Outfit post: The care and feeding of a redhead

Let me share a wee little secret: I am not a natural redhead. (SHOCKING, I realize. And, in other news, water is wet.) My natural hair color falls somewhere between dishwater brown and Betty White's. I started going gray around my senior year of high school, when my heartthrob crush (we'll call him Marc) loudly and rather emphatically drew my attention to a thick gray hair peeking out from my angled bob. I was mortified, and spent the remainder of my high school career hiding from him and begging my mom for permission to color my hair.

My adventures as a redhead began in 1994, when I plunked down $7 of babysitting money for a box of Nice and Easy haircolor in natural light auburn. Yes, there were numerous mishaps in those early days of at-home hair color: stained fingers; a month of purplish-burgundy hair after accidentally leaving the color on longer than instructed; dye drips down the back of my neck; and an unfortunate attempt at coloring my eyebrows. I could describe these in further detail, but I prefer to leave them in the past. Because they're mortifying.

Eventually I got the hang of at-home color, and began to look forward to the nights I colored my hair. And I learned a few things about being a redhead:
 

  • As a redhead, men will like you. A lot. Probably because they fall victim to the cultural myth that redheads are fiery and saucy and highly sexed. Jonathon Swift satirized (and popularized) this redhead stereotype back in 1726, in the third chapter of Gulliver's Travels, when he wrote: "It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity." Over time, you'll become proficient at ignoring (or telling off) the leeches who proclaim their love for your red hair.
  • Everyone - and I mean everyone - will ask you if your hair is "natural." No matter whether your red hair is from a box or gifted from God. It's kind of like being pregnant with twins, and strangers question whether fertility drugs were the cause.
  • Red hair color fades really quickly, and you'll be forced to become an expert on shampooing and styling techniques to prevent fade. For example, I only wash my hair every other day, and rely on a color-depositing shampoo like Bumble and Bumble's Color Support Shampoo in True Red. Devotees of red hair color should avoid frequent heat styling and chlorine, and shampoo with cool water.
  • Finding the right shade of red hair color can be tricky. A very subtle red may not be noticeable in dark hair or against darker skin, while a brighter shade may stand out too much on those with fair skin. It's a good idea to try a temporary washout color treatment in the experimental stages. If you don't like the color, a few rinses in the shower should wash out the color.  

I absolutely love being a redhead. It suits my outgoing, extroverted personality and makes me feel a bit more unique. Some say blondes have more fun, but I beg to differ. In a world where blonde is the norm (and especially here in North Dallas) vibrant red heads stand out in the crowd. 

Would you ever consider going red? Or are you a redhead already? Do you have any tips for preventing color fade? 


Anthropologie tank; Gap Outlet cargos; Stuart Weitzman wedges; Forever 21 necklaces; Forever 21 bracelets; TIKKR watch






16 comments:

  1. First off I LOVE that tank and I may need it in my life.

    I dyed my hair red for years but eventually got tired of the upkeep. Then I went hot pink and orange (just streaks) which was fun but also a lot of work and I washed my hair as little as possible, probably 2-3 a week. I eventually realized that rather than low maintenance I am a no maintenance type of girl so I don't dye my hair anymore but I sure had fun when I did.

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  2. As a natural redhead who fights the grey....I have a question for you! Do you still do your color at home? The color you have now if fairly close to mine....I get so nervous to tackle the at home color of red and find myself getting it colored professionally every other month....

    your expertise wisdom in this situation is greatly appreciated!

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  3. Love red hair on you! So gorgeous and really suits you. This outfit is great, too!

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  4. I love red hair! I've been a redhead a couple of times over the years. I've been really thinking about it for this spring and summer, but the maintenance and the price has been keeping me away, as I want to get it done professionally this time around. I love your shade of red. So pretty on you!

    www.casualchickiki.com

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  5. Thanks for all the compliments! I do color my hair at home, mostly because I'm cheap and would rather spend my money on clothes. I use Loreal Preference in intense red copper. It does a great job at covering my grays and applies really easily. Also, an FYI: Do not use Feria in any red shade - the color will stain your hands! Just my experience.

