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How To Mix Developer And Bleach

by Gabbi

Experimenting with hair colors can be fascinating and help express your creative side. However, you will need bleach to achieve cool colors or lighter shades. Bleach will get you there whether you want bright colors or a platinum blonde finish.

Bleach is highly intimidating to work with, and it can severely damage your hair if you misuse it. Bleach won’t work unless it’s activated with a developer. Likewise, a developer won’t work unless it is mixed with color or powder bleach.

However, it can be a stressful process to bleach your hair. If you plan to do this at home, you’ll want to research bleaching hair heavily and even perform patch tests to ensure your skin and scalp won’t be irritated. You will need enough developer and bleach too.

So, how do you mix developer and bleach? A golden ratio must be used when combining these two products. You can damage your hair severely if you use too much of one product. You’ll be at risk for chemical burns, frizzy hair, and more. 

Bleach is not to be messed with, and the developer is also crucial to understand. A developer is a creamy product that will help the bleach lift the pigment out of your strands. So, how can you ensure you mix the ideal amount of bleach and developer?

What Is Bleach?

Bleach powder is a common product you’ll find in salons or beauty supply stores.

Bleach has the power to lighten many levels to achieve a bright and light color. As a result, it’s often used to achieve platinum hair, fashion colors, highlights, and more.

This type of bleach is different from cleaning bleaches. For example, bleach powders for the hair are designed to remove pigment from the cuticle and change our base hair color. 

Beach won’t work on the hair if it dries out or is not mixed with a developer.

What Is A Developer?

Developers are a creamy liquid that helps activate bleach or hair color because it contains Hydrogen Peroxide. Without this component, you can’t get bleach or dye to lift your cuticle.

There are different strengths of developers that are referred to as volume. The power of your developer can increase the chances of lifting to a higher level, or it can cause damage to the hair if the volume is too high. 

The number on your developer bottle states how many levels this product will lift your strands. 

10 Vol

The 10 volume developer will only lift your hair one level. This is the mildest developer, and it’s helpful when you want to make a minor change to your hair color. Don’t expect drastic hair color results if you use a 10 vol developer.

20 Vol

A 20 volume developer is usually a go-to choice to activate most hair colors or bleach jobs. 

This one is stronger than the 10 vol, and this developer will lift your hair two levels or shades. Most hair-lightening kits will give a 20 vol developer to bleach at home.

30 Vol

A 30 volume developer can be tricky to work with because it’s powerful. This volume will lift your hair three levels, and it’s often used in professional settings. A 30 vol developer can also activate hair dye or bleach powder to achieve lighter hair color.

40 Vol

The 40 volume developer is the most potent and most dangerous developer because it can lift the hair four levels. 

There is almost no reason why you should use a 40 vol developer at home because there is a fine line between lifting and damaging the strands.

Especially when paired with bleach, 40 volume developers can cause havoc on the hair and scalp if it is misused. Leave this developer for the pros!

Why Do You Need To Use Bleach And Developer Together?

Bleach and hair color need to be activated with a form of hydrogen peroxide to lighten your hair color.

Developers are formulated with this ingredient and have a creamy texture that can add moisture to your bleach. If bleach dries out, it will stop lifting.

How To Mix Bleach And Developer

How do you mix bleach and developer? Once you have your chosen developer, you want to create an even consistency when combining it with bleach. Too much developer or too much bleach will hinder your results and can even be harmful.

When mixing these two products, there is a golden ratio or a general rule of thumb. This will ensure each product will work to its fullest potential and you receive your desired color safely.

You will want to work with an easy and consistent formula if you need to mix again.

Bleach To Developer Ratio 

The general rule is to mix two parts developer to one part bleach. This is the standard ratio. Even though other ratios exist, a 2:1 ratio is suitable for most hair types or if you’re a beginner working with bleach.

So if you have one ounce of bleach, mix two ounces of developer. 

However, does the volume of developers change your bleach to developer ratio? No, it won’t matter whether you’re working with 10 vol or 30 vol; you will still want to follow the 2:1 ratio for the best results. Measuring tools will also help get the correct ratios.

Tips To Help Mix Bleach And Developer

How can you ensure that you have mixed bleach and developer properly? Follow these tips below to help make the bleaching process a breeze! This will be especially helpful for beginners learning how to bleach hair. 

1. Purchase From The Same Brand 

Purchasing your bleach and developer from the same brand will ensure you won’t have any adverse reactions. For example, sometimes, a bleach from one brand and a developer from another will give you disappointing results or damage your strands.

Buying both from the same brand will make bleaching less risky because you know the brand has formulated their bleach and developers to work seamlessly together. 

2. Use A Plastic Bowl 

A plastic bowl or brush is the best tool for mixing bleach and developer. For example, a metal bowl may cause a chemical reaction with your bleach/developer. However, a plastic bowl won’t alter your mixture, and it will be safe and ready for application.

Depending on what bleach job you’re performing, you’ll need gloves, foils, parting combs, clips, capes, and more. 

3. Look For A Creamy Texture 

You’ll want to add your powder bleach to the bowl first. Then, measure out your developer. You can easily mix these two ingredients with your color brush.

Next, slowly add the developer in small amounts and mix it evenly with the bleach after every pour. This will ensure you have a smooth mixture that’s ready to use!

