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The Definitive Guide to Red Hair Color: How to Get It and Care for It

by July 08, 2021


Image by Madison Reed

Red hair is always chic. Whether you're a seasoned red head or ready to try something new, every complexion can rock a red color thanks to its wide spectrum of shades—from “ronze”to burgundy to cinnamon to copper. Red is also a great way to stand out from the crowd. (Did you know that less than 2% of the population are redheads? Well, natural redheads, that is, but we won’t tell if you won’t. )

Want help choosing the right red for you? We’ve got our favorite five red hair color shades here. We’ll also share some hair tips for keeping that red looking healthy, shiny, and turning heads.

In this article:

- Five of our Favorite Red Hair Color Shades

- How to Choose the Right Red for You

- Four Tips to Keep Your Red from Fading


Portofino Red 6NNR

Medium Auburn Red
Portofino Red 6NNR

Say hello to posh Portofino Red. Formulated with a natural base and a double dose of red, this vibrant auburn is our truest medium crimson tone and looks great on a variety of skin tones. It’s a deeper, moodier red, saturated in drama and intensity. 

Vesuvius Red 7NCR

Light Spicy Copper Red

Vesuvius Red 7NCR

Blow them all away with the striking color of Vesuvius. This fiery auburn hue with coppery red tones makes an impact wherever it goes. It’s ideal for warm skin tones with its bold, breathtaking coverage.

Genova Red 7NCG

Light Apricot Golden Red

Genova Red 7NCG

Genova Red may just be your new go-to thanks to its soft, natural-looking color and effortless flexibility. This auburn hair color shade has glimmering copper and gold undertones that shimmer and shine in the sun…so get out and show it off. Genova Red complements warm or cool fair skin tones.  

Savona Scarlet 6RR

Medium Cayenne Red

Savona Scarlet 6RR

One of Madison Reed’s most vivid shades, Savona Scarlet will stop traffic in the best of ways. It dishes out rich auburn color with gorgeous red tones, while delivering incredible depth and gem-like radiance. It looks amazing on warm or cool complexions.   

Carrara Crimson 7RC

Light Ginger Copper Red

Carrara Crimson 7RC

Channel your inner Christina Hendricks with Carrara Crimson. This vivacious and playful tone is a light red with hints of vibrant copper. It’s packed with bombshell swagger, making cool-fair complexions glow, and light eye colors pop.

How to Choose the Right Red for You

Not yet red, but want to take the plunge? Proceed with confidence by understanding your skin town and undertones.


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What’s the difference between skin tone and undertone?

Your skin tone is what you probably reach for in the makeup aisle: fair/light, medium, tan, olive, deep, etc. There are only three main undertones, however, that inform how your skin tone read, and ultimately how your hair color registers on you: warm, cool, or neutral. 

If you have a fair skin tone ...

For those with porcelain skin (i.e., fair with pink undertones), a coppery blonde, suchRavello Blonde lights up your creamy skin and makes features pop. If you’re fair but neutral, try a soft auburn with hints of copper and gold, found in Genova Red. Those with fair skin with yellow undertones would look great in this color as well, as it perfectly complements the golden hints in their complexion. Go too vibrant and it can make this skin tone look paler. And for fair ladies with a little olive going on, opt for a light, golden brown with hints of mahogany, like Como Light Brown. Or, you can opt for a 50/50 mix of brown and red for the perfect combination. The main takeaway for this tone: steer clear of the extremes—too orange or too warm—to avoid making fair skin look sallow. 

If you have a medium or olive skin tone ...

Because there’s more pigment in your skin, your complexion can manage deeper, warmer red hair hues with ease. Try a rich auburn, with hints of copper and gold, such as Sardinia Red. And if you’re in the olive family, consider a mahogany brown with hints of gold, like Firenze Brown. Choosing a red with the same undertones as your complexion ensures that you’re working with your skin—not against it (translation: you’ll look like a natural redhead). Golden-tinged reds tend to be the most flattering (vs. cool, blue-based reds like scarlet or crimson), and avoid eggplant or maroon hues as they could make your skin take on a yellowish cast. 

If you have a dark skin tone ...

There are two schools of thought when it comes to red hair for darker skin. If you’re looking for a more natural look, your best bets are dark auburn to deep golden brown with hints of mahogany, such as Catania Brown. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more dramatic, reach for a deeper, redder mahogany, such as Trieste Red,which can look stunning against darker skin. Just stay away from orange-y, brassy tones. 

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4 Tips to Keep Red Hair Color from Fading

So now that you've got the red hair of your dreams, it's time to take care of it. Here are the cardinal red hair rules:

1. If at first you don’t succeed, dye, dye again

Don’t freak if your hair fades fast. It can take multiple rounds before red hair color really takes. The reason? The red hair molecule is the largest of the color molecules, therefore it slips out of the cuticle the easiest. If your strands are very dry, damaged, or you’re going red from blonde, it’s difficult for them to hold onto the big molecule. Even healthy hair has a hard time making the true color stick, so take heart and hit the bottle again.

2. Wash less, and wash smart

Wait at least 48 hours after coloring your hair before washing it with shampoo or conditioner—better yet, wait a week if you can. Lathering up right away can open the cuticle, allowing the color to fade out quicker. When you do finally hit the shower—once a week is ideal—use lukewarm-to-cold water and a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (like ourShampoo and Conditioner Set). Hot water can literally steam your color out, and by finishing with a cool rinse, you’ll close the cuticle and lock in color. If you’re feeling greasy in between showers, rinsing with water is fine, or use a dry shampoo to absorb excess oil. 

Madison Reed Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner

3. Get glossy

After using a permanent hair color to achieve your perfect red hue, top it with Color Reviving Gloss to seal it in, condition, and add major shine. Try this layered approach to lengthen your red’s staying power: color, then cool rinse finish. A couple of weeks later, repeat the gloss treatment to revive your color-treated hair with just a hint of tone and loads of luminosity. 


4. Treat it right

Keep hot styling to a minimum. We know this is easier said than done, so when you do need to blow dry, spritz strands with a thermal protectant spray first and put away your metal brushes (which can get as hot as styling tools). Also, consider installing a shower filter to remove color-dulling minerals and prevent buildup. Better still, use Color Therapy color depositing hair mask in Castagna to refresh the color and add intense hydration.

Color Therapy Color Depositing Hair Mask before and after shots

So, here is the question: Which red will you choose? Need help deciding? Try one on using our Virtual Try-on Tool. If you need an extra hand, call or chat with our Color Crew. You can even book a complimentary virtual Video Color Consultation with a licensed colorist.