Can You Use Conditioner As a Developer? | Complete Guide

can you use conditioner instead of developer

You might have a good idea of the cost your hair has to pay when you bleach it. While it is easy for healthy and thick hair strands to withstand the bleaching, weak hair suffers, primarily because of the developer in the bleach mixture. So, can you use conditioner as a developer and save your manes from damage?

No, you can’t and shouldn’t use a conditioner as a developer to dye or bleach your hair. Both of these are entirely different products with unique functions. While bleaching, the developer mainly oxidizes the melanin or color pigment in your hair strands. In addition, it activates the dye molecules while dyeing your hair.

So, you’ll not be able to permanently dye or bleach your hair using conditioner instead of the developer. If you run out of the developer while trying to lift your hair color or want to protect your hair against it, I have got you covered.

Below, I will explain to you some basic chemistry of the developer and why can’t you substitute it with conditioner. Also, we’ll say what you can use when you run out of the developer when bleaching or dyeing your hair.

Why Can’t You Use a Conditioner as a Developer?

The developer, chemically called hydrogen peroxide, as the name indicates, oxidizes your original hair color. The higher its strength, the more levels it will lift the color.

On the contrary, a conditioner is a blend of some oils, proteins, and other nutrients, which only nourish and moisturize your hair. So, how can you use it instead of the developer to lighten your locs?

But once you bleached your hair, why do you still need to mix developer with hair dye?

It is because dye molecules are tiny and inactive when you apply them to your hair. The developer activates them in the hair cortex, and they turn so big that they can’t escape the cortex. That’s how a permanent dye changes your hair tint by remaining entrapped under the cuticle.

What else can you use in scenarios where you don’t have a developer to mix with bleach powder or the dye?

You can buy hydrogen peroxide, whatever percentage you need, from the store and use it instead of the developer. It is the same thing you get in the bottle of a developer. You can dilute it if you can’t find the volume or percentage you are looking for.

Can you mix developer with conditioner to save your manes from bleach damage? Let us find out!

Can You Mix Conditioner With Developer?

Your hair is susceptible to damage because of the harsh chemicals in the dye. Therefore, mixing the conditioner with the developer can provide some protection. 

While conditioner in the developer might help protect your hair strands from dryness or weakening, it can dilute the dye, meaning you may not get the desired tint.

So, if you plan to mix the conditioner with the developer just for the sake of getting a lighter tone from the dark dye, you may proceed with it.

can you mix conditioner and developer

However, if you want protection from harsh chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide while expecting the dye to work to its full, mixing conditioner and developer will not be the right thing to do. 

You can deep condition your hair with coconut oil before bleaching or dyeing for protection.

Can You Use a Developer and Conditioner to lighten hair?

Generally, the mix of bleach powder and developer lightens your hair by stripping off its dark shade. But, what if you use a developer and conditioner instead to change your dark hair color to a lighter tint. 

Indeed, you can use the conditioner and developer together to lighten your hair but deciding a few things first is crucial. Opting for a proper volume of a developer regarding what results you expect will prevent damage to your manes.

  • Volume 10 contains 3% hydrogen peroxide and is milder of all types. 
  • V. 20 contains 6% hydrogen peroxide.
  • V. 30 contains 9% hydrogen peroxide.
  • Volume 40 contains 12% hydrogen peroxide and is the strongest of all levels. 

For good results, along with protecting your manes from dryness, frizz, and weakness, you should use the volume 20 or 30 developers. 

Mix it with an equal quantity of conditioner. Don’t leave the developer more time than recommended on the product usage instructions. 

A developer alone can only lighten or lift your hair color to two levels, and when diluted with conditioner, its color lifting ability lessens. Therefore, you may consider these points before mixing the conditioner and developer. 

Can I Dilute Bleach With Conditioner?

A hair bleach kit mainly contains a developer, bleaching powder, and lightening cream. Sometimes it also has an anti-brass conditioner. So, if you further want to dilute the bleach mixture with a conditioner, will it be the right thing to do?

The answer to whether you can mix bleach with conditioner or not depends on how many levels you want to lift your hair color. You can dilute the bleach with conditioner if you’re going to lighten your hair up to two or three levels.

However, if you want to jump from dark brown hair color to medium blonde, diluting the bleach will contain you from getting up to this level. Talk to your hairstylist before lifting your hair color to four or more points.

What Can You Use As a Substitute For Hair Developer?

If you have run out of the developer, you can get 6% or 9% hydrogen peroxide solution from the store and use it as a substitute to dye or bleach your hair.

Nonetheless, if you want the developer to be entirely out of the equation, you might not be able to lighten your hair with bleach or color it with permanent hair dye.

In the following, we have discussed an option you can employ instead of a developer to color your hair while stemming any damage to it.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Semi-permanent dye does not employ a developer to deposit its molecules on the hair strands. It binds to the outer layer of hair instead of the middle layer. So, a developer is not needed to open the cuticle.

If you want to save your manes from dryness, frizz, and weakening caused by the developer, you may need to use a semi-permanent dye. But can you mix it with conditioner?

It all goes down to what you intend to achieve by mixing the semi-permanent dye and conditioner. Generally, people mix both of them to dilute the too dark tint of the hair dye.

However, if you are assuming that diluting your semi-permanent dye will help protect your locks from chemicals, well, it might, but you will not get the ideal tint from the hair dye.

While a semi-permanent dye is a good alternative for a developer, it washes out after six to eight weeks, unlike the permanent hair dye, which lingers until you mane grows out.

Wrapping Up

The developer has a role in bleaching and dyeing your hair. It opens the cuticle, the upper layer, of your hair and allows the dye molecules to penetrate it. A developer also oxidizes the melanin, giving your manes lighter color.

So, if you want to use conditioner instead of developer, you will not be able to dye or lighten your hair. A conditioner has entirely different functions. It smoothes your hair strands by sealing cuticles and nourishing them with proteins.