I first got the bug to dye my hair red during my sophomore year of college.
In my Shakespeare class, I sat behind a girl with the loveliest copper colored tresses I’ve ever seen and the entire semester, I found myself imagining how I’d look with all that gorgeous red hair. My hair was its natural dirty blonde back then and after a few disastrous experiments trying to go golden the year before, I’d pretty much sworn off blonde hair for good.
I wanted red hair and I wanted it right away. So with a few weeks left in the semester, I marched off to CVS, picked up a box of red hair dye and went to town. Oh, how I wish I had given it a little more thought. You know, maybe even prepared a little bit for the change? Let’s just say, my first few forays into red hair did not go very well. Not if you don’t find Ronald McDonald’s Crayola-red tresses attractive anyway.
If you’re thinking of taking the redheaded plunge, there are a few things that you should know before so you wind up with a beautiful, healthy color that lasts. Take it from me – knowledge is definitely power when it comes to red hair.
Choose the Right Shade
All red shades are not created equal, so it’s important to choose the right one for your skin tone. When I dyed my hair red the second time, I chose what looked like a medium auburn shade and wound up with ultra dark black cherry tresses that left me totally washed out. If you have fair to light skin, a strawberry blonde or light auburn shade is your best bet. With medium skin, you can go darker with a medium auburn or russet shade. If you have olive or dark skin, a cooler red shade like burgundy or black cherry is your best bet.
Make Sure Your Hair is Healthy
If you want to go red, get your hair as healthy as possible before hand. Dry, damaged strands don’t absorb the small molecules that make up red hair dye as well as healthy hair, so you may wind up with uneven color or a dye job that doesn’t last very long. To get your hair in gear for going red, use a deep conditioning treatment at least once a week (depending on the condition of your hair) and have your hair trimmed regularly to remove split ends. It’s a good idea to cut back on the heat styling too.
Be Prepared for the Upkeep
Even if your hair is super healthy, maintaining a red dye job is hard work. Red fades the fastest of any hair color, so you’ve got be extra careful with it. Wash your hair as infrequently as you can get away with since every time you wet it, you run the risk of color fade. When you do wash, use a shampoo for color-treated hair without harsh sulfates that can strip your hair of its lovely red color – and rinse with cold water. Look for styling products that contain UV filters to protect your hair from fading in the sun, like L’Oreal EverPure UV Protect Spray.