What Volume Developer Should I Use to Lighten My Hair? 10 or 20 or 30 or 40?

Do you intend to try a volume developer to lighten your hair? Being lost or confused is accepted with so many developer options available online and at the stores. Allow us to help you understand the basics of applying a developer and the answers to common questions asked by most users.

Before you begin to understand the various Dos and Don’ts, FAQs, and techniques of using volume developer, let’s take a quick read on what is a developer basically and how it helps.

What is a Hair Developer?

A hair developer is one of the essential ingredients in the hair coloring procedure. Without the support of a developer, you would not be able to achieve the desired hair color.

In most cases, the combination of hair color and developer is in the ratio of 1:1. Some even try 1:1.5 and 1:2 respectively.

In simple terms, the more portion of the developer, the stronger the lightning effect.

Best Hair Developer brands for Beginners

If you are a first-timer, then we recommend you check the below brands

  1. Wella ColorCharm Hair Developers for Hair Coloring
  2. L’Oreal Oreor Creme 40 Volume Developer
  3. L’Oreal Oreor 30 Volume Creme Developer
  4. Clairol Professional Pure White 10 Gentle Lift Creme Developer

Why do people mix developers with their hair dyes?

A developer is mixed to activate the hair dye. If mixed in the right (recommended) proportion, you get a good consistency and a uniform mixture.

For better color results also people use developers. Depending on the degree of lightning and type of hair, you can use the proportion of developers.

How to choose the right volume developer for hair dyes/colors?

  • Choosing the developer depends on the color type. For instance, temporary colors are mixed with 3 Vol. to 20 Vol. developers.
  • If you are looking for permanent colors, 20 Vol. to 30 Vol. will be needed which are moderate developers.
  • Lightening is the thing you are looking for in this article. To lighten the hair, it is advisable to use strong developers which are somewhere between 30 Vol. to 40 Vol.

Can I dye my hair with 10 volume developer?

Yes, but, that’s needed as per the coloring level. If you want level-on-level coloring, 10-vol developers are recommended.

However, if you are looking for strong lighteners, then you need to go for a higher volume. The developer contains 6% peroxide so you can now relate to the tint you would get on your lighter shade.

How do 10 volume developers help?

10 vol. is used to get 1 level darker from a lighter tone. In short, 10 vol. helps to get a darker shade and not a lighter one.

Can I use 20 volume developers to lighten my hair?

20 vol. developer consists of 6% peroxide that helps to lift the shade by 1 to 2 levels. It is recommended to use this volume with permanent or semi-permanent hair colors. The number gives you a natural lightening effect and is one of the most common types of developers.

How do 20 volume developers help?

20 volume developers help in covering 100% grey hair too. If you mix it with bleach powder, your virgin hair will lighten by 5 levels.

Can I use 30 volume developer to lighten hair?

It is generally recommended to go for a 30-volume developer if you wish to lighten your hair. It is because it contains 9% of peroxide which helps in lifting the shade by 3 levels.

However, you need to be very careful while using it as the strong chemicals and compounds may sometimes burn the scalp if it comes into contact.   

How do 30 volume developers help?

Most people use it for dyeing their hair and also for lightening it as per 3 levels up. It is generally recommended to dye grey hair. The experts suggest using it with permanent color and lightning powder.

Can I use 40 volume developer to lighten hair?

40 volume is used for people who have very dark hair. Darker hair tone gets too stubborn at times and doesn’t allow the other hair color shades to settle smoothly.

Thus, 40 Vol. is used as one of the mandates during the bleaching process. One has to be very careful in using this developer too due to the 12% peroxide present that may burn your scalp.

How do 40 volume developers help?

Gives hair lifts up to 8 levels up. If you desire to get a super blonde platinum shade, this would help to a great extent.

We advise you not to use it on your own and seek support from a hair expert. For better results, also read the instructions on the pack.

How to lighten hair using a developer?

Let us help you with the basics of how to use and apply any developer with your hair color. The right mix can help you get fabulous results. Here are certain things to be careful about;

  • Putting less quantity of developers won’t help in opening the air cuticle properly.
  • Putting more amounts of developers in the color will be good for lightening; however, the color won’t last long.
  • It is always wise to add an appropriate proportion of hair dyes and developers to get desired results for hair lightening.
  • Make use of scales, bowls, measuring cups, and scoops or spoons to get the proper measurement.
  • For good hair lifts in color, you need to mix 2 parts of a developer with 1 part of toner.
  • Always use a brush to dye your color and avoid using bare hands.
  • Take a small test always before lightening the entire hair.
  • Choose a good branded developer.

Now that you know the basics of using a developer, let’s understand the process of applying these volumes in detail.

How to lighten hair using 10 developer?

