Ravishing Red: How to Make Red Hair Last Longer

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Since I was about 13 years old, I’ve been going through a hair evolution (which I’m sure will not end any time soon).  It started off with chunky highlights that were all the rage in the 90s (God help me), transitioned to more appropriate highlights, and from there turned into full colour changes.  I’ve been light brown, chestnut, blonde (I’m talking real blonde here)… I’ve even had pink and bleached sections thrown in there for good measure.  However, there’s just one colour that I keep going back to – red.  I’ve had different variations on red, ranging from cool with purple hues to those with a more warm, coppery feel to them; all I know is I love my red hair, and I have a feeling I’m finally going to be sticking to one shade for a little while.

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A few shades of red I’ve rocked.

I’m not going to lie, I get complimented on it all the time.  Most of these people make a comment that they wish they could go red but don’t think they could pull it off.  The way I see it, with the right shade, just about everyone can.  Being a faux ginger doesn’t mean you have to rock fire engine red – there are tons of different variations on it.  I also get asked how much care it takes.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, red hair can be a bit of a pain.  It fades more quickly than other shades and needs more upkeep.  As Alain Larivée, Canadian Creative Consultant for John Frieda, explains: “As red hair colour is made up almost entirely of red, blue & violet tones, which are all small pigments and the easiest to wash out of your hair, the red hair colour base is prone to rapid wash out from hair. This results in a rapid loss of tones from the hair,making the red colour quickly appear flat/dull, stripped of colour, and lacking depth.”  So yes, this colour range takes more work but hell, I’m going to say it’s absolutely worth it.  It’s fun, it’s bold, and it’s full of personality.  I love my red hair.  So I thought I would give those of you who have already gone red & those who are considering it a little bit of help by sharing my tips on how to make red hair last longer.  I’m not a magician.  Your hair is going to fade no matter what, but these tips will help to slow this down and will allow you to keep your colour bold and vibrant for longer!

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First off, I just want to touch on products.  I’m a firm believer that products created for red hair are an absolute godsend, and they’re a must-have if you want to prolong the life of your colour.  Products created for colour-treated hair can help as well, but from my experience these perform better and give better results.  Red hair fades differently than other shades, and each colour has different needs.  These products were designed specifically to combat the way that red hair fades and help to maintain colour and vibrancy.  I’ve had the best experience so far with the Pureology Reviving Red line ($28.50-$36.75).  The Shamp’oil and Conditioner really help to keep my colour looking vibrant, while the Reviving Red Oil is perfect for sealing the cuticle and locking in colour; I like to massage it into damp ends after a shower.  The weekly colour enhancing treatments are another fantastic addition to the red hair care routine – these ampoules help to deposit the pigments that are washed out and give hair a real boost.  I know the Pureology line is a bit pricey, so the more price conscious redheads will be happy to hear that the John Frieda Radiant Red Line is also available in stores.  I have used this line as well, and although the effects aren’t as strong as those I’ve seen with Pureology’s line, they still provide great results for the price (about $10 each), and I find that adding in the Colour Refreshing Gloss as a weekly treatment is a big help as well.  Another great product is Aveda’s Madder Root conditioner ($19), which also helps to deposit colour back into the hair.  I was using this conditioner a few years ago and again had really good results with it – just be sure to wash your hands after applying it to the hair to avoid any staining.

So yes, choosing the right products is absolutely key!  Aside from this, however, there are definitely other things you can be doing to help prolong your red mane.  Here are my tips for how to make red hair last longer:

  • Minimize the length of time your hair is exposed to water.  I’m the first to admit that I love a nice, long shower once in a while, but this is a big no-no.  Longer exposure to water causes the hair shaft to swell, which leads to colour bleeding.  Speed up your washing and rinsing to help keep the colour in.  Also, try to use cooler water as hot water (as nice as it feels) is damaging.  The cooler temperature will also help to seal the cuticle, thus locking in colour.
  • Try to go longer between washes.  As I’m sure you can guess, this ties into the previous tip.  Less frequent washing is more gentle on the hair and will help to prevent fading.  Right now, I typically wash my hair every third or fourth day if I can get away with it.  Pick up some dry shampoo (I love Klorane’s versions and Redken’s Pillow Proof Blow Dry Two Day Extender) or use baby powder to soak up any oil that builds up around your roots and you can get away with a couple more days between washes than you normally will.
  • Make your own weekly colour-boosting treatment.  Grab your favourite conditioner and mix a little Manic Panic colour in with it.  Apply to your hair, let it sit for 5 minutes (make sure you wear gloves or thoroughly wash hands after) then rinse out.  It’s going to give your colour a nice bump so it looks as fresh as it did when you first dyed it.
  • Reduce sun exposure.  UV rays have a tendency to break down red quickly, so try to keep your hair safe the sun (um, hello, your face doesn’t need the sun exposure either… Win-win!) by staying in the shade, wearing a trés cute chapeau or by using products that contain UV protection.
  • Try to avoid heat styling.  I find that constantly using hot tools kills my colour way more quickly and try to minimize the time I spend using them or let my natural wave come out.  If you just can’t stay away from the curling and flat irons, make sure you pick up a product that protects against heat to minimize damage.
  • Avoid chlorine!  This is so major if you want to keep the colour looking vibrant.  Chlorine strips the colour which equals speedy fading, and no one wants that.  If you’re going to be in the pool, try tying your hair up to keep it out of the water.  And if you know you’re going to end up getting dunked, try applying a leave-in conditioner before and after you take a dip to help block the fading effects of the chlorine.

 

These tips have worked out pretty well for me.  Of course, most of these can apply to other hair colours as well.  If you’ve gone red/are red, do you have any other tips or product recommendations?  I would love to hear them!

 

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  • Lygophilia

    Awesome tips!! I just started the deep conditioner mixed with manic panic and what an amazing difference. Keep rocking the red!!

  • Keeping rocking your signature red hair Dee….it looks AH-MAZING on you! <3

  • Victoria Ess

    I used to have red hair years ago, and I kept it that way for at least five years. It was my favourite shade too! My colour definitely lasted longer with less contact with water and the sun, but I never knew that heat styling would have an impact! Ooops.

  • Guppy

    What’s your opinion on a natural redhead using this product line? My step daughter has an oranger natural shade that I wonder could be enhanced with this kind of product.