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  6. I went through a red phase, and I've been thinking of going back, but I hesitate due to all the reasons you listed - especially the quick fade. I always opted for a violety red, but red or no, my hair will ALWAYS be a dye job. Mother Nature gave me the most unfortunate shade of ashy blaahhnde, there's just no way around it. Excellent tips for keeping color vibrant, Elissa. Exactly the advice I used to give in my hairdressing days.

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  7. My red hair started when I was in my early 20's because I just hated my ashy brown hair. I loved being a red head. It set me apart, showed that I was a little different and creative. Or at least that was my perception of my self when I was a red hed. Then I had my babies and stopped coloring. My husband prefered my natural color so I kept it that way for years. Then decided to go red again. But this time, being a mom of two, driving a mini-van and living in the middle class suburbs, I no longer "felt" like a red head. It was a very sad revelation for me. So then covering grey started to become an issue so I started using a brown dye with a hint of red. The best of both worlds. But as of now, I have decided that I am no longer content with trying to fit into the stereotypical suburban mom but instead of going red again, I am embracing my hippie roots along with my grey roots and am letting it just go grey naturally and I am loving it. It is still different, tells people who I am but with no montly dying. I can't wait until all the dye has grown out and I can have long wild grey hair!

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  8. I have never been completely red, but sometime within the next year I will be going completely red. I put it on my 30 Before 30 list so I have to do it. Really nervous about it! Thanks for the great tips! I will have to remember these for later.

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  9. Girl, I just sort of morphed back into red from really dark almost black hair and I feel the pain of the quick fade for reals. I used to have to wait for the black to grow out, it lasted so long. This is hard. Luckily my hair is so short that I have to go in for touch-ups anyway, but it's kind of $$$ to get dyed all the time. Box colors scare me. Which do you use?

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  10. just went from platinum blonde to red.....of course if you try to identify me by hair color you'll never keep up:) i love red and your advice is awesome. I tell my 3 red-headed sisters that i am just trying to steal some of their natural beauty.

    however, i also love to swim--like everyday in the summer--so i usually red as a transition from light to dark because of the price and upkeep issues. so, until then..your hair is one my favorite things about you, too. and here is to those of us with what i term "poopy brown" hair:)

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  11. Preventing colour fade? Henna. I too have been all kinds and brands of red during my life (and other colours too) but now that I'm henna'ing I love it. Dark rich red; does NOT fade; roots seem to blend rather than being sharp; non-chemical. Not for those who want to switch colours every month, as it cannot take chemical treatments on top-- but for longterm red? Yes. I use the acid release method and body-art quality henna. (Way more effective than the hot-water hennas I tried as a teen.)

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  12. My mother is a natural born redhead and she has tried to convince me to go red as my hair has greyed. I'm afraid to do it myself for all the reasons you list. Henna possibly.

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  13. I'm not really interested in becoming a redhead, but this post cracked me up!! You look fabulous as a redhead, girl!! FABULOUS! I actually have natural red in my hair and sunshine brings it out a lot. It's pretty light for a black woman. And come summer I will have red and brown streaks everywhere!! I like it! :)

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  14. yes, I am a natural redhead! Some people are more likely to say strawberry blonde....but I am more red than blond. The color has faded as I get older...or is it graying???? I agree,it's tricky to get the right color when you do it yourself,but since it does fade fast that is too expensive. I have even figured out (sorta) how to add lowlights :-) I like the depth it adds. You are so cute as a redhead! and I do love that top!

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  15. I went red in February using henna and haven't experience any of the fading issues I've heard about redheads experience using box colors. I used to dye my hair all the time chemically to a light blonde, one to lighten up my dark blonde and two to cover the grays which started when I hit 30. I love your color, it's about the same as mine is now. I'm more interested in perusing your site to figure out what colors of clothing to wear with it.

    You are so right about everyone asking if it's natural, my grandmother was a redhead so I tell everyone I got it from her!

    Love the site! Your thrifting posts are great!!

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