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How to Add Red to Your Hair, No Matter What Color You Currently Are

Here at Mane Addicts, we’re definitely team red. We love the versatility of the shade, not to mention how literally everyone can pull it off. No matter your skin tone, the right shade of red can really bring out your features. It doesn’t matter if you have light or dark hair, you can always go (at least a little bit) red. We tapped Tracey Cunningham, Redken celebrity colorist, for her personal recommendation on taking your mane from basic to brilliant. Below, she shares how everyone can add red to their hair, no matter their current color!

See a Professional

Red dye differs from other dyes because it’s more vibrant than others. While that’s why we love it, it’s also often more difficult to achieve a natural look on your own. This is why you should head to the salon instead of the drugstore. “It takes a professional to formulate reds correctly, as there are rarely monochromatic natural redheads. They are usually a mixture of shades and undertones,” Cunningham explains of the complex pigment.

Try Lowlights or Highlights

There are so many ways to add red—from ombré to full-on color to even just a fun streak. Cunningham’s fave technique is creating a mix of highlights and lowlights. “It adds the dimension you see on natural redheads,” she explains. “Because reds can also fade fast, I always seal in my color with a Redken Shades EQ gloss to finish the look.”

If you want to rubify your locks, Cunningham suggests both high and lowlights. A base is also sometimes necessary depending on your natural or previous color. Whether bleach is a must depends on your goal. “If you’re naturally dark, a vibrant burgundy or crimson could be achieved without highlighting or bleaching the hair first. If you’re looking for an auburn or lighter shade of red, pre-lightening might be necessary,” she says.

Again, if you definitely want to avoid stripping any color, opt for moodier reds. “Going for a burgundy or crimson would work great on darker hair, and can be achieved with permanent or demi-permanent hair color,” Cunningham assures us.

If you want to go the natural dye route and are considering henna, keep in mind that it’s not a solution you can undo. “It’s very permanent,” warns Cunningham. “I make my clients grow their hair out before another color service, so be careful when deciding to use it, especially if you’re someone who likes to change up their look often.”

Maintaining Your Red Hue

Once you’ve taken our hair dare and incorporated red into your look, maintenance is crucial. “Use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner like Redken Color Extend Magnetics at home to help prevent the color from fading,” Cunningham recommends. Touch-ups are also crucial to prevent your red from turning orange. “Get regular glosses to freshen up the color and keep it true to tone. They only take 20 minutes so you can be in and out of the salon.”

Ban Red-Phobia

There’s no excuse to be red-phobic, you just need to find the shade of red that works best for you—which is why a consultation with your stylist can’t be missed. “There are so many reds, from strawberry blondes and coppers to more vibrant crimson and burgundies. Red doesn’t have to be one size fits all! I love red hair,” Cunningham exclaims.

Ultimately, the best reds are thought-out. “Red can be difficult to remove from the hair, so talk to your stylist beforehand and bring pictures of what you like,” Cunningham reminds us. “There’s less room for error and miscommunication when you have a clear plan and desired result.”

In need of some red hair inspo on your feed? HERE are some redheads to follow on Instagram stat!

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