A Guide to Dying Curly Natural Hair Red

So not only have you decided to take the infamous hair-color plunge but you’ve also decided to go RED. The good news: the options for red hair are endless, and although its vibrant, there are plenty of shades to choose from including cinnamon, garnet, and magenta to name a few. The not so good news: red hair is sometimes difficult to care for but the pay off is always well worth the maintenance.

When you first decide to dye curly hair red, you even choose a shade you want to choose the coloring process you’re most comfortable with. You can choose to dye your hair at home or visit a salon. I spoke with colorist Nicole Dickson of Sabine’s Hallway Natural Hair Salon in Brooklyn, NY for a brief break down of your hair dye choices, how they work, and how to achieve and maintain that vibrant red you love so much. Here’s what Nicole had to say…

Hair Color Options

Demi Permanent

Demi-permanent color contains no ammonia, making it less damaging as it only deposits color. This type of color is great for blending gray, enhancing natural color, refreshing color, toning highlights, or for corrective work.

So, if you currently have light hair and just simply want to change things up with a warm red tint, popular demi hair colors with vibrant red shades to consider are, Ion Color Brilliance, Manic Panic, and Clairol Professional Creme Demi Permanent. Since this kind of color is temporary, its pretty safe to use at home and will only last a couple of washes.

Semi Permanent

A semi-permanent color contains no ammonia and also deposits color but when used with a low volume developer it can last longer than a demi-permanent color, giving you red vibes that last longer, but still allow you to change your mind after a short time.

“If I’m doing a semi color on a client, I would use a three percent [developer] because that color would only last that person six weeks, if that long” Nicole would not recommend this process if you’re seeking a bright vibrant long lasting red.

“Red is such a vibrant color. It needs something to hold on to the hair, especially if you’re coming from a dark brunette or black hair. We would have to lift your hair color before we deposit the red on to it”, said Nicole.

Lifting hair color is done by bleaching the hair, to remove your natural color, first and then applying your desired hair color for an intensified vibrant look.

With deeper reds like plums, burgundies, fiery reds and wines, the color pay off depends on your hair. Which brings us to a longer lasting and higher color pay-off solution, permanent hair color…

Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair color is any color deposited on hair using a 30 volume developer or higher. This color cannot be washed out but must grow out of your hair overtime.

“As your hair grows you will see the difference between your color and your new growth”, said Nicole.
Permanent color is far more drying for your hair than a demi permanent and doesn’t give your the opportunity to change your mind every six weeks. So if you choose this method, make sure you also choose a color that you love and can commit to it!

On to maintenance! Once you’re a fiery red goddess the idea is to stay that way and to maintain optimal hair health. Though going red is fun, as with any hair color, it comes with its own set of responsibilities.

Maintaining Red Hair

“There will be bleeding when you wash your hair, depending on which product line that you use” explained Nicole. Therefore, combining red with other hair colors such as blonde may not be a good idea if you don’t want your red bleeding into the blonde sections of your hair.

As time passes, shades of red can fade leaving hair looking dull, dry and and completely lack luster. In order to keep the color bold throughout washes, color depositing shampoos and conditions are recommended.

“Sulphate free no suds shampoos, anything that doesn’t have a high alkaline base in it, or no alkaline would be even better”, says Nicole, “and now on the market there’s so many shampoos geared towards colors.”

Many natural brands such as Giovanni carry color depositing shampoo and conditioner. Their Colorflage Shampoo, Remarkably Red claims to protect against UV rays, restores moisture, and fights against color washout.

No matter the process, color can be drying to the hair, causing it to break. Depending on your hair type this may require you to up the conditioning and focus more on locking in moisture. Nicole suggests using a daily leave-in conditioner to keep hair moist and to prevent breakage.

Video Tutorial

Extras Facts & Tips

How Does Semi-Permanent Hair Color Work?

Contains large and small color molecules that adhere to the outside of the hair, while some penetrate the cuticle layer, depending on the hair’s porosity. Some color is removed with each shampoo, but color typically lasts from 4 to 8 shampoos.

Tips for Dying Red Hair

Nicole's Three Tips
Lighten your hair and then apply a vibrant red color.
Conditioner, conditioner, conditioner!
If you’re planning to use bleach, get it professionally done to prevent hair damage.
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