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Choosing a Shade of Red Hair Color

Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.

Red hair is so diverse. Learn which shade works best for you.

Red hair is so diverse. Learn which shade works best for you.

Red is one of the most vibrant colors you can dye your hair. No other color is so diverse, and there are a huge variety of different shades to choose from. It doesn't matter whether you have warm features or your skin and eyes are on the cooler side, there is a shade of red hair color to suit everyone.

Read on to discover how to choose the ideal color to match your own appearance and style. With a few tips, you can make red hair work for you.

Different Shades of Red Hair Color

There are many more shades of red hair color than you might think. Red hair spans across several mixes of tones, incorporating gold, copper, red, and even violet tones to create a hair color that can look subtle and natural or even striking and unique. The most common shades of red include:

  • Auburn
  • Copper
  • Ginger
  • Strawberry blonde
  • Rosewood blonde
  • Mahogany
  • Cherry
  • Claret
  • Burgundy
  • Violet red
Cherry red hair

Cherry red hair

Matching Red Hair and Skin

Red hair is generally best worn by those with warmer features, but there are a variety of different fashion shades available these days and you can even try red hair if you have cooler features as long as you choose the right shade to match.

Your color choice is crucial to selecting a look that won't look strange or wash out your complexion.

Warm Features

If you have warm features, this means that you have a golden or peach skin tone, and your eyes are either hazel or brown. Warm features work well with warm hair color because similar tones compliment each other.

Your features will look best when complemented by shades of red hair color that have either gold, red, or copper tones. Auburn, chocolate brown, and rich caramel shades are just some of the shades you can look at matched to your complexion and eye color that will likely be a great match for you.

Cool Features

If you have cool features, however, your skin has a blue tone and your eyes are anything from gray to blue or green. Cool features will look best when matched with a cool hair color containing tones like violet, blue, or green.

In the case of red hair, fashion shades are your best bet as many of these shades incorporate cooler tones that push the red color towards violet. With that said, there's a high chance you'd also look great with brighter warm shades like strawberry blonde too so don't be afraid to experiment a little in your choice of red hair shades.

Mixed Features

If you have cool-toned skin yet warm-toned eyes and vice versa, this may feel a little confusing as to how you can best match red hair to your features. In this situation, use your complexion as the defining factor because your skin is more prominent than your eyes.

Mahogany hair

Mahogany hair

Natural Shades

Natural shades of red hair color are less vibrant than fashion shades, but they suit more people as a result. These are the kinds of shades that actually occur naturally, and these shades are designed to allow you to look like a natural redhead.

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Auburn is the most common natural shade, and it has many different variants. For all intents and purposes, auburn hair is brown hair with either a red or copper tone to it. These shades are great if you want a more natural-looking or subtle red hair color.

Because auburn generally has either a red or copper primary tone, it will suit you best if you have warm features. Warm skin and hazel or brown eyes will look great with just about any auburn shade, while the color won't do any favors for cool skin.

Copper and Ginger Shades

Copper or ginger colors are less red than auburn shades because the primary tone is directed more towards copper. Copper shades themselves can be anything from a brown with a copper tone, to a vibrant pure copper. Vibrant copper shades can be considered fashion shades, and you should choose a more subtle copper if you want a shade of red hair color that looks natural.

Ginger hair colors are also geared towards a copper tone, but in this case, the shade is a mix of copper and gold. These hair colors can range anywhere from a golden brown with a subtle copper tone, to a deep golden copper color.

Copper and ginger hair colors will look best on people with warm skin, though fashion shades of copper can even look great on pale cool-toned skin. Hazel eyes look really striking with a ginger hair color, whereas both hazel and brown eyes will benefit from a copper shade.

If you'd like more contrast, blue eyes and bright copper hair make a sure statement because the blue tone in your eyes looks more intense contrasted with a copper tone and this is one of a few situations where seemingly conflicting tones can produce a nice result.

Matching Natural Shades

Natural shadeTonal qualityWarm / cool


Red or copper



Copper / gold



Gold / copper


Strawberry blonde

Gold / red


Copper red hair

Copper red hair

Fashion Shades

Fashion shades of red hair color are different from their natural counterparts because they are designed to be bold and interesting. These shades utilize intense versions of natural tones or even tones that you wouldn't find in natural hair. Some shades like cherry red are fashion shades, even though nobody would stop to stare at your color, while a bright violet-red shade is a definite head-turner.

When choosing a fashion shade, your decision falls mainly on the tonal direction of the color. Most of these shades are really vibrant and if you choose a tone that conflicts with your features, it will be very noticeable. When looking at hair color in this way, you'll find that fashion shades of red hair color will follow either a copper, red, or violet primary tone.

