The Bleach-to-Developer Ratio: How to Avoid a Bleaching Nightmare

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It’s really nice to look at gorgeous models or celebrities with uniquely colored hair.

But you know what’s nicer? The fact that it’s possible for you! 

If you want to sport bright colors, the first step is always the bleaching process. Of course, we always suggest that you let a professional colorist do it for you.

But we also know that that can be very expensive, which is why many people bleach their hair at home.

a young girl looking happy while her hair is wrapped with foil as part of bleaching process

Unfortunately, it’s not so easily done either! 

Bleaching takes practice. You have to consider a lot of factors, and one of the most important steps is the correct bleach-to-developer ratio.

Getting it right is important because the correct mix will make a big difference in lightening your hair.

Continue reading to know what the right mix is, how to mix it, and how to apply bleach to your hair.

What Is the Bleach-to-Developer Ratio?

The standard ratio of bleach to a developer is one part of bleach powder and two parts developer (1:2).

This will give you a shampoo-like mixture that’s easy to apply and will therefore allow you to work fast. It can also help avoid patchy results.

We’ll talk more about that later.

How Do Bleach and Developer Interact?

The purpose of hair bleach is to strip the color of your hair.

It goes into the hair shaft and breaks down the pigment molecules called melanin. Melanin is what gives your hair its natural color.

And when the melanin is broken down, the hair color gets stripped off.

Now, here’s the catch. Bleach can’t do that without its partner, the developer.

A developer activates the bleach. It contains hydrogen peroxide, which helps open up your hair cuticle so that the bleach can go into your hair shaft and do its job.

The Materials You Need to Lighten Hair at Home

The next thing to do after deciding to go blonde is to prepare your supplies.

You can’t go ahead and start bleaching only to find you don’t have everything you need, like a developer or something as simple as gloves.

So what do you need to prepare?

material needed for bleaching at home place in a white table

Bleach Powder

Of course, you can’t bleach without it. A bleach for hair comes in powder form. It may be blue or white.

For medium brown or blonde hair, you can use a white powder.

Meanwhile, dark hair colors need to be used with blue bleach powder so some of the orange tones can be neutralized.

L'OREAL PARIS Quick Blue Powder Bleach, 16 Ounce
  • Delivers Faster and Brighter Superior Lightening Powder.
  • Extra Strength Lightening Action Lifts Up To 7 Levels.
  • Dust-Free, Non-Drip Concentrated Formula.


A developer can be in cream or liquid form.

A liquid developer or clear peroxide is made of deionized water and hydrogen peroxide. When you mix it with the bleaching powder, it creates a very liquid consistency.

Moreover, this form has a stronger effect and can work fast, so you have to be careful when using it.

On the other hand, a cream developer has the basic contents of liquid developers but with added ingredients.

Superstar Super Star 20v Creme Developer, 32 Ounces
  • Use As A Subsitute For Liquid Peroxide with Gel Consistency
  • Keeps Its Strength Longer
  • 20 Volume Stabilized Cream Peroxide Developer

Some contain conditioners and protectants.

Because cream developers have these additional ingredients, they require more processing time and are less harsh on the strands.

Additionally, the cream form mixed with bleach creates a creamy consistency that is useful when you apply products using a brush.

If it’s your first time bleaching, we suggest that you use a cream developer.

Developer Volume

You might have seen developer labels with “volume” written on them. Volume refers to the strength of the developer. A higher volume means more power to turn your hair lighter.

Developers come in different volumes.

  • 10-volume developer lightens slightly, so there’s less risk of damage.
  • 20-volume developer gives 1 to 2 levels of lift and is usually used for the roots.
  • 30-volume developer lifts up to 3 levels, so it’s ideal for going blonde.
  • 40-volume developer has the highest strength and is only recommended for professionals.

Application Tools

From mixing to applying the lightening product, you will be needing these helpful tools:

  • Plastic bowl
  • Applicator brush
  • Gloves
  • Parting combs
  • Clips
  • Old towel
  • Aluminum foil (if you’re doing highlights)

Remember to use a non-metal bowl for your mixture.

Metal can interfere with the chemical reaction between the bleach and developer, leading to uneven or unreliable bleaching results. Bleach also corrodes metal.

Plastic is the most recommended as it won’t react with bleach. 

Gloves are also highly important. Don’t use bleach without them because the product has strong chemicals that may irritate or burn your hands.

How to Mix Developer and Bleach

Let’s proceed to the mixing process and how much liquid or cream developer to mix with bleach.

