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How to Choose Right Developer for Hair Color?

Aug 15, 2017

There are so many different developers, it can be difficult to buy the right oxidant. Let us explain you how choose right volume developer.

Do you plan to color your hair from the comfort of your home. For every hair dyeing with professional hairdressing colours it is almost always necessary to buy a developer (oxidant, peroxide, activator). But, it is often sold only in a very large package. But some brands sell developers in small packages for one application (e.g. Schwarzkopf Igora).

What Is Developer?

The developer is a totally essential element in the hair coloring process. The oxidant creams contain the hydrogen peroxide, which opens the hair cuticle. Color pigments, due to this process, can penetrate deep into the hair fiber and color it. Without the developer you would never achieve a significant changes in the color of your hair.

The hair color and the developer are mixed in a certain ratio to form a tint mixture which is then applied to the hair. Mixing ratio is usually 1:1, 1:1.5 or 1:2 (for an extra strong lightening effect).

Benefits of Hair Developer

  • Activation - hair dye is activated after mixing with hair developer.
  • Consistency - color that has been mixed with cream developer is thicker and stay in place without fear of drips. The developer also helps to uniform coverage.
  • Color delivery - the developer deposits color by lifting the cuticle layers just enough for color pigment to slip inside.
  • Color removal - developer opens the overlaps of the cuticle layer wide enough for natural color pigment to be removed from the hair.
  • Better color - the resulting color shades will have more intensity and it'll more long-lasting.

If you want to get the best result, it is important to use the right concentration of developer. This choice will also depend on the type of color, degree of lightening, type of hair and quality of hair.

How to Choose the Right Volume Developer?

The choosing the correct developer to use for your desired results is crucial to getting the color you want. The force/concentration of developer is expressed in percentage (%) or units of volume (Vol.). The higher the number is the stronger the developer is and it therefore more lightens hair.

1) Developer Choice by Color Type

  • Temporary colors - semi-/demi-permanent colors are mixed with weaker developers (3 Vol. to 20 Vol.) or even no developers.
  • Permanent colors - these color are used with moderate developers. Usually 20 Vol. to 30 Vol.
  • Lighteners - it is necessary to use stronger developers to the bleaching powders or creams. Usually 30 vol. to 40 Vol.

2) Developer Choice by Degree of Lightening/Darkening

Choose concentration of developer according to how distinct you want to achieve hair lightening. Usually each 3 % of developer achieves lightening of 1 degree. If you want to keep your level of color, use the 3% developer.

No lift developer & 10 volume developer (3% peroxide)

  • Darkening of hair by 1 level.
  • It only works if you are going from a lighter to a darker shade, not the other way round.
  • Adds a shade or tint to hair of the same lightness level.

20 volume developer (6% peroxide)

  • Offers lifting by 1-2 levels.
  • The most common force of developer. It is usually used with temporary color and permanent dye.
  • Also suitable for covering 100% white hair.

30 volume developer (9% peroxide)

40 volume developer (12% peroxide)

  • Serves only for lightening. Up to 8 levels of lift.
  • Ideal for a super platinum blonde result.
  • It is used together with a lightening cream or powder.
  • There is a risk of hair burns. You should never use a 40 volume developer at home.

This is only a general recommendation. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

3) Developer Choice by Hair Type

Type of your hair can also influence the color result. Different hair types react differently to dyein*. For example, fine hair is easy to become lighter, color faster penetrates into the hair fiber. While thicker hair may be more resilient during the dying process. Observe to the following rules:

Fine hair

  • This hair is easy to become brighter or the darker.
  • When coloring your hair to a darker shade, it can be darker than required. Choose a lighter hair dye.
  • You can use the lower volume developer than recommended.

Normal hair

  • This hair has a normal color reaction.
  • Use the recommended volume of the developer.

Thick hair

  • This hair is harder to lighten and darken.
  • When coloring your hair to a darker hue, the color result may be slightly lighter.
  • You can use the higher volume developer than recommended.
  • Also gray and white hair is very resistant.

4) Developer Choice by Hair Quality

The quality of hair can also affects the coloring process. It's also very common that we have hair of different quality on our heads (e.g. normal hair with dry and split ends).

Porous hair

  • Porous hair is easily brightened and absorbs the color very well. But the color fades quickly.
  • Lightening: It is possible to use a lower volume developer or a shorter processing time of dyeing.
  • Darkening: You can use a higher volume developer to ensure better penetration of color pigments.
  • Tip! Apply the color on hair ends for the last 5-15 minutes.

Healthy hair

  • The hair has a normal coloring reaction. Color is absorbed very well.
  • Follow the instruction on the box.

Glamot Tips

  • We always suggest using a lower-volume peroxide and working with time and minimal controlled heat versus using a stronger peroxide level and trying to go faster, which can blow the cuticle. A slow lift is a better lift!
  • The color formula should not be mixed until you are ready to apply. Apply the tint mixture immediately to ensure better color penetration. This mixture is active for only 60 minutes.
  • Keep in mind! Always mix every professional hairdressing colour only with a recommended developer which is designed for the colour.
  • The very frequent application leads to a significant damage of the hair shaft. Do not forget to use protective -plex care (e.g. Olaplex or Fibreplex) during and after dyeing.

Do not miss our other articles:

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