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What Color Can I Put Over Red Hair?

by Madison Reed August 24, 2023

What Colors Can I put over red hair?

Image by Madison Reed

So, now that you have some of our top red hair color tips, what happens when you want to switch it up? Dyeing red hair can be tricky, since not every color will effectively neutralize red tones. So, what colors can you put over red hair? 

What colors can I put over red hair and what does it depend on? 

If you want to dye your hair and get rid of its reddish color, you need to consider your current shade. This will strongly determine which colors will and won’t work. 

For instance, you won’t be able to put blonde dye on red hair and expect will turn out blonde. There is a way around it, though. Applying bleach (either all over or just on highlights) should allow you to achieve some warmer colors, yet you should remember that it may also impact the condition of your hair.

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So, what color can I put over red hair?

If you’re wondering what color you can put over faded red hair or red hair dye, there are some options that will always look on point.  So, what colors should you put over your red hair?


All shades of brown are good to put on red hair, though the particular hue should depend on two things:

  • • What color do you want to achieve?

  • • What shade of red do you have now?

Light-brown dye is an excellent choice for a light-red hair color, while darker shades complement dark brown hues. Depending on your particular color combination, your hair will likely range from auburn tints to a rich, deep mahogany brown shade. If you want to minimize the red tone altogether for a natural brunette hue (less auburn or mahogany), you will need to use a neutral or cool/ash brunette shade to counteract the red tones.


If you are looking to go darker and completely eliminate the red, then this is a good choice. It’s easier to make your red hair darker than lighter—plus black on red? Gorgeous.

Remember that if you put a true black dye on top of red, your hair won’t become brunette. Instead, you will get a true black color that may fade to burgundy, both of which can look fabulous.

Light blonde on light red hair

Although the typical combination of red and blonde often leads to an orange hue, an exception exists—applying bleach (and toner) to light red hair. This particular blend produces a strawberry blonde, which bears a subtle reddish tinge and sets it apart from conventional blondes. It’s an intriguing choice if you're considering transitioning away from your red hair.

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Why can’t I put any color on red hair?

Red hair is pretty strong in pigment—this means that it can be difficult to remove from the hair. It may take a few coloring sessions to go back to a blonde or cool brunette and maintenance is key (glosses, color masks, color-protecting shampoo + conditioner, etc.) to counteract the red tone that may show through over time.


Some additional advice

Now that you know what colors you can put on red hair, and you know what the results depend on, you’re ready to get to it. But, we want you to know as much as you possibly can, so here are some extra tips:

  • • Consult with a hair colorist: our Madison Reed colorists will give you professional advice on what color you should choose to achieve your desired outcome.

  • • You may need to use a highlight or bleach if you want to go lighter: Red hair is hard to cover and sometimes there’s no other solution than making it lighter first. Even if you are not a fan of highlighting or bleaching, it might be better than trying to cover your hair with several layers of dye over time.

  • • Test the color: If you’re unable to consult with a hair colorist, you may want to test the outcome yourself first. Apply a small amount of dye to a discrete area of your hair and take a look at the result. Then decide how you want to move forward before applying to the rest of your hair.

The takeaway

Which colors should you put on red hair? Brown, black, and in some cases, lightener or bleach. It all depends on which shade of red you have currently. If you want to make your hair lighter, you’ll need to bleach it first—red is a dominant color, so that may be your only option. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you have any questions.

Are you planning to choose a light color and highlight your hair first? Then you should absolutely check this article: Dear Color Crew: How Do I Color Highlighted Hair?

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