Can I Use 20 Volume Developers With Demi-Permanent Color?

If you are thinking about dyeing your hair with a demi-permanent color by yourself, you will want to know which developer to use.

20-vol developers are generally considered the safe bet for dyes. But is this the case for demi-permanence? 

Instead of second-guessing, though, this article will help you answer, “Can I use 20 volume developers with demi-permanent color?” Spare a few minutes to read this and ultimately decide if you should use a 20-vol developer when demi-permanently coloring your hair!

20 volume developers with demi-permanent color
20 volume developers with demi-permanent color

Can I Use 20 Volume Developers With Demi-Permanent Color? 

Yes, you can use a 20-vol developer for demi-permanent colored hair. But should you? Just because you can do it does not mean it is the best choice.

You should use developers between 5 and 10-volume when dyeing your hair with demi-permanent colors. 

Demi-Permanent Color & Developer 

Demi-Permanent Color

To start, we will briefly go through what a demi-permanent color is. 

This type of coloring sits in between semi-permanent color and permanent color. Typically, it is described as the “sweet spot” coloring. It deposits color into your hair without causing damage to it.

Shampoos Hub x
Shampoos Hub

The color enters the first layer of your hair but does not penetrate fully. Thus, the color washes off after roughly 16 to 24 washes. 

Demi-permanent color is great for people who want to be able to change their hair color to stay up to date with trends and those who do not want to commit to a single color.

It is also chosen by people who want to “revive” lackluster hair or adopt a darker color. Essentially, it is a temporary type of coloring, where your natural/base hair color won’t change. 

However, the biggest reason why people opt for demi-permanent is because it contains no ammonia and allows users to avoid causing damage to the hair fibers. The ammonia is what penetrates your hair, and with the help of developers, sets the colors. 


The developers are what opens up the hair cuticles for color to enter and settle. The way it works is simple: the stronger the developer–the higher the volume, the more cuticles open, and the more color seeps in to lighten.

Here is a gist of what each developer volume can do: 

  • 5-vol developers serve as activators for colors in glazes and toners
  • 10-vol developers can shift the base of the hair slightly or blend grays
  • 20-vol developers entail more-than-moderate penetration. So they can shift the natural hair color when used with glazes and toners

Demi-Permanent Color + Developer?

So, building from the information above, demi-permanent color should be paired with low volume developers, which are ones from 5 to 10 vol. 

  • If you opted for a demi-permanent color because you do NOT want your natural/base hair color to change, it is best to avoid 20-vol developers and instead go for the 5 to 10 volume ones. 
  • If you want to add a shade or tint to your hair using a demi-permanent color, do NOT pair with a 20-volume developer, but use a 5 to 10 volume one. 

You should never use a 20-volume developer for a demi-permanent hair color.

30, 40, and 50 ones will unnecessarily blast open your cuticles. This can lead to over-processing and hurt your hair. 

20-Vol Developer + Demi-Permanent Color? 

Mix 20-volume developers with demi-permanent color - can it be used on hair?
Mix 20-volume developers with demi-permanent color – can it be used on hair?

20-vol developers will open your hair cuticles. However, the demi-permanent color cannot provide the ammonia needed to ensue a chemical reaction.

Hence, color oxidation occurs. Your hair fiber is degraded by the developer and the dye color is altered to reddish, blueish, and yellowish tones. 

The developer will also dry your hair and make the color fade faster because there are free radicals in the developer. This backfires the intent of using demi-permanent color, in the first place, to avoid damaging the hair 

Other Factors 

Apart from the desired results, however, you should also consider the hair type and quality before settling for a specific developer volume. 

Hair Type 

There are different types of hair, and they each respond differently to dyes and developers. The general rule of thumb is that fine hair allows color to penetrate more easily and quickly while thick hair does the opposite. 

  • Therefore, with fine hair, it is possible to choose a lower volume developer than the recommended standard. 
  • For normal hair, stick with the recommended standard. 
  • Finally, for thick hair, which is mostly more resistant, it is alright to go with a higher volume developer than the recommended standard. 

If you do not know what your hair type is, do not worry! You can give your hair a ‘test’ using these 3 steps: 

  1. Pluck some hair strands from the top, back, and sides of your head. 
  2. Drop the hair strands in a cup of water. 
  3. Observe how quickly your hair strands sink in the cup of water. 

Healthy hair should sink slowly. 

Alternatively, you can:

  1. Hold hair strands between your middle and index fingers. 
  2. Slide your fingers through the hair strands from the top to the root. 
  3. Observe how the hair strands feel. 

Healthy hair should feel smooth and not uneven. 

Hair Quality 

Aside from the hair type, you need to assess your hair quality. Healthy hair reacts well with color, so you can use the standard recommended developer for your color.

