What developer to use with bleach for dark hair? 30 volume developer

purple toner for yellow hair after bleaching

  • If you want to bleach dark hair, you should use a 30 volume developer with bleach.
  • Because with just one application, you’ll be able to lighten dark hair three or four levels.
  • After bleaching your hair and depending on your base color, orange or red tones may appear in your hair that you’ll need to tone with blue or green toner, respectively.


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It’s great that you’ve decided to do a little research before bleaching your dark hair!

Because  a lot of people thing that you need to use 40 volume developer to bleach dark hair. 

And that’s absolutely NOT TRUE.

Why do a lot of people think that?


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Basically, because they know that dark pigments are the hardest to get rid of. And they’re not wrong about that.

But even though they’re difficult to remove, that doesn’t meant that the solution is necessarily using a 40 volume peroxide with bleach.

 Because the only thing you’re going to achieve by 40 volume developer for bleaching bleach hair is burning your hair. 


burnt hair from bleaching

And believe me, when I say “burn your hair,” I mean literally frying it because the chemical reaction that products is so powerful you might even see smoke come out your hair.


 The only person who should color hair using a 40 volume peroxide is a professional hair colorist. 

It’s a big risk indeed to use 40 volume developer to bleach dark hair, and it’s certainly not a bet I’d be willing to take.

And what would happen if you used a 20 volume peroxide to bleach your dark hair?


Well, the truth is that your hair could end up two colors. But I’ll tell you a little more about that soon.

First, let’s talk about the developer you should use to bleach dark hair.

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You should use 30 volume peroxide to bleach dark hair

equal proportions

In reality, anytime anyone bleaches their hair, they should use a 30 volume developer.



  • Because it has enough lightening power to strip away pigments from your hair.
  • Because even though it has an important lightening power, it’s still easy to control the damage it may produce in your hair. A  40 or 60 volume developer (which barely exist these days) can burn your hair and with them, it becomes very difficult to control how long the mix should stay in your hair. 


You can jump up three or four levels with a 30 volume developer, depending on your hair color.

  •  If your hair is a level 1 black,  you’ll reach a brown 4 or a light brown 5.
  •  If your hair is a dark brown 3 , you’ll get a dark blonde 6 or a blonde 7.
  •  If your hair is a brown 4 , you’ll end up with a blonde 7 or a light blonde 8.


As you can see, the lightening power of a 30 volume developer is enough to get you out of the range of dark colors in just one application.

But you should keep in mind that, color is often resistant and you might need more than one session of bleaching your hair to get rid of it completely.

Level 1 black, for example, is the most persistent color along with red. Its pigments are strong and getting rid of them might take up to two sessions of bleaching your hair.


And if you want to bleach hair that you’ve dyed black, I’d recommend going to a salon so a professional can do the treatment without hurting your hair.

In this case, it’s very likely the professional will recommend using OLAPLEX during the bleach process. It’s a near miracle product that can help repair your hair during the process.


use for coloring hair



Once you bleach your dark hair using a 30 volume peroxide, you’re going to see some other colors come into the play.

Because dark hair contain red pigment, so when you bleach it, orange or red tones will appear, depending on what your base color is.

  •  If your hair was black , red will appear.
  •  If your hair was brown , orange will appear.


What can you do to get rid of those unwanted colors?

dark hair toning after bleaching

You can use toning shampoo.

  •  If your hair has red tones , use a green toning shampoo.
  •  If your hair has orange tones , use a blue toning shampoo.

And there you have it!


What will happen if you use 20 or 40 volume developer to bleach dark hair?

The answer is quite simple: you’re not going to get what you were hoping for in either case.


If you use a 20 volume peroxide to bleach your dark hair, you color will end up uneven.

20 volume developer doesn’t have much lightening power, which means  the chemical reaction won’t be able to fully get rid of those dark pigments. 

All it will do is fade the color.

Think about it like this: you use a 20 volume developer when you dye your hair because the goal in that case is just to deposit color. You’re not trying to get rid of it.


So, if you use a 20 volume developer to bleach black hair, for example, your hair will end up orange in some parts and dark brown in others.


If you use a 40 volume developer to bleach dark hair, you’ll hurt your hair and your scalp

I want to be extremely clear about this: if it were up to me, 40 volume peroxide would only be available for sale for hair stylists to use.

Because it can really damage your hair. So much so, that it can burn in just a few minutes.

Can you imagine what would happen if you mix it with bleach?


Let me tell you about two real cases I saw:

  • Clara came to the salon because she bleached her dark brown hair using 40 volume peroxide. She came to the salon because she couldn’t bear the pain on her scalp. I begged her to get an urgent appointment with her dermatologist because the bleach mix had burned her scalp. And that required medical attention.
  • Sophie came to the salon after bleaching her hair at home. She’d mixed a 40 volume developer with the bleach. After five days, she started to notice that her hair was falling out in chunks. I had to cut off 8 inches of her hair in order to get rid of the burned part and then do an OLAPLEX treatment to repair the rest.

Are you scared yet?


It’s not about being scared. It’s about being conscientious of the fact that bleaching your hair is a chemical process, and it’s the most aggressive one you can do to your hair.

So, you need to be calm, cool and collected about it.


What do you need to keep in mind before bleaching dark hair?

woman applying bleach on dark hair

  •  Always use a 30 volume developer with bleach , even if your hair is dark as night.
  • Keep in mind that you can only lift your hair three or four levels in one bleach session. So,  it’s better to bleach your hair again rather than using a stronger peroxide during the bleach process. 
  • Do a strand test before bleaching your hair. Because that way you’ll know what level you’ll get to and how the processing will affect your hair.
  • Repair your hair after bleaching it. And I don’t just mean using a mask one time. You need to be consistent about doing reparative treatments so your hair can recuperate the moisture it lost.
  • Trim your ends after bleaching your hair.


 If you’re not sure about how your dark hair will react to bleaching it, then it’s time to speak with a professional. 



You should always use a 30 volume developer to bleach dark hair.

If you use a 20 volume developer, you won’t be able to fully eliminate the dark pigment in your hair and it will end up an uneven color.

If you use a 40 volume developer, you might end up burning your scalp and your hair at your roots.

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