A pro hairstylist breaks down how to successfully become a redhead.
This article was originally published on March 17, 2023 and has been updated.
Copper. Auburn. Crimson. Ginger. Cherry. No matter how you like it, red hair is the colour trend of the moment.
There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about red hair. It’s free-spirited. It’s fiery. And it feels as though everywhere we look we’re seeing red — especially when it comes to Hollywood’s buzziest celebs. Emily Ratajkowski debuted a russet shade this summer, trading her signature chestnut locks for a summery auburn ’do.
At an Oscars after-party on March 12, Megan Fox unveiled a freshly dyed copper top, coloured by hair stylist Jacob Schwartz, in a major departure from her signature dark tresses. That same night, celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway styled actress Tessa Thompson’s burgundy hair into beautiful “cornrose” for the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party.
On our TV screens, rising star Riley Keough — who is both a redhead IRL and plays one in Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & The Six mini series — and her flaming locks are in the spotlight. And then of course there’s TikTok — where a #BlackCherryHair boom is underway, amassing over 42 million views on the app’s hashtag.
For those of us not naturally blessed with even remotely red hair, the hue can be achieved with a hairstylist’s magic touch. To help you prepare for your appointment, salon owner and Redken Canada ambassador Max Gourgues shares everything you need to know about becoming a redhead.
What to know before you go red
Before booking your dye job, Gourgues encourages clients who frequently dye their hair to think twice. “Do not do this transformation if you regularly change hair colours. It is not a colour that’s easy to remove, so think about it before doing it,” he shares. “You can always go for a balayage technique and play around with the gloss formula to try red without changing your natural base.” And if you’ve considered tackling this transformation at home on your own, Gourgues strongly advises against it, as several factors including formulation, choice of shade, and application can affect the process. “It is always best to do this with a professional,” he insists.
Once you’ve chosen a stylist, you’ll also want to book a consultation to assess your hair and chat about your goals. “If you start with a light (blonde) base, you will not only need to schedule the salon appointment accordingly, but also change your product routine (shampoo, conditioner, treatments, etc.),” Gourgues explains. “If you start with a dark natural base, you can either go directly with permanent colours for a more natural effect. Want brighter results? You will have to lighten the hair first.” (The same goes for already coloured hair.) And depending on how your consultation goes, Gourgues tells FASHION that some clients may need to undergo “texture” preparation with a stylist — during which the hair will be treated before dyeing so that the colour can be absorbed evenly throughout the hair and give off the most shine.
Colour matching 101
Here’s Gourgues’s breakdown of how to find the best shade of red to complement your complexion. For those with peachy fair skin or freckles, you can pull off all shades of red! But Gourgues’ preference is a light Venetian copper hue that will illuminate your skin tone. Those with rosy complexions should opt for deep orange tones or orange-red shades, whereas auburn tints of reddish copper will work best with deeper skin tones.
The upkeep for a colourful head of ginger is no minor matter, but there are a few things you can do to ensure your ruby red locks look their best. Gourgues’ best advice for keeping your colour vibrant after you’ve gone red? Book a hair appointment every four to six weeks, during which a gloss can be applied to your hair to refresh the mids and ends. Between salon visits, you should also be mindful of how often you’re washing your hair. “The number of washes will affect how fast the colour fades,” says Gourgues. “To maximize hold, aim for a wash or two a week. Use a colour maintenance shampoo like Redken’s Color Extend Magnetics for each wash. Prioritize washes with cool water, use conditioner and masks to work on hair texture and shine.”
Now that you’re equipped for a total red hair transformation, go forth confidently with your newfound red hair knowledge and book that appointment you’ve been on the fence about. “If you’ve always been hesitant to try [red hair] or were waiting for a sign to do so, here it is,” says Gourgues. “Have fun, and let your stylist guide you!”