Can You Use Hair Dye Without Developer?

Can You Use Hair Dye Without Developer?

It’s always kind of fun to color your hair at home. I know I always feel like I’m about to have an affordable makeover.

Once you get used to the different tools and chemicals needed to dye your hair, it feels like a walk in the park – especially if you remember to clean out your sink first!

Although it seems like a simple process, you’ve got to do more than apply a product to your hair to change its color.

You’ll need to decide if you want something temporary without a developer or something more permanent.

Can You Use Hair Dye Without Developer?

Hair dye works in some situations without a developer, but the results are not permanent. The color lasts for approximately two weeks before fading. It deposits the color on the hair follicle without creating the fundamental changes needed to create a permanent result.

Hair dye products can deposit colored molecules into the follicles. The only way a permanent result is possible is to place the color into an open cuticle.

That’s where the role of the developer starts. It helps open the cuticle to ensure the dye penetrates your hair strands.

Peroxide can accomplish the same result, but it works better when there is a developer with the hair dye.

Since peroxide and developers can be an aggressive element to hair coloring, some people are hesitant to use them.

I get it. That tingling sensation on your head that feels almost like a burn isn’t super pleasant.

At the same time, the best you’ll get without the assistance of those products is a semi-permanent dye that might last for a month if you stop washing your hair.

You can choose what developer strength to use for your hair. The four standard choices are 10, 20, 30, and 40, although you can find options higher or lower than those numbers.

A higher developer number means it has more peroxide in its formula. I’ve found that levels 30 and 40 tend to work the best for my bleaching work, while 10 or 20 works well for those minor changes you want – or a return to your natural color.

Since changing your hair color with a developer is a chemical process that can damage your hair, it’s important to know how to protect it.

Try My Natural Hair Mask to Reduce Developer Damage

The first results you’ll notice involve moisture loss at the application site when using a developer. The best way to resolve this issue is to give your hair what it needs to stay healthy.

I like to use natural products to restore moisture to my hair after coloring it. Here’s the recipe I use, with the ingredients you’ll need for a successful result.

Ingredients to Use for a Homemade Hair Mask

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small avocado

Instructions on How to Make My Natural Hair Mask

After ensuring you have the ingredients available, here are the steps to create a moisturizing hair mask that will have your locks feeling natural and light again.

  1. Peel the banana and scoop out the avocado, placing both into a bowl.
  2. Use a potato masher to combine the banana and avocado until there are no lumps. Don’t use a mixing machine for this step because the results reduce its thickness.
  3. Add the olive oil to the mixture in the bowl. Stir until fully infused.
  4. Apply the mixture in the bowl to your hair, starting at the roots. Go to each end, ensuring each strand receives attention.
  5. Allow the mixture to sit on your hair for 30 to 60 minutes. If you shorten the time, the results won’t be as noticeable.
  6. Use cold water to rinse out your hair. Please remember to use a sulfate-free shampoo after to ensure the mixture is gone.

If you leave the banana, avocado, and olive oil mixture on for too long, it can start to feel a little crusty on the top of your head.

You might encounter a little pulling when rinsing. If you do, don’t force the mixture out. Allow the cold water to rehydrate and remove it for you.

How to Choose the Best Hair Developer

Since the only way to achieve something more than a temporary result is to use a hair developer, it is crucial to find one that serves your current and future needs well.

Each hair color and developer are mixed in a specific ratio to create tint and texture. Most products work well with a one-to-one ratio, but you can get stronger effects with a 1:1.5 or 1:2 setup.

You’ll need to use the correct developer concentration to achieve the best result. That decision depends on the color type you want, how much lightening is involved with the process, what kind of hair you have, and how healthy it is.

Once you’ve decided to use a developer, you’ll get to enjoy the following five benefits.

Hair Developer BenefitWhy This Hair Developer Benefit Is an Advantage
ActivationOnce the hair dye is mixed with the developer, it becomes an activated product you can apply.
ConsistencyWhen hair dyes and colors are mixed with cream developers, the product tends to be thicker. That helps it stay in place more consistently, ensuring that fewer drips and more uniform coverage occurs.
Color DeliveryThis stage of the hair coloring process happens because the developer lifts the cuticle layers enough to allow the dye to slip inside. That’s how it creates a more permanent result.
Color RemovalWhile the new color can slip inside, the developer overlaps the cuticle layer wide enough to remove the natural pigmentation in each strand.
Improved ResultsWhen a developer has the correct strength and ratio, the resulting color has more intensity and lasts longer.

Here is the additional information you’ll need to know to select an appropriate developer for your hair.

I Want My New Hair Color for a One-Time Event

If you want to change the look of your hair for a special day or a specific event, it makes sense to use color without a developer.

Since the dye deposits on the strand or coats it, you’ll be back to your regular appearance in a couple of weeks.

Although I wouldn’t recommend this process since it can get a bit messy, a few temporary hair dye products on the market today still get the job done.

I like to use the Manic Panic lineup from Tish and Snooky’s® for my temporary coloring needs.

Their Fuchsia Shock color makes a statement without being permanent. It uses a cream-based formula to create the tones you want to see, lasting for about a month.

It works better on bleached or natural blonde hair, but anyone can use it. My mom steals it from me sometimes to color her grays.

