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For weeks now, Doja Cat's "Paint The Town Red" has been trending along with a niche hair trend, a dramatic colour transformation that has been coined "cowgirl copper." You may have seen examples. The first video that went viral (with 6.5 million views) showed hairstylist Emily Grace Vandergriff taking her formerly blonde hair to a shiny shade of copper red, adding Doja Cat audio and the hashtag now has 70 million views: #cowgirlcopper.
Isn't it just people dyeing their hair red? I thought when I first saw videos tagging cowgirl copper. But then I spoke with NYC's top colourist Jenna Perry — she specialises in red hair — who explained exactly what seems to be going on with the trend, which celebrity started it, and how to ask for it at the salon.
What is "cowgirl copper" hair?
First, the name is a nod to the trending fashion aesthetic, coastal cowgirl. "It’s a really playful colour," offers Perry. She describes the exact shade as, "a muted copper red that goes with most skin tones." Because this is a "muted" tone and incorporates a lot of browns and golds, it reads less vibrant or fire-y than a natural red, but that's what makes it work (look more natural) across different complexions.
When I ask Perry how she thinks this trend got started in the first place, she's quick to credit. "Emily Ratajkowski put this hair colour on the map," she says. Perry coloured Ratajkowski's hair a custom shade of muted copper earlier in July, just as the "cowgirl copper" trend began to take shape on TikTok.
How do you get "cowgirl copper" hair colour?
First, it should be stated upfront that while playful, copper (even muted) is a high-maintenance hair colour. Many colourists say that tones of red are even harder to maintain than bleach blonde because red hair colour is notoriously fast-fading. "Expect to be in the shampoo bowl for a few hours," says Perry to anyone who's considering the trend. "This tone will require multiple glosses." Moreover, a DIY dye job is not advisable. "If not done properly, this colour can get very brassy yellow, so it’s important to do your research to find the right colourist to do the job," Perry adds.
But if you're influenced into trying cowgirl copper, talk about it with your colourist, and bring photo examples of what you're looking for. There's clearly a ton of inspiration on TikTok, but you want to make sure you find someone with a similar hair colour and texture to you, as that will be the most accurate indicator to how the colour will look on your hair.
Going from blonde to cowgirl copper, Vandergriff used a cocktail of Redken Shades EQ Gloss, which is also what Perry recommends. Instead of a dye, Shades EQ is a demi-permanent gloss — it's less damaging to the hair, but will fade faster than dye.
And according to Vandergriff, it will be helpful to use the "trending" language (even if you know it's just the marketing of it). "Tell your colourist you want 'cowgirl copper," Vandergriff recommended in a follow-up video with advice to anyone who wants to try the trend. "It gives us something we can go off, something we can look up."
How do you maintain "cowgirl copper" hair?
You'll need to put a monthly appointment with your colourist on your calendar. "You need to get a Redken Shades EQ Gloss at the salon every four weeks," says Perry. So, this will also be an expensive trend to upkeep. Certain at-home conditioners and masks will help to keep the colour vibrant and healthy. Perry recommends Redken's Acidic Bonding Concentrate range. You could also use a colour-depositing mask at home, like IGK Dark Coppery Blonde, or dpHUE Gloss + Copper.
If you're up for the commitment, cowgirl copper is the clear and obvious hair trend for spring.