How to Stop Red Hair Dye from Fading with 9 Expert Tips

Welcome to the vibrant world of red hair—a bold choice that screams confidence and style! But as dazzling as it is, red hair comes with its own challenge: keeping that stunning color from fading.

Fear not! This guide is your secret weapon against the fade. We’ll dive into why red hair dye fades and arm you with the best tips and tricks to lock in that color, ensuring your red stays as fiery as your spirit.

From essential pre-dyeing advice to advanced care techniques and lifestyle hacks, we’ve got you covered.

Get ready to maintain that head-turning red hue with ease and confidence. Let’s keep your red hair not just beautiful, but spectacularly vibrant!

Understanding Why Red Hair Dye Fades

So, why does red hair color seem to disappear faster than a sunset? It’s all in the science of hair dyeing and the nature of red pigments.

Red hair dye is notorious for its fading, and there’s a fascinating reason behind it.

Hair dye works by penetrating the hair shaft and depositing color. However, not all colors behave the same way.

Red molecules are larger and more complex compared to other color molecules.

This size difference means they don’t penetrate the hair shaft as deeply or as securely as smaller molecules. As a result, every wash can cause these red pigments to slip away more easily, leading to the notorious fade that redheads know all too well.

Garnier, a trusted name in hair care, explains that the vibrancy of red hair dye is both a blessing and a curse.

While it gives hair a bold, vivid color that’s nothing short of stunning, it also makes maintenance a bit more challenging.

The large molecular structure of red dye means it’s less stable and more susceptible to environmental factors like sunlight, water, and even the natural oils from our scalp.

But don’t despair! Knowing why red fades the way it does is the first step in combatting it.

With the right care and maintenance strategies, you can extend the life of your red hair, keeping it as vibrant and fiery as the day you dyed it.

Expert Insights

“Red is the fastest hair color to fade for sure. Things like sunlight and washing make it fade faster too. It’s definitely a color that needs a bit more TLC to keep it vibrant.”

Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

How to Stop Red Hair Dye from Fading: 9 Top Tips

Keeping your red hair vibrant doesn’t have to be a mystery. With the right approach before, immediately after dyeing, and beyond, you can extend the life of your fiery hue. Here are the best top tips to help you maintain that vibrant red long after you leave the salon:

#1. Choose the Right Dye & Prepare Your Hair

How to Stop Red Hair Dye from Fading: woman in a beauty store selecting hair dye

The journey to vibrant, long-lasting red hair begins before the dye even touches your strands. The choices you make in selecting your dye and preparing your hair can significantly impact how well the color takes and how long it lasts. Here’s how to start off on the right foot (or head!):

Go for High-Quality Hair Dyes

Research Brands: Spend some time researching different hair dye brands and their formulations. Look for ones specifically designed for red hues and known for their durability. Brands that are for professional salons or specialize in vivid colors often offer the best longevity.

Read Reviews: Online reviews can be a goldmine of information. Look for feedback from people who have used the dyes for red hair. Pay attention to their comments on how the color fades over time.

Professional vs. Box Dye: Whenever possible, opt for professional-grade dye. Professional dyes typically contain higher quality pigments and fewer harsh chemicals, which can help preserve your hair’s health and color vibrancy.

Use Pre-Dye Treatments

Hydrate and Repair: About a week before dyeing, use a deep conditioning treatment or a hair mask to hydrate and repair your hair. Healthy, moisturized hair takes dye better and holds onto color longer.

Avoid Damaging Treatments: In the days leading up to your dye job, avoid any treatments that could stress or damage your hair, like bleaching, perms, or other chemical processes.

Clarifying Shampoo: Consider using a clarifying shampoo a day or two before dyeing. This can help remove buildup from your hair and scalp, ensuring the dye adheres evenly. Be sure to follow up with a hydrating conditioner to keep your hair moisturized.

Consult with a Professional: If you’re new to dyeing your hair red or if you’re trying a new shade, consider consulting with a hairstylist. They can offer personalized advice on dye selection and pre-dye treatments based on your hair’s condition, texture, and current color.

Expert Insights

“Dark colours such as mahogany, burgundy and black take longer to fade as the molecular structure of these pigments is able to penetrate your hair deeply and deposit colour more successfully.”

