Too Much Developer In Hair Dye? Easy Ways To Fix

It is important to add developer to permanent hair dye. Without it, hair dye would have no effect. But what happens if you put too much developer in hair dye? This article explores the easiest way to rectify the situation so that you get the best possible color result for your hair.

Too Much Developer In Hair Dye

If you put too much developer in hair dye, you will end up with a runny mixture and a disappointing color result. It’s possible to save the mixture by adding more color, but this is difficult. Instead, it’s best to throw the mixture away and start over.

Annoying as it may be, it’s best to start over. It very important to get the ratio of developer to dye right so that you get a good result.

Read on to find out more about developer and how to measure out the correct ratio to save you from any color disasters.

What Is Developer Used For?

Developer, also sometimes called activator, is a creamy substance that contains hydrogen peroxide. It is used to activate hair color.

Developers come in different strengths or volumes. These range from 10 volumes to 40 volumes. The amount of hydrogen peroxide in the developer is what determines the volume.

For best results, a developer should be mixed with dye. When used on its own, a developer will lighten the hair, but the color result won’t be good.

Many boxed permanent dyes already come with a developer, which needs to be mixed with the dye to activate it.

However, you may prefer to buy your developer and dye separately. In this case it’s important to know the correct ratio to use and what volume of developer to buy for your desired result.

What Happens If You Put Too Much Developer In Hair Dye?

It’s important to get the amount of developer just right so the dye can do its job properly.

You will know if you have put too much developer in hair dye as the mixture will be very wet and runny. ideally, it should have a creamier consistency.

If you put too much developer in hair dye and then use it on your hair, the result will be a color that is too soft and weak on your hair. This is often something that is done by diluting the hair dye if a softer color is required.

But using too much developer won’t give you the color result you wanted. This might not sound so bad at first, but imagine you wanted bright red hair but it came out pink instead.

This is why it’s important to get the developer to dye ratio right.

What To Do If You Put Too Much Developer In Hair Dye?

If you haven’t yet put the hair dye on your head, the easiest and most risk-free solution is simply to throw the mixture away and start again.

Yes, it does mean having to buy more hair dye and developer. However, it’s better than getting a disappointing color result which will have to be fixed anyway.

The other option is to attempt to correct the dye to developer ratio. This is however not an easy solution as you’ve already lost track of the quantity of each product used.

To rectify the situation this way, you would need to be careful not to over saturate the solution with color.

If you’re not absolutely sure, it’s best just to throw the mixture away and start again.

You definitely don’t want to leave in the hair dye longer than recommended. As much as it might seem tempting, it could cause irritation or damage your hair. This is also the case if using expired developer, so be careful.

Likewise, If you’ve already used the dye on your head and got a disappointing color result, we recommend that you don’t rush to re-color your hair, but wait a week first.

This will give your hair a rest from chemicals. In that time you can use hair masks to get your hair back into optimum condition before you re-color it using the correct ratios.

What Happens If I Put Too Little Developer In Hair Dye?

If you put too little developer in hair dye, the dye won’t be able to do its job properly. There simply won’t be enough hydrogen peroxide in the mixture to effectively lift your hair cuticles and deposit the new color.

The result will be an uneven hair color which you’ll want to hide until you can dye it again. Not ideal!

What Is The Correct Color To Developer Ratio?

woman with very bright colored hair

As you’ve probably figured out, it’s important to get the developer to dye ratio right. This is so that you won’t be disappointed with your color result.

If you buy a boxed dye, you won’t need to worry about this. The box will contain the correct quantities of developer and dye that you’ll need to get the color result on the box.

If, however, you prefer to buy your developer and dye separately, then the exact ratio of developer to dye you’ll need is 1:1.

So, if you buy a 50 ml tube of dye, you’ll need to mix it with 50 ml of developer. If you buy a 65 ml tube of dye, you’ll need to mix it with 65 ml of developer. And so on.

Please note however that if you’re planning to bleach your hair rather than dye it, or you’re using a high lift color, the correct ratio is 1 part bleach or dye to 2 parts developer.

How To Avoid Putting Too Much Developer In Hair Dye

It’s important to get the developer to dye ratio just right. Experienced colorists can probably get the mix just right by sight, but we wouldn’t recommend you do this at home!

If you’re going to mix dye with developer at home, it’s best to use weighing scales to get the quantities right.

Set your scale to zero with an empty mixing bowl placed upon it. Then add your required quantity of dye into the bowl.

Then set the scale to zero again and add the same quantity of developer (unless you’re bleaching or using high lift color, in which case add double the quantity of developer).

This way you can be sure you’ve got the correct ratio of developer to dye.

Choosing The Right Developer Strength

Now you know the correct ratio of developer to dye to use for coloring your hair. But what volume of developer should you use?

Use 10 Vol for coloring hair a similar shade to your base color and for going darker.

Use 20 Vol for 1 or 2 levels of lift and for coloring gray hair. Many boxed dyes use a 20 Vol developer and this is kinder on the hair than the higher levels. This volume will slightly lighten your natural hair and make the artificial shade up to 2 tones lighter than your base color.

Use 30 Vol for 2 to 3 levels of lift. This is a good choice if your hair is healthy and you want a lighter color.

Use 40 Vol only for lightening hair. It provides up to eight levels of lift. Use with caution as if not used correctly it can cause chemical burns to the scalp and damage to the hair.

Remember that for bleaching your hair or using a higher level of lift for the color, you will need 1 part of bleach or dye to 2 parts developer.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Developer?

It’s absolutely okay to use developer after it’s already been opened. It will last for up to twelve months after being unsealed, provided it is kept in a cool, dark place.

Do I Need To Match The Developer Brand To The Color?

It isn’t necessary to match the developer brand to the brand of dye you use. So long as you use a good quality cream developer, your color result will come out just fine.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Nicola Sloan

Nicola is a freelance writer and researcher whose specialisms lie in health and wellness, beauty, and psychology. She has fine, wavy hair and is a big fan of co-washing every alternate day between shampoos (as dry shampoo makes her sneeze!)