

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20 Volume developer (6% peroxide)

20 volume is likely the most used developer in the salon. Twenty volume will give 1-2 levels of lift when used with permanent hair colour. On finer fabrics it may even give up to 3 levels of lift. It is the standard developer for grey coverage, however, a stronger developer may be needed for more resistant hair types. Twenty volume should not be used as a developer for toner or glazes especially when wanting to maintain a natural base. When used with bleach, 20 volume is a powerful tool lifting 1-9 levels depending on the bleach, method of application, and hair type/history. This combination steadily opens the cuticle and consumes the pigments while allowing time for the rest of your application. 20 volume is the highest level of developer that should be used on the scalp with bleach as the scalp produces more heat and increases the power of the developer.

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30 Volume (9% peroxide)

30 volume developer is ideal for lifting 2-4 levels using permanent hair colour depending on the texture of the hair. It can also be used for grey coverage on more resistant hair types. Thirty volume should never be used for basic deposit only colour as it will blast the cuticle for no reason. When used with bleach and foils 30 volume works fast and may incur the risk of over-processing. This developer is more ideal for open-air processing which incubates less heat. Applications with 30 volume should never be placed under heat and should be monitored regularly and ideally, a test strand should be performed prior to use.

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40 Volume (12% peroxide)

40 volume developer can be used with permanent hair colour and high lift colour to give 3-4 levels of lift depending on the power of the colour and the texture of the hair. Open-air processing such as balayage is ideal for 40 volume developer as it allows for maximum lift but the control of less heat. Bleach, forty volume, and foils can be a dangerous combination, so tread carefully.

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50+ Volume

In recent years developers of 50 volume and above have become increasingly popular due to all the popular hand painting techniques. As trendy as these may be we must be careful and always consider the desired end result and the integrity of our client’s hair. These developers are not made to be used in foils or with colour.

Read more about hair colour developer volumes

How to choose the right hair colour developer for the best result
How to choose the right hair colour developer for the best result
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