Hair Color: How to Protect Your Red Hair

8 Tips to Keep Red Hair From Fading

Rachel McAdams as a redhead
Rachel McAdams as a redhead. Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

The number one complaint I get from women with red hair is that their hair color quickly fades. Here, I share 8 tips to keep your new red hair color from fading.

We know it's natural for fake pigment to leave the hair after some time, but some women swear to me that no matter what do, their red hair looks a little dull after only a week. As a stylist, I notice that red copper hair tends to turn orange, while deep blue reds just do not look as vibrant as the day the color is applied.

So what can you do to protect your red hair? Read on.

Always have your hair color applied to clean hair

Yes, I know about the old wives' tale that your color takes better on dirty hair. It's actually not true. This concept is from back in the days when the chemicals in hair color were much stronger so that the build-up of natural hair oils helped protect the hair.

Red hair color is now much more refined and less damaging to your hair. The color penetrates better and last longer on clean hair. So wash your hair the night or morning before you have color applied.

Try blonde highlights

This tip comes from Eva Scrivo of NY's Eva Scrivo Salon. She writes in her book, "Eva Scrivo on Beauty":

"A perfect recipe for a beautiful natural-looking redhead begins with placing a few blonde highlights around the face and lifting them only to a light golden color. The lightener should be left on for no more than 10 minutes without heat.

Then apply a golden red haze that matches the hair's original shade all over for 10-15 minutes. This will enrich the natural red and make the highlights a brighter, more beautiful strawberry color."

Obviously, this is not a do-it-yourself job. I would take these directions straight to your hairdresser.

Avoid washing your hair 48 hours after getting your hair colored

Red molecules are large, and aggravating the cuticle soon after getting your hair colored with hot water and shampoo can release pigment prematurely. It's best to let your color set for 48 hours before washing.

Do not do hair treatments the day you have your hair colored

Avoid hair straightening or a perm or anything that involves treating hair. This can also allow red molecules to be released.

Wash your hair less frequently

Try to go a couple days (or more) between washing your hair. The more you wash it, the quicker it will fade. Use dry shampoo to soak up oils on your oily, in-between shampoos, days.

See famous redheads photo gallery for color inspiration.

Don't use harsh shampoos

You spend a lot of money on your hair color. It is time to invest in a good shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoos won't strip your hair of oils or color. Color-depositing shampoos specially designed for red hair, are also a great bet. My favorites are the color support shampoos and conditioners by Bumble and Bumble. Just make sure you consult with your hairstylist first to make sure you are not using a copper red shampoo on a blue red color.

Here are a few product recommendations for redheads:

Get a clear or red cellophane gloss one week after having your hair colored

Cellophanes are vegetable colors that are safer than henna and fade gently without the residue. It is applied to the hair, then you are placed under the dryer for 20 minutes. This seals the color and gives your hair great shine.

Wear hats or UV protection on your hair in the sun to prevent fading

The sun can be damaging to hair, so protect hair when hanging out in the sun all day. A thick scarf (UV protected is best) or a hat are both great bets.

Wear caps when going to the tanning salon

You need to protect your hair when you tan, so wear a hair mask if you tan in a salon.

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Antonio Gonzales is a stylist who worked at Eva Scrivo and the Orl'o Salon in New York City.