Based on your knowledge of hair color, you may or may not know what developer is.  On a basic level, if you were to buy a box of hair color at the grocery store, it is the cream that you mix with the hair color to activate it.  Well, they are not all the same and people ask all the time what the different volumes of developer are.  Here is the answer…

Have you ever wondered what each of the different volumes of developer used in hair color were for?  Read about it in this short hair snip article.

The volumes of developer refer to how much peroxide that individual developer contains. In turn, the amount of peroxide determines how much the hair cuticle will open during the process.

The Different Volumes of Developer:

  • 10 Volume (10V / 3% peroxide) developer will deposit color and make the hair darker that is was. It works by just barely opening the cuticle enough to deposit pigment. Therefore, if you are doing any type of color in which you need to just deposit color without lift (including most toners), this is what you need to use.
  • 20 Volume (20V / 6% peroxide) developer is the most commonly used. First off, it is optimal for covering grey hair. Also, you’d use it to stay anywhere around the level your hair already is, or to lift 1-2 levels (see the different levels.)
  • 30 Volume (30V / 9% peroxide) will lift the hair up to 3 levels higher and is commonly used with lightener.
  • 40 Volume (40V / 12% peroxide) will lift the hair up to 4 levels. It is often used with lightener or high-lift blondes. Some high-lift colors even require double-40V for extra lift. Do keep in mind that 40V used with lightener can be tragically damaging if used incorrectly.

Less Commonly Used Volumes of Developer:

There are some other less commonly used developers such as 5V, 15V, 50V, 60V etc. Based on what you just learned, you should be able to figure out what each of them do.

Disclaimer: I would never ever recommend using anything higher than a 40V.  However, there is a 120-volume developer, in which you can make any other strength by diluting it.  This sounds pretty awesome, but do keep in mind that it’s hard to obtain as most shipping companies cannot transport it.

Now you know…

5 Comments on Hair Snips #11: The Different Volumes of Developer

  1. Thema Gallardo
    June 5, 2017 at 3:26 PM (3 weeks ago)

    What is volume means? Sorry for my ignorant question 😞

    • Hollee Wood
      June 5, 2017 at 3:51 PM (3 weeks ago)

      It basically means the level of developer. It has to do with the ratio of peroxide… higher volume means stronger developer.

  2. Anonymous
    January 12, 2014 at 1:45 AM (3 years ago)

    Use 20 volume perioxide

  3. Deanna
    November 13, 2013 at 6:36 AM (4 years ago)

    Hi 🙂 I am attempting to color my hair myself, for the first time in years! My formula is 1 part level 4 & 1.5 part level 5 with a 20 vol. developer. My friend, who is a stylist told me I should use a 10 vol. developer. My hair is currently colored & at a level 5 with few level 7 highlights & I want to stay at a level 5, what should I do??


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