How to Keep Red Hair From Fading


Lately our Instagram feeds have been full of red hair inspo and these hair looks are full of vibrancy. But red is a complex colour that isn’t the easiest to maintain. It can be hard to achieve the desired shade and the colour can fade fast. But when it looks good, it really gives that WOW-factor! If you’re thinking of dyeing your hair red, we’re breaking down all of your red hair colour questions. Read on for the best tips on how to keep red hair from fading.

Choosing the right shade of red 

Red hair is bold, unforgettable, and gorgeous. Plus there’s something about the fall that makes moody scarlet hues and golden coppers feel so cozy — and there's a shade of red for every skin tone. But finding your exact shade can be tricky, so it's helpful to look for pictures of people with a similar skin tone and eye colour to get an idea of which red will work best. A consultation with a colourist will also guide you in the right direction. Generally speaking, the darker your skin tone, the brighter you should go.

  • For pale skin tones, try rose, gold or copper 
  • For olive skin tones, try plum or berry 
  • For darker skin tones, try cherry or wine tones
  • For natural blondes, try coppery highlights

For a permanent hair change, you'll get the best results in-salon, but if you’re not ready to fully embrace the trend, you can experiment with semi-permanent colour depositing products like the ones in our Alchemic range.

Why red hair fades

When it comes to maintaining red hair, the colour fade struggle is real. Because the colour-molecules in red pigment are much larger than the molecules in other colours, the first few times you try to colour your hair red, it won’t fully penetrate the cuticle and stain the hair. This also means it slips out of the cuticle faster with each wash. Even with the most talented colourists in the best salons, red hair dye will noticeably fade in around four weeks. It can even take a few attempts to get the red pigment to stick to your hair. And even then, red hair is prone to fading and looking orange or brassy. It's important to only use hair care products designed for colour-treated-hair, and protect your strands from things like heat, chlorine, and environmental pollution.

How to keep red hair from fading

These tips below will help you maintain your red hair in between touch-up visits with your colourist.

1. Go a shade darker than your desired hue

Colouring your hair a shade darker than you want will help you prolong the appearance of your red hair. You’ll reach your shade naturally as the colour fades.

2. Don’t wash your hair for at least 2 days post-colour

Every time you expose your colour-treated hair to water, you run the risk of losing pigment. Especially after colouring, your hair cuticle needs time to close and stay closed. The usual rule of thumb when dyeing your hair is to wait 24 hours before washing. But with red hair dye, it takes a little longer. Wait at least 48 hours, or two days, to wash your hair after going red.

3. Use cold water when you wash your hair

The temperature of the water you use when you wash your hair plays a huge role in how fast your colour fades. It’s best to ditch the hot showers in favour of cold showers to keep your red hair vibrant. Hot water opens up the hair cuticle, allowing the colour to slip out. Keep it cool to make the most of your dye job.

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4. Shampoo less often

The biggest cause of red hair fading and turning brassy is over-shampooing. Water and shampoo both affect the cuticle, which causes hair colour to dull. This is especially true with red hair. Hold onto your hue by shampooing as little as possible. Try to wash your hair three times a week at most. 

5. Condition your hair after every wash

Anytime you wash your hair, you have to re-seal the cuticle. Washing roughs it up and allows for faster fading. A sealed cuticle means nothing gets into your strand or out of it. Conditioner seals the cuticle, keeping colour in and environmental aggressors that can accelerate fading out. Use a conditioner as the final step every time you wash.

6. Be gentle with your wet hair

Wet hair is much more fragile than dry hair because when it’s wet, the structure of the hair strand changes. Brushing wet hair is more likely to stretch colour-treated hair to its breaking point. Be gentle with your freshly showered strands and only use a brush designed specifically for wet hair to reduce breakage.

7. Use only products suitable for colour-treated hair

Especially when it comes to shampoo, which can strip hair colour, it’s important to always use colour-safe hair products. These types of products contain antioxidants, proteins, and amino acids to strengthen the hair cuticle and prevent pigment from leaking out. The Davines line of colour safe shampoos gently cleanse hair, protecting your colour and keeping it shiny for longer.

8. Protect your hair in the sun

Just like your skin needs SPF to protect it from UV rays, so does your hair. Using hair products with SPF helps prevent colour from fading. If you’re planning on spending the day at the pool or beach, slather your strands with a UV blocking conditioner to protect your colour from fading.

How to maintain and care for dyed red hair

The following tips will help you maintain your red hair.

Refresh your colour with a colour depositing shampoo

Whenever you feel like your strands could use a refresh, swap out your colour-safe shampoo with a red colour depositing shampoo. Formulated with red pigments, it’ll instantly revive your red between colour touch-ups. 

Use a hair mask

Everyone can benefit from a hair mask and that includes redheads. A hair mask keeps colour-treated hair hydrated, which is a must for keeping hair colour vibrant. To keep your red from fading, use a hair mask like The Quick Fix Circle once a week. Apply it to towel-dried hair after shampooing, leave it on for 3 minutes, comb through, and rinse with cool water. 

Use dry shampoo in between wash days

We already told you that you should be washing your hair 3 times a week tops. This will help you hold onto your shade longer. But what do you do if your hair gets greasy on the off days? You get yourself a good dry shampoo. Look for an invisible formula, so you don’t get white residue on your red. 

Ditch heat styling

Coloured hair is more vulnerable to heat than natural hair. So while heat styling is damaging to all hair, it’s especially harsh on hair that’s been dyed. To preserve the life of your red hair colour try to avoid styling with heat. But if you absolutely must use a blow-dryer or use a flat iron, be sure to protect your hair with a heat protectant spray.

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Final thoughts on how to keep your red hair fading

Red is the hair colour of the moment. It’s a complex colour that is notorious for fading fast, but if you get it right, it looks phenomenal! There’s a red for everyone, and as long as you use the right products and give your strands a little extra TLC, it can be the most amazing hair colour you’ll ever try. If you’re thinking of dyeing your hair red, arm yourself with our tips and tricks on how to keep your red hair from fading.

Color-enhancing shampoo for warm red or copper tones.

Color-enhancing shampoo for cool red tones.

Color-enhancing conditioner for cool red tones.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

Photos by @goldandglowco

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