Hair Activator & Hair Developer

Hair color preparation
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Q: Is there a difference between hair developer and hair activator? I am going back to a more natural color, and the dye says use hair activator and the shop sold me developer. Thank you!
A: Activator and Developer are basically two terms for products that do the same thing. Developer "activates" the chemical processes that allow the hair color to be deposited into the hair shaft, and so some specific color makers use the term "activator" for their specific developer product.
While it is usually recommended by the makers of a hair color formula that you use the associated products made by them, in most cases you can achieve the same results with any developer formula.
These formulas vary only slightly in most cases, although by not using a company's associated products you likely invalidate any claim you have against them if something goes wrong with the application of the product. It's likely that the shop sold you the developer because there is no difference in that particular product, or because they may have had some promotion in effect for the developer product.
If you have concerns about the compatibility, contact the shop and explain your concerns and make sure that you have compatible hair products. Most shops that sell beauty supplies try to employ at least some number of licensed professionals in cosmetology who can advise you specifically on the product lines that they carry.
See also:
How to color hair
What does the developer do?
What is the ratio of color to cream developer?
Can most developers be used with other products?