Choosing a Shade of Red Hair Color

Updated on March 1, 2016
Cherry red hair
Cherry red hair

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.

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 natural or even unique and different. The most common shades of red include:

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

Matching red hair and skin

Red hair is generally best worn by those with warmer features, but with a variety of different fashion shades available these days, red hair can even be worn with confidence by those with cooler 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 a warm hair color because similar tones compliment each other. Your features will look best when complimented by shades of red hair color that have either gold, red, or copper tones.

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.

Mahogany hair
Mahogany hair | Source

Natural shades

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

Auburn is the most common natural shade, with 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, whilst the color won't do any favors for cool skin.

Copper and 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 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 makes a sure statement because the blue tone in your eyes looks more intense contrasted with a copper tone.

Matching natural shades

Natural shade
Tonal quality
Warm / cool
Red or copper
Copper / gold
Gold / copper
Strawberry blonde
Gold / red
Copper red hair
Copper red hair | Source

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 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, whilst 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 a red hair color will often allow you to wear red hair despite having cooler features.

Matching fashion shades

Fashion shade
Tonal quality
Warm / cool
Red / violet
Red / violet
Red / violet
Violet red
Violet / red
Rosewood blonde
Violet / red pastel
Red pastel
Bright copper hair
Bright copper hair | Source

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 amongst 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 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 red intensifier or mahogany contrast.

Rosewood blonde hair
Rosewood blonde hair | Source

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.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Aferjo 19 months ago


        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

      • profile image

        Lao Bling 20 months ago

        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!