Does 10 Volume Developer Lighten Hair? Does it damage hair?

lightens hair half tone

  • Yes, 10-volume developer does lighten hair, but only by half a tone.
  • A 10-volume developer is used to make small changes in hair color. This is what colorists call “illumination.”
  • If you want to lighten your hair one to two tones, that’s another thing altogether. In that case, you’ll have to use a 20-volume developer.
  • Lightening hair more than two tones is called bleaching and is done with a 30-volume developer and bleaching powder.


Now, you might be wondering if you always have to mix the developer with bleaching powder.

And the answer is no, not always. Whether you do or not depends on the results you’re looking for.


If you only want to slightly lighten your hair or give it some illumination, it’s unnecessary to mix the developer with bleaching powder.

 If you want to lighten your hair more than three tones, remove permanent hair dye, or change your hair color, you’ll have to use a 30-volume developer with bleaching powder. 


Would you like to know when to use a 10 or 20-volume developer? How about when to use a 30-volume developer?

We’ll reveal everything you need to know in this article.

Let’s get started!

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When to Lighten Hair with 10-Volume Developer

with foils

As I said at the outset, 10-volume developer is only used illuminate or add some slightly lighter tones to your hair.

Illumination is done by applying developer directly to areas of the hair that you wish to lighten.

In this case, you don’t mix the developer with bleaching powder!


Remember, bleaching powder should only be used when you want to bleach your hair or remove hair dye.

 Illumination is a very in-demand technique in hair salons, as it adds some light to dark tones and highlights your facial features. 


It’s not an aggressive process, for two main reasons:

  • A 10-volume developer isn't strong enough to open the hair cuticle, only weaken it enough to lighten your hair one-half tone, giving it a naturally lightened look.
  • Since it's only a 10-volume developer and does not open the hair cuticle, it doesn't significantly damage hair, unlike bleach.


 So, if you're looking to add some glow to your color, 10-volume developer is perfect for you. 

You can even apply it to your bangs to brighten your look.


If you want to brighten your bangs, add long highlights from the root to the ends of your hair.

Remember, it will only lighten your hair one-half tone, so don't expect any major changes.


Not only that, but it's easy to do. All you need is 10-volume developer:

  • Apply the product directly to dry, detangled hair.
  • Leave it on for up to forty minutes.
  • Check your hair every ten minutes.
  • Once it has reached the desired tone, rinse your hair. Finally, use your regular shampoo and conditioner.
  • While you can repeat this process as many times as you want, remember that it does slightly damage hair, even if it is not a very aggressive process.
  • It’s best to wait at least three or four days before lightening your hair again and repair it with coconut or argan oil in the meantime.


Now that you know how to apply it let's talk about what tones are ideal for this treatment.

Tones such as level 6 light brown, level 7 dark blond, and level 8 light blond are perfect for illumination.

It's not recommended for a lighter shade, as it will not create a noticeable difference.


When Will 20 or 30-Volume Developer Lighten Hair?

creme developer and hair dye

The 20-volume developer works like 10-volume developer, which is used to lighten hair one-half tone and illuminate it.


How to Lighten Hair One to Two Tones With 20-Volume developer

When applied to hair without bleaching powder, 20-volume developer  will also lighten your hair, but because it is a higher volume, it lightens between one and two tones. 

You can apply it to your hair anywhere you want to add some light, whether it's your gaze or your facial features.


It's applied just like 10-volume developer, except that:

  • You should not leave it for more than thirty minutes.
  • You should wait at least a week before using it again, or it will damage your hair.


Now, what tones work well with 20-volume developer?

While it also illuminates hair, that 20-volume devloper will lighten hair more.

  • If you apply it to level 4 brown hair, the result will be a level 5 medium brown, not a level 6 light brown.
  • If you apply it to a level 6 light brown, on the other hand, the result will be a level 7 dark blond or level 8 blond.


The result depends on the base color.

That being said, you won’t get the expected result on very dark shades because the 20-volume developer isn’t strong enough without bleaching powder.


Bleaching: Lightening More Than Two Tones With 30-Volume developer

If you want to lighten your hair more than two tones, consider bleaching it.

Bleaching is done with 30-volume developer, and bleaching powder is mixed in equal proportions.


You can apply it anywhere you want to lighten your hair.

Whether that’s the ends of your hair, your bangs, or the sides of your face.

How to Mix 30-Volume Developer and Bleaching Powder


First of all, buy your products: 30-volume developer and bleaching powder.

Thankfully, the ratio is simple:

One part of bleaching powder to one part 30-volume developer.


Remember always to use plastic utensils -never metal- when measuring your product.

Metal causes the developer to lose its effect.


  • First, mix your 30-volume developer with the bleaching powder in a plastic container.
  • Once you've applied the mixture to your hair, don't leave it in more than 20 minutes.
  • Check your hair color every five minutes.
  • Once it reaches the desired tone, rinse your hair with warm water, and then use your regular shampoo and conditioner.


 So long as you wait fifteen days in between treatments, you can bleach your hair as many times as you want. 

In between treatments, moisturize and repair your hair with coconut oil or silk extracts to make your hair soft and shiny.

Remember that bleach is an aggressive process for your hair, and unlike 10 and 20-volume developer, will damage your hair.



  • 10-volume developer is the perfect tool to add some light to even tones, without a radical change.
  • On the other hand, 20-volume developer causes a more noticeable change.
  • If you want to lighten your hair up to three tones, use a 30-volume developer with bleaching powder.

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