The Ultimate Guide To Using Hair Bleaches & Developers

You’ve probably heard a lot of stories about bleaching your hair. So now you think that you want to try something new, but you wonder, “Do I really need to bleach?”

The answer is yes. Even if you’re not trying to become a platinum blonde, there may come a time you need to bleach. Maybe you want to remove a previous color. You may need to lighten your current shade before adding something new. Maybe you like the ombre look, or are considering highlights.

You can successfully bleach your hair without damaging it. Using the appropriate developer for what you’re trying to do is one step towards that success.

Selecting a Developer

  1. Do you know where you’re starting from and what you want to do next? To determine your hair color level, you need the help of a friend.
  • Part your hair in the middle of the back of your head. You do this to get your most virgin hair: hair that hasn’t been affected by previous dye attempts or the sun.
  • Next your friend will compare the hair at the part to the hair level chart. You can usually borrow one from the store by asking at the counter.
  • Your hair color level is determined by the darkness of your hair color, not the tint. So if your exact color isn’t represented, choose the color that best matches the level of saturation in your color.

Watch this video to learn about hair color levels:


  1. Now that you know your hair color level, think of how many shades lighter you want your hair to go. Knowing this will have the most impact on the developer you choose, as the strength of the developer determines the amount of hair color lift you’ll end up with.
  1. Generally, you choose a higher level of developer the lighter you want to go. Consider this chart:
Developer Best Use
10 Volume (Weakest) Deposits color only; best used for darkening hair color 1 or 2 shades
20 Volume Lightening hair color 1 or 2 shades
30 Volume Lightening hair color 3 or 4 shades
40 Volume (Strongest) Lightening hair color up to 7 shades


Developers and Their Uses

40 volume developer is going to be the most damaging to your hair. Luckily, you don’t need 40 volume for most situations. But if you’re going very, very light from dark hair, 40 volume may be the best choice. Be warned that with stronger developers, you may end up with a brassy tint to the resulting color.

And don’t think you can just use 10 volume developer to be safe. 10 volume developer deposits color rather than lifting it. It’s best used when you’re going from lighter hair to slightly darker hair. If you’re worried about using a developer that’s too strong, stick with 20 volume.

Now that you know more about the different types of developers, you should feel more confident about your hair color experiment.

Have fun! There’s a world of possibilities now that you can bleach out previous attempts with minimal damage.

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