I Love Red Hair on Other People, But I’m Not Sure It’s Right for Me

It's my dream hair color... until it's actually on my head.
Publish date:
May 13, 2016
hair color, red hair

Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Ariel, Jessica Rabbit, Anastasia, Ginny Weasley... I grew up loving adorable, feisty redheads, so it's no wonder that even as an adult, I still consider red to be the best hair color. (Although now my red-haired idols are more along the lines of, say, Florence Welch and Chloe Howl rather than fictional characters.) Unfortunately, I've never been able to really claim red hair for myself.

I've tried half-heartedly over the years. When I transitioned back to brunette from blonde a few years ago, I had an awkward period of not-quite-brown, not-quite-red hair.

I distinctly remember my sister telling me that I needed to do something about this weird color, so I eventually dyed it black. That was way, way worse — please, never let me dye my hair black again, everyone.

Then when I went back to blonde last fall, I found myself in that in-between phase of bright orange hair that happens whenever you bleach dark hair. I took advantage of it and did this Annie Lennox tutorial for Halloween.

There was a lot of coconut oil in my hair at that time, as you can see above, because I was getting ready to continue with the bleaching process. I only kept the bright orange hair for a day. I didn't consider keeping it longer because why would I? It obviously looked terrible.

And yet here I am now with a very similar shade on top of my head. On purpose.

I finally did it. I went full-on red. I was getting tired of pastel colors and I've always secretly wanted to be a redhead, so I decided to really go for it this time.

The problem is, red is a really difficult color to get right. There's so many different shades of red, and it's important to pick the right one for you.

I ended up spending at least an hour in Sally Beauty Supply, looking up various hair dye shades on my phone before I ended up taking home Ion Color Brilliance Demi Permanent Creme Hair Color in Dark Copper Blonde. It came out much darker and more orange than I was expecting (although I was pleased to see that it did give a decent red tint to my dark brown undercut as well).

It's probably too soon to say if I like this new hair color or not. Although I can usually decide right away if I like how a certain hairstyle or color looks on me, I still think it's important to always give your brain some time to process a new look before condemning it. And I am definitely still processing this hair color.

At first I didn't like it, but now I'm having fun with it.

Will I ever go back to red hair again after this, however? (This latest shade was always going to be temporary since I have different plans for my hair this summer.) I'm not sure. A part of me wants to be practical and swear off red hair forever because as much as I love it on other people, it never feels quite right for me. Maybe it's because warm tones don't work with my complexion, or maybe I just haven't found the right shade of red yet.

Deep down inside, if I'm honest with myself, I know I'm going to go back to red again one day in the future — probably more than once. It may not be my most flattering color, but I'm realizing as I get older that it feels very freeing to not make every decision based on what would be most flattering or most conventionally attractive. And like I said, there's so many different shades of red; I bet it would be fun to try a different shade of red every year, and maybe I'll find one that works perfectly for me.

For now, I'm just going to enjoy the hell out of this crazy shade of "burnt orange" (my mom's words, said with mild confusion) for a few weeks before I move on. Maybe I'll get used to how it looks on me, maybe I won't — but either way, I'm glad I really went for it this time. Life is too short to deny yourself the chance to have your dream hair, right?

  • With that said, what's your dream hair color?
  • Have you managed to achieve your dream hair color, or is it not in the cards for some reason?