A Fake Redhead's Guide To Fake Red Hair Maintenance

A few tips and tricks I've learned along my ginger path.
Publish date:
November 12, 2013
hair, hair dye, DIY, redheads, gingers

I've been a fake redhead since I was 17. The drastic color change brought loads of new feelings into my life and I haven't been able to switch palettes since.

Red hair has become synonymous with me -- you know how in reality TV, everybody has one characteristic? Mine would be Red Hair and Glasses.

And while I'll never go back to mousy brown color again, I have been debating switching over to the blonde. But right now, I'm sticking with fake ging. And I've learned quite a bit about maintaining and working with all sorts of different shades and colors during my three-year tenure. Allow me to explain.

Living With & Loving The Inevitable Fade

Maintaining truly ginger-esque hair is a hassle because the color fades faster than any other. I used to let my red/auburn hair fade out over a period of around five weeks. It was lighter and more orange ginger than red ginger -- people told me it looked super natural!

I actually liked the faded orange-y color more than the red. If you, too, want a quick fade after you've dyed your hair too bright or just like it that way, try Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo. It's a great color stripper and smells like babies would. I just want to smell like your babies, OK?!

The Perfect Cherry Red

I've never managed to get perfectly cherry, cherry hair, but I did my best. Like I said, red fades the most and the fastest of all dyed colors, so keeping vibrant hair going can be a struggle. I've managed to stretch my brightness out for several months at a time (not counting my roots, which are super slow-growing).

Keep in mind, though, that after three years as a redhead and constant dyes and touch-ups, my hair is completely soaked in red. Anyway. Ice Cream by Ineybra is the best drugstore brand for hair coloring stuff. I never buy fancy hair stuff at Sephora or salons, but I should start, because I want to amp up the softness in my hair.

Inebrya's Ice Cream Kromask in Cherry Red is amazing for maintaining vibrant red -- slather it onto freshly washed & towel-dried hair, leave it for about 5-10 minutes, and then wash out. Please wear gloves! This is basically cream dye and it will seep into your skin and you will have horrible red rash hands for a week if you don't. TRUST ME. I would do it about once or twice a week.

Another way I keep my color is by throwing a dab of the mask into my shampoo (currently using Vidal Sassoon's color protection shampoo) and conditioner (currently using dollar store Herbal Essences. Shut up). That way, I don't have to go through the hassle of doing the mask, and I still get the color-amplifying benefits.

So You Want Plum?

Whenever I use John Frida's Precision Foam (3VR, "Deep Cherry Brown") dye, I end up getting a very dark, purple-y color that ends up fading to red/reddish purple over time.

I've found that I actually kind of enjoy the plum shades, so here's how to play it up: First, get an actual plum dye if you want a more concrete color instead of a messy fade. To keep my hair bright and colorful and different, I throw a couple dabs of Hot Hot Pink Manic Panic into my shampoo. It gives it some depth.

The Resting State: Auburn

Most of the time my hair is somewhere between cherry red and auburn -- brighter than most natural redheads, but not blood-red enough to be Cat Valentine [ed note from Abby: For non-youngs like me, Cat Valentine is the red-headed character Ariana Grande plays on "Victorious." I had to Google it. Though I proudly (?) knew who Ariana was.]

During these phases my upkeep is much the same as I mentioned earlier, except I don't actually use the Ice Cream hair mask. I just add a few globs of pink/red dye in my shampoo to lightly brighten the color without overpowering it with SUPER RED.

The dye I use most often is Nice n' Easy 6R. It provides good coverage, a nice color and an easy fade into ginger. However, I've tried others in my quest for the "Perfect Red" and most have disappointed me. The John Frieda dye I've mentioned is really good for dark color, but it fades relatively easily without constant care and upkeep. I'm really excited about the new L'Oreal mousse dye -- it comes in a reusable container so you can touch up your roots, and the colors available are pretty fabulous.

The photos you see are of my current red color, which hasn't been touched up in two months. The first month I used my pink-infused shampoo and lately I've been using the Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo in an attempt to strip out the color to make bleaching easier.

Don't judge me -- I'm lazy and broke! Although, I'm rethinking it a little now -- kinda want the plum back.

I love my red hair. Like my glasses, I've had red hair for long enough that I don't know who I am without it. But a part of me is always longing for change. Maybe it's because I get jittery sitting still for too long, or because I can sometimes be a huge commitment-phobe. Or maybe it's because when the going gets tough, I run away and download music from 2006 and do stupid things to my hair.

What do you guys think? Should I go blonde or stay red? Are you a fake red too? How do you keep up your color?