I Want to Go Lighter or Darker with My Hair Color

When your goal is to achieve a more permanent result with your hair color, you’ll want to think about the developer percentage you’re using.

I’ve found that, as a general rule, you’ll get about one degree of lightening for every three percent of developer used.

That means if you’re coloring grays with a more permanent product or want to maintain something close to natural, a 3% developer would be appropriate.

Here’s a closer look at the four common options for developers when you’re changing shades so that you know what to expect.

10 Developer (3%)20 Developer (6%)30 Developer40 Developer
Darkens hair color by one level.Offers lifting by one or two levels for most people.Lightens your natural hair color by up to three levels.Can lighten your natural hair color by up to eight levels.
Only works when going from a lighter to a darker shade.Used with temporary colors and permanent dyes.Used for lightening purposes or changing to a different shade. Suitable for covering gray hair.It is the ideal developer for anyone wanting to be a platinum blonde.
Adds a tint or shade to your hair with the same lightness level.Suitable for complete coverage for those with 100% white hair.Often mixed with lightening powders and creams for a permanent result.Used with lightening creams and powders to achieve results.

When coloring your hair at home, most developers are 10, 20, or 30. When you use something 40 or higher, there is a risk of hair burns.

That’s why you should only receive services at a salon or from an experienced provider.

I Need a Developer for My Specific Hair Type

Your hair type influences the color results that dyes provide. Thicker hair tends to be more resilient, while thinner strands might accept the color faster or more consistently.

I’ve found that it helps to follow these rules when dealing with the three standard hair types.

Fine HairNormal HairThick Hair
This hair type tends to be the easiest to become a darker, lighter, or brighter shade.People with this hair type have a normal color reaction to developers.This hair type tends to be more challenging to lighten or darken.
When coloring to a darker shade, the results might go beyond the intended tone. It often helps to select a lighter dye.This hair responds well to the recommended volume and shade of the developer.It is harder to reach a lighter result with this type, while darker hair dyes tend to be lighter than what the manufacturer shows.
It is possible to use a lower volume developer than recommended with this hair type.If you have this type, it is usually suitable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.You might need to use the next number up when choosing a developer for your hair color.

If you have gray or white hair that you want to turn a different color, you’ll want to treat your hair as thick, even if it is regularly normal or fine. The strands are highly resistant to change.

You might even want to consider a follow-up hair coloring session to ensure you’re working toward the correct look.

When you don’t know how your hair will respond, I recommend using a very light developer to see what can happen.

I use the Hair Bar Professional G & C Developer 5 Volume to test the dye and my body’s reaction.

Gel and Cream
  • 5 Volume Professional Lightening System
  • Peroxide Developer infused with Collagen
View on Amazon

I love how the creamy consistency stays put after it’s applied, providing a bit of extra conditioning without having a strong peroxide.

How Can I Determine My Hair Health?

It’s great to color your hair, but you also want it to be healthy. You’re probably in a good spot when you’ve got a great bounce to it while having the strands resist breakage. Porous hair is more likely to tangle, while split ends can cause numerous knots.

Here is what I look for to judge if my hair is healthy enough for coloring, or if I need to be more aware of its porosity and alter my approach a little.

  • When hair looks silky, smooth, and shiny, it’s safe to say it’s also healthy. You don’t get shine unless the cuticle lies flat because that’s how it can reflect light.
  • Elasticity is another symptom of good health. This quality helps natural curls stay strong, even if you’re to add volume to a blowout. If you see more frizz in the mirror, you’ll want to take some damage-control steps before coloring your hair. The strands shouldn’t snap on you with a quick pull.
  • Your hair grows in cycles. Each strand has a growth stage that can last for up to eight years. Once it reaches the end of its journey, it falls out for a new one to start growing. People with healthy hairs can expect to lose about 100 per day. Anything more could mean you have some repair work to do or a possible skin condition.
  • Healthy hair detangles easily because of the smooth surface. Your brush won’t catch, and the strands don’t get caught on each other to form tangles.
  • Moisture doesn’t cause healthy hair to frizz. If your hair looks like you got a ‘90s perm after stepping out of the shower, a different coloring product might be necessary.

Have I Used Hair Dye Too Often?

It is generally safe to re-dye hair every six to eight weeks with permanent products. Temporary dyes don’t use developers or harsh chemicals that harm the hair, so they are usable at any time. Semi-permanent dyes can be done weekly since they don’t penetrate the hair.

During my junior year of high school, I decided that the way I’d stand out was to dye my hair.

It was trendy at that point, so the idea of putting in blonde highlights was scandalous. I took the rainbow route and got called into the principal’s office.

“Do you know what you’ve done to your hair?” she asked.

Uh – yeah. I can look in the mirror. The school told me I should change it back, but my mom stepped in and told them what’s what. They backed off, I enjoyed some notoriety, and I was super happy with my hair.

If you’re not sure what you’re ready to do, you can use hair dye without a developer to try something new. Depending on whether you love or hate it, you can make it permanent or go in a different direction.

When you need a developer, please remember to use the number that matches your need. Otherwise, I guarantee you’ll be unhappy with the results.


My name is Hajer and welcome to my site. This is my little haven, my outlet, where I can express myself, and show you everything I've learned about makeup, skincare, hair tips, and so much more, as well as the different beauty mistakes I've made so that you can avoid them.

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