Can I use Shampoo Instead of Developer? (Yes, but…)

can I use shampoo instead of developer

Have you ever wondered, can I use shampoo instead of developer? If you want to bleach or dye your hair, you may be aware that you need developer, but you might be looking for an alternative to buying a whole new product.

You can use shampoo instead of developer, but you should be aware that the shampoo will not lighten your hair the way that developer does. This may mean that your hair dye doesn’t take as well, and the color is darker than you would otherwise expect. You need developer if you want to bleach your hair.

What Does Developer Do?

According to StraightAheadBeauty, developer uses a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to lift the hair cuticle, and sometimes to strip some of the color out of your hair.

Stronger developers, such as 30 and 40 volume, will give your hair more lift and lighten it further, while weak developers, such as 10 and 20 volume, may only raise the cuticle and will hardly affect the color.

Developer is important when you are bleaching or dyeing your hair, because it gives the bleach and dye access to the inside of the hair follicle, and this helps the dye to take. If you don’t lift the cuticle, most of the dye will sit on the outside of the hair, and will therefore wash away much faster. Its color may also be fainter.

Many people therefore use developer to raise their hair cuticles before they dye their hair to improve the adherence.

Can I Use Shampoo Instead Of Developer?

If you do not have any developer, you can use shampoo to prepare your hair for a dye job, but you should be aware that you will not get exactly the same results, especially if you are used to using a strong developer.

Shampoo is not really intended to raise the hair’s cuticle, so it isn’t going to have the same effect as even a weak developer. Although some people say that shampoo can open the cuticle and there are a few brands of shampoo that may do this, most do not – because this could be quite damaging, especially with repeated uses.

Shampoo will not give the dye access to the inside of your hair follicles, therefore, and it won’t help the dye adhere. It also cannot lighten your hair as the stronger developers can.

It will, however, strip the grease out of your hair, which will improve the chances of the dye taking well. Grease creates a barrier between your hair and the dye, so shampooing your hair is certainly better than nothing if you don’t have any developer available.

Can You Use Shampoo Instead Of Developer For Bleach?

If you are bleaching your hair but not dyeing it, you need developer, because this is what activates the bleach. If you don’t use any developer, the bleach won’t activate, and will not lighten your hair.

You can usually get boxes of developer cheaply from many different stores, but without at least a low strength developer, your bleach will not work.

Bellatory recommends a 1:2:1 ratio of bleach powder, developer, and shampoo. This should give you an effective mixture that will lighten your hair. You can use a stronger or weaker developer, depending on how much lighter you want your hair to be.

Note that because this contains shampoo, it is less powerful than a standard bleach wash, which just utilizes developer and bleach. However, the shampoo can make it less harsh on your hair, and may reduce damage.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Developer For Hair Dye?

If you don’t have developer for hair dye, you can substitute it for hydrogen peroxide, as this is the active ingredient in developer, and it is what makes the bleach work. However, doing so can be tricky, and there is a risk of you getting the ratios wrong.

It is important to find out how much peroxide is in the developer you would usually use, and make sure you match this. If you use a mix that is too strong, there is a very high chance that you will damage your hair, so be careful about this.

10 volume developer has 3 percent peroxide, 20 volume has 6 percent peroxide, 30 volume has 9 percent peroxide, and 40 volume has 12 percent peroxide.

This might help you to figure out what peroxide you need to replace the developer. However, it is generally better not to try to mix substitutes for developer unless you know exactly what you are doing. Purchase a box of developer instead if you can.

Can I Use Developer With Shampoo?

Yes, you can mix developer and shampoo, and this is a fairly effective way to lighten your hair, especially if you use a high-strength developer.

ShampoosHub suggests adding 2 tablespoons of developer to your normal amount of shampoo. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly before applying them to your hair. Spread them evenly throughout your hair so that you don’t get lighter patches, and then cover your hair with a cap and wait for approximately 30 minutes.

You may need to give it a little longer to let the products work fully, but don’t keep the mixture on your hair for longer than an hour, or it may damage it. When you have got the color you were aiming for, thoroughly rinse all of the developer and shampoo out of your hair, being careful not to get it in your eyes.

Once you have finished with your hair treatments (including dye, etc.), you should then deep condition your hair to repair the damage that the developer has done, and encourage the cuticles to close again.


You can use shampoo instead of developer, but it will not give you particularly good results, because it doesn’t lift the cuticle the way that developer does. It also does not contain any peroxide, so it won’t activate bleach, and it cannot lighten your hair color. To do any of these things, you will need developer or hydrogen peroxide.

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