How to Lighten Hair with Developer and Shampoo?

In today’s time, hair lightening is possible by different methods. Among them, using a developer and shampoo has been a topic to discuss. If you are someone who wants to know more about this, then this article serves best for you.

Can I Lighten My Hair with Just a Developer?

The simple answer is yes but first, let me explain what a developer is.

A developer is a chemical solution composed of hydrogen peroxide in varying concentrations. It lightens the hair when used along with bleach or hair color as a mixture.

The hydrogen peroxide in a developer lifts the cuticle layer of the hair, and it helps in penetrating the hair color deep into the hair shaft. It helps in making the hair color permanent.

It is an acidic solution, and when added with alkaline hair color or bleach ( containing ammonia) will cause the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide and causes the oxidation process. The oxidation leads to the lightening of the hair.

The developer contains hydrogen peroxide in different concentrations. A 20, 30, and 40-volume developer has  6%, 9%, and 12% of hydrogen peroxide, respectively. The higher the amount of hydrogen peroxide, the more the ability to lift the hair, and the more it lightens the hair.

The use of a developer alone can lighten the hair. But, this process is not that effective and requires the application of heat. Also, the developer needs to be in the hair for some time. The resulting hair color will be brassy, and the hair feels like a straw.

A 20-volume developer lightens the hair color by one shade. It is not necessarily harmful to the hair, as the peroxide is not activated while used alone.

So, a developer alone works best to lighten the hair in just one shade with minimum damage. It is because the hair damage due to lightening the hair is mainly because of bleach itself.

Can I lighten my Hair with Just Shampoo?

In general, the answer is yes. With a hair-lightening shampoo, it is achievable; these are readily available in the market. But it takes time. A hair lightening shampoo does not work the same as bleach or a hair dye: it has its own process.

It lightens the hair slowly: so it takes months to achieve any noticeable lightening. And also, after months of continuous use, the hair might lighten by only one shade. 

The main catch for the popularity of the hair lightening shampoo is the quality of the end hair. It does not damage the hair like a hair dye or a hair bleach would. But the hair color you get might not be the same as you expected. It gives a bronzy color that differs from person to person. 

Listed below are the important factors that come into play that determine the end color of the hair.

  1. The natural color of hair
  2. Sunlight exposure
  3. Clarity and quality of hair
  4. Amount and consistency

So, it is totally possible to lighten the hair with a hair lightening shampoo, but the results will vary from hair dye and hair bleach. For better results, professionals consider using complimenting conditioner and lightening spray along with the hair lightening shampoo.

If you want an instant change in the hair color, then definitely go for a hair dye or a hair bleach. It damages your hair, but in the end, you will get your desired hair color.

Also, with conditioning and moisturizing, we can repair the damaged hair to some extent. But if you are patient enough to wait for the results and don’t want to damage your hair to any level; then hair lightening shampoo will work best for you.

Top 7 Best Hair Lightening Shampoos

Here are the seven best hair lightening shampoo available in the market:

  1. TIO NACHO Natural Lightening & Volumizing Shampoo
  2. Klorane Shampoo with Chamomile for Blonde Hair
  3. John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Brighter Subtle Lightening Shampoo
  4. John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
  5. Sun Bum Hair Care (Blonde Shampoo/Conditioner)
  6. Tio Nacho All Day Volume Natural Lightening Shampoo
  7. John Frieda Sheer Blonde Highlight Activating Enhancing, DUO set Shampoo + Conditioner

How to lighten hair with developer and shampoo mix

The process of lightening hair with a developer and a shampoo is fairly simple. But before that, you need to prepare your hair for the treatment. Also, after the treatment, there are some after that you need to do.

Pre Care

  1. Deep condition and nourish your hair. You can do a deep conditioning treatment once a week before the lightning treatment. 
  2. Moisturize your hair. You can start hair oiling two weeks before the lightning treatment. Olive oil or coconut oil is the best choice. 
  3. Shampoo your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo and either apply coconut oil or use a coconut oil mask. 

Lightening process 

  1. First, make the mixture. To do this, add two tablespoons of developer into the bowl and add your daily dose of shampoo. Mix it well. For better results, you can add conditioners to the mixture.
  2. Wet your hair with water and gently pat dry it. The hair should be damp for the treatment. 
  3. With the help of a suitable brush, apply the mixture thoroughly to your hair. Start from the top and gently brush it down. But before this, wear a glove to prevent any irritation on your hand. 
  4. Now, cover your hair with a hair cap and leave it for some minutes. Check your hair at regular intervals and once you get your desired color, remove the hair cap. 
  5. Finally, rinse your hair with warm water, dry it, and style it. 


  1. Keep on nourishing the hair. You can use any hair oil like argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. 
  2. Avoid heat styling for at least 2-3 months and also protect the hair from direct sunlight. 
  3. Condition your hair frequently.

Which shampoo and developer mix works best to lighten different hair colors?

Before selecting the best shampoo and developer, we need to understand a little about the hair color types.

There are ten major hair color types, labeled in a numbering system. It is universal labeling and is used by all professionals. These are:                                     

  1. Black
  2. Darkest Brown
  3. Dark Brown
  4. Brown
  5. Light Brown
  6. Dark Blonde
  7. Blond
  8. Light Blonde
  9. Very light blonde
  10. Lightest Blonde

For choosing the right developer, you need to be clear about its use. For a hair lightening purpose, the developer is selected based on the targeted lightening of the hair. Listed below are the types of the developer:

10 volume developer:

It contains only 3% of peroxide. It does not lift the hair but rather darkens it by 1 level.

20 volume developer:

It consists of 6% of peroxide and lifts the hair by 1 to 2 levels.

30 volume developer:

It consists of 9% of peroxide that lifts the hair up to 3 levels.

40 volume developer:

It consists of 12 % of peroxide and lifts the hair up to 8 levels.

For instance, if you want to lighten a level 4 hair to level 7, then you need to use a 30-volume developer. The general rule is to subtract the level. However, different brands have different formulas, and it is always a good idea to consult with a professional.

Recommended Developers and Shampoos for Mix to Lighten Hair

For shampoos, clarifying shampoo works the best.

Recommended 20-volume DeveloperRecommended 30-volume DeveloperRecommended 40-volume DeveloperRecommended Shampoos
Loreal Oreor 20-Volume Creme Developer  L’Oreal Oreor 30 Volume Creme DeveloperL’Oreal Oreor Creme 40 Volume DeveloperPaul Mitchell Shampoo Two  
Schwarzkopf Professional Blonde Me Premium Developer Oil Formula Salon Care 30 Volume Creme DeveloperClairol Pure White 40 Creme Developer Maximum Lift   Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo
Loreal Maji Creme Developer Lotion Sensitive Scalp 30 Volume Creme DeveloperClairol Professional TRUE COLOR Crème 40 Volume Hair DeveloperChristophe Robin Purifying Shampoo With Jujube Bark Extract


So, lightening hair with a developer and a shampoo either used alone or separately is possible. But every lightning process has its pros and cons. Due to this, do consult with a professional hairstylist before you choose one for yourself.