The Red Velvet Hair Trend Is Rising & You'll Want A Bite

Photo: Courtesy of Jie Zheng.
Digging a fork into a thick slice of red velvet cake — with cream cheese icing, thank you very much — is peak dessert joy. The sweet maroon treat is our go-to for birthday parties, holiday potlucks, and binge-watching Netflix (no, we don't need a special occasion to dig in). But red velvet cake is also inspiring a new hair color trend that's baking in the chairs of colorists. We're calling it red velvet hair.
This modern take on auburn is rich and full of flavor — just like the cake. According to Colleen Flaherty, master colorist & educator at Spoke and Weal salon in New York City, red velvet cake is universal, but the hair color recipe isn't one size fits all. The color and process will look different depending on your hair color and hair type. So, before you take the plunge, find out everything you need to know to make going red velvet a piece of cake.
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Flaherty says that some pre-lightening is involved, so prepare to go blonde if you aren't already. "For this look, my client was already pre-lightened to blond. So I colored her hair with a red-violet color, which filled her strands with pigment," she tells Refinery29. She added even more dimension to the color by painting more dye on top of the red base. "Afterwards, I created the red velvet color by mixing red and violet until it transformed into a shade we agreed upon."
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For brunettes, the process is slightly different. Flaherty tells us that as long as your hair is virgin, you can likely achieve red velvet strands without any pre-lightening, depending the shade you are looking for.
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If your brunette hair has been colored before, it might need to be pre-lightened. "If the brunette hair is not virgin, I'd apply a formula with red and violet hues, then wash and dry it completely," says Flaherty. "Then, I would add a direct dye over it by mixing red and violet to create the color my client wants, while also keeping the health of the hair in mind."
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Since there is no distinct recipe for red velvet hair, the best way to get the color you're craving is to bring as much inspiration as possible to your colorist. "The first thing you want to do is consult with your colorist, that way you can discuss any questions you might have," Flaherty says. "He or she will also be able to evaluate your hair, and give you the best treatment for your hair type. The color will look different on straight and curly hair, so consulting first is important."
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Your complexion can also play in a role in mixing the best cake color batter. "People who have warmer undertones should use a red-violet hue to compliment their complexion," says Flaherty. "People with cooler undertones could go either way, red-violet or violet-red." (The latter has more purple tones, which can give a burgundy look.)
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To keep your color fresh, prepare to cut back on washing. Red velvet hair color will need some additional maintenance. Adding color-safe products to your regimen will help keep your hair vibrant between appointments. Flaherty suggests using the Aveda Color Conserve range to maintain your bright tones and to make your cake-colored hair pop. You might also want to make an appointment for a gloss once your color begins to fade.
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You don't need to dye your entire head red to make a statement, just focus the color at the ends of your hair. It'll create a bold two-toned look when worn down, and your Afro puff will be color-blocked when you tie it up.
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