When thinking about red hair, you likely imagine iconic humans like Julia Roberts, Emma Stone, or Rupert Grint, whose gorgeous tresses help them stand out among the myriad of Hollywood stars. If you’re contemplating going crimson, consider familiarizing yourself with common mistakes people make when dyeing their hair red so that you don’t trip into the same pitfalls, too.
Red is a feisty color to contend with: The pigment can be tricky to maintain, so it may need more upkeep than your usual shade. However, it’s also, IMO, the most vivacious hue out there, likely due to its association with the scarlet sirens who have sported it, such as the vixen-like Jessica Rabbit. Even blonde bombshell Christina Aguilera recently rocked red hair — albeit we’ve seen her with (likely faux) scarlet strands in her music video for “Candyman” before — and her red mane looks equally as amazing on her as her usual platinum tresses.
Red is a totally fun color to experiment with and can arguably help boost anyone's confidence. But it’s not the easiest color to achieve, especially if you’re dyeing your hair at home. So I spoke to some professional hairstylists to discover the most common mistakes people make when dyeing their hair red, in the hopes that you can avoid them if you’re thinking of becoming a lady in red.
1. Not Picking The Right Shade Of Red
Moran Gallagher, Master Colorist and Educator at Mizu New York, tells me over email, “Basically it's all about choosing the right tones. Red is a really broad spectrum. It has to work not only with your skin tone, but I believe your personality as well.”
Chelle Neff, owner of Urban Betty Hair Salon in Austin, Texas, agrees that it’s vital to pick the right hue for yourself before diving into the world of scarlet shades. Neff tells me via email that you should consider choosing one that goes with your skin tone, explaining, “There are three basic types of red hair color: Red-red, orange-red, and red-violet. People with fair and pinkish skin tones should stick with red-red or red-orange. Olive and darker skin tones usually look better with red-red or red-violet.”
2. Washing Newly-Dyed Hair
Haven Spa Hair Stylist Masha Cuentas tells me via email, “Do not wash your hair the day after you get it dyed. This will make the color fade.” So if you want more longevity out of your newly red locks, refrain from washing them the day after you dye.
3. DIY Dyeing Red Hair
Gallagher tells me about the importance of having professional input. “I especially would never recommend doing it by yourself. I would definitely suggest going to a professional. The subtleties of the tone can make or break the whole outcome.” When it comes to such a vibrant shade, it’s definitely worth leaving it to the pros.
4. Using The Wrong Products
Neff explains, “The red hair molecule is the largest of the dye molecules, so it can slip out of the cuticle faster with every shampoo.” She instructs, “You must use hair products that are specifically formulated for color-treated hair. My favorite product that is designed for redheads is PureOlogy Reviving Red.”
Cuentas is on the same page, too, saying, “I would advise using shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair (sulfate free).”
5. Washing Dyed Red Hair Too Often
If you’re someone who washes their hair every day, Cuentas has advice for you: “Try to wash your hair as little as possible. I recommend once every three days on average to my clients.”
6. Coloring Over Color
So you think red dye will seamlessly go over your newly-dyed dark brown hair? Unfortunately, this could end up in a disaster.
Neff tells me, “You can’t lift color with color. Only bleach can do that. So if you put a lighter red hair color on top of hair that has been previously colored a darker shade, you are going to be in trouble.” She explains the consequences, noting, “This usually creates a ‘hot root’ look, which means your new growth (or roots) will have a reddish hue and the rest of your hair will not match it.” Yikes!
To avoid this, it’s probably best to refer to Gallagher’s previous advice: Leave dyeing your hair red to the professionals, as they’ll ensure you’re not left with “hot roots.”
7. Not Taking Advantage Of Glazes
Did you know that it’s a good idea to apply glaze in between your appointments? Cuentas says, “Ask your colorist to recommend a glaze that you can apply in between your color appointments at home.” Moral of the story? Ask and you shall receive.
8. Not Giving The Process Of Becoming A Red-Head Time
Neff hits the nail on the head, explaining, “We all want instant gratification when it comes to coloring our hair. Sometimes you have to be patient and have two to three appointments to get to the perfect shade.” She adds, “Since red hair fades quickly, it can take two to three appointments to get it to stick around longer. I explain this to my clients by comparing it to painting a wall. It can take two to three coats to get to the perfect shade.”
9. Not Protecting Red Hair From Sun Damage
Cuentas finishes with a very important tip: “Avoid too much sun light, this will help hair looking healthy and shiny.“ If you live somewhere that’s eternally sunny or you’re getting your hair dyed red in summer, protect your hair with SPF to help prevent damage.
So take heed of this advice before going crimson to fully enjoy your new 'do.