The benefit of raising your developer has many variables, but let me try to explain what happens when we do this. In order to break the rules safely, we must first understand them.
How does hair developer work?
Developer is the gas to get you where you’re going. The higher the developer, the more oxygen is brought to the color. This is what we call oxidation.
10 volume developer has the lowest oxidation level, and 40 volume has the highest. This is the reason we have different levels of developer. Each one works at different strengths to open the cuticle layer, which allows the color molecule to penetrate, lift, and deposit in the cortex.
The majority of all developers are the same: A mixture of peroxide and different conditioners. You can intermix them as needed for the most part (with a few exceptions).
How Color Line Affects Your Choice of Developer
Knowing your color line is so important before you make the choice to step out of the box, because it can impact your final results.
When glossing and changing the developer you must be sure of 3 things:
1. Are you using an acidic color line that does not contain ammonia or monoethanolamine (MEA)?
If your color line contains ammonia or MEA, then it can create lift in the hair while it is being treated. Ensuring that you are using an acidic color line that does not contain ammonia or (MEA) will keep you from a hot root situation.
If you are using a color line that has lifting ability, I would suggest using the lowest developer strength, usually between 6 and 10 volume. This will ensure you are not opening the cuticle and depositing an unwanted pigment.
2. Does the hair have significant mineral buildup?
If your client’s hair has a significant amount of mineral buildup, this can lead to a chemical reaction during processing and appear to shift the root. Conducting a full hair consultation before any color service can help you identify this before it becomes an issue; using a pre treatment, such as Malibu crystal gel and a good clarifying shampoo can help remove minerals from the hair and avoid issues during the service.
3. Does the client have super fine hair above a level 8?
Raising the developer in a situation like this could appear as a root shift, but in actuality it is exposed melanin. The developer essentially chews the cuticle layer because of its acidity level. When this happens, melanin is exposed which is warm in tone. What does warmth look like? A shifted base.
If your client falls into the category above, you might consider using a lower developer to ensure there is no chance for the natural base to appear shifted. Please understand this is in very few circumstances, but it's important to be aware of.
Raising Your Developer
Once you are familiar with how your gloss processes and the above 3 things are checked ok, you are in good shape to try raising that developer.
What does it do?
Raising the developer intensifies the tone of a gloss without having to drop a level. Most times, when we need to knock out more warmth or need a brighter warmth, we would drop the level to get more pigment. When you raise just the developer, it keeps things extra bright and that tone pops even more.
Keep in mind this is a subtle change in developer. I don’t ever advise glossing with a developer over 15 volume. This would cause too quick of a deposit and can be aggressive on freshly lightened hair.
Raising the developer is great for just about any situation except when looking to keep things deeper or when trying to erase any sort of lines. Techniques like melting or smudging would require keeping that developer as low as possible.
My favorite combination? Redken shades eq with Wella color touch 13 volume.