How to Maintain Your Red Hair Color

Prolong the integrity of that fiery mane.

Not many moons ago, I experimented with red hair color. Long story short, it was the most magnificent time in my personal hair history. Seriously: I’ve never felt more like a rockstar the time I sported superhero-red hair, the kind that’s the right cross between auburn and scarlet and just screamed un-basic without having to even style it at all.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone. My colorist left the country, breaking my heart and tearing any hope I may have had to become America’s next top superstar. Any attempts to recreate that glorious shade have left me in a sad, uneven orange state. So I did the next best thing: I loaded up on deep conditioner, went blonde and called it a day. (But that’s another story.)

Red hair has the power to make you feel invincible, like you’re instantly the coolest person in the room.

And when it’s done correctly? Ah, nothing is quite as head-turning. And if you’re one of the lucky few who’s found the red of your dreams, the last thing you want is have your soulmate shade fade out. Read on to learn how you can keep your stunning red hair color a little longer:

Red Hair Color Characteristics

red hair color long copper waves
Bright and luscious, red hair is one of the rarest and most striking shades in the world. Photo credit:

Red hair is the rarest in the world—only about 2 percent of the world is a natural redhead. And as for their synthetic versions? Red hair color is notoriously hard to maintain, as red molecules are the biggest in size, and therefore, leech out the quickest from the hair strand. Not many people can afford to maintain an even, flawless shade of red because of this upkeep, making it a rather prestigious and high-maintenance color choice.

Once you do decide to bite the bullet though, prepare for a major life-changing experience. Probably no other hair color boosts your confidence (or at least turns heads) as the right shade of vibrant red. The next step is figuring out how to prolong this shade and keep it from fading. Some clever tricks below:

Tips to Keep your Dyed Red Hair Color from Fading

1. Let it sit

After getting the fiery shade of your dreams, wait at least 24 to 48 hours before washing it in the shower. This allows the red pigments—cantankerous little buggers, they are—to properly settle into your strands as much as they can.

2. Pre-poo

Before shampooing, coat hair with a treatment that helps repel water and lock in color, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer. It helps keep hair soft and moisturized as well. And when you do wash, make sure that it’s with cold water, at least for the first few times. This is not a drill: Wetting hair alters the hair structure by opening up the cuticle, and warm/hot temperatures swell the cuticle up even further. The gentlest and more seldom you can wash, the better. Expect some color bleed the first time—most of this if from the color left on your scalp.

3. Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner

Lower-sulfate products are apparently milder on colored strands since they don’t offer as much friction. Try a nourishing and color-friendly wash and care system, such as Dove Nutritive Solutions Color Care Shampoo and Dove Nutritive Solutions Color Care Conditioner, and it will pay off in the long run. Not only can they help keep your shade vibrant, but they also work to remove build-up that can cause dullness and muck up your color.

4. Avoid heat

Just as natural gingers burn easily, red hair is also susceptible to environmental damage due to UV rays (they fade color really badly) and heat from your tools. Always use a thermal protectant, like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Instant Heat Tamer Spray, before styling, or choose leave-in sprays with UV protection to shield hair from sun and humidity aggressors.


red hair color
Keep lush rose gold locks from losing luster by investing in gloss treatments.

5. Chlorine is the enemy

Chlorine can be just as devastating to red hair as it is to blondes. The chemical can strip hair and dry it out, so as a fail-safe, wet hair with regular tap water first to create a barrier. Or better yet, use a leave-in conditioner (we like how Dove Quench Absolute Leave-In Detangler also helps unfurl our knots). Best option? Keep your head above water, literally, and you’ll extend the brightness of that red.

6. Go for a gloss

Caught in between touchups but noticing a bit of a fade? Step in for a gloss. It’s not as expensive and will give you back some of that lost sheen.

7. Be diligent

Red hair color might be high-maintenance, but the payoff is gorgeous. Invest in regular root touchups—six to eight weeks is ideal and right when your roots just start to show. Staying loyal to the same stylist also helps you avoid any confusion on the shade previously used on your strands.

What ways do you prolong your red hair color?

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