Does Developer Damage Your Hair?

Does 20 volume developer damage hair? What about 10 volume?  Stylists, it’s time to talk about developer. 


Determining an accurate developer while formulating artificial hair color is as critical, if not more, than the shades you are formulating with. Developer isn’t something you want to overlook, and if you are: It’s time to invest in your education. News Flash: Hair Texture is the #1 determining factor when choosing the right developer. Choosing the wrong developer may leave you with a color formula with unpredictable results or damage your client’s hair, so it’s vital to make yourself aware of the details of developer.


Let’s not waste time, and dive right into it.


WHAT does a developer do?

First, let’s review oxidative color. Starting as tiny colorless precursors waiting to be mixed with a developer, they form their color once a chemical reaction occurs from the mixing. When applied to hair, the chemical reaction continues as the hair bonds are broken down and replaced with new ones. This is what changes the natural color of hair to artificial. Simply, developer is a big deal. 


It’s the star of the show, if we’re being honest. Developer has three main jobs. First, it lifts the cuticle later, which allows dye molecules to penetrate the hair shaft. Then, it facilitates the removal of melanin by breaking down the hair’s chemical bonds. Finally, it reacts to the ammonia present in artificial hair color which aids in the oxidation process. Easy enough, right?


As we know, there’s a wide variety of types of developers. It’s important to note the differences in the capability of developers. If you choose the wrong developer for your client, the formula may not realize its full potential the way you intend. 


The volume of developer

For a quick developer guide, check this out. 


10 Volume (3%) Developer can:

  • Deposit
  • Gray Blending on Medium to Course Hair
  • Gray Coverage on Fine to Medium Hair
  • 1 Level of Lift on Fine Hair 


20 Volume (6%) Developer can:

  • Lift and Deposit
  • An excellent choice for gray coverage
  • 1 level of lift on medium to coarse hair
  • 2 levels of tint on fine to medium hair


30 Volume (9%) Developer can:

  • Lift and Deposit
  • An excellent choice for high lift tint
  • 2-3 levels of lift on medium to coarse hair
  • 3-4 levels of lift on fine to medium hair 


40 Volume (12%) Developer can:

  • Lift and Deposit
  • An excellent choice for high lift tint 
  • 3-4 levels of lift on medium to coarse hair
  • 4-5 levels of lift on fine to medium hair


But, as we said before, the performance of each of these developers is highly dependent on the client’s hair texture. Generally speaking, you’ll get more lift on fine-medium hair texture, and less lift on medium to coarse hair. 


Processing Time

Another often overlooked, and often auto-piloted detail is how many minutes developer needs to, um…. Develop?  When mixing developer with haricolor (not lightener) the volume of the chosen development is a key indicator of how long it takes the color molecules to process. 


  • 5 Volume: 15 Minutes
  • 10 Volume: 20 Minutes
  • 20 Volume: 30 Minutes
  • 30 Volume: 40 Minutes
  • 40 Volume: 50 Minutes


Don’t worry about memorizing these statistics, because we’ve got a quick trick for you: Take the volume of the developer, and add 10 to it. That’s going to be the time it takes your developer to process. Pretty cool, huh? 


If the your color formula doesn’t process for as manu minutes as it needs you may get a sheer or hollow end result will occur, or there might not be enough lift.  We want our clients to walk out the door satisfied: If choosing the wrong developer or processing it incorrectly is the issue, brushing up on your knowledge of the developer can be a quick fix. 


can developer damage your hair?

Yes. Developer can damage hair.  If you pick a developer that is too strong for the hair texture of your client, it has the possibility of lifting the cuticle so much that it can’t be smoothed back down. So, how do you pick the right developer for the job?  Don’t know?


Then you should probably brush up on your color theory education! But don’t worry, we know exactly how do to that.


Beauty School Remix’s second lesson in the Haircolor Foundations Unit, Defining Developers, is a quick yet detailed course to gain a full understanding of the power of developers in your salon. 



Here’s what you’ll learn:

    • What Three Jobs Does Developer Do?
    • Different Strengths of Developer
    • How Damaging Developer Can Be
    • How long developer needs to process for
    • What happens if you Don’t Choose the Right Strength?
    • Formulation Scenarios
    • Common Mistakes
    • How to beat brassy hair


Also included in this lesson is an EXCLUSIVE very easy Developer Chart Quick Guide that details the correct developer for the hair texture for what you are trying to achieve, plus its minimum processing times. This is the lesson that will make you more confident in your formulation choices, using developers to lighten hair and how to prevent brassy hair.







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