John Frieda, Master Hair Colorists

#2 The First 48 Hours Are Crucial

do not wash your hair for 24 hours after dyeing red  sign

The initial period after dyeing your hair red is critical for setting the stage for long-lasting vibrancy. The first 48 hours post-dye are when your hair is most vulnerable and the color is setting into your hair shafts. Here’s what to do (and what not to do!):

Avoid Washing Your Hair

Let the Color Set: After dyeing, the color needs time to fully penetrate and settle into the hair shaft. Washing your hair too soon can interrupt this process, causing the dye to wash out before it’s fully set.

Skip a Wash (or Two): Try to avoid washing your hair for at least 48 hours after dyeing. This might mean planning your hair dyeing session a day or two after your regular wash day.

If You Must Wash, Do It Wisely

Tepid Water Only: If you find it absolutely necessary to wash your hair within the first 48 hours, use tepid or lukewarm water. Hot water can open up the hair cuticle, allowing the fresh color to escape more easily.

Choose the Right Products: Use a sulfate-free shampoo that’s gentle on colored hair. Sulfates can strip the color from your hair, accelerating the fade. Look for shampoos labeled as color-safe or those specifically formulated for red hair.

Be Gentle: When washing, gently massage the shampoo into your scalp and hair. Avoid scrubbing vigorously, as this can also cause the color to fade prematurely.

Condition Carefully: After shampooing, apply a color-safe conditioner to help seal the cuticle and lock in moisture. This step is crucial for maintaining the health of your dyed hair and ensuring the color stays vibrant for longer.

Extra Tips for the First 48 Hours

Avoid Heat Styling: If possible, steer clear of heat styling tools immediately after dyeing. The heat can not only damage your hair but also contribute to faster color fading.

Minimize Sun Exposure: Keep your newly dyed hair out of direct sunlight. UV rays can degrade the red pigments quickly, causing your vibrant color to fade. Consider wearing a hat if you’ll be spending time outdoors.

Silk or Satin Pillowcases: To minimize friction and prevent color from rubbing off, sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase the first few nights after dyeing your hair.

By taking these steps during the first 48 hours after dyeing your hair, you’re giving your new color the best chance to set deeply and last longer. Remember, patience during this initial period can pay off with a more vibrant and enduring red hue.

Expert Insights

“Every time you expose your color-treated hair to water, you run the risk of losing pigment. The usual rule of thumb when dyeing your hair is to wait 24 hours before washing. But with red hair dye, you should wait at least 48 hours, or two days.”

Davines, Why Red Hair Fades

#3 Start a Red-Friendly Washing Routine

dry shampoo for red hair hair care routine

Keeping your red hair vibrant is as much about how you wash it as what you use to wash it. Here’s a streamlined approach to ensure your washing routine keeps your red as radiant as ever:

Wash Less, Preserve More

Space It Out: Washing your hair less often is key to preserving red dye. Every wash can fade your color a little, so aim to shampoo just a couple of times a week. This helps maintain the intensity of your red for longer.

Dry Shampoo to the Rescue: On the days you don’t wash, dry shampoo will be your best friend. It absorbs excess oil, keeps your hair looking fresh, and extends the life of your red color. Plus, it adds volume and texture, which is always a bonus.

Cool Water Rinse: Lock In That Color

Why Cool Water?: Rinsing your hair with cool water might not be the most comfortable, but it’s a game-changer for red hair. Cool water helps to seal the hair’s cuticle, locking in the color and adding shine. Hot water, on the other hand, can open up the cuticle and allow the color to wash out more easily.

Make It a Habit: Try to make rinsing with cool water the last step of your shower routine. It’s a simple change that can make a significant difference in how long your red color stays vivid and bright.

Expert Insights

“Washing your hair with cold water also has the added benefit of helping, along with your haircare products, to make your hair look strong and shiny, and who doesn’t want that?” 

Florian Hurel, Celebrity Hair stylist

#4 Condition, Condition, Condition

lots of conditioning treatments and products

Keeping your red hair dazzling is all about giving it some love and attention, especially when it comes to conditioning.

