The Hair-Color Commandments Every Redhead Needs To Know

Photo: Photofest.
Red can, unfairly, get a pretty bad rap. But, we can probably chalk up all this gingerphobia to jealousy. "The eye is drawn more to the color red than blond or brunette, and that's what makes it special," says Roxie Darling, a colorist at Hairstory Studio in New York City. "If a natural redhead ever comes to my chair and asks to change her shade, I will usually talk her out of it."
Celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, who's taken Emma Stone red, calls it the ultimate statement color. "If I see someone and she says she wants to go red, then I know she's really ready to make a change. She's willing to make that visual statement."
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That's probably why we fall so hard for famous redheads — Emma Stone (though a natural blonde) being one of them, but also Molly Ringwald, Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, and, of course, the iconic, fresh-faced Julia Roberts. Their talent is obvious, but we're forever obsessed with their hair.
The thought of going red may have crossed your mind. It can seem daunting though, considering the wide range of options. "There are so many shades of red," explains Aura Friedman, a colorist at Sally Hershberger Downtown. "There's warm and cool, apricot and copper, fiery and crimson. It can be such a gorgeous color."
In celebration of the shade — and in commencement of a weekly series where we'll be documenting inspiring colors, plus the at-home care you need to keep them intact — we've created the ultimate guide to going red. Ahead, find some inspiration to Pin or take to your colorist. Because, isn't it time you finally made that big change?
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Photo: Everett Collection/REX USA.
Mia Farrow
Anyone who’s seen Rosemary’s Baby has marveled at Mia Farrow’s hair — but most of the fanfare surrounded her Vidal Sassoon pixie cut, not her switch from blond to red. “This is like a light copper, or shiny penny sort of color,” Friedman says. It’s a great gateway for blondes who want to put a toe in the water and try out the color without going full-on.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
Blake Lively
“This is a cool, strawberry blond,” says Friedman. It’s bona fide proof that even the most beautiful, classic type of blonde can totally change her look with a little red. (In this case, it made pulling off that nude dress a lot more interesting.)
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
Molly Sims
Friedman took the lovely Molly Sims from a honey, L.A. blond to a “peach” shade, which can be a tough color to pull off. If this is the shade you desire, definitely print out specific references to bring to your stylist so you both can come up with a “color word” that will work for you.
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
Jessica Chastain
“This is my favorite hair color,” says Friedman. “I hardly know what to call it. I love that at the top it looks powdery and almost beige, and then towards the ends as it hits the sun, it becomes warm and fiery. There are all these interesting, subtle elements that makes it a beautiful shade.” We should point out, however, that the sun altering your hair is really only good for natural-born redheads — it can alter artificial dyes. (A UV-protecting cream, like Sachajuan Hair In The Sun, should do the trick to protect your dyed locks.)
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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX USA.
Rita Hayworth
“Rita was a sort of fiery gold,” Darling says. In fact, there’s a similarity to Jessica Chastain’s color here, except Hayworth has more of an allover color.
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Photo: Courtesy Everett Collect/REX USA.
Lucille Ball
Darling describes Ball's color as “saffron,” after the orange shade of the spice. Of all the reasons we love Lucy, her natural, gorgeous ginger shade is high on the list.
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Photo: REX USA.
Molly Ringwald
Nobody does red better than Molly, who Darling coins “the Ginger Princess.” Her color is slightly softer than Lucille Ball’s, making it more of an ubiquitous, traditional shade.
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Photo: Erik Pendzich/REX USA.
Florence Welch
“Florence has a sort of supernatural color,” says Hazan. “It’s wildfire red — loud, vibrant, and makes a huge statement.” It’s the kind of burning ginger that you know she was born to be.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Natalie Westling
Westling is a model-on-the-rise who changed her color completely at the request of Marc Jacobs. “It’s true red,” says Friedman. And, even though it’s clearly the result of a salon visit, it still looks incredibly, shockingly cool.
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Grace Coddington
“I call this ‘The Queen of Cayenne,’” says Darling of the fashion industry’s most instantly recognizable head of red hair.
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Photo: David Fisher/REX USA.
Emma Stone
Ms. Hazan knows a thing or two about Stone’s color — she’s done it before. “Emma mostly goes for the fiery, copper reds,” she explains. “It’s all about multiple tones and vibrancy.” Notice how her ends are slightly softer and more diffused, with the bold color showing through at the top and on the bangs — that keeps it light and airy.

