How to Mix Bleach and Developer: Full Guide

If you want to try out a new vibrant color for your hair, bleaching it at home might sound like a great idea. You can get those lively shades only if you use bleach.

However, before heading to the nearest store and bleaching your hair, you should look into how to mix bleach and developer correctly. A wrong mix will give you less than flattering results, so let’s examine the right way to mix and apply them.

Guide on How to Mix Bleach for Hair at Home

woman dyes her hair foil at home

DIY bleaching is tricky, so here’s what you should do:

  • Figure out the right amount of developer for bleach;
  • Use a 2:1 ratio of developer to bleach;
  • Ensure to mix them thoroughly for an even application;
  • Follow safety precautions and use rubber gloves;
  • Avoid 40-vol developers intended for professional use.

Should you bleach your hair at home?

Whether you just want to try a new look or can’t visit a salon at the moment, DIY home bleaching might sound tempting. However, professionals don’t advise you to bleach your hair at home.

Bleach chemically affects your hair cuticles and makes the natural hair pigments leak out. If the product is too potent, or you don’t use it right, it can burn your hair and damage it a lot.

This is why professionals have all types of hair products such as bonding agents and protective treatments to minimize ruining your hair. To keep your hair healthy, the best thing you can do is to address a professional if you want to bleach your hair.

What’s the difference between bleach powder and developer?

Both products are used to lighten your hair. However, certain differences set them apart:

  • The developer comes in a cream-like form and contains hydrogen peroxide. If you use it on its own, the product will slightly lighten your hair but won’t entirely bleach it. A more potent formula can make your strands lighter for 1-2 shades, so it is possible to cope without the bleach powder;
  • The powder is much more powerful; it eliminates the pigment from your hair, thus making it lighter. You cannot use it on its own as the developer, so you have to mix it with the former. With the right bleach-to-developer ratio, the natural pigmentation of your hair is removed, leaving you with significantly lightened strands (up to 4-5 levels).

How to mix bleach powder and developer at home

To do the procedure seamlessly, it’s better to prepare in advance:

  • the bleaching powder;
  • the developer;
  • a sectioning brush;
  • a plastic bowl;
  • protective gloves;
  • hair clips.

I also frequently hear my clients wondering “how to mix bleach powder and developer with aluminum foil? Let’s look at what it does. Colorists usually use foil for making highlights, if you want to keep the bleached strands of your hair separate from the unbleached ones.

If you want to use bleach to make highlights, you should ensure that it is okay to use it with metal. Lots of bleach powders don’t react well with it.

Hairdresser using pink brush

What developer to use with bleach depends on how light you’re trying to go. The developer has a number on the bottle: 10, 20, 30, and 40, which corresponds to the number of shades it will lift your hair.

1 shade means 10 vol, 2 – 20 vol, and so on. A level 40 developer is incredibly strong, and I advise you to leave it to professionals since it can damage your hair strands and burn your scalp.

When it comes to which brand to choose, a rule of thumb is to stick to the same manufacturer of both developer and bleach because their interaction shouldn’t cause problems.

How to mix bleach and developer

Let’s look at the steps you have to follow to mix bleach with the developer correctly:

  1. Put the bleaching powder in a plastic bowl.
  2. Add twice the amount of the liquid developer.
  3. Mix them with a brush until you get a smooth paste of a creamy consistency.
  4. Apply the blend to your dry unwashed hair, wait the required amount of time, and wash your hair as usual.

What bleach-to-developer ratio should I have?

Hairdresser does fluff on thin strands

Sticking to the right ratio is important because a mistake will mess up the result. The rule of thumb is 2:1 parts of the developer to bleach. The right way to measure the bleach-to-developer ratio is either to use a measuring jug or cup or weigh them on a scale.

A standard kitchen scale can work in this case. No matter how much bleach you need to use, you need 2x the amount of the developer to achieve the right ratio.

How to apply the bleach evenly?

Always test the blend on one strand before you apply it to your entire chevelure. Make sure you don’t get a bad reaction afterward:

  • A patch test is mixing a little bit of developer and bleach together and brushing it on a patch of the skin behind your ear. If there is no allergic reaction after 24 hours, you can try the bleach on your hair. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends always performing it to ensure your safety;
  • A strand test is similar but done on a small section of your hair. It will let you see if you get the right shade.

A smooth mixture is a key to even hair color. If your mix doesn’t look homogeneous or has dry granules, spend some more time mixing it until they fully dissolve.

You can take hair clips and a fine sectioning brush to part your hair and start working from the darkest parts of your hair to the roots.

FAQ About Mixing Developer With Bleach

Male Hairdresser Bleaching Hair of Man

Now you know about the proper way to combine the bleach with the developer and the ratio you should follow. The most challenging issue is to figure out the right amount of the developer for your hair.

This largely depends on the desirable shade and how light you want to go. Let’s look at some commonly asked questions to clarify everything.

What’s better: a 30 or 40-volume bleach?

A 40-vol developer for bleach is incredibly strong and harsh, so you shouldn’t try it at home.

Only professionals can apply it properly. If you wonder what developer to use with bleach to get your hair 3-4 shades lighter, the safer option is a 30-volume product.

How does a 20-volume developer work with bleach?

The 20-volume developer is standard in use, and it can successfully help you lighten your hair for up to 2 shades. If you want to bleach your roots, this developer can do that safely, without burning your skin. Any volume higher than that mustn’t be used on the roots.

What time can I leave a 40-vol bleach in my hair?

It depends on how thick your hair is. Leave a volume 40 developer for 10 minutes if you have fine hair and allow it to sit for a maximum of 30 minutes if your hair is thick.

Mix Bleach With Developer Safely

First, decide on what developer to use with bleach. If you’re looking to lighten your hair for 1-2 shades, use 10-20 vol developer for bleach. Vol 30 and 40 are harsher and can lift your locks to 3-4 shades.

Follow a 2:1 ratio of the developer and bleach when preparing a mixture in a plastic bowl. Avoid materials like metal that can react with bleach and spoil your blend.

Have you ever bleached your hair at home? Let me know in the comments below!

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Monica Davis

Monica Davis

Monica is a professional men and women's hairstylist and a success coach. She started MyStraightener as a personal blog and it has grown into something bigger. You can also find her writing/speaking about new styling tools, hair products, and the latest things in hairdressing on HuffPost, NBC News, Healthline, etc. Learn more about Monica.

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