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How To: Dye Your Hair Red

Updated on June 19, 2013
Rihanna gave inspiration for girls to go red.
Rihanna gave inspiration for girls to go red.


If you have dark hair and are wondering if you can go red without bleach, the answer is YES! My hair is naturally a medium to dark brown and had been dyed an even darker brown before I chose to go red. You may also wonder how bad the damage will be? Let's say before I dyed my hair it was still kind of dry from bleaching it a year prior. However, I did have my ends trimmed off so the majority of my hair was healthy. I wouldn't recommend dying your hair red if you have over processed hair already. Let it grow out trim off your dead ends so you don't end up with a chemical cut.

What You Need

If you have a Sally's Beauty Supply in your area, you can pick up everything you will need from there. If not, you can order the products online.

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 Boxes L'Oreal Excellence Hicolor Hilights in Red
  • 1 Bottle L'Oreal 20 or 30 Volume Developer
  • 1 Hair cap
  • 1 pair vinyl gloves
  • 1 Applicator brush
  • 1 Bowl

Application Process

Mix one tube of the Hicolor Hilights with four ounce of developer in your bowl. Red dye is chunky, but try to get the mixture as smooth as possible. I mixed mine with a mini whisk for about one minute. The color will be a dark red.

Pick a strand of hair that hangs behind your ear and apply dye to the strand. You are doing a strand test to insure you will be happy with the results and that you don't have a negative reaction to the dye. Behind you ear is safe because it's out of sight for the most part. Apply the hair dye to the strand with the applicator brush, starting at the bottom and working your way to the roots. Wrap in tin foil and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then wash out and dry the strand.

To begin a full head process, start by sectioning your hair off into layers. I used a hair tie and hair pins I had laying around and secured the top half of my hair so it was out of the way.

Next, paint the dye on the bottom layer of hair with the applicator brush. Start at the bottom and work you way up, leaving your roots for last as they will take to the dye faster. Release layers of your hair and repeat the application process until your full head is covered.

Bunch the hair on top of your head the best you can and put the hair cap over. Stay out of the cold and let it sit for thirty minutes. Rinse out with cold water. You may need to wait 24 hours and repeat the entire process the next day. Because my hair was dark, I had to do two processes, but after two, it turned out brilliantly red.


People told me over and over that red hair was impossible to manage. The color would fade and it would look horrible. I proved them wrong with a few simple steps that reduce fading and brighten your red tones.

  1. NEVER wash hair with hot water. The colder you can tolerate it, the longer your red will last.
  2. Refrain from washing hair more than 2-3 times a week. If your hair is greasy, wash it. But if it's not, don't bother. You will see what I mean when you get in the shower and every time your precious color is running down the drain.
  3. Use a color depositing shampoo and conditioner such as Quantum Riveting Reds Color Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner

Together these tips will make your hair color last much longer. Mine lasted five weeks before I used Manic Panic to bring it back to it's vibrant red. Red hair is more difficult to maintain than other colors, but it's manageable and well worth it if you want to try a bold new color.

To touch up your cherry locks, read my followup Hub. The link is below.


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