How To Keep Dyed Red Hair Actually Red

It’s one of the fastest-fading colors you can dye your hair. Here’s how to keep your (fake) redheadedness going strong FOREVER AND EVER.

2. Touch up your own roots.

It would be delightful if we lived in a world where we always had ample time and money to skip around the corner and hop into the friendly neighborhood hairdresser’s chair. She’d gently massage your scalp and gossip conspiratorially about her boyfriend’s sister before applying the perfect not-too-orange, not-too-purple concoction that the two of you developed over years of trial and error and torn-out magazine pictures of Scarlett Johansson during that one movie premiere. You’d emerge into the sunlight with your hair glowing as if lit from within by an inner flame.

But sadly, that world is not our own. SO: these drugstore root touch-ups are inexpensive, incredibly easy to use, and can blend in with tons of different brands of hair color (they’re designed to mimic the way colored hair looks after three weeks of fading). The brush is fairly drip-proof, the dye doesn’t smell terribly strong, and whether you dye your hair at home or go to a salon, this product can help extend time between full-on colorings by months, saving you time and money.

3. Glazes are your bro.

Roux makes a variety of masks to refresh a wide range of colors, including three different reds. These are great because they also condition (while glazes do add shine, they’re still largely composed of dye, which can dry out your hair).

4. As are color depositing conditioners.

This tub of coppery goodness is the love of my life. It’s definitely pricey but you don’t need to use a ton of product to get noticeable results. It smells fantastic and adds a lovely cast to your hair; if you’re feeling ~wild~ and have blonde hair or highlights, you can even use the more violet-based Red formulation to temporarily color it pink. Davines also makes matching shampoos, but personally I’ve found that using the conditioner once or twice a week works totally fine on its own.

5. If you can swing it, don’t wash your hair every day.

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This is a total no-brainer, but the easiest way to murder your color dead is by scrubbing it raw every day. And red is especially vulnerable because its pigments are the largest, and so when hair is wet and the shaft swells*, they slip out at a faster rate than brown or blue or what have you. So revel in your own filth and embrace the glory that is day-two (three/four/ten) hair. Dry shampoo is the antidote to all the world’s evils** and adds awesome texture.

  • ;)

** possibly not true

6. And wait a couple of days after coloring before you wash it.

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This helps to seal the cuticle and make the color last way longer. Also there’s something kind of satisfying about suffering (ish) for a few days, knowing that it’ll pay off in the long run.

7. Use sulfate-free hair products. (Maybe.)

There’s some discussion over whether sulfates, AKA “cheap lathering detergents long used in many shampoos (and household cleaners),” are actually harmful, but the last two colorists I’ve gone to have unequivocally cautioned against using products containing them. Sulfate-free formulations are touted as being gentler on hair and less quick to strip it of color. (As a going-on-ten-year-dyed-redhead, I’ve absolutely noticed a positive difference since switching over this past year.)

Regardless of where you fall on the VERY CRITICAL sulfates-versus-not debate, please for the love of God use shampoos and conditioners specially formulated for color-treated hair. You wouldn’t buy a handmade pleather onesie covered in Troll dolls on Etsy and then dump it in the wash with your hole-riddled underwear, right? Right.

8. Protect your color from the harsh rays of the sun.

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Hats, headscarves, beach umbrellas, old issues of The New Yorker you’ll never get around to reading — anything can become an invaluable tool in the crusade against hair fadage.

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