While yesterday I talked about the peroxide used in bleaching, today we discuss what developer to use to dye hair, depending on the effect you want to achieve.
This post is for you if you are using a dye for professional dye that does not come with developer and you are unsure about the one to use.
When we buy a supermarket or drugstore dye, the dye comes with a developer. They never usually indicate on the packaging the number of volumes, but it is usually 20 in case you were wondering.
However, if we use a dye bought in a hairdressing commercial (or even on Amazon or wherever) we will get the colour cream bottle only and we will need to use developer to apply it. Surely if you are reading this you already know, but just to make things clearer.
For example, Olia de Garnier is a drugstore dye that includes colour cream and developer, and Igora Royal dye from Schwarzkoft is a professional hairdressing dye that comes with the colour cream only.
If what you think is to dye yourself at home and do not know whether to use developer of 20 or 30 volumes (or even another), read on. Depending on the color you want to achieve and the state of your hair you must choose between one or another.
In stores specializing in hairdressing we can find developer of 10, 20, 30 and 40 volumes.
What does developer do in the dye?
Let’s start with the basics to better understand why to use one developer or another. The developer is a necessary part of the coloring process. developer or developer acts as a dye activator. What it does is open the cuticles of the hair and make the color penetrate and not go away.
When we apply the mixture of dye and developer, what happens is that developer enters the hair cuticle, releases oxygen and thanks to this the color pigments are permanently fixed on the hair.
What is the ratio of developer to dye?
For a dye we must use the same proportion of dye as developer, generally speaking. That is, a measure of dye by one of developer. What we normally see represented as 1:1 in hairdressing.
As we mentioned in the article about what developer to use for bleaching, if we mixed developer with bleach, in this case the ratio would be 1 measure of bleaching agent to 1.5 of peroxide.
The reason is that in that case our priority is to lighten many tones, not to apply a specific tone of color (for that later we will have to tone up highlights).
However, to mix a dye, the general ratio of dye to developer is 1 to 1.
How much developer to use for 60 ml dye?
For a 60 ml dye, the standard size, we will need 60 ml of developer.
For half a tube of dye, how much developer, then? Well, if a bottle is 60 ml normally and we have only half, we will need that measure for the developer too (30 ml).
We will need the same amount of ml of developer as dye to make the mixture.
Can you use a dye without a developer?
What happens if I apply a dye without putting developer? Without developer, the dye would not fix and we would not achieve lasting effects.
As I mentioned before, developer is needed for two things. First, it serves to open the cuticle and allow the colour to be fixed. Without developer, the color is not fixed. The dye fulfills the function of providing the colour molecules in the hair. But in order for dye molecules to be deposited in the hair we need to use developer. The colour could, in certain cases, be applied, but would disappear in a few washes.
Secondly, the developer serves to lighten the hair and allow the hair color to be changed to a lighter one. If we use a dye without developer we will not be able to lighten the hair at all.
This is why semi-permanent dyes (those that do not need a developer) are temporary and they can’t lighten the hair.
What if I put less developer in the dye?
As you can imagine, if without developer we can not lift as much and we can not set the little color we apply, if we put it only a little developer we will begin to see that the hair lifts a little tone and color can last somewhat.
However, this practice is not recommended. If we want acceptable results we must use the normal ratio of dye and perioxide, which is 1 to 1. Any measure below that is not going to guarantee us anything.
What developer is used for dyeing?
The developer to dye will depend on the effect we want to achieve. The volume of the peroxide of the developer you choose when you dye your hair will determine how light or dark the color will look.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the two functions of developer is to lighten the hair. The more we have to lift, the more volumes we will have to use.
10-volume developer for hair dyeing
What is 10-volume peroxide used for? Well, this type of developer is used for dark colors mainly. Why? Because we do not need to lighten, the function of peroxide when we apply a dark dye, (dark brown or black) is simply to make the color permanent. Nothing else.
The water of 10 is also used for hair with few gray hairs that want to dye dark. The reason is that the gray hair has no color, so it is not necessary to lighten, it is only necessary that the color is permanent.
As 10-volume water to dye the hair I would definitely recommend the Igora Royal Color from Schwarzkoft. The reason is that it helps to fix the color pigments very well. And when we are applying a water of 10 we are usually working only the color, not the rinse. That’s why this Schwarzkoft seems to me the best option:
20-volume developer for dye
The 20-volume peroxide lightens hair more than the 10-volume peroxide and is the most standard developer. The one they sell in common supermarket dyes. Normally you can lighten up to 4 shades, but if the hair is very dark the color result will not be the best.
That is, if you have dark brown hair and you apply a supermarket 11.1 with a developer of 20 volumes, yes, it will lighten you a little, but it will be orange. And you’re certainly not going to get to the gorgeous Nordic blonde that comes in the box.
A developer of 20 volumes (6%) covers gray hair well, not because it brightens up, but because it fixes the color better than a peroxide of 10.
If you need to use a 20 volume developer for a dye, the Revlon Techniques below can be a good option. Basically for the same reason as before. It helps the color to be applied very well to the hair.
30-volume developer for dye
The developer of 30 raises more tones than the 20. And its effect, as you can imagine, is exponential. It can lift between 4 and 5 shades.
Does 30-year-old developer cover gray hair? Yes, it sets the color very well, but the problem appears on the other hand: and it lightens the hair.
That is where the beauty of hair colouring lies. You have to find the perfect balance between a peroxide high enough to fix the colour to the gray hair, but low enough so that it does not lighten the hair more than we want.
That’s why it’s so difficult to apply a dark colour to a full head of gray hair.
As developer of 30 volumes the one I would recommend is Welloxon from Wella. Here we already need the water to work a little more to lift the colour. Therefore I have chosen this developer, because it protects the hair fiber while lightening the hair:
40-volume developer for dye
40-volume developer is not usually used with dyes, but with bleaching . However (and I have, I have to confess), pouring water of 40 volumes to a super lightening dye makes color rise great and super fast.
It is advisable to lighten very dark hair to light blonde is to use bleaching. And do it well so as not to mistreat the hair excessively. When we deal with dyes we should stay at most with a water of 30 and that’s it.
Why do I say that? First, because when we use a developer of 40 in a dye, yes, it lightens a lot, but the colour is distorted. We return to the terrible world of yellow chicken and tangerine orange. And then we have to go around fixing the color using toners.
The second reason I wouldn’t recommend using 40 peroxide in the dye is that it’s messing up the hair unnecessarily.
If you are going to use a developer of 40, do it with bleaching until it gets white. And then it is easier to colour a white bleaching than a yellowish tint. That’s my opinion at least.
Regardless of which developer is used to dye the hair, in any of the four previous cases the exposure time is between 30-40 minutes. But better to follow the instructions of each brand.
As 40-volume developer, we definitely have to choose one that will protect our hair. That’s why I chose Schwarzkoft’s Blondme Premium Care Developer as a recommended product. It is a developer that in addition to being top in terms of effectiveness repairs the hair fiber. It is one of the best products on the market as far as bleaching is concerned. Although, of course, it is still high discoloration, and we must be careful when using it.
What developer is used to tone up
As a general rule, we can use a dye of few volumes to tone up, such as 10 or 20 volumes. The reason is that we only want a very soft dye tank. We don’t want anything that will cover the color underneath.
Then I leave the Schwarzkoft option that I mentioned before:
What developer is used to cover gray hair
As a general rule, water of 20 is usually used in dark hair with gray hair, and water of 30 in lighter tones with gray hair.
I tell you that the complicated thing is to find the ideal point between a peroxide high enough to fix the colour to the gray hair. But low enough so that it does not lighten the hair more than we want.
This Revlon one that you see below seems to me a balanced option for those hairs that want to cover the gray hair:
What developer should I use to darken my hair
To darken the hair, since we do not need to lighten, but simply make the colour is fixed to the hair, we can use a developer of 10 volumes.
A developer for black dye is usually 10 volumes except if the hair has a lot of gray hair. In that case we have to use something higher so that the dye covers the gray hair well. A trick? If neither the peroxide of 10 nor 20 are perfect, mix half and half.
Another trick for the dye to fix well in the hair is to rinse the hair with a cold water to seal the cuticle.
Pharmacy developer for hair
If you are worried that developer will damage your hair, there are pharmacy alternatives that carry ingredients to make the formula somewhat gentler with the hair. I haven’t tried them, honestly, but I know there are. In Spain there are some brands like Salerm, Yanguas and Tassel.
What happens if you apply developer right to your hair
A developer is a chemical product, and it damages hair. We must also bear in mind that in the case of dyes we apply it on the scalp, but so far no long-term negative consequences have been observed after the continued use of developer.
I personally have been using developer since I first dyed myself when I was 14 years old. I’ve never stopped colouring my hair and I am currently 32. I just love it! And so far I have not observed any negative effects, beyond the deterioration of the hair fiber.
What happens if you use a expired developer in your hair
Don’t do it. Why? developer is already a fairly aggressive chemical with hair. It is not necessary to gamble using an expired developer. In addition, developer is quite economical. My personal recommendation is to buy a new boat.
Expired cosmetics do not have any kind of guarantee. Not only at the level of effectiveness, but they can also cause negative reactions in the skin and hair.
I hope it has become clear to you what developer is used to dye the hair in each case. You already know that it depends on the color you want to achieve and if you have gray hair or not, mainly.
I leave you a video in which I explain my colour routine. But hey, to give you ideas, my darlings.
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Lots of love,