I Just Got the Hottest Hair Color of 2024. Here's How I Keep It From Fading

Paint the town red

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Red hair continues to dominate the beauty world. Whether you’re into “Black Cherry,” “Cherry Cola” or “Cowboy Copper,” the primary hue was easily one of the most popular hair colors last year and it’s poised to maintain its relevance in 2024. In fact, we recently dabbled in the hottest hair color ourselves. Knowing that the shade is notorious for fading fast, we tapped a hair colorist to share her best tips on how to maintain red hair at home. 

Meet the Expert

Shvonne Perkins is a master colorist and manager of training for Madison Reed. She has 17 years of experience in the industry, specializing in color services and educating future stylists on innovative techniques. Previously, she worked as a stylist in San Francisco, California for over a decade.

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1. Consider Adding More Copper

We’ve established that red shades tend to fade quickly, but adding more copper into the mix can help prevent this. As Perkins explains, “Many people tend to add purer reds (like fire engine red) pigment [into their mixtures]. But actually, golden and copper orange tones are what will prevent the overall color from fading and looking dull.” 

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2. Avoid Over-Processing Hair

Another way to prevent color from fading quickly (and reduce the chance of breakage) is to stop over-coloring your strands. “A lot of people make the mistake of applying permanent red color from roots to ends every time they dye their hair, which can make locks overly porous and quicker to fade out,” says Perkins. “Instead, only use permanent color on the roots and a color reviving gloss on the mid-length and ends.” 

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3. Use Sulfate-Free Shampoos

