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20 volume doesn't give 2 levels of lift!

10 volume doesn't give one level of lift, 20 volume doesn't give 2, 30 volume doesn't give 3 and 40 volume doesn't give you 4 levels of lift!!!

I know I know, this is quite contrary to what you may have been taught. Im going to ask you to put your thinking cap on for a second here, with a question:

If I use a level 3 natural color, with 40 volume, on a client that has level 3 hair...will she end up at a level 7?

Nope. Not going to happen. Right? RIGHT.

But, if 40 volume gives you F O U R levels of lift, in theory, she "should" be at a level 7, right? WRONG.

Todays post is all about developer and why what you have been taught isn't all the way true.

Get ready, this might just have you questioning everything.

Let's talk developer! I feel like there are a lot of us who don't quite understand what developer is, what it does, and most importantly how to use it FOR you.

First, I want to talk about the ROLE of developer (in the hair coloring process which is very different than the bleaching process, blog post coming soon on that)

The role developer plays in the coloring process:

- Developer is 1 of the 3 MAIN ingredients to make the hair coloring process happen. ( the other two main ingredients is an ALKALIZER + DYES).

- Developer is responsible for DELIVERING the dyes that are in a tube of color through the cuticle layers and INTO the cortex of the hair. Think of it like the gas in your car. Nothings going to happen (with oxidative color) unless developer is mixed into the bowl. Once they're in the cortex, developer helps activate the couplers and allows the dyes to band together so that we can see the color developing.

- Developer is also responsible for DEVELOPING those dyes. They're called dye intermediaries. The dyes are usually colorless chemical molecules and once they are exposed to developer, they begin to DEVELOP into the colors that we see.

- Developer will fracture melanin + pigment. Remember, melanin is what gives hair its color. What developer does is with the help of an alkalizer (typically ammonia which softens and "opens" the cuticle) will break up that melanin into smaller pieces. Essentially, developer pokes holes (remember, its "like gas") in the melanin and cortical fibers of the hair. As more holes are created in the melanin, more and more light can pass through the hair making it appear lighter and lighter.

Here's the kicker, how much lightness you achieve and how much melanin you fracture is not ONLY based on your developer choice. It's also based on the LEVEL of color you use.

Maybe you've heard this before..."THE LIFT IS IN THE TUBE"

Lighter levels of hair color tend to have more alkalinity in them. (think of alkalinity as "lifting power")

So when you use a lighter level of hair color, you are giving the developer more "alkalinity" which will help in achieving a lighter result. Basically, what's happening is the developer releases more oxygen when its mixed with a more alkaline product. The more oxygen it releases, the more melanin gets broken you a lighter undertone.

Regarding my question earlier, using a level 3 color with 40 volume on a natural level 3 client...the reason she will NOT get to a level 7 with the 40 volume is simply because a level 3 hair color has WAY more depositing abilities than it does LIFTING power.

The most important thing you need to consider is this:

The choice of which level of color you are going to use is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the developer.

Higher levels of developer naturally have more oxygen in them, so YES, using a higher developer WILL give you the opportunity to achieve more "lift" because there is more "oxygen to release" but it 10000000% depends on what level of color you mix it with.

Can I be very honest with you all?

I RARELY will use anything about a 20 volume when coloring hair. my 40 volume collects dust. Let me tell you why:

  • Most manufacturers test all of their color with 20 volume. It's an industry standard. ill explain the relevance, shortly.

  • Remember when I said that developer fractures melanin + pigment? Yeah, well here's something to consider. It develops the dyes, but it also has the power to fracture them.

See, when I use a 30 or 40 volume with my color, what CAN happen is that the dyes in the bowl will get more sheer and I won't get as great of a deposit. Think about it. The manufacturer tests with 20 volume. 20 volume is what is needed to get the best dye development based on the manufacturer, so when I use a higher volume, I will not only get a brighter undertone, I may not get the depth of the deposit that I am looking for.

This is especially relevant with REDS!

Until next time,

Happy Hair Coloring


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