  • As we know 10 vol. developer helps to lighten the hair by half the tone, thus it is used when you need little changes on your hair color or tone.
  • The result of applying 10 vol. developer is known as ‘Illumination’ by hair experts.
  • You can apply the mixture of 10 vol. developer directly on the hair that is dry and detangled. You don’t have to wash or wet it.
  • Keep the mixture on the scalp for 40 minutes max but it would be wise to keep a check on the hair every 10 minutes.
  • After the advised time wash your hair with plain water at first and then you can use a good shampoo and conditioner.
  • Give a gap of at least 3 to 4 days before you plan to lighten it again as although the volume contains less chemical compound compared to other volume-based developers, it still causes some damage to hair.
  • In the gap between the first application and further applications, you may repair your hair by regularly applying coconut or argan oil.

Note: Choose tones like 6 light brown, 7 dark blonde, and 8 light blonde to get perfect illumination with 10 vol. developer. The lighter the shade or tone you choose, the lesser the difference you will see.

How to lighten hair using 20 developer?

  • For lightening the hair by one or two tones, we use 20 volume developer. In simple terms, it means a combination of one-half tone hair color and illumination.
  • The ideal time to leave the mixture on the scalp is 30 minutes. Avoid any further delay as it has harsher chemical compounds compared to volume 10.
  • Always keep a gap of one week before you lighten your hair again or else the damage will be evident.

Example 1: If you mix the developer with level 4 brown hair, you will get level 5 medium brown hair. You cannot expect level 6 light brown with this combination.

Example 2: Combination of volume 20 developer with level 6 light brown hair gives you level 7 dark blonde or level 8 blonde hair tone.

How to lighten hair using 30 developer?

  • The process of hair lightening with 30 volume developer i.e. lightening two tones level up is called Bleaching.  To form the mixture, you need to combine an equal portion of 30 vol. developer and bleaching powder.
  • You can apply it whenever you desire.
  • The application can be either applied on the sides, hair bangs, or ends of the hair.
  • Leave the mixture for not more than 20 minutes.
  • Check your hair tone every 5 minutes.
  • Preferably, rinse your hair with warm water and follow the wash with a good shampoo and conditioner.
  • Give a gap of 15 days between two applications.
  • Don’t forget to repair the damage by moisturizing your hair with coconut oil. Bleaching being an aggressive process can furthermore damage your hair and cuticles, thus it is important to hydrate your hair during the gaps of the bleaching process.

Always use plastic containers to form any hair mixture. It is because metals may disrupt the developer to give the color effect and desired tone.

How to lighten hair using 40 developer?

  • Vol. 40 developer is generally not recommended to people who have dark hair, the mixture of brown or black hair, red hair, and blonde. It is also because going from a dark color to extremely light color is almost impossible. Moreover, strong chemicals in virgin or natural colors may cause damage to your hair in one go.
  • We have limited the steps to use Vol.40 developer as we highly recommend our readers to get this procedure done by a hair expert or at the salon by a professional.
  • It is not safe to try this experiment at home especially when you are doing it for the first time.

Steps to mix developer with hair color:

1. Take proper measurements of both with the help of kitchen scales in a mixing bowl.

2. Read the instructions of your selected color and developer well.

3. For high lift color, add the amount of developer in double amount.

4. In case you are trying bleaching, double the amount of developer to bleach.

5. Mix properly with the help of a hairbrush so that no lumps are left.

6. Separate your hair and clip those in big sections. Leave only one section down at a time for the application.

7. Do not take the mixture too close to the scalp. Just begin from a little distance from the scalp and reach the ends.

8. Once you finish one section, pin it back and start with the other bigger and smaller sections respectively.

9. Repeat the process unless the mixture is over.

10. The time to leave the mixture on the scalp depends on the process you have selected. Let’s check that with a simple

  • Ideally, the processing time should be 30 minutes if your intention is coloring.
  • For toners, you need to leave the mixture for only 10-15 minutes.
  • If you need high lifts, then the suggested mixture to be left is for 40 minutes on the scalp.
  • Try to rinse soon as the process around the scalp gives faster results due to the heat of the scalp. (Before rinsing, run the scalp with some color and water. it helps to lock the color and gives a vibrant look on rinsing. The process is called emulsification.)

11. Preferably, choose an acidic shampoo. It helps the new color to lock the hair cuticle and sustain its quality.

12. Check your shampoo and conditioner well before using it. Not all coloring shampoos are acidic.

What volume developer should I use to lighten my hair?

Remember, the higher the hydrogen peroxide in the developer, the higher will be the vol. to identify. You may try using the volume developer to lighten your hair without bleach but we don’t guarantee that you would get the desired color.

To be honest, it would be unfair to rate developers or advice a specific volume. Now that you know the pros and cons, developer functionality and purposes as per their volume, and the guide to use them, it would be easier for you to select a developer based on your hair tone.

Recommended hair developer brands:

If you are trying the hair developer for the first time, then the following brands can be used for beginners.


Always remember, a slow lift is wiser, to begin with. Using a stronger developer may damage the hair cuticles in the long run. You may redo your hair with the developer slowly and steadily. Go for a trusted brand and check the reviews always before you finalize the product.