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At one point or another, you’ve likely stood staring in front of the mirror wondering if you should switch up your hair and rock a signature red color. After all, who doesn’t want to look a little fiery every once in a while? But what shade of red hair, exactly, would work best with your skin tone? Well, it turns out there is a red hair color match for everyone—you just have to know how to find it. Below, we explain how to determine whether dyeing your hair red is the right color choice for you, how to find the best shade of red hair for your skin tone, and what you can do to take care of red hair once you have it.
Before buying red hair dye or booking an appointment at the salon, you should first figure out whether red hair is the right color option for your skin tone—and your personality. So, ask yourself the following three questions before going red.
Question #1: Do your skin have pink undertones? While there is definitely a red hair color match out there for just about everyone, all reds tend to look best when paired with cool, pinkish skin. On the other hand, those with olive or warm skin may have a tougher time pulling off certain shades of red. You’ll see this come into play when you notice there are quite a few more cool shades of red than there are warm and neutral on our list below. That being said, you should feel free to dye your hair whatever shade of red you like best, but these are just some general guidelines you may want to follow if you haven’t yet made up your mind.
Question #2: Do you like attention? If you prefer to keep your look low-key, red hair may not be the best choice for you. Most shades of red are very vibrant an attention-grabbing, so be prepared for all eyes to be on you!
Question #3: Are you ready to make a color commitment? Red hair is super-pretty—but in general, it’s not the lowest maintenance color out there. For starters, if you’re opting for a lighter shade—such as strawberry blonde—you’ll need to bleach your hair first. And if you have a very dark base color, it may take multiple sessions to achieve your desired level of red. Plus, once your roots start growing in, you’re going to need to touch up your color to help keep it looking fresh. If you don’t think you’ll have the time to commit to this, then you may want to consider dyeing your hair something that’s a little bit lower maintenance. If minimal touch-ups is what you’re looking for, check out our guide to balayage highlights.
Like we told you earlier, there are more cool shades of red hair than there are warm. Here are our favorites.
1. Aubergine: Not your traditional red, this eggplant-tinted cool shade is ultra-dark and incredibly sultry. If you have pale skin and dark eyes and are looking for a dark red, this mysterious hue could be the perfect color choice for you.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Power Violet
2. Light auburn: When you think or red hair, light auburn might be the shade that first comes to mind. This color looks best when paired with fair skin and light eye colors.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme in Light Auburn
3. Cinnamon: This brownish red color is perfectly cool and a very understated choice if you’re not looking to make a dramatic change to your hair.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Chic Auburn Brown
4. Red mahogany: Yet another brownish red hue, this hair color is more red than it is brown. It looks best with light eyes and fair to medium skin.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Rich Mahogany
5. Black cherry: Your favorite soda from childhood is the inspiration for this deliciously dark hair color. The super-dark reddish brown hue blends two rich colors into one gorgeous shade of red hair. Black cherry looks especially ravishing with brown eyes.
6. Burgundy: Looking for something different? This violet-red hybrid looks wonderful against cool skin tones. So, whether you have pale, dark, or olive-toned skin, consider switching up your look with this coveted burgundy shade.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Deep Burgundy
7. Red velvet: Who doesn’t love cake? For a super-sweet look, try this deep red color on for size for your richest look yet. If you have blue or green eyes, it’s truly a no brainer.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Intense Deep Auburn/Red Velvet
8. Ruby red: Instead of leaving your favorite gems to your jewelry, try transforming your tresses into a ruby red hue. It perfectly pairs with pale skin and eyes, so consider this hue if you have light, cool skin.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Intense Medium Auburn/Cherry Crush
Although there are more cool shades of red than there are warm ones, that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a bold red shade if you have warm skin. Take your pick from our favorite warm shades of red hair below.
9. Strawberry blonde: Maybe you want red hair but you’re not quite ready to part ways with your beloved blonde. That’s where strawberry blonde comes in. Equal parts red and blonde, this hair color looks especially pretty paired with warm skin tones and light eyes.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Light Reddish Blonde
10. Bright copper: Despite being penny-hued, this hair color looks like a million bucks—especially if you have warm, peach skin.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Power Copper
11. Golden copper hair: Unlike bright copper, golden copper is known for its blend of varying shades of blonde and bright red. Pair it with any warm fair to medium skin tone.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Deep Copper
12. Spicy ginger: If you love the look of traditional orange-red tresses, opt for the warm version of the classic ginger ‘do. As long as you have light eyes and a few freckles, this color will work beautifully for you.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Lightest Auburn
Last but certainly not least, there are a few shades of red hair that aren’t cool or warm. Find out which neutral red hues are worth trying.
13. Medium auburn: While light auburn hair tends to look best on cool skin, medium auburn hair can go either way, making it the perfect neutral shade.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Medium Auburn Brown
14. Dark auburn: Things just keep getting darker! If you love the idea of going red but want to stick close to your dark brunette roots, dark auburn will do the trick. The golden red and warm brown combo blends perfectly for a hair color that suits all skin tones and eye colors.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference in Dark Auburn
15. Rose gold: This metal-inspired hue first became popular in 2016, and it continues to be a must-have rendition of red well into 2017. The ultra-trendy shade is part red, part pink, part blonde and can be customized to your specific skin tone.
DIY it: L’Oréal Paris Féria in Rose Gold
If you thought shade selection was the only thing you needed to consider when going red, think again. Once you’ve completed the dyeing process, it’s important to take care of your red hair properly. Color-treated hair requires special care, so reach for a system of shampoo, conditioner, and mask formulated for this hair. Try the L’Oréal Paris Hair Expert Color Vibrancy Intensive Shampoo, L’Oréal Paris Hair Expert Color Vibrancy Intensive Conditioner, and L’Oréal Paris Hair Expert Color Vibrancy Intensive Ultra Recovery Mask.
Opting for an allover shade of any color—red included—means you’ll have to put in some maintenance work to help keep your hue looking fresh. If you dyed your hair red at home, keep an at-home hair color kit stocked so that you can touch things up when your roots start growing in. In a rush? Temporarily disguise the look of gray roots with the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up in Red, which lasts one shampoo.
Why not pair your red hair with curls or waves? We think that’d be so pretty! After towel-drying your hair post-shower, apply the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Wave Swept Spray, L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Ruffled Body Mousse, or L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle AIR DRY IT Undone Style Cream, then go about your day.
Ready to dye your hair red? Check out our article, How to Go from Brown Hair to Red Hair, for tips on coloring your hair at home.