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

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Image by Madison Reed

With the weather getting cooler, who’s ready to warm up their hair color? [Raises hand] Lucky you–it’s almost fall, the perfect season for shades of classic, current and always-stunning red hair. Got cold feet? Don’t worry. Thanks to its wide spectrum of shades, from 'ronze to burgundy, cinnamon to copper, every complexion can rock a red. So which red will it be? We’ve got our favorite 5 red hair color shades here, plus all the info you need to see which red is right for you, as well as how to care for that stunning red hair.


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. 
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.
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.  
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.   
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. 


Not yet red, but want to take the plunge? Here’s how to proceed with confidence—first, let’s talk skin tone, i.e. if you have fair, medium, or dark skin, and if it has a warm or cool undertone. Here’s how to figure out your undertone—hold a piece of paper up to your face. If your skin looks pink, your skin tone is cool. If it appears a little more yellow or olive, you have warm skin tone. See our red hair color chart.


For those with porcelain skin (i.e. fair with pink undertones), a coppery blonde, such Ravello 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 should 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. 
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 skin take on a yellowish cast. 
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, look for a deeper, redder mahogany, such as Trieste Red, which can look stunning against darker skin. Just stay away from orange-y, brassy tones. 


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 and therefore, 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 to wash it—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. 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. 

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, deep 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 your gloss treatment to revive color 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 store 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 Mask in Castagna to refresh the color and add intense hydration.
Did you know that less than 2% of the population are redheads? Well, natural redheads, that is, but we won’t tell if you want to be a redhead. Check out this post to learn more red hot facts about red hair.
Now we need to know—with so many stunningly gorgeous red hair color shades, all boasting shine, depth and seasonal oomph, which red will you choose this fall? Need help deciding? Try one on using our virtual try-on tool.
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