Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Natural Red Hair Tones

Q: I have red hair, which has several other natural tones to it like silver, blonde and different various shades of red, and have quite frequently heard that if you dye red hair, you will not get your natural red back. Is this true or a myth? And, if I am planning on highlighting my hair, do I have to lighten it like a lot of the other hair colors do, or can I act as if I am a blonde since my hair is not very dark?
A: Red hair is like many other natural hair colors in that the “color” is actually a blending of strands of many different shades and tones. The use of permanent hair color (the kind that penetrates the hair shaft) typically results in a more uniform color tone on each of the strands of hair. It is for this reason that you can rarely ‘re-color” the hair to its natural look. You can often match the shade of your natural color, but you won’t get the exact look because the color will be a more “uniform” application.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your hair will never return to its natural color look. Your hair will continue to grow in the color nature intended for your hair (barring developing gray, etc.) and as you grow your hair out, unless you continue to apply permanent color, you will eventually get the natural color back.
This doesn’t apply to temporary haircolor or semi- and demi-permanent color formulas. These will wash off of the hair with anywhere from a single to 6-12 shampoos depending on the product used. They are great choices for getting a change in your hair’s color and for hiding the variation of your new growth while trying to grow out your natural color.
Whether or not you need to lighten your hair for highlighting depends on the shade of the highlights you want to have. In some cases you can use a lifting hair color (which lightens the hair a few shades while depositing the new color) to create highlights if the color you want is only a few shades lighter than your hairs natural color level. However, if you want significantly lighter levels of highlights or you want highlights without a reddish tone you will need to use a lightener to remove the current color.
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Tips for redheads
How to choose natural looking highlights
Temporary, semi-permanent and permanent hair color