However, not as healthy hair, such as porous and dry hair, is not as straightforward. While such hair absorbs color easily, the color also fades off easily. So… 

  • If you want to lighten porous hair, opt for a lower volume developer. 
  • If you want to darken porous hair, opt for a higher volume developer. 

Taking Care of Demi-Permanent Hair 

Hair Care Routine 

Get new products for color-treated hair 

You can’t just change your hair color, keep everything else the same, and expect that your hair will still be in good condition.

You need to make changes to your regular hair routine! We recommend at least getting new shampoo and conditioners for color-treated hair. 

To get the right products, do not forget to look at the ingredients closely. Steer clear from products with sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laurel sulfate, and parabens. 

Use products designed for color-treated hair 
Use products designed for color-treated hair

Wash your hair as infrequently as possible 

This ensures that your hair color will not quickly fade off. Plus, it does not drain your scalp of natural oils, which can leave your hair dry and lifeless. 

Extra care with masks, deep conditioners, and oils 

Pamper your hair with masks, deep leave-in conditioners, and oils. There are so many products available in the market. Invest in several quality ones to “spoil” your hair. 

These can keep your hair hydrated and healthy so that it will not succumb to color dyes! Some of our favorite products that you can consider getting for yourself are:

Avoid Heat 

Use lukewarm water for washing 

Hot water can strip your hair of its natural oils, which dries the hair and makes it brittle— backfiring your use of demi-permanent hair color to spruce up lacklusterness.

So, try to avoid hot water showers and baths, and use lukewarm water instead.

Avoid applying heat 

Building from the same heat notion as above, it is best to skip the heat-styling methods and minimize any heat applications on your hair. This should make sure that your hair is always in mint condition. 

Use a heat protectant before heat-styling hair 
Use a heat protectant before heat-styling hair

If you must heat-style your hair, use heat protectants! They can minimize the consequence of heat by distributing it more evenly and slowing it down. You can use them on dry or wet hair before styling your hair with heat.

Keep away from direct sunlight 

Direct exposure to harsh sunlight can damage your hair. Your hair can become brittle and dry. It can also frizz and turn unkempt.

Therefore, you should avoid the sun when you can. It is also a good idea to use anti-UV products. There are mists, masks, sprays, and oils that are formulated to protect your hair against the sun. 

Shield your color hair from the sun
Shield your color hair from the sun

Other Things To Avoid

Avoid going to the pool

Pool water contains chlorine, which will cause the color on your hair to fade quickly. It can also strip moisture from your hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and with split ends.

Therefore, you should avoid going to the pool. If you really must go for a swim, make sure your hair is kept safely in a swimming cap.

Avoid hard water 

Like pool water, hard water can discolor your hair and cause it to drain colors off quickly. It makes the hair appear damaged, dry, and lifeless as well.

It is not a colorist’s nightmare for no reason! Steer clear of hard water to keep your colored hair in mint condition. 

Stock up on nutrients 

Keeping your hair healthy will also take care of its hold of demi-permanent color. Hence, it is essential to have a nutritious and balanced diet.

If you are lacking certain nutrients, there are vitamin supplements that can come to the rescue. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, biotin, protein, zinc, and iron are some of the fundamental hair must-haves. 


Should I wash my hair before getting it demi-permanently dyed?

Most hairstylists agree that you should wash your hair roughly 12 to 24 hours before you get it dyed.

Since you should not wash your hair too frequently after getting it dyed, not having clean hair to start with can be bothersome. 

Besides, washing your hair beforehand can make you feel more comfortable during the dyeing process and limit the possibility of your scalp feeling irritated and itchy. 

Can I wash my hair right after getting it demi-permanently dyed? 

Most hair stylists recommend waiting for at least ~72 hours before washing your hair after getting it dyed.

Remember that demi-permanent color lasts for about 16 to 24 washes, so do not wash your hair too often and lose the color before even getting to show it off! 

How long does it take for a demi-permanent color to process?

Generally, the processing time is 10 to 40 minutes at room temperature. If you are applying heat, it will take less than that—from 10 to 15 minutes. 

Do I apply a demi-permanent color on wet or dry hair?

Demi-permanent color should be applied on slightly damp and wet hair but not soaked wet hair.

If your hair is porous and too wet, there is a chance that it will absorb the water rather than the color and dilute the color formation. It will not be a drastic difference, but it is still worth keeping in mind.

How can I get rid of the demi-permanent color on my hair? 

As said above, the demi-permanent color will fade after 16 to 24 washes.

However, if you do not like the color or want to change to another color, you can speed up the discoloring process with a clarifying shampoo. Alternatively, you can dye your hair another color or bleach it.


“Can I use a 20 volume developer with a demi-permanent color?” should no longer be a query that bothers you. With the information we have provided above, you can make your final call!

If you have any other thoughts you would like to share or questions to ask, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below.

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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