Most of the fashion shades you encounter will actually be a blend, and if you have warm features, you will benefit from a copper or red tone. Those with a cool skin tone should try shades that are a blend of red and violet. Even a little violet in red hair color will often allow you to wear red hair despite having cooler features.

As the sheer variety of fashion shades is rather diverse, you can use the table below to determine how it will match up to your features but be aware that individual brands vary widely in how these shades look so being able to check a swatch in the specific brand you intend to use is another helpful factor in making sure you choose a shade of red hair color that works well with your features.

Matching Fashion Shades

Fashion shadeTonal qualityWarm / cool


Red / violet






Red / violet



Red / violet





Violet red

Violet / red


Rosewood blonde

Violet / red pastel



Red pastel


Bright copper hair

Bright copper hair

Rosewood Blonde

Rosewood blonde is a very unique pastel color that is still relatively unknown. If you have rosewood blonde hair, your hair is a light silver shade of blonde with a pastel violet-pink tone.

You won't generally find this shade among the other more common shades of red hair color. To get this shade, you need to create it yourself. You can do this by dyeing your hair blonde, then dyeing it with a very pale violet-pink dye.

The best option here is either to mix a purple shampoo with a dash of red shampoo or use De Lorenzo's Rosewood blonde shampoo. You can also mix semi-permanent dyes like Fudge Paintbox with conditioner to dilute them and create a pastel color, but this will take experimentation to create a shade that isn't too strong and contains the right balance of violet and red.

For a permanent option, use De Lorenzo Nova Color AB9.36 or mix a 10.0 of any brand with a red intensifier or mahogany contrast.

Streaks of rosewood blonde hair

Streaks of rosewood blonde hair

Pastel Red Hair

The most subtle, yet also somewhat difficult shade of red to achieve is a pastel shade and this is because shades like this need your hair to be lightened to nearly white first and then delicately dyed.

As with other shades, pastel red hair varies in what tones may be present. A pastel mahogany shade is better described as rosewood for example, while other colors like salmon, copper, and pink are also fairly commonly pursued.

All of these pastel red hair colors are muted shades so they may suit people of any skin tone and eye color. The more important determinant of whether a shade like this will suit you is likely whether a very pale red hair color itself actually suits you. If you look better with darker shades you should give these colors a miss, otherwise, you can experiment away.

To learn more about dyeing your hair a pastel red color, read my related article here. This will explain all that you need to know about pastels, including how to achieve different shades at home.

More information

  • How to Dye Hair Red
    Red hair colors are exciting, so if you want to take the plunge and try something new, discover how to dye hair red and get the color you want.
  • How to Dye Your Hair
    Hair dye can allow you to change your entire style with ease. Discover how to dye your hair for salon quality results.
  • Caring for Dyed Hair
    Dyed hair needs specialized care to keep it looking and feeling its best. Find out how to care for dyed hair and maintain your new color.

After you achieve your perfect shade of red, it will need care and maintenance to continue looking its best. Fashion shades require the most effort and time to maintain, and this needs to be taken into account when you choose a color.

If you'd prefer a shade of red hair color that is low-maintenance and easy to care for, stick with natural shades and you'll be able to relax knowing your hair color won't be keeping you up at night. If you would still prefer one of the many interesting fashion shades, you can maintain your color with semi-permanent dyes and color refresher shampoos to keep your color looking vibrant and beautiful.

Do you have a question about red hair color or need more help deciding on a shade that suits your features? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Maffew James


Yana on December 19, 2018:

I have bleached blonde hair. My skin has pink undertone, but my eyes are hazel with more grassy green in them. I want to color my hair copper or ginger. Which shades would you recommend and how to go about dyeing blonde hair that was processed before?

Aferjo on September 12, 2016:


I have originally a black hair .

I did bleach the ends of it and some hilights ,like 3 times and the rest of the hair only one time.

So I hade kinnda orange yellow uneven hair color.

Then i did dye it with illumina 10/1

So it turned out to a light ash blond in the over bleached areas and to light brown in the rest.

i dont like it at all

I wanna switch to red hair color what should i do now to get an even hair color

Thank so much

Lao Bling on August 16, 2016:

Hi, I have naturally black hair (Asian) it has been dyed many times & recently (a few months ago) re-dyed black again. Now yesterday I use Red Hot with a 20 vol developer & barely anything happend so today I re-did it with Red Hot again but with 30 vol got a lil red in some spots but nothing like what I was expecting, I didn't think my hair would be so resistant. I want to try the 40 but am scared since I just did it twice already.... What do u think? How long would u wait? Thx in advance!

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