When it comes to achieving beautiful, luminous hair color, Wella Illumina Color is an excellent semi-permanent hair dye that produces rich, vibrant shades. But choosing the right developer is key to getting the most out of Illumina and customizing the results. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about picking the optimal developer for use with Wella Illumina.
An Introduction to Wella Illumina
Wella Illumina Color first launched in 2020 as a new generation of semi-permanent hair dye. It uses ME+ technology powered by a unique ingredient called ME+ Complex that deeply conditions while depositing intense color. Illumina is available in over 60 mixable shades that can be used to create customizable looks from bold, fashion-forward hues to soft, natural-looking tones.
Some key benefits of Wella Illumina include:
- Vibrant, luminous results with high reflectivity
- Improved fade resistance for longer-lasting color
- Mixable shades that can be blended for customization
- Uses a conditioning gel-crème formula for easy glide and application
- Vegan and over 87% naturally derived ingredients
- Free of PPD, resorcinol, and ammonia
When working with Illumina Color, the developer you choose will impact the results. So let’s take a look at how developer works and how to select the best option.
How Does Developer Work with Hair Color?
Hair developer, also known as hydrogen peroxide, acts as an activator that allows permanent and demi-permanent hair dyes to deposit color onto the hair. Developers are mixed with hair color and come in different volumes such as 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume.
The higher the developer volume, the higher the concentration of hydrogen peroxide it contains. Higher volumes lift and lighten the natural hair more to allow deeper color penetration. They also produce longer-lasting color results.
With semi-permanent dyes like Illumina that don’t require a developer to work, the developer still impacts the color outcome:
- Higher volumes (30 or 40) will lift more natural pigment, allowing brighter, more vivid results.
- Lower volumes (10 or 20) result in subtler, more natural-looking colors.
- Using no developer still deposits color but minimally lifts the cuticle for more translucent results.
Now let’s look at the best developer options to use with Illumina hair color.
Wella offers several great developer choices specifically designed to work with the Illumina hair color system:
|IlluminaColor Developer||20 Vol||Ideal for most applications of Illumina; gently lifts while optimizing color results.|
|Blondor Developer||30 or 40 Vol||Use for lighter bases and high-lift applications to really brighten hair.|
|Welloxon Perfect Developer||10 or 20 Vol||For more subtle, translucent tones and toning.|
The IlluminaColor Developer is formulated specifically for use with the Illumina hair color system. The 20 volume strength provides an ideal lift and activation of dye molecules for brilliant, luminous results. It’s a great all-purpose developer for most Illumina applications.
Wella’s Blondor Developer comes in 30 or 40 volume strengths, making it perfect for high-lift Illumina color services. The extra lifting action allows for the most vibrant results on light bases. This higher volume developer really makes Illumina shades pop.
For more natural, translucent color effects, Welloxon’s Perfect Developer offers lower 10 and 20 volume options. This developer gently lifts the cuticle just enough to allow subtle color deposit. It’s ideal for toning and glossing services with Illumina.
How to Choose the Right Wella Developer for Illumina
Choosing the optimal Wella developer for your Illumina service depends on several factors:
- Base hair color and tone: Lighter bases require higher developers to maximize lift, while darker bases only need gentler lifting from lower volumes.
- Desired color results: Bold, bright shades need more lift while softer tones require less. Lower developers dilute color for transparency.
- Previous chemical services: If hair is over-processed, stay on the lower end of 10-20 volume developers.
- Hair’s condition: More damaged or porous hair benefits from a lower volume. Healthier hair can tolerate more lift.
- Skin tone: Cooler, pinker complexions look best with ashier shades that need less lift. Warm skin is complemented by brighter colors.
Here are some recommendations on how to select the optimal Wella developer for Illumina for different client goals and scenarios:
|Hair Color Goal/Scenario||Recommended Wella Developer|
|Lighter base lightening + vibrant tone||Blondor 30 or 40 Vol|
|Darker base color intensification||IlluminaColor 20 Vol|
|Pastel/diluted fashion shades||Welloxon Perfect 10 Vol|
|Subtle brown gloss/tone||Welloxon Perfect 20 Vol|
|High-lift fashion colors||Blondor 30 or 40 Vol|
|Pre-lightened hair vibrancy||IlluminaColor 20 Vol|
|Over-processed/damaged hair||Welloxon Perfect 10 Vol|
Performing a hair color consultation and asking clients about their goals and expectations will point you in the right direction for choosing the ideal developer volume and brand for the Illumina service.
Generic Hair Color Developers
When using Illumina Color, you can also use professional generic hair color developers that come in 10, 20, 30, and 40 volume strengths. The main consideration is making sure it’s a professional salon-quality product designed for use in coloring services.
