Lately our Instagram feeds have been full of red hair inspo and these hair looks are full of vibrancy, making us super excited for fall! But red is a complex color that isn’t the easiest to maintain. It can be hard to achieve and the color fades fast. But when it looks good, it looks so so good! If you’re thinking of dyeing your hair red, we’re breaking down all of your red hair color questions. Read on for the best hair care routine and tips to keep your red hair from fading.
Red hair is bold, unforgettable, and gorgeous. Plus there’s something about the fall that makes moody scarlet hues and golden coppers feel so cozy — and there's a shade of red for every skin tone. But finding your exact shade can be tricky, so it's helpful to look for pictures of people with a similar skin tone and eye color to get an idea of which red will work best. A consultation with a colorist will also guide you in the right direction. Generally speaking, the darker your skin tone, the brighter you should go.
For a permanent hair change, you'll get the best results in-salon, but if you’re not ready to fully embrace the trend, you can experiment with semi-permanent color depositing products like the ones in our Alchemic system.
When it comes to maintaining red hair, the color fade struggle is real. Because the color-molecules in red pigment are much larger than the molecules in other colors, the first few times you try to color your hair red, it won’t fully penetrate the cuticle and stain the hair. This also means it slips out of the cuticle faster with each wash. Even with the most talented colorists in the best salons, red hair dye will noticeably fade in around four weeks. It can even take a few attempts to get the red pigment to stick to your hair. And even then, red hair is prone to fading and looking orange or brassy. It's important to only use hair care products designed for color-treated-hair, and protect your strands from things like heat, chlorine, and environmental pollution.
These tips will help you maintain your red hair in between touch-up visits with your colorist.
Coloring your hair a shade darker than you want will help you prolong the appearance of your red hair. You’ll reach your shade naturally as the color fades.
Every time you expose your color-treated hair to water, you run the risk of losing pigment. Especially after coloring, your hair cuticle needs time to close and stay closed. The usual rule of thumb when dyeing your hair is to wait 24 hours before washing. But with red hair dye, it takes a little longer. Wait at least 48 hours, or two days, to wash your hair after going red.
The temperature of the water you use when you wash your hair plays a huge role in how fast your color fades. It’s best to ditch the hot showers in favor of cold showers to keep your red hair vibrant. Hot water opens up the hair cuticle, allowing the color to slip out. Keep it cool to make the most of your dye job.
The biggest cause of red hair fading and turning brassy is over-shampooing. Water and shampoo both affect the cuticle, which causes hair color to dull. This is especially true with red hair. Hold onto your hue by shampooing as little as possible. Try to wash your hair three times a week at most.
Anytime you wash your hair, you have to re-seal the cuticle. Washing roughs it up and allows for faster fading. A sealed cuticle means nothing gets into your strand or out of it. Conditioner seals the cuticle, keeping color in and environmental aggressors that can accelerate fading out. Use a conditioner as the final step every time you wash.
Wet hair is much more fragile than dry hair because when it’s wet, the structure of the hair strand changes. Brushing wet hair is more likely to stretch color-treated hair to its breaking point. Be gentle with your freshly showered strands and only use a brush designed specifically for wet hair to reduce breakage.
Especially when it comes to shampoo, which can strip hair color, it’s important to always use color-safe hair products. These types of products contain antioxidants, proteins, and amino acids to strengthen the hair cuticle and prevent pigment from leaking out. The Davines line of color safe shampoos gently cleanse hair, protecting your color and keeping it shiny for longer.
Just like your skin needs SPFto protect it from UV rays, so does your hair. Using hair products with SPF helps prevent color from fading. If you’re planning on spending the day at the pool or beach, slather your strands with a UV blocking conditioner to protect your color from fading.
The following tips will help you keep your red hair vibrant.
Whenever you feel like your strands could use a refresh, swap out your color-safe shampoo with a red color depositing shampoo. Formulated with red pigments, it’ll instantly revive your red between color touch-ups.
Everyone can benefit from a hair mask and that includes redheads. A hair mask keeps color-treated hair hydrated, which is a must for keeping hair color vibrant. To keep your red from fading, use a hair mask like The Quick Fix Circle once a week. Apply it to towel-dried hair after shampooing, leave it on for 3 minutes, comb through, and rinse with cool water. And for more on the benefits of hair masks see our previous post Hair Mask 101.
We already told you that you should be washing your hair 3 times a week tops. This will help you hold onto your shade longer. But what do you do if your hair gets greasy on the off days? You get yourself a good dry shampoo. Look for an invisible formula, so you don’t get white residue on your red. See our previous post for more tips on how to use dry shampoo.
To protect your hair from weather that can strip your hair of moisture and leave it looking dull, wear a hat. Extend the life of your red hair (and protect yourself from UV rays) by throwing on a cap or bucket hat whenever you plan to be outdoors.
If you can’t avoid the pool completely, avoid over-chlorination by wetting your hair with tap water and adding conditioner before you go in.
Colored hair is more vulnerable to heat than natural hair. So while heat styling is damaging to all hair, it’s especially harsh on hair that’s been dyed. To preserve the life of your red hair color try to avoid styling with heat. But if you absolutely must use a blow-dryer or use a flat iron, be sure to protect your hair with a heat protectant spray.
How often you see your colorist for touch-ups is a decision you should make together. How fast your hair grows and how much root regrowth you like should be considered, but every 4-8 weeks is a good range. Keep touch-ups strictly to regrowth, and avoid overlapping. Applying hair color over previously colored hair can cause over-processing, over-darkening, or uneven results.
Red is the hair color of the moment. It’s a complex color that is notorious for fading fast, but if you get it right, it’s so pretty for fall! There’s a red for everyone, and as long as you use the right products and give your strands a little extra TLC, it can be the most amazing hair color you’ll ever try. If you’re thinking of dyeing your hair red, arm yourself with our tips and tricks to keep your red hair hot.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
Photos by @goldandglowco