Ginger, In A Snap! 3 Steps + 3 Secrets to Becoming A Redhead

Christina Hendricks Red Haircolor
Color inspired by Christina Hendricks

With less than 2% of the world’s population being a natural redhead, you may be wondering if maybe, just maybe, you can become a part of this rare and elite club of ginger beauties. If you’ve been inspired by the fall color trends for 2018, you’re probably seeing images of people going darker, richer, and definitely more red as the season turns cooler!

Fall Inspires Haircolor Change!
The change in the leaves inspires us for everything
from haircolor to pumpkin spice lattes!

While I do spend a fair amount (ok, all of) my spare time working on creating Tiny Hair Workshop's AirWaves, I love my day job as a hairstylist in Palo Alto, California. I have always done both cuts and color, but in the last few years, I have made a stronger push towards doing more color. I love to cook, I love to do color, and I love to formulate hair products. Are we seeing a trend here? That being said, I would love to share with you my 3 Steps And 3 Secrets To Becoming A Redhead!

First things first: Consult with your stylist and bring photos!

Emma Stone's Haircolor

This haircolor goes perfectly with Emma Stone's skintone and eyecolor.
How would you describe her haircolor?

As a stylist, whenever someone tells me they want to go red, I know we are going to have a 15-minute talk ahead of us. There are so many different shades of red - everything from the lightest strawberry blonde, to a spicy coppery brunette, to a vibrant true red, to a deep mahogany auburn, and every shade in between. I’m willing to bet that each of those terms has you imagining a certain shade in your head, but without photos it’s impossible for us to get on the same page.

Cherry Red
I see a few different cherry red tones here to inspire haircolor ideas!

Also, it’s important to have a conversation about skintone and eyecolor when choosing the most flattering red tone for your hair. Oftentimes, I will take a photo of red haircolor that someone likes and I will hold it right against their face to see how it looks. If someone has a lot of pink or red in their skin that they don’t enjoy seeing, having red hair can potentially exacerbate that. Remember that the undertones of your natural haircolor will affect the final outcome of red and your hairstylist can help you predict what to expect.

SECRET: Aim for a red color that is as close to your natural level as possible. This means that if you have dark hair, stick with darker red colors, and vice-versa. Your hair will likely hold on to the shade longer, your roots won’t be as noticeable, and it won’t be a huge project every time you want to get your color refreshed.

Second: Going Red? Get Ready to Commit!

Red Highlights and Red Lowlights

A mix of deep auburn lowlights with pops of brighter red highlights
look great on a brunette base!

Red haircolor (no matter the shade) is not for the faint of heart. I usually wait for my client to tell me with conviction that they are ready to do it, because the reality is that going backwards isn’t as easy as you might think. Red shades fade very easily, but their remnants hang on for a long time. This means that your freshly colored hair may lose its vibrancy, but over the long term, you will continue to keep a muted version of that red.  If you decide you don’t want to maintain your red shade, your options are to use bleach to lighten/remove the red, or use a darker shade to cover it (although it is possible your red tones can still show through a darker color!). Depending on the vibrancy and depth of your color, red pigments can be very hard to remove and bleach can sometimes do more harm than good. 

SECRET: Get lowlights (deeper red tones) or highlights (warm ginger tones) if you aren’t ready to commit to a big change!

Third: Maintaining Red Haircolor Over Time

Vibrant Red Haircolor

Maintaining vibrancy is the biggest struggle with red haircolor!

So, you’ve decided you like your new badass red haircolor and you want to maintain it to keep it looking fresh and shiny? Here are my tips to keeping your color flawless:

  • Try to get your hair wet as little as possible (or at least try to cut down on shampooing). Every time your hair gets wet, the cuticle swells and then releases water and artificial color.
  • Use cool/cold water to wash and condition hair. (I know this sounds like pure hell in the winter, but it does help to keep the cuticle closed and help prevent excessive color loss)
  • Refrain from using flat irons or curling irons. I have seen color literally sucked out of a hair strand from a hot flat iron. If you must, use a low setting and don’t linger on any one spot. (Or use Tiny Hair Workshop's AirWaves, when it becomes available!)
  • Keep dark towels and pillowcases on hand for the first week after getting fresh color to avoid the appearance of stains.
  • Use gentle “no-poo” or “low-poo” shampoos that have gentle cleansing agents. It’s not enough to get a “color safe” shampoo - this is a marketing ploy that doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Even shampoos that claim to be sulfate-free often have ingredients that mimic the strong cleansing abilities of sulfates.

Copper Red Hair

If your red hair starts to look more brown than red, read on...

SECRET: If you find that your red color becomes progressively more brown and less vibrant over time, ask your stylist about doing a color remover treatment on your ends (this might be a professional color remover or a lightly diluted bleach wash). This can help to remove old oxidized color buildup and create a fresh slate to which color will take beautifully and more vibrantly!


I want to know - if you’ve had red color before, what are your secrets to keeping it fresh and beautiful? And if you haven’t had red color before, what is stopping you? Let me know in the comments!