Some well-known professional developer brands include:
- Schwarzkopf Igora Royal Developer
- Matrix Total Results Developer
- Redken Shades EQ Developer
- Kenra Color Cult Developer
- Clairol Professional Pro Developer
No matter which brand you choose, be sure to select the appropriate volume developer for the client’s hair and desired results. Generic professional developers work well with Illumina, but the Wella branded options offer seamless pairing and are optimized specifically for this color line.
Does Illumina Work Without Developer?
While Illumina Color does not require developer for activation and will still deposit color on its own, using one enhances the results.
Applying Illumina straight from the tube will result in sheer, translucent color with minimal cuticle lift. The shades will look more diluted and soft without a developer to open up the cuticle.
Still, this is a good option for creating a sheer color layering effect or lightly toning and glossing the hair. Using Illumina alone essentially functions like a conditioning color treatment since it contains the nourishing ME+ Complex.
For optimally bold, vivid color results, choose an appropriate Wella or professional developer matched to the client’s needs and goals.
Tips for Mixing and Applying Illumina Color
Once you’ve selected the right developer for the service, follow these pro tips when mixing and applying Illumina for maximum color impact:
- Always start by mixing the color formula first before adding developer.
- Use a tint bowl and tint brush to evenly blend and stir the color mixture.
- Only add up to 2 ounces of Illumina color gel-crème per application.
- Add an equal 1:1 ratio of developer to color.
- Mix gently yet thoroughly to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.
- Shake or tap the bowl to pop any air bubbles and prevent oxidation.
- Section clean, dry hair and apply to the mid-lengths and ends first.
- Then thoroughly saturate the roots, keeping the mixture slightly off scalp.
- Evenly distribute and comb through hair for complete saturation.
- Leave on for up to 30 minutes under heat or up to 60 minutes at room temp.
- Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear.
Always refer to Wella’s specific timing and application instructions based on the developer used. Following the guidelines will help achieve perfect Illumina color results.
Can I Mix Different Wella Developers?
It’s not recommended to mix different Wella developers together when formulating and applying Illumina color. Each developer is designed and optimized to perform at its specific volume strength.
Diluting a higher volume developer with a lower one can reduce its lifting and activating power. Or concentrating a lower volume with a higher one can over-process the hair and cause damage.
Instead, choose the single Wella developer that best suits the client’s needs – whether that’s 10, 20, 30, or 40 volume. Using two together doesn’t improve or balance the results. Stick with one consistent developer to get the full benefits.
How Long Does Illumina Last?
One of the biggest benefits of Illumina semi-permanent hair color is its improved fade resistance and longevity compared to other non-permanent options. Results can last anywhere from 4-12 weeks with proper maintenance and care.
Here are some of the factors that influence how long Illumina color will stay vibrant:
- Developer used – Higher volumes penetrate deeper for longer-lasting color.
- Hair’s condition – Healthier, less porous hair holds onto color better.
- Maintenance regimen – Proper shampooing, conditioning, and minimal washing extend color.
- Heat tool usage – Frequent hot styling fades color faster.
- Sun exposure – The sun’s UV rays can cause faster fading.
- Hair’s texture – More porous, coarse hair tends to fade quicker.
Illumina’s unique nourishing complex helps prolong shine and color vibrancy. But taking measures to maintain hair health and using professional shampoos also play a key role in longevity.
Tips for Maintaining Illumina Color
To keep your Illumina color looking salon-fresh for as long as possible, follow these pro tips:
- Use color-safe sulfate-free shampoo and lukewarm water when washing.
- Condition frequently to prevent dryness and preserve shine.
- Limit washing to 2-3 times per week max.
- Rinse with cool water at the end to seal the cuticle.
- Blast hair with cold air when heat styling.
- Avoid chlorine, salt water, and other chemicals.
- Use an at-home gloss or toner between salon visits.
- Protect hair from sun exposure with a hat or scarf.
It’s also a good idea to return to the salon for a quick Illumina gloss or toner service around the 4 week mark. This helps sustain the color’s intensity and keep it looking freshly done.
Achieve Salon-Worthy Color With Illumina
From vibrant fashion hues to rich browns and natural-looking blondes, Wella Illumina offers unlimited possibilities for custom color. Choosing the right developer is key to maximizing the luminosity and intensity of the results.
Match the developer’s volume strength to the client’s hair condition and the desired shade outcome. Wella’s IlluminaColor, Blondor, and Welloxon developers provide the perfect activators to complement the Illumina system. With the right developer, expect head-turning, vivid color that shines beautifully.