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Do you mix equal parts developer and color?

When mixing hair color, it’s important to follow the instructions provided with the specific brand and shade you are using. However, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind:


Developer, also called hydrogen peroxide, acts as an activator when coloring hair. It opens up the cuticle layer of the hair so the color can deposit inside the strand. Here are some tips for working with developer:

  • Developer is mixed with hair color in a 1:1 ratio, meaning equal parts developer and color. For example, if you have 2 oz of color, you mix it with 2 oz of developer.
  • Common developer volumes used with permanent hair color are 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume. Higher volumes contain higher percentages of peroxide to lighten hair more.
  • For permanent color with no lightening, a 10 or 20 volume developer is typically used.
  • For permanent color with lightening, a 30 or 40 volume developer is typically used.
  • Developer volume should be selected based on the desired results and instructions provided with the color.

Hair Color

When working with hair color, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Permanent, demi-permanent, and semi-permanent hair colors will provide mixing instructions on the box or tube. It’s important to carefully read and follow these.
  • Permanent color typically requires equal parts color and developer.
  • Demi-permanent color may recommend a lower developer volume like 10 or 20 volume to deposit color without significant lightening.
  • Semi-permanent color is deposit only so does not require developer in most cases.
  • Bleach kits contain their own activator and should be mixed according to instructions.
  • Toner is applied after coloring/lightening and uses 10 or 20 volume developer in most cases.

Following Instructions

To summarize, always follow the instructions provided with the specific brand and shade of hair color you are using. Don’t rely on generic mixing guidelines. Hair color chemistries vary across professional brands and proper mixing is key for achieving the expected results. Some additional tips:

  • Mix products in a non-metal bowl.
  • Combine equal parts color and developer and stir thoroughly.
  • Do a strand test to check results before applying to full head.
  • Use the right tools – brushes, bowls, and applicators – for a clean application.
  • Time your processing carefully based on instructions.
  • Rinse thoroughly after processing and follow with recommended conditioner.

Table of Common Mixing Guidelines

Color Type Developer Volume Mixing Ratio
Permanent Color (no lightening) 10 or 20 Vol 1:1
Permanent Color (with lightening) 30 or 40 Vol 1:1
Demi-permanent Color 10 or 20 Vol 1:1 to 1:2
Semi-permanent Color None None
Bleach Included activator Per instructions
Toner 10 or 20 Vol 1:1 to 1:2

This table provides general mixing guidelines for common hair color types. Always defer to the instructions provided with the specific products you are using.


When coloring hair, it’s essential to mix developer and hair color in the proper ratios according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While a 1:1 ratio is commonly used for permanent color, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and other formulations will vary. Consulting the instructions for the specific products being used will provide the right mixing guidelines needed to achieve the desired results.