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Can 20 Volume Developer Lighten Hair By Itself?

  • Post category:Beauty / Fashion / Hair
  • Post last modified:May 20, 2024
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Hair coloring and lightening are popular ways to change one’s appearance, but they often involve a variety of products and techniques. Among the myriad of options available, the use of a 20 volume developer stands out for its potential to alter hair color. This article delves into the specifics of using a 20 volume developer by itself to lighten hair, exploring its effectiveness, application methods, and considerations for achieving the best results.

Hair Developers

Before discussing the specific effects of a 20 volume developer, it’s essential to understand what hair developers are and their role in hair coloring. Developers, also known as activators or oxidizing agents, are hydrogen peroxide solutions used in hair coloring and lightening processes. They work by opening the hair cuticle, allowing color or lightening agents to penetrate the hair shaft. Developers come in various strengths, indicated by their volume, which determines their lifting or depositing capabilities.

The Role of 20 Volume Developer

A 20 volume developer contains 6% hydrogen peroxide and is commonly used for both coloring and lightening hair. It is capable of lifting the hair color by one to two levels, making it a popular choice for achieving subtle lightening effects or covering gray hair. When used with hair color, it helps to deposit the dye more effectively, while in lightening, it works by dispersing the natural hair pigment.

Can 20 Volume Developers Lighten Hair By Itself?

The question of whether a 20-volume developer can lighten hair by itself is met with varying opinions. While it is primarily designed to be used with hair color or bleach to achieve significant color changes, some sources suggest that it can offer mild lightening effects when used alone.

Lightening Without Bleach

Using a 20-volume developer without bleach is considered a less aggressive method to slightly lighten the hair. This approach is particularly appealing to those looking to achieve a subtle lift in their natural hair color without the potential damage associated with bleach. However, the extent of lightening is limited, and the results can vary depending on the original hair color and condition.

Application Methods

For those interested in trying to lighten their hair with a 20-volume developer alone, there are specific methods to consider. One approach involves applying the developer directly to the hair, leaving it on for a specified duration before rinsing. Another method includes mixing the developer with shampoo to create a less concentrated solution for a more gradual lightening effect.

Considerations and Precautions

While the idea of lightening hair with just a 20-volume developer may seem appealing, there are important considerations and precautions to keep in mind:

  • Hair Condition: The health and condition of your hair play a crucial role in how it will react to the developer. Damaged or overly porous hair may experience more significant effects or damage.
  • Expectations: Set realistic expectations for the level of lightening achievable with a 20 volume developer alone. It is unlikely to produce dramatic results, especially on darker hair.
  • Patch Test: Conduct a patch test to assess how your hair responds to the developer and to check for any adverse reactions.
  • Professional Advice: Consider consulting with a professional hairstylist before attempting to lighten your hair with a developer. They can provide personalized advice based on your hair type and desired outcome.


While a 20-volume developer can offer mild lightening effects when used by itself, it is important to approach this method with caution and realistic expectations. The results can vary widely and are generally subtler compared to traditional bleaching techniques. Always prioritize the health of your hair and consider seeking professional advice to achieve the best and safest outcomes.


Can I lighten my hair with 20% developer only?

Yes, you can lighten your hair with 20 volume developer alone, but the results will be minimal. A 20 volume developer can lift hair by 1-2 levels, but it is more effective when combined with bleach or hair dye. Using it alone will result in a subtle lightening effect, which may not be noticeable on darker hair.

What happens if you put the developer in your hair by itself?

Applying developer alone to your hair will cause a slight lift in color due to the hydrogen peroxide content, which opens the hair cuticle and allows some natural pigment to be removed. However, this process is less controlled and can lead to uneven results and potential hair damage if not monitored carefully

What does 20 volume developer do on its own?

A 20 volume developer, which contains 6% hydrogen peroxide, can lift hair by 1-2 levels on its own. It opens the hair cuticle and allows some natural pigment to be lifted out, resulting in a slight lightening effect. However, it is generally more effective when used with bleach or hair dye for more significant color changes.

How long to leave 20 volume developer on hair without bleach?

When using 20 volume developer without bleach, it is generally recommended to leave it on the hair for up to 30 minutes. This duration allows the developer to lift the hair color by 1-2 levels. Exceeding this time can lead to hair damage and uneven results, so it is important to monitor the process closely.

What is a hair developer and how does it work?

A hair developer is a hydrogen peroxide-based cream or lotion used in hair coloring and lightening processes. It works by opening the hair cuticle, allowing color molecules or bleach to penetrate the hair shaft. The strength of the developer, measured in volumes (e.g., 10, 20, 30, 40), determines the level of lift and lightening achieved. Higher volumes result in more significant lightening.