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20 Volume Developer to Lighten Dark Hair

If you want to lighten your hair a shade, you don’t necessarily have to use bleach. Use a developer to lift hair shade and achieve the lighter hair color you want. This will cause less damage to your hair than bleaching.

20 volume (6% peroxide) developer is what you’ll see in almost every salon. They are popular for grey coverage. You can expect to lift 1-2 levels with a 20 vol developer.

What is Hair Developer?

Developers are peroxide-containing mixtures that are usually mixed with dyes, toners, or bleach to change the color or tint of hair. The peroxide developer in these mixtures makes hair more receptive to taking on color or bleach.

Most developers contain hair protectants and other products to make hair feel better after use. No matter what product manufacturer you choose, the active ingredient that makes all developers work is peroxide.

Using a 20 volume developer to lighten dark hair will result in less lightening than bleach, but it will also damage your hair less. Using the developer by itself for lightening purposes is best for those with dark hair.

The results will be much less noticeable if you have light hair already.

What is a 20 volume Developer?

20 volume Developer

20 volume developer contains 6% peroxide. The rest of the mixture is water and other products, depending on what the manufacturer puts in. The 6% concentration makes 20 vol a medium-strength developer.

30 and 40 volume developers are more concentrated than 20 volume developers. Similarly, 10 and 5 volume developers are weaker than 20-vol developers.

20 vol developer is most often used when bleaching or dying hair. By making the hair receptive to changes, 20 developers result in a permanent color change or stronger lightening with bleach.

Using 20-volume developer and bleach is the maximum amount of lighting you can safely do in one session. Using a higher concentration developer with bleach will result in damaged and even burnt hair.

Using a higher concentration developer without bleach will not get hair as light as bleach and 20 developer mixed.

What Does A 20 volume Developer do?

All developers make hair more receptive to dying or bleaching. A 20-volume developer mixed with dye will result in permanent color. Combining a 20-volume developer with bleach can lift hair as much as 8 shades!

You can also use 20 volume developer by itself to lighten dark hair. You will not get as much lightning from developer without bleach, but it will be gentler.

Developer lightening is also a good option for those that only want to lighten their hair by one or two shades.

The results of the developer to lighten hair are permanent because, instead of coating your hair, the peroxide affects the cortex of your hair, which is the part that holds color.

Can You Use a 20 volume Developer Alone to Lighten Dark Hair?

Yes, you can use a 20 volume developer alone to lighten your hair by one or two shades. Using a developer is an easy way to lighten hair that doesn’t require all the same precautions as bleach.

Note that the lighter your hair already is, the less noticeable the results will be.

If you want to know more about bleach and developer, here is a bleach vs developer comparison table.

How to Use 20 volume Developer to Lighten Hair

There are two ways to use 20 volume developer to lighten your hair. The first is the traditional way, which is to mix it with bleach. The second is to use the developer by itself to lighten the hair a smaller amount.

No matter which method you choose, always wear gloves, ventilate your bathroom, and immediately rinse if you feel any burning, extreme itching, or pain.

Using 20 Volume Developer and Bleach to Lighten Dark Hair

Using 20 Volume Developer and Bleach to Lighten Dark Hair

Mixing 20 volume developer and bleach can lighten your hair up to 8 shades. If you feel any burning sensation while bleaching your hair, stop immediately. Contact poison control if you get hair bleach in your mouth or eyes.

All bleaches can permanently stain fabric, so be cautious with which towels you use and which clothes you wear when bleaching.

  • Step One: Mix your hair bleach of choice with 20 volume developer. Use two parts developer to one part bleach. To protect your hair, you can use a 1:1:1 ratio of 10 volume developer, 20 volume developer, and bleach.
  • Step Two: Saturate the hair you want to lighten completely. Leave a 1-inch gap away from your scalp to protect it from damage.
  • Step Three: Let the bleach sit on your hair for up to 30 minutes. You can cover your hair during this time to maximize the effects of the lightning.
  • Step Four: Shampoo and rinse your hair thoroughly.

Using 20 Volume Developer Alone to Lighten Dark Hair

Using 20-volume developer alone to lighten dark hair
  • Step One: Saturate the hair you want to lighten entirely with the developer.
  • Step Two: Cover your hair with a plastic bag or shower cap to keep it moist and maximize results.
  • Step Three: Let the developer sit on your hair for up to 40 minutes.
  • Step Four: Shampoo and rinse your hair thoroughly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 20 volume developer damaging to the hair?

All developers contain peroxide, which can significantly damage hair and skin if not used cautiously.

Is 20 volume developer a bleach?

No, 20 volume developer is a peroxide developer and is not a bleach. The peroxide in developer activates ingredients in the bleach, making them lighten your hair.

Can I mix 10 and 20-volume developers?

Yes, you can mix 10 and 20 volume developers. The mixture will result in a 15 volume developer that you can use with bleach for milder results.

Is a 20 developer stronger than a 30 developer?

No, 30 volume developer is more potent than 20 volume developer. The 30 volume contains 9% peroxide, while the 20 volume contains 6%.

How much 20 volume developer should I mix with hair color?

You should mix 1 part developer with 1 part hair color for the best results. When in doubt, follow the instructions listed on your hair dye. 

How long should I leave 20 volume developer on hair?

To bleach hair using 20 volume developer, you should leave the mixture on your hair for at most 30 minutes.

To lighten your hair with 20 volume developer alone, you should leave the developer on your hair for at most 40 minutes.

To dye your hair using 20 volume developer, follow the directions on the dye box. In most cases, hair dye mixed with 20 volume developer should be left on the hair for 30 to 45 minutes.

Can a 20 developer by itself lighten hair?

Yes, 20 volume developer by itself can lighten hair by one to two levels.

How much can 20 developer lift?

A 20 volume developer will lift roughly 1 to 2 levels, depending on your hair’s resistance.

20 volume vs. 40 volume developer – what’s the difference?

A 40 volume developer has a higher concentration of peroxide than a 20 volume developer. These developers contain 6% peroxide, while 40 volume developers contain 12%.

If you only want to lift your hair a shade or two, using 20 volume developer to lighten dark hair is a great solution.

You can use the developer by mixing it with bleach or using it alone. Mixing the developer with bleach will result in much lighter hair, but the developer alone will be gentler than bleach.