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Comprehensive Guide to Hair Color Developers

Comprehensive Guide to Hair Color Developers

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Hair color trends change from time to time, enjoying their fleeting popularity amongst coloring enthusiasts. Whether you are a blonde girl, love the nuances of platinum silver, or are a fan of crazy, bold colors, there is plenty on the plate. Speaking of hair colors, their magic is only complete if mixed with the right developers for hair color. As you browse online for fresh hair color inspiration or consult your next-door hair stylist, remember to keep an eye on developers.

With the right developer, it is time to try coloring your locks, especially with permanent hair colors. Ask why? Hair developer, when mixed with the color, opens the cuticles, and lets the color absorb through it to its roots. Whether you want to darken or lighten the existing color or shift the natural shade, the developer is an integral part of the hair coloring technique. Further, let's delve into everything you need to know about developers for hair color and choosing the right formulation.

What is a hair developer?

Developer, an oxidant cream, contains hydrogen peroxide that helps open the cuticles. As a result, it helps in deeper penetration of hair color, ensuring the shade remains fade-proof for longer. If you opt for permanent hair color, the developer is essential in bringing significant change and enhancing vibrancy.

As told by Kelly Dobos, cosmetic chemist and adjunct professor of cosmetic science, University of Toledo, to Allure – “ Permanent hair dye involves penetration of smaller color molecules into hair, that further converts into larger molecules through a chemical reaction that's embedded in hair”. Hence, for penetration of the molecules, developers help in opening the cuticles.

Here are some of the benefits of the hair color developers:
  • Color Activation – Developers for hair color activate the pigment. This results in efficient and faster processing of color on all hair types.
  • Color Consistency – The thick and non-drippy color consistency is achieved by mixing the developer with the hair color. As it forms a uniform paste, the application process becomes easier.
  • Color Absorption – As the hydrogen peroxide in the developer opens up the hair cuticle, it eases the process of color delivery and penetration. The open cuticles enable the locking of the deposited pigments into the hair strands, ensuring maximum vibrancy.
  • Lasting results – Using the hair developers gives fade-proof results and ensures lasting of the pigments.
  • Professional-grade coloring – Pairing up permanent hair color with the right developer formula gives the desired color impact. This ensures darkening or lightening of the color as compared to the natural shade.

Choosing from different volumes of hair developers

When choosing developers for hair color, it is essential to choose the correct formulation with the appropriate amount of hydrogen peroxide. Here are different hair developers with varying formulas: Types_of_hair_developers Types_of_hair_developers-2 Types_of_hair_developers-3

5 Volume Hair Color Developer

It is the lightest of all the developers, with 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. The deposit-only developer offers no cuticle opening or lift, and is paired with semi or demi-permanent hair colors, toners, and glazers. While it does not open cuticles for color penetration, it ensures vibrant pigment deposit on strands.

10 Volume Hair Color Developer

The hair developer contains 3% hydrogen peroxide and is a no-lift developer that offers hair darkening by up to 1 level. However, as it provides no cuticle opening, it helps in gentle color deposit and works only on shifting from a lighter to a darker hair shade. Used as a default developer with toners and glazers, it slightly changes the natural shade and ensures a vibrant deposit.

20 Volume Hair Color Developer

One of the most commonly used developers for hair color, it consists of 6% hydrogen peroxide and offers 2 – 3 levels of lift. Suitable for covering 100% gray hair and works on darkening the hair color by up to 3 levels. With its ability to darken hair, the developer helps neutralize red, copper, and yellow undertones. You can try Moehair 6%, 20 Volume Anti-Yellow Hair Color Developer to eliminate unwanted brassiness.

30 Volume Hair Color Developer

The 30-volume hair developer contains 9% hydrogen peroxide and can lift the color by 3 to 4 levels. It is a stronger developer that helps lighten hair by up to 4 levels and offers excellent gray coverage. Its strong formulation is ideal for people with thick and coarse hair. However, seeking professional guidance is recommended for individuals with thinner hair.

