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Does pravana vivids need a developer?

Pravana Vivids is a popular brand of vivid and bright hair color. Unlike traditional permanent hair dyes, Vivids are direct deposit colors that coat the outside of the hair strand. This allows for brilliant color payoff without commitment to one shade. However, there is some debate within the hair community as to whether Vivids require a developer or not for proper application and longevity. In this article, we’ll examine both sides of this question, looking at the unique formulation of Vivids and whether adding a developer impacts performance.

What are Pravana Vivids?

Pravana Vivids are semi-permanent direct deposit hair colors made by Pravana, a professional haircare company. Here are some key facts about Vivids:

  • Deposit-only formula, no lifting or lightening of hair
  • Brilliant, vivid color results
  • Last 4-8 shampoos
  • No ammonia or peroxide
  • Conditioning formula, no damage to hair
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Unlike permanent hair color, Pravana Vivids do not require a developer to activate the color molecule. The formula contains large color pigments that coat and tint the outside of the hair shaft. This gives incredible color payoff without penetration into the hair cortex.

Here’s a quick overview of how Vivids work:

Permanent Hair Color Pravana Vivids
Uses ammonia and peroxide to open cuticle and deposit color inside cortex No lifting or lightening, deposit color only
Lasts 4-6 weeks as hair grows out Lasts 4-8 shampoos before fading
Requires developer to activate No developer needed

The Role of Developer

Typically permanent and demi-permanent hair dyes require a developer or oxidizing agent. This is because the color molecules need to be activated and swell in order to penetrate into the hair shaft. Common developer strengths are 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume. Higher volumes contain more peroxide to thoroughly saturate hair.

Developers have several key functions:

  • Activate color and allow it to deposit inside the cuticle
  • Allow color to expand and swell for even saturation
  • Open the cuticle slightly to let color in
  • Lighten hair to allow brighter results

For permanent colors, developer is absolutely mandatory. But Vivids are formulated differently. The large pigments can coat hair without a developer to open the cuticle. However, some stylists argue a developer makes Vivids last longer and appear more vibrant.

Reasons to Use Developer with Vivids

Here are some potential benefits of using a developer when applying Pravana Vivids:

May Increase Durability

While Pravana states a developer is not required, some stylists find Vivids last longer with one. They feel a developer slightly opens the cuticle to allow deeper staining that resists fading.Standard Vivids wash out in 4-8 shampoos. A developer may help extend this lifespan.

Can Boost Vibrancy

Using 10 or 20 volume developer is said to create more vivid, intense color results. The developer may help the large color pigments spread and saturate strands more thoroughly. This can lead to extra pop and brilliance.

Lightens Hair for Brighter Color

Higher volumes like 30 or 40 can lift hair 1-2 levels to allow brighter color deposit. This is helpful if pre-lightening is not an option but more intense shades are desired.

Evens Out Application

The swelling and activating effects of developer can help the Vivids formula distribute evenly from roots to ends. This leads to uniform color results.

Without Developer With 10 or 20 Volume Developer
4-8 shampoo durability May extend to 6-10 shampoos
Vibrant colors Boosted vibrancy and intensity
Even application More even saturation

Reasons to Avoid Developer with Vivids

On the other side, some experts argue against using developer with Pravana Vivids for these reasons:

Not Required for Deposit-Only Color

Unlike permanent color, Vivids do not require a developer for activation and cuticle penetration. The large color pigments adhere to the outside of hair.

Can Cause Unwanted Lightening

While lightening may be desired in some cases, developer can cause subtle lightening even with lower volumes. This could warm up the undertones.

Potential Damage to Hair

A developer contains peroxide which can be drying and damaging, especially to previously lightened or color-treated hair. Vivids are gentler without one.

May Dilute Color Results

The developer not only opens the cuticle but adds volume. This additional liquid could make Vivids less concentrated, diluted, and sheer.

Without Developer With Developer
No lightening or damage Risk of lightening and drying hair
Undiluted formula Potentially diluted color
Staining lasts 4-8 shampoos May not extend wear significantly

Tips for Using Developer with Vivids

While Pravana does not require developer, those who choose to use it should follow these best practices:

  • Do a strand test to check for unwanted lightening
  • Use the lowest volume possible (10 or 20 vol)
  • Watch development times closely
  • Mix developer with color right before application
  • Focus on mid-lengths and ends only
  • Rinse immediately once target shade is reached
  • Deep condition after to nourish hair

Recommended Developer Volumes

Hair Level Recommended Developer Volume
Level 1-4 10 Volume
Level 5-7 10 or 20 Volume
Level 8-10 20 or 30 Volume

How Long Do Vivids Last?

Pravana Vivids are intended to wash out gradually over 4-8 shampoos. However, duration depends on several factors:

  • Hair color and porosity – Vivids last longer on light, porous hair
  • Shampooing frequency – Less washing extends wear
  • Water temperature – Cooler water helps preserve color
  • Sun exposure – UV rays can fade Vivids faster
  • Use of conditioner – Conditioner coats hair to make color last
  • Whether or not developer was used – As previously discussed, developer may extend wear

With the proper maintenance, Vivids can last 5-6 weeks or more before requiring a color refresh.

How to Make Pravana Vivids Last

Here are some tips for making your Pravana Vivids hair color last as long as possible:

  • Wash hair less frequently, every 3-4 days
  • Rinse with cooler water
  • Use sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo
  • Apply conditioner liberally and rinse minimally
  • Protect hair from sun exposure with hats, scarves
  • Use color-depositing products like Vivids Color Refresh
  • Avoid chlorine, salt water, and minerals that can strip color

Fixing Faded Vivids

As Vivids fade, the color molecules shrink and wash down the drain. To freshen up faded shades:

  • Reapply the same Vivids shade directly
  • Use Pravana Color Refresh to re-deposit pigment
  • Mix Vivids formula with conditioner for whole-head application
  • Spot treat the most faded areas as needed

Avoid lightening or color-removing treatments which can cause patchiness. Vivids fade evenly so reapplying the same shade is simple.

Can You Color Over Pravana Vivids?

Pravana Vivids can be colored over, but the new shade may mix with the underlying pigment. For best results:

  • Choose a similar shade to layer tones
  • Use a darker color if going darker
  • Remove Vivids first before going lighter
  • Opt for permanent color for gray coverage
  • Strand test to check the color blend
  • Lift hair with lightener if applying a lighter shade

Non-oxidative colors like Manic Panic or Overtone can go directly over Vivids. But permanent colors and lighteners may require removal first for even results.

Removing Pravana Vivids

Pravana Vivids do not contain lighteners or bleach. However, the color can still be removed as needed. Options include:

  • Anti-dandruff shampoo to quickly fade several shades
  • Bleach bath to gradually lift cuticle stain over a few sessions
  • Full highlight or balayage with lightener
  • Color remover treatment to strip artificial pigment
  • Clarifying shampoo to deep clean and lift stain

For a full removal, be sure to pre-lighten hair to pale yellow first before applying permanent color.


While Pravana Vivids do not require a developer for application, some stylists opt to use one to extend longevity and boost vibrancy. However, developer is not essential for these direct deposit colors to work effectively. Whether or not to add developer depends on your specific hair goals and the condition of your hair. When used properly, Vivids offer stunning temporary color without hair damage. With proper maintenance, these vivid tones can last 4-8 weeks before needing a refresh.