Unless you're a natural redhead (2% of the population, please stand up), choosing the perfect shade of red hair can be a pretty puzzling task. There's cherry red, auburn, strawberry blonde, copper, rose gold... and that’s before we discuss the array of hues, tones and depths of red hair colour on offer. Is it any wonder it's a hard call for blondes and brunettes wanting to embark on life as a redhead, to know which red to go for? But, hit on the right shade and it can be striking above all other hair colours, flattering your skin tone and making your eyes sparkle - and that's where the professionals' help comes in.
Luckily for us, vibrant red hair and it's many glorious shades is one of Josh Wood's passions. "After 30 years of colouring hair, I know how important finding the right shade of red can be," says the leading global hair colourist. So how to find yours?
How to know if red hair suits you: Find the best shade of red hair for your skin tone
“The true spectrum of red hair is vast and like a fingerprint - unique and custom to an individual," reveals Atelier hair colourist Jason Hogan. "But typically, from a professional point of view, reds would usually fall into two categories, warm and cool. Understanding if your skin tone is warm or cool makes a great starting point. “It’s fairly straight forward and people are often more aware than they may realise,” says Josh Wood. “It’s whether you’d wear a fuschia lipstick [with cool blue-red undertones] or a coral lipstick [with warm yellow undertones], or think about the colours you tend to wear. Do you prefer cool blue hues or love a sunny yellow or warm tomato red shade. There’s a natural knowing,” he explains.
Not sure about your skin tone? An easy way to tell if you are warm, cool or neutral is to take a look at your veins, Jason explains. “If your veins are green, then you have a warm skin tone; if they appear blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone." If you cannot tell the difference, it is very likely that you are neutral and sit between cool and warm skin tone so can enjoy the best fo the both worlds.
What skin tones does red hair look good on?
So how does that help us choose a red hair shade, you may ask? It's a question of contrast or complement, says Josh. "To really flatter your skin tone and eye colour, it's best to complement your skin tone with a corresponding hair colour." That means, warm skin tones should opt for warm red hair colours and vice versa. “Makeup and clothes are the element where you can bring in contrast as you can change these daily, hair colour is a longer term commitment.” says Josh.
All about the base: Red hair colour for dark hair vs. red hair colour for blonde hair
Next up, consider your existing hair colour in your shade choice and how much maintenance you are willing to take on. "Someone with black hair wishing to transition to a rich auburn is a single process in the hair salon. However if that same person wants to have pale strawberry/rose blonde hair it is going to be a longer journey.”It’s the reason he suggests leaving permanent red hair colour transformations to the pros. “Reds are notoriously fickle by nature, and fade or lose vibrancy quickly. It's a commitment and clients will realistically need to visit the hair salon every four weeks for tweaks to keep your red investment looking fresh and glossy,” Jason reveals.
However that's not to say we can’t have a bit of fun with the hair colour at home, it’s just about choosing the right product. “Temporary or semi permanent colours are a great way to add a layer of colour to your hair,” Jason suggests. “They can give you a feeling of warmth without commitment as they usually last about six washes. A great way to dip your toe in that red pool.”
The six wash red: Is red hair hard to maintain?
Is red hair hard to maintain?
It was hearing this desire to try red and achieve a contemporary, hair salon style finish at home that inspired Josh to create the red Gloss collection. “I've heard from many redheads in our community over the years who felt disappointed when it comes to red at-home hair colour,” Josh tells us. “They want the same modern reds that can be achieved in the salon.” He also knows from experience that one shade does not fit all. The result is a palette of sophisticated reds and four Gloss shades - Copper Gold,Rose Brunette, Cherry and Berry Brunette.
The temporary, semi permanent hair colour works with your existing colour base. You may be thinking, would dark red hair suit me? For brown or black hair, that means a subtle wash of red that works with your hair’s tones. For the blondes, or those with highlights or balayage, you can expect vibrant results, with added intensity on those previously lifted strands. And, for existing redheads, it’s a colour and hydration boost to refresh and brighten your natural red hair.
Here's the lowdown on which red hair shades suit which complexions, with pictures of our community sporting their favourite shade. Here's the shades of red hair at JWC...
Copper Gold Red Hair Colour
Red doesn't always have to be bold and bright. Copper Gold has subtle golden undertones that can look particularly striking on those with very fair skin. But, taking Josh’s advice to “always complement,” this shade is for anyone with a touch of warmth in their skin. It's also designed for use on naturally red hair to spice up your existing hair colour, or to create a strawberry blonde or copper finish on light brunette, blonde hair or balayage ends.
Cherry Red Hair Colour
If you want to make a statement, this fiery red is the shade for you. It’s a cool, crisp red, with just a hint of fuchsia in the mix, so works beautifully against those cooler skin tones. Paired with alabaster white skin with pinkish, purplish undertones, the contrast is seriously striking. And against deep skin types, with bluish or red undertones, Cherry reads as chic. Take note. The lighter your hair, the more intense the colour result will be. That’s why previously lifted hair responds so well to this punchy shade.
Rose Brunette Hair Colour
Craving rich warm red hues in your brown hair? Look no further than Rose Brunette. It's a warm, full-bodied take on red, with more depth than a flat red, making this hair colour a flattering choice for medium to deep skin tones with olive or gold undertones, or those skin tones considered ‘neutral’.It works beautifully on dark hair colours, in fact, a backdrop of brunette only adds more depth to this decadent shade. A great way to test drive red hair colour, for those looking to dip their toe in the look.
Berry Brunette Hair Colour
The coolest of the reds. Berry Brunette replaces the warmth of orange undertones with an icy, blue-ish red. Think burgundy wine with sharp, raspberry accents. As it sits on the cool side, Berry Brunette pairs beautifully with skin that boasts equally cool undertones - that’s pink or bluish hues - but looks equally striking on both fair and deep skin shades. For best results, team the hair colour with a heap of hydrators. The glossier the hair, the richer your Berry Brunette will look.
What does red hair fade to?
There are also a few habits you can adopt at home, to help our hair colour last. “To maintain red hair colour, take it easy on the heat-styling tools, and wear a hat in the sun,” Jason suggests. Consider the ingredients in your hair care product too, “I recommend sulphate-free Shampooloaded with moisturisers to slow hair colour fade, and look for hair conditioners orhair masksthat areintensely nourishing. It’s all about keeping that red hair hydrated. Gloss your red hair regularly to keep it fresh and the tone in check. Better conditioned hair equals better hair colour.”
Grey hairfor the genetic redhead shouldn’t be overlooked either. In fact, on redheads, grey hair can be more prominent, especially on deeper tones. It’s all to do with contrast, says Josh. “The lighter you are, the more the grey blends in,” Josh explains. “But when you’ve got a darker head of hair with a streak of grey in it, it can read as black and white, like piano keys,” Josh explains.
In need of more red inspo to show your hair colourist? Take a scroll through our gallery of red hair colour ideas below...