The bleach powder-to-developer ratio is important for successful hair lightening.

As we said, the bleach-to-developer ratio is 1:2. This balance will give you a creamy mixture that can be easily applied to hair.

Here is an easier guide for you:

Mix…50g bleach powder…with…100g developer
Mix…100g bleach powder…with200g developer

The same x 2 formula applies if you’re using ounces instead of grams.

And if you’re using a big tub of product, you can measure the powder and developer using measuring spoons or a kitchen weighing scale.

Just remember to mix one part bleach powder with two parts developer.

Another thing to note is you can make the mixture thicker if you plan to use the bleach for painting techniques like balayage or if you’re going to lighten just a streak of your hair.

A 1:1 ratio is perfect for this.

a close-up image of a young girl with middle length hair facing backward with balayage hair in loose curls

Steps in Bleaching Your Hair

Now that you know the materials you need and the hair bleach-developer ratio, you are ready to bleach!

Here are the steps.

Step 1: Prepare your area.

Bleaching can be messy. The product can drip and stain your clothes and even surfaces.

What you can do is put on gloves and wear clothes you don’t mind getting stained. You can also wrap an old towel around your shoulders.

In addition, you can lay down a rug on the floor and newspapers on surfaces where you feel the bleach may accidentally drip on.

Step 2: Take a strand test.

Yes, there’s a suggested processing time in the instructions that come with your lightening kit. But you also have to take note that time can vary because of factors like:

  • Hair condition
  • Hair color
  • Developer strength

So it’s best if you do a strand test to help you determine the time it would take to get to your desired hair level.

The strand test can also help you know if you’re allergic to bleach or if your hair can take the process. Studies show that bleaching can damage the hair, so you have to test it out first.

How to Do a Strand Test

Grab a thin section of your strands from a place that’s hidden in your hair and apply the bleach. Wait for 30 minutes, then rinse.

If you’re okay with the result, then remember that’s how long you should let your bleach sit on your hair.

If it’s still dark for you, add 5-15 minutes. And If it’s too light or you notice the strands lose elasticity, lessen the processing time.

Step 3: Part your hair.

a close up image of a girl's hair parted using alligator clips

Section your hair into at least 4 divisions with alligator clips or duckbill clips.

Do this before mixing your products for faster application.

Step 4: Mix your bleach and developer.

Put your measured bleach and developer into the plastic bowl, powder first. Then mix the products using your brush or a separate plastic spoon.

Remember the correct developer-and-hair bleach ratio!

Step 5: Apply the mixture.

Apply the product from at least 2 inches away from your roots up to the tips. Start the application at the back of your hair.

Let the bleach sit for about 10 minutes before you put bleach on your roots.

After applying, cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag.

Step 6: Wait for the bleach to process.

Leave the bleach on your hair. You can refer to the waiting time from your strand test result. 

However, if you didn’t do a strand test (please do!) you can let the bleach process for not more than 45 minutes.

Step 7: Wash your hair.

Rinse your hair until the water runs clear. Then use a gentle shampoo and follow with a conditioner.

Step 8: Tone your hair.

An optional step is to neutralize unwanted yellow or orange tones after bleaching. You can do that by using a demi-permanent toner or toning shampoo.

Beautiful woman with magnificent galaxy hair style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you put too much bleaching powder?

If the powder is more than the standard bleach-to-developer ratio, the mixture will be too thick. It can’t be easily spread and won’t adhere to the strands well.

This will result in uneven or patchy bleaching.

What if I add too much developer in bleach?

If there’s too much developer in your bleach mixture, it will be too runny. A runny product can drip and get everywhere, including your face and arms.

Aside from the mess, this can also cause skin irritation.

Do you have to change the ratio according to volume?

No. The volume of the developer you use with te bleach has nothing to do with the amount you use.

Regardless of the volume, you should still use the 1:2 bleach-to-developer ratio.

What is the bleach-to-developer ratio for Wella?

The recommended bleach to developer ratio for Wella lighteners of any kind is 1:1.5 up to 1:2. That’s pretty much the same as the standard ratio.

Mix Bleach Powder and Developer With the Right Ratio

We know bleaching isn’t easy, but it’s also not impossible. If you know the right tools, products, techniques, and steps, you can do it at home.

And if you follow the correct ratio of your bleach and developer, you can finally flaunt the beautiful vibrant hair you’ve always dreamed of.

After bleaching your hair, what’s next?

Check out these hair dye articles:


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.


  1. Wish me luck 🤣🙏🏼✌️💛😊❤️ Thanks for the advice.

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