Think of conditioners and treatments as your red hair’s best friends—they’re here to keep it hydrated, happy, and shining bright. Here’s how to turn conditioning into a pampering session for your vibrant locks:

Everyday Conditioning: Your Daily Dose of Love

Soft Touch: Start with a color-safe conditioner for your daily routine. These gems are super gentle and work hard to moisturize without washing away your gorgeous red. They’re like a protective hug for your hair, sealing in that shine and keeping the color bold.

Red Boost: Keep an eye out for conditioners with a little extra something for red hair. They can give your color a mini-boost with every wash, keeping it as fiery as your spirit.

Deep Conditioning: The Weekly Spa Day

Indulge a Bit: Once a week, treat your hair to a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask. It’s like a spa day for your strands, diving deep to nourish and strengthen. This is your secret weapon against fade and the key to a radiant, healthy mane.

Ingredients That Love Your Hair: Pick treatments packed with goodies like natural oils, proteins, and antioxidants. They’re like superfoods for your hair, mending any damage and adding a glossy sheen.

Warm It Up: For an extra treat, warm your hair under a shower cap after applying your mask. A little heat makes everything better, helping those nourishing ingredients soak in even deeper.

Leave-in Conditioners: Your Hair’s Daily Shield

On-the-Go Hydration: Leave-in conditioners are like your hair’s personal bodyguard, offering moisture and protection all day long. They’re light, they’re refreshing, and they make sure your red stays vivid and bright.

Fight the Fade: Many leave-ins come with UV and heat protectant, perfect for defending your hair against the sun’s rays and the heat from styling tools. A quick spritz before you head out or style, and you’re good to go.

Finding the Right Fit for Your Hair Type

Fine Hair Folks: If your hair is on the finer side, lean towards volumizing conditioners. They’ll give you the moisture you need without weighing you down, so your red doesn’t just look good, it feels good too.

Thick and Curly Crew: For those with thicker, curlier locks, embrace the richer, more hydrating options. These conditioners are all about giving your hair the deep moisture it craves, keeping your curls defined and your color stunning.

Expert Insights

“There’s a reason salon products are more expensive – they’re made with higher quality ingredients and don’t contain a lot of fillers like wax and silicone the way most drugstore brands do. Using a shampoo for color treated hair is best; they’re more gentle on the hair to help hold color.”

Kristen Bee, Hairstylist for 20 years

#5 Protect Your Red from the Environment

shower head with filtered water

Your red hair is like a brilliant flame, and just like any flame, it needs to be shielded from the elements to keep burning bright. Here’s how to guard your vibrant color from the environmental factors that can make it lose its luster:

Water Filters: Your Shower’s Secret Weapon

Why It Matters: Tap water can be full of minerals that are harsh on your red hair, making it look dull and even speeding up the fade. A simple solution? A water filter for your showerhead. It works by filtering out those pesky minerals, so your hair stays brighter for longer.

Easy Install: Attaching a filter to your shower is straightforward and can make a world of difference in preserving your red’s vibrancy. It’s a small change with big benefits for your hair’s health and color.

Leave-in Treatments and Hair Oils: Daily Armor for Your Locks

Moisture and Protection: Leave-in treatments and hair oils are like a protective coat for your hair. They lock in moisture, keeping your hair nourished and preventing the color from fading. Plus, they add an extra layer of shine to make your red really pop.

Application Tips: After showering, lightly apply your leave-in treatment or a few drops of hair oil to damp hair. This not only helps detangle and smooth but also forms a barrier against environmental damage. Whether you’re facing a sunny day or a dry, windy one, these products keep your hair protected and your color intact.

Expert Insights

“Arming yourself with a colour-protecting shampoo and conditioner is one of the most effective ways to prevent your beautiful hair colour from getting zapped by the elements.”

L’Oreal Paris, How to Protect Your Hair Color From Environmental Aggressors

#6 Be Sun and Swim Smart

woman with red hair wearing a swim cap

Just like your skin, your red hair needs protection from the sun and water to keep its color vibrant and health intact. Here’s how to navigate the elements without sacrificing your stunning red hue:

Shield Your Hair from the Sun

UV-Protective Sprays: Before you step outside, spritz your hair with a UV-protective spray. These products work like sunscreen for your hair, creating a barrier that minimizes color fade and damage caused by UV rays. It’s a must-have for sunny days, whether you’re spending them at the beach or just out and about.

