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What Are the Different Hair Developer Levels?

If you’re planning on coloring your hair in the convenience of your own home, it’s important that you utilize the right developer if you want to achieve the best possible results. Specifically, hair developer is a product that contains hydrogen peroxide, which is what opens up the hair cuticle and allows color to be deposited. However, if you’ve ever seen developer at your local beauty supply store, you’ve probably noticed that there’s all kinds of different levels of developer. So, what do all those different hair developer levels mean, and how can you know which one to use on your own hair?

What Are the Different Hair Developer Levels?

Understanding Volume Numbers

Essentially, the number or level indicated on a bottle of developer simply refers to the amount of hydrogen peroxide it contains. The more hydrogen peroxide in the developer, the more the hair’s cuticle gets opened up during the coloring process. Therefore, the higher the level of developer, the more hydrogen peroxide it contains and the more the cuticle will be opened while coloring.


10 Volume

10 volume developer typically contains about 3% hydrogen peroxide and is one of the weakest developers on the market. However, there are many situations in which it may be best to use on 10 volume developer on your hair. For example, if you’re going darker than your current hair color and don’t need to lift any of your existing color to achieve the desired look, then this is probably a good choice for you. This is also the developer you’ll likely want to use with any toner.


20 Volume

A 20 volume developer usually contains closer to 6% hydrogen peroxide. This is also the most commonly used developer, so if you’re in doubt, consider choosing this option. 20 volume developer is ideal for grey-hair coverage, though it can also be used when coloring your hair within one to two levels of your current shade.

30 Volume

A 30 volume developer will contain closer to 9% hydrogen peroxide and is usually best for situations where you’re trying to lighten your hair. This level of developer will open the cuticle up enough to lift existing color, thus making it easier to achieve a lighter result. If you’re looking to lighten three shades or more, this is probably the developer you’ll want to use to get the job done.

A Note About 40 Volume and Above

There are developers that come in at level 40 and even higher, but it’s recommended that you avoid these, no matter what you’re trying to do with your hair’s color. These developers can be extremely damaging if not used exactly right, which is why they’re generally best left to the professionals at your local salon.

What Are the Different Hair Developer Levels?

How to Use Developer

Once you’ve decided which hair developer is best for your needs, using it is pretty simple. All you need to do is read the directions on your hair color packaging to find the ratio of developer to color and mix in a bowl before applying to your hair. For grey coverage, you may want to reduce the ratio a bit.

As you can see, choosing the right hair developer is an important step in achieving your desired color results. By choosing the right developer, you can fall in love with your hair color. Just be sure to follow the instructions that come with your developer and be careful not to over-process your hair, which can lead to damage. 

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