Coloring Red Hair that Lasts!

November 4th, 2016

Like a four-leaf clover, or a great pair of jeans, natural redheads are hard to come by.  Did you know only 2% of the world’s population has naturally red hair? So as soon as my model Ellie arrived at the salon with her gorgeous, long red hair, I couldn’t wait to play up her natural color.

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When deciding how to highlight her hair, I knew I was going to have to be a bit aggressive to get the lasting results I wanted. Truthfully, I was referencing David Velasco’s book, Trade Secrets of a Haircolor Expert: Amazing Red Heads, part of a series I truly love and respect, and have had to pull off the shelf countless times, whenever I have a question or concern about the look I am trying to achieve; you can really never stop learning more about hair color, right?

And, indeed, what I suspected was right (don’t you just love it when you suspect something and are validated by someone you admire?) Let me backtrack a bit here:

Many times in my career, I have highlighted natural redheads successfully, leaving me feeling satisfied and proud of my work. Yet, there have been times when those feelings have turned into frustration, noticing that the highlights seemed to just disappear (even after all of that work)…

Can you guess what is happening here? Good thing David Velasco has us covered:

“…the red-yellow pigment (pheomelanin) is so strong and dominant in natural redheads, that the natural color molecules actually have the ability to reestablish themselves in the hair, and re-color the previously lightened hair.”

Thank you  David!

Using this key information to guide the hair coloring process on Ellie, I decided on a combination of foil highlights and balayage. Normally, balayage has a soft and beautiful affect, but with a redhead, I was concerned with the color lasting beyond the natural color molecules moving back in! I knew the balayage application would help allow the hair to achieve different levels of lift, making the application last longer. (Remember: the wetter it stays, the lighter it gets!)

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For the balayage application I used Redken Flash Lift lightener and 40 volume developer.  For me, the highlights reaching the scalp were the anchor, so I placed the foils and applied the lightener from the roots to the ends on a diagonal knowing I could create a solid infrastructure for my playful balayage to make an appearance; highlighting with foil, lightener, and 30 volume, I knew that my foils would remain bright.

I lifted the highlights to a pale yellow, watching the balayage as well to make sure it was light enough. I then took everything down and glazed the hair for 10 minutes with Redken shade EQ 09AA (Papaya).  The results were shiny and gorgeous, and would surely last!

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Ellie’s service is proof that you never should stop testing yourself and learning new tricks to keep your clients happy and yourself proud of the work you put out!

I would love to know if you have any tips or tricks that you use for creating beautiful, long-lasting red hair? Share them in the comments below!

xo Adrienne

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