Hats On: Embrace the shade with stylish hats. Not only do they add a fun accessory to your look, but they also offer physical protection from the sun, keeping your red hair safe from its color-fading effects.

Smart Swimming Strategies

Cap It Off: If you’re hitting the pool, consider wearing a swim cap to shield your hair from chlorinated water, which can strip color and cause your red to fade or even take on an unwanted tint.

Pre-Swim Protection: Wet your hair with clean, fresh water and apply a leave-in conditioner or an oil treatment before swimming. This creates a protective layer that reduces the amount of chlorinated water your hair absorbs.

Rinse Right Away: After swimming, rinse your hair as soon as possible to remove chlorine or saltwater. Follow up with a gentle, color-safe shampoo and conditioner to cleanse and rehydrate your hair.

Expert Insights

“Too much sun exposure can cause your hair to lighten and your current color to fade. If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, be sure to wear a hat in order to keep your color covered.”

Pureology Tips & Tricks To Maintain Hair Color

#7 Minimize Heat Styling

woman with red hair using hot irons

Embracing your red hair’s natural texture not only showcases its unique beauty but also contributes to keeping its color vibrant. Here’s how to minimize heat styling, an essential step for preserving the vividness of your red locks:

Reduce Heat Tool Usage

Go Natural: Whenever possible, let your hair air dry. This not only spares your hair from heat damage but also helps retain your color for longer. Red hair dyed strands are particularly susceptible to the drying and fading effects of high heat.

Strategic Styling: If you love your heat styling tools, try to use them less frequently. Experiment with hairstyles that don’t require heat, such as braids, buns, or twists, which can be both stylish and protective.

Always Use Heat Protectant

Shield Your Strands: Before you reach for that hair dryer or flat iron, make sure to apply a heat protectant spray or serum. These products form a protective barrier over your hair, helping to minimize heat damage and color fade.

Choose Wisely: Look for heat protectants that are specifically formulated for colored hair. Some products offer additional benefits, such as UV protection or color sealing properties, providing an extra layer of defense for your vibrant red.

Cool It Down

Lower Temperatures: When you do use heat styling tools, opt for the lowest temperature setting that will still achieve your desired look. Higher temperatures can cause more color to fade, so keeping it cool can help maintain your red’s radiance.

Diffuse the Situation: If using a hair dryer, consider attaching a diffuser. This helps to distribute the heat more evenly, reducing the intensity of the heat on any one section of hair and helping to preserve your color and curls, if you have them.

#8 Get Professional Help When You Need It

hair colorist in a salon looking at red hair

Rocking red hair is a bold statement, and sometimes, keeping it vibrant requires a little extra expertise. Here’s why turning to the pros can be a game-changer for maintaining your gorgeous red hue:

Go For Regular Salon Visits

Glosses and Toners: Regular appointments for glosses or toners can work wonders in refreshing your red, adding depth and dimension back into faded hues. These treatments not only boost color but also add shine and improve hair health.

Color Check-ups: Think of your salon visits as check-ups for your hair color. Your stylist can assess the state of your red, making adjustments as needed to ensure it stays as vibrant and healthy-looking as possible.

Personalized Care Tips

Expert Advice: Your stylist is an invaluable resource for tailored advice. Based on your hair’s condition, texture, and the specific red shade you’re rocking, they can recommend the best products and routines to keep your color looking its best.

Troubleshooting: Experiencing issues with fading or hair health? Your stylist can help identify the cause and suggest professional solutions, whether it’s a change in your hair care regimen or in-salon treatments to address the problem.

Building a Relationship With Your Stylist

Communication is Key: The more your stylist knows about your hair history and your lifestyle, the better they can tailor their advice and treatments to suit your needs. Don’t hesitate to share your hair care routine, any challenges you’re facing, and what you hope to achieve with your red hair.

Trust the Process: Sometimes, maintaining vibrant red hair might mean trying out different approaches or products. Trust in your stylist’s expertise and be open to their suggestions. They’re dedicated to ensuring your red stays as stunning as you envision it.