If this is the kind of color you want, though, consider highlights to add dimension. “Natural redheads usually have about four or five different colors growing out of the scalp,” says Darling. “So having golden ginger or copper highlights will make it look more natural.”
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Photo: Nicolas Khayat/REX USA.
Christina Hendricks
“Christina is a dark copper,” says Friedman. She’s also another example of single-process shades — an all-over color that looks beautiful against her skin (and with her signature lipstick).
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEImages.
Karen Elson
“This is scarlet,” says Friedman of supermodel Karen Elson’s one-color 'do. “This is an all-over, single-process red,” adds Darling. “These are definitely harder to pull off. It’s for the kind of person who really wants that look and energy from a bold color, as opposed to someone who wants to look like more of a natural redhead.”
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Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
Rihanna
This shade is similar to Karen Elson’s, “but it’s more of a deep red with a purple hue,” says Hazan. “Like crimson.” There’s something very red wine about it — in the good way. “If you want to make these more fashionable colors work for you, you can definitely try them out,” Darling says. “Just add lighter pieces in shades of copper or apricot towards the front so they flatter the complexion.”
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Photo: Rob Latour/REX USA.
Julianne Moore
“I’d call this Irish Setter,” says Friedman. “Since Julianne is a natural redhead, she just goes to the salon to get demi-permanent color to enhance the shade she already has.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Julia Roberts
While many know her for her signature smile, the beauty world knows her for one major thing: her hair. More specifically, her hair in the '90s, when it was curly, big, and totally glamorous. Darling calls this a case of “classic auburn,” or a sort of brown-meets-red vibe. “I like to call it cinnamon red,” says Hazan. The point is, this is a warm, deeper red, with naturally lighter ends.
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Prepare Accordingly
“Red is a lot of maintenance when it’s artificial,” explains Friedman. “It’s the largest color molecule, which means it fades the quickest because it comes out of the cuticle faster. You have to be very careful with what products you use.”

Investing in a pre-shampoo treatment is something we’ve mentioned before — especially if you’ve got color-treated hair. But, even many natural redheads complain about a lack of vibrance or dull color. This can happen because of oxidative damage caused by the water in your shower.

Burt's Bees
Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, $9, available at Burt's Bees.
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Photo: Via Nexxus.
To combat those effects, coat your strands in a quarter-sized drop of a hair treatment or conditioner, and then get your hair wet to start your shampoo. It serves as a protective shield of sorts that will still give your strands a clean, non-greasy feeling when you’re done. (Promise.)

Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo, $13.99, available at Ulta.
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A Leave-In Conditioner To Rehydrate
Dyeing your hair can leave it parched, so it's important to work a leave-in conditioner through your ends to keep strands healthy and smooth. This one won Refinery29's 2015 Innovator Awards for most versatile styling product, because it moisturizes and provides a bit of hold.

Reverie Milk Anti-Frizz Leave-In Treatment, $42, available at The Line.
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Or Try...
A blend of lightweight oils — including coconut, grape-seed, and sweet-almond — works together to hydrate the hair and tame flyaways. Plus, since this oil contains UVA/UVB filters, it offers heat-styling protection, too.

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil, $40, available at Sephora.
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Ditch The Suds
"People spend all of this money investing in color, and then they spend tons of money investing in a ‘color-safe’ shampoo, and then it all washes down the drain," Darling says. "I always recommend this product because it has no soap in it — it leaves the color exactly the same."

Still, that doesn’t mean daily shampoos are now permitted. "Get used to dirty hair! Red is stubborn." (Note — this is also true for natural gingers. Also, it’s the most resistant to going gray, too!) The good news? "The more you apply red to the hair, the more it stays and the less it fades."

"But," Friedman interjects, "that also makes it just about the hardest color to totally remove from the head. Going from dyed red to blond is a real process." In short, if you’re going to go for it, you need to fully commit.

Hairstory
New Wash, $40, available at Hairstory.
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This thick cleansing conditioner is also a great option for those with curls. Not only does it smell incredible, but it cleans our hair without stripping it dry.

DevaCurl No-Poo Zero Lathering Conditioning Creme, $19.95, available at Ulta.
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Photo: Via Rita Hazan.
Invest In A Gloss
That goes for both at-home and in the salon. “Red fades as women get older, so most natural redheads will need a gloss or demi-permanent color of some sort that will act almost as a stain on the hair,” Hazan says. “It sort of fades away, and it’s gentle on the hair.”

However, Hazan's at-home glosses are ultra-light, sheer deposits of color that correct dullness and spruce up color in between visits. In fact, you can (and should) use it every time you shampoo for optimum results. Both natural and dyed reds will benefit from this formula — the color payoff isn’t so intense that you need to worry about it altering your color in any dramatic way.
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Photo: Via Christope Robin.
A Color Conditioner For Warm Reds
Friedman recommends this product for touching up notes of apricot, peach, and coppers (anyone from Mia Farrow to Rita Hayworth in this slideshow). It will even give an ephemeral strawberry-blond tint to those with lighter hair who aren’t ready to commit to a salon visit.
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Photo: Via Manic Panic.
A Color Conditioner For Vibrant Reds
Darling loves Manic Panic’s Tiger Lily mixed with a touch of conditioner for tweaking more of the bold, all-out gingers. “It reads natural and amber on the hair,” she says.
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Photo: Via Davines.
A Color Conditioner For Deep Reds
This one isn’t messing around — it’s true, all-out red for the scarlet and crimson among us. (Or, even those who want to punch up their highlights a bit.)
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Photo: Via Oribe.
A Shine-Enhancing Heat Protectant
Since dullness is common among redheads, you'll want a heat protectant that's designed to optimize shine. This one does just that — one pump should do the trick for mid-length hair, so adjust your product distribution accordingly.
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Or Try...
A spray-nozzle heat protectant is also a great option — especially if you're pressed for time in the morning. This lightweight spray distributes evenly through the hair in a matter of seconds, providing heat protection and extra shine.

Aussie Hair Insurance Heat-Protecting Shine Spray, $4.99, available at Drugstore.com.
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