What developer to use when dying hair red? How many volumes should it be?

intense color

  • You should use a 20 volume developer to dye your hair red.
  • In this case, a 20 volume developer will make your hair absorb the red pigment perfectly and it will ensure that all of your hair ends up an even color.


I’ll tell you a story about something that happened in my salon not too long ago.

It was a Saturday and our day was booked through with appointments when someone rang the doorbell.


It caught me by surprise because my next appointment wasn’t for another hour.

When I opened the door, I saw a 20-something-year-old woman with eyes red from crying.

I told her to come in and then she pulled off the hat she was wearing, and she said to me, “Can you fix this?”


Most of her hair was dyed strawberry red, but her roots were the color of oranges. It looked very uneven and messy if I have to be honest.

Can you imagine my face of surprise when I saw something like that?


I told her that I could help and that she shouldn’t worry, and I asked her what her name was. She said, “Abby.”

Abby had used a strawberry red dye on her brown hair, but instead of following the instructions on the color kit, she had used a 30 volume developer on her hair.

When I asked her why she did that, she told me that her friend told her to do it so the red would take to her hair better.

 It’s great to listen to your friends, but if they don’t have experience in coloring hair, then don’t follow their advice about coloring your hair.  


30 volume developer lightens hair. That’s what happened to Abby.

Her roots were lighter than the rest of her hair since the developer lightened them.


Do you want to use red dye on your hair, and you don’t know what developer to use?

I’ll tell you everything you need to know to make sure your hair turns out perfect in this article.


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What volume developer should you use to dye your hair red?

materials to darken the hair

Like I said in the beginning, you should use a 20 volume developer.

20 volume developer does not lighten your hair in and of itself, so you can use it on your hair without that risk.


  • If you buy a color kit, you’ll find a tube of dye, developer cream, and a post-color treatment inside the box.

The developer cream in the box is a 20 volume developer.

 You should not replace it with a different developer or peroxide like Abby did. 


  • If you buy the tube of dye and the developer separately, then make sure you buy a 20 volume developer.

You use developers with higher volumes to bleach your hair, which is why Abby’s roots ended up lighter.

Anyway, if you’re wondering what ended up happening with Abby, let me tell you how the story continues.


I told her that we should use the red dye on her hair again, but this time with a 20 volume developer.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to that same strawberry red since her roots were too light, giving her a very different base color.

I used a burgundy red on her hair, instead, which is a darker color, and her hair turned out perfectly.

Keep Abby’s story in mind when you dye your hair so your it turns out even.


What is the ratio of dye to developer that you should use?

Another common question is what proportion of dye and developer you should use for the dye mix.

If you buy a box dye kit, then you don’t need to worry about the amount of dye and developer.


The manufacturers of these kits measure out the proportions of both ingredients perfectly so it’s easier for you.

All you have to do is mix and then it’s ready: The proportions will be balanced with the right volume of developer.

But, what if you buy the ingredients separately?


To figure out the ideal proportions, you need to know how much dye you have.

The ratio of developer to dye is 1 to 1.

  • That means that if you have 60 ml of dye, then you should mix it with 60 ml of developer.
  • If your dye is 55 ml, then you need 55 ml of developer.

You’re probably asking yourself: What happens if I don’t use the right ratio?


The answer is simple: You won’t get the result you were looking for.

  • If you use more developer than dye, your hair will only absorb some of the dye, leaving you with a dim color, as a result, nothing like what you were hoping for.
  • If you use more dye than developer, your hair won’t have enough developer to go through the chemical reaction that makes your hair absorb the pigment, just giving your hair a red hue rather than the full color you wanted.


You must use the right proportion of dye to developer, so you end up with the perfect, bright red you’re hoping for.



Abby was very happy when she saw her new color.

Her roots and the rest of her hair were all the same color and it was attention-grabbing.

But, it wasn’t the exact color Abby had originally wanted: she was going for a strawberry red.

So, I added her as a new client, and I gave her an appointment in four weeks.


When she came in that day, her red color had faded quite a bit, so it was the right time to use the strawberry red color she had been wanting.

And, so, we dyed her hair with red dye and a 20 volume peroxide, and we got that strawberry red she was hoping for.


Now I have a new client that loves crazy colors and isn’t afraid of change.

Remember to always follow the directions that come with your dye if you don’t want the same thing that happened to Abby to happen to you.

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