Hair Color Mixing 101

I spend most of my time either at the beach or in the city which leads to a life of commuting by bike or public transit.

I very rarely drive myself anywhere anymore. I was reminded of this recently when I got behind the wheel of my friend’s fancy new car. I went to back out of the driveway, lightly pressed on the gas and we catapulted mere centimeters from a foreboding tree. Apparently, Dr. Dave’s car has more pick up than my childhood Volkswagen.

This reminded me of the perfect analogy I use to explain what hair color developers are…

Developers are the gasoline to your hair color’s engine. They are varying strengths of peroxide used to oxidize hair color and give it the lifting ability desired. When choosing which developer to use you simply ask yourself “how much gas do I want to give this color?”



10 Volume

This is used for staying at the same lightness but changing tone.  I also love using 10 Volume for very gentle, slow highlight work.


20 Volume

20 Volume is the workhorse of the developers. It is the most reached for because it is ideal for gray coverage. It gives you just enough lifting ability while depositing the perfect amount of pigment.


30 Volume

This always reminds me of when I pack 28SPF on vacation. You think to yourself “when will I really want this super specific amount of sun protection?” but 30 Volume is useful!  I love using it when I want a stronger lift on red heads or blondes and for a balayage lightener that produces natural results.


40 Volume

This is the rocket fuel (or should we say Aston Martin?) of the developers. This gives you maximum lifting capabilities with the least amount of tonal deposit. 40 Volume is great for high lift hair color, balayage and fast lifting highlights.


Once you understand how peroxide strengths are used effectively for hair color you can really put them to use. For example, if I have to pack hair color to go and have limited bag space, I will include a 40 Volume and a 10 Volume. Having these two is all you need since you can intermix them to create any strength in between. (Equal parts of 10 Volume and 40 Volume will give you a 25 Volume strength developer.)

So harness the power of peroxide and put your hair color pedal to the metal!