4. Get Rid Of Clumps 

A whisk may help eliminate big clumps of powder. You don’t want the bleach powder to lump together because the developer won’t have time to activate the powder, and you could be left with patchy hair color.

As mentioned above, slowly adding the developer to bleach and mixing after each pour will ensure that the bleach is combined thoroughly with the developer.

5. Use Measuring Tools When Needed 

Every bleach powder and developer will have directions from the manufacturer on mixing the two. However, this can be intimidating for newbies, so always reach for a scale or measuring cup to ensure you are mixing the correct ratio.

How To Pick The Right Volume Of Developer 

Your current base color and the desired result will help you decide what volume developer is right for you. The safest bet is working with a 20 vol developer because it’s not as strong as 30.

Most bleach powders are formulated to lift about seven levels on average. So, you don’t want to mix this with a 30 or 40 volume developer because it can be too strong and burn or damage your hair. 

If possible, always see a professional and licensed stylist if you want to use a high vol developer with bleach on your hair. 

1. Analyzing Your Hair

Before bleaching your hair, take a look at its current state. Is it damaged from previous color or bleach treatments? Does your hair lift well, or will you need a toner? What is your current hair color? These questions will help prepare you for bleaching. 

When you learn about the current state of your hair, you’ll know if it can handle a 30 vol developer or if you should stick to something less intense like 20 vol.

2. Think Of Your Desired Result 

Depending on your desired outcome, you may or may not have to bleach your hair more than once. However, remember you shouldn’t bleach your hair often, and avoid bleaching it twice in the same week.

If this is the case, make sure you know the length of your hair journey so you can buy the right developer. 

3. Hair Prep For Bleach

Another way to get the most out of your bleach and developer mixture is to ensure your hair is prepped for bleach. These tips will help your bleach to lift evenly and seamlessly throughout your hair.

4. Don’t Wash Your Hair 

Don’t wash your hair a few days before bleaching hair. Your natural oils will help keep your scalp and roots protected when you actually apply the bleach. You don’t have to worry about the oil because it will not affect the result of the bleach.

5. Avoid Heat 

If there is one thing you need to know about bleached hair, it doesn’t mix well with heat. Heat can severely damage your hair, especially without a heat protectant or if it’s used frequently on bleached hair.

Like washing your hair, avoid heat styling your strands a few days prior so the bleach can work its magic. You can even apply a deep conditioning mask a few days out. 

6. Perform A Test Strand/Patch Test

This tip is by far the most important, especially if you’re a newbie or hesitant about bleaching hair. Always perform a patch test and a test strand.

A patch test will ensure that you aren’t allergic to the bleach or developer so you know there won’t be adverse effects. Apply the product to the forearm or behind the ear and wait 24 hours to see if anything has occurred. 

A test strand will be significant to see how your hair will turn out without ruining your whole head. Mix your bleach and developer and take a small strand of hair underneath to test out your mixture. 

This is great to see if you’ll love the results or if you need to alter the formula or application method. 

Bleach & Developer Application Tips 

How can you get the most out of your bleach and developer mixture when it’s time to start applying? 

1. Always Follow Manufacturer’s Directions

When in doubt, always follow your brand’s or manufacturer’s directions. This will be especially helpful if you’ve purchased from the same brand. You can follow the rules to ensure you will get a flawless result and keep yourself safe while bleaching.

These directions will also tell you step by step how to mix your products and what ratios are the best for your hair. 

2. Have Extra Product On Hand

Always keep extra bleach and developer on hand if you accidentally run out. 

The last thing anyone might want is to have half your head covered in bleach and not have enough to complete the process. Also, you never know when you might need to mix more! 

3. Create Consistent Partings

Creating clean and even partings will provide a beautiful base to work on. Even parts will ensure that the bleach will coat all of your strands without having a patchy result. You can easily part the hair with a rat tail comb to get crisp and straight sections.

4. Consult A Stylist 

Lastly, consult with a stylist. Most of us may feel intimidated, and leaving our hair in the hands of a trusted and licensed professional can give us the best result. A pro will be to analyze your hair’s state and create a custom formula. 

Final Thoughts 

Bleach and developer are essential products if you plan on lightening your hair. 

Unfortunately, one won’t work with the other. The developer contains Hydrogen Peroxide that will help activate the bleach so the cuticle will be lifted and the pigment will be removed.

A general ratio for mixing bleach and developer is 2:1. For example, add two parts developer to one part bleach. This standard ratio is safe for most hair types and bleach jobs.

Your developer will tell you how many levels it will lift. For example, 10 vol will lift one level, 20 vol 2 levels, etc. However, it doesn’t matter what volume of developer you use; you will still stick to the 2:1 ratio when mixing it with bleach.

You’ll want to pour the developer into the bleach a little at a time and stir thoroughly after each pour. This method will prevent clumps and patchy hair. Also, mix in a plastic bowl, and buy your products from the same brand to avoid mishaps.

If you’re nervous about the bleaching process, always perform a patch test and test strand. Always follow your manufacturer’s directions or seek advice from a trusted and licensed hairstylist. 

Up Next: Can You Use Olive Oil Before Bleaching Hair?

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