Skip to Content

Can you mix hair dye with 20 developer?

When it comes to coloring your hair at home, using the right developer with your chosen hair dye is crucial for achieving your desired results. Developers, which come in volumes like 10, 20, 30, and 40, affect how light or dark the hair dye color will turn out. So can you use 20 volume developer with hair dye? The short answer is yes, but there are some important factors to consider.

What is a 20 Volume Developer?

Hair dye developers are formulated with varying levels of peroxide, which opens up the hair cuticles during coloring so that the dye can deposit or remove pigment. The level of peroxide is measured in volumes – the higher the volume, the higher the concentration of peroxide.

A 20 volume developer contains 6% hydrogen peroxide. This makes it an effective developer for permanent hair dyes, as the higher peroxide concentration allows more cuticle opening so that dye molecules can easily penetrate the hair shaft.

Here is a table comparing the different developer volumes and their peroxide concentration:

Developer Volume Peroxide Concentration
10 Vol 3%
20 Vol 6%
30 Vol 9%
40 Vol 12%

Using 20 Volume Developer with Hair Dye

20 volume developer can be used with permanent, demi-permanent, and deposit-only hair dyes. Here is an overview of how it works with each type:

Permanent Hair Dye

Permanent hair dyes use a two-part system – the color cream and the developer. 20 volume developer is commonly recommended for use with permanent dye since the higher peroxide level allows for deep penetration and long-lasting color.

The pros of using 20 vol with permanent dye include:

  • Maximum lightening and color lifting
  • Long-lasting, fade-resistant results
  • Ability to make hair up to 2 shades lighter

The cons include:

  • Can be drying or damaging to hair
  • Higher risk of irritation

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Demi-permanent hair dyes deposit color without fully penetrating the hair shaft. 20 volume developer can be used with demi-permanent dye when you want added lightening or lift.

The pros of 20 vol with demi-permanent dye are:

  • Adds lightening power
  • Allows for tone-on-tone color results

The cons are:

  • Can cause unnecessary damage if overused
  • May create overly light results

Deposit-Only Hair Dye

Deposit-only dyes simply coat the hair with temporary color that washes out over time. With deposit-only dyes, 10 volume developer is recommended, as the lower peroxide level won’t lift or damage the hair.

Using 20 volume with deposit-only dye has more cons than pros:

  • Can cause unwanted lightening
  • May make color turn out uneven
  • Can irritate scalp

When to Use 20 Volume vs. Lower Volumes

Choosing whether to use 20 volume vs. 10 or 30 volume developer depends on your specific hair coloring goals.

Here is an overview of when you may want to opt for a lower or higher volume developer:

Volume Best Uses
10 Vol Refreshing color, deposit-only dye, reduced damage
20 Vol Permanent dye, lightening dark hair, gray coverage
30 Vol High-lift color, lightening more than 2 shades

Lower Developer Volume

Choosing a 10 or 15 volume developer will create less damage, but won’t lighten as much. Go with a lower volume when:

  • You want deposit-only temporary color
  • Your hair is already pre-lightened
  • You are happy with your current base color
  • You have damaged or fragile hair

Higher Developer Volume

Using 30 or 40 volume developer allows for greater lift but can damage hair. Use a higher volume when:

  • You need to lighten your base color more than 2 shades
  • You have stubborn gray hairs
  • You want high lift color results

How to Mix 20 Volume Developer

When using 20 volume developer with permanent, demi-permanent, or deposit-only dyes, it’s important to mix the color and developer properly to achieve the best results.

Follow these tips for mixing with 20 volume developer:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing ratios. Common ratios are 1:1 or 1:2 (dye to developer).
  • Squeeze out the desired amount of hair dye into a non-metallic mixing bowl.
  • Pour in the same amount of 20 volume developer.
  • Mix together thoroughly until the color is smooth and uniform.
  • Apply immediately onto clean, dry hair.
  • Leave on hair for the time indicated on the box instructions.

It’s crucial to precisely measure out the dye and developer, as too much developer can damage hair. Mixing at the wrong ratio can also alter the final hair color result.

Does 20 Volume Developer Damage Hair?

All peroxide-based developers can damage hair when not used correctly. However, 20 volume isn’t as harsh as 30 or 40 volume developers.

Here are some tips to minimize damage when using 20 volume developer:

  • Do a strand test first to assess conditioning levels
  • Use a protein-rich conditioner prior to coloring
  • Only leave on the hair for the recommended time
  • Rinse thoroughly after the processing time
  • Use a moisturizing hair mask for a few days after
  • Wait 4-6 weeks between colorings
  • Avoid overlapping dye too close to the scalp or ends

Choosing the right developer volume for your hair and coloring needs will help prevent unnecessary damage. Always do a patch test before a full application.


20 volume developer can be used safely and effectively with permanent, demi-permanent, and deposit-only hair dyes. The key is selecting the right developer strength for your specific coloring goals and hair condition.

If you want to lighten or lift your hair color more than 2 shades, 20 volume likely won’t be enough – opt for a 30 volume developer instead. But for most traditional permanent and demi-permanent coloring with added lightening power, 20 volume is an ideal choice.

Take care to precisely mix the dye and developer following kit directions, and perform a strand test first to check your hair’s integrity. With proper precautions, 20 volume developer can give you gorgeous, lasting color results.