40 Volume Hair Color Developer

One of the strongest professional developers, it contains 12% hydrogen peroxide and gives a lift of up to 8 levels. Owing to its high peroxide presence, it is not recommended at home and as a salon-grade product. The 40-volume developer for hair is only used for lightening even the darkest shade of hair.

50+ Volume Hair Color Developer

The 50+ volume developer has a high level of hydrogen peroxide. With a strong formulation, it is important to tread it with caution as without proper mix and skills; it might compromise the hair's integrity. Such developers are often used for hand-painted coloring techniques to obtain the desired color or highlights.

How do you choose the right hair developer?

Before picking the right developer for hair color there are a few things that you need to consider. Here are a few factors which help in deciding the right developer:

Also Read - how to choose a hair color developer

Color Type:

  • Semi and demi-permanent colors – The 5 and 10-volume Developers are appropriate for these colors as they offer minimal lift. Using these developers helps with gentle color deposits on the strands.
  • Darkening hair - The 20 Volume Developer is an appropriate choice for darkening hair by up to 3 levels. It helps shift lighter shade existing or natural colors into deeper color shades.
  • Lightening hair – The 30 and 40 Volume Developers are what you need for lightening hair. If you want to lighten your hair by up to 4 levels, go for the 30 Volume Developers. However, for using super lightening hair colors, you can opt for 40 Volume Developers that offer up to 8 levels of lighter lift.

Hair Quality:

The hair quality also impacts the overall hair coloring process. Depending on hair porosity, you might have to choose a developer formula accordingly. Highly porous hair has open cuticles that absorb moisture and water quickly, resulting in dryness and frizz. On the other hand, the low porosity hair has closed cuticles, enabling resistance to moisture absorption.

Due to open cuticles, high-porosity hair absorbs color faster but is also prone to quick fading. It is best to use a low-volume developer like 30-Volume for lightening hair while keeping the processing time short. You can opt for a higher volume developer to ensure better color pigment penetration for darkening hair. However, for low-porosity hair, a stronger developer is recommended for opening the cuticles and better color absorption. It is advised to follow the instructions in the box for normal porosity.

Hair Texture:

The developers for hair color react differently to varying types of hair types and textures. For thin and fine hair, it is recommended to use a low-volume developer as the pigment tends to penetrate faster. For thicker and coarse textured hair, it is recommended to use a stronger developer volume. However, getting advice from an expert hair colorist is best before weighing down your options.

Mixing Hair Color and Developer – How to Do It the Right Way?

No matter the hair type and texture, it takes the right amount of hair developer mixed with the color for optimal cuticle opening and dye penetration. The ratio varies depending on the hair requirement. Here are some of the standard mixing ratios (Hair Color: Developer) used for obtaining the desired impact:
  • 1: 1 Ratio – Mixing an equal ratio of both helps obtain a hair shade closer to the natural hair color. Suitable for all hair types, it also helps with adequate gray coverage.
  • 1:1.5 Ratio – This ratio is ideal for lightening hair color by up to two levels and is also perfect for root touch ups. This helps in covering stubborn grays.
  • 1:2 Ratio – This ratio is perfect for lightening your hair by up to 3 to 4 shades.

However, before opting for a particular ratio of color to the developer, read the instructions on the box, as the ratio might differ from brand to brand.

Moehair Tips for Using Developers for Hair Color

  • It is best to consult a professional hair colorist before using a developer or mixing it with the hair color. This helps in using the right developer that's required as per hair type, texture, and color you wish to achieve.
  • The developers are meant for immediate use after it is mixed with the color. Hence, only mix the developer formula if you are ready to apply.
  • Always use a professional-grade hair color developer for best results. Read the instructions before usage.
  • After coloring, as the hair cuticles are open, focus on aftercare. Avoid using heat styling tools immediately after coloring. Apply heat protectant spray before styling with hot tools.

Armed with the right developer, you can color your hair and achieve the desired shade. Flaunt your beautifully colored hair, but don't forget a good aftercare routine for its wholesome health.


How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor the fashion and beauty space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

    • Current Version

  • Jan 29, 2024

Written By

Sudi Parvaresh

Edited By

Saima Ahmed

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