Expert Insights

“Red hair color can be tricky, so for best results, let a professional design and maintain your hue. They will know how to refresh it with the right low- or no-ammonia demi-permanent or semi-permanent hair color so that you won’t incur unnecessary hair damage from going over permanent hair color with more permanent hair color.”

Jackie Summers, Hair Color Expert, Matrix

#9 DIY Touch-Up Tips

cranberry juice for red hair diy

Sometimes, a salon visit just isn’t on the cards, but your red hair needs a little boost to keep it looking its best. Here’s how you can give your vibrant locks a lift right at home, using some clever DIY tricks and the right products:

Natural Color Refreshes

Cranberry Juice: Believe it or not, cranberry juice can work as a natural color enhancer for red hair. Its acidic nature helps to tighten the hair’s cuticle, boosting shine and reviving your color’s vibrancy. Simply rinse your hair with unsweetened cranberry juice after shampooing, then condition as usual.

Beetroot Extract: For a deeper red refresh, beetroot extract or juice can add a subtle tint and enhance your color. Mix beetroot juice with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) to create a mask, apply it to your hair, leave it on for an hour, then rinse out. It’s a natural way to intensify your red, adding richness and depth.

Root Cover-Up Products

Temporary Solutions: In-between salon visits, root cover-up products can be lifesavers. These come in various forms, such as sprays, powders, and even mascaras, designed to temporarily disguise your roots or any faded sections.

Quality Matters: Opt for high-quality root cover-up products that match your red shade as closely as possible. Test them out to find one that blends seamlessly with your color, ensuring a natural look that lasts until your next wash.

Tips for Successful DIY Touch-Ups

  • Patch Test: Always do a patch test with natural remedies or root cover-ups, especially if you’re trying them for the first time. This helps ensure you won’t have an adverse reaction and that the color matches your expectations.
  • Gentle Application: When applying any product, whether it’s a natural juice or a root cover-up, be gentle. Harsh rubbing can damage your hair and scalp. Instead, apply with soft, padding motions or use a brush for precise application.
  • Protect Your Skin: To avoid staining your skin with natural dyes or cover-up products, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly along your hairline. Also, wear gloves when handling beetroot juice or other potent natural dyes!

Remember, the key to successful at-home touch-ups is to experiment carefully and find what works best for your unique shade of red.

Expert Insights

“Temporary root touch-up products are ideal for those who want a quick fix and want to avoid a permanent colour change. However, it’s worth noting that they only last until your next shampoo and may not work as well on stubborn grey hairs.”

Clairol, How to Touch-Up Red Hair

Parting Words

Keeping your red hair vibrant and stunning is all about embracing the right care routine. With these 9 expert tips, you’re well on your way to maintaining that head-turning hue that makes red hair so iconic.

Remember, it’s not just about the initial color—it’s about how you nurture and protect it. From choosing the right products to adopting smart hair habits, every step you take makes a difference.

Whether you’re rinsing with cool water, rocking a hat under the sun, or giving your locks a natural color boost at home, these strategies are designed to keep your red as bold and beautiful as you are.

And when in doubt, never underestimate the power of professional advice to keep your color looking its best.

So go ahead, flaunt that fiery red with confidence! With a little effort and a lot of love, your red hair will continue to turn heads and spark envy, proving that with the right care, vibrant red hair isn’t just a fleeting fantasy—it’s a lasting statement.

Here’s to keeping your red radiant and ravishing, today, tomorrow, and beyond!

Found your perfect shade? We’d love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair dye success stories. Looking for more hair care tips? Check out How to Look After Colored Hair: 11 Expert Secrets For Long-Lasting Color.

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Our Research & Review Process

To ensure our recommendations are as comprehensive and reliable as possible, we’ve undertaken an extensive research effort.

We cite scientific evidence and journals, collect real user reviews and gather impartial perspectives from hair stylists, users, and experts in the field.

Additionally, we conduct hands-on testing by using products and applying hair dyes not only on our own locks but also on real human hair extensions and hair pieces of different hair type, textures and lengths.

This rigorous approach allows us to provide you with insights into which products genuinely live up to their promises.

As always – please consult with a professional hair colorist or stylist for advice on how to color your own hair at home. It’s different for everyone!

This article was written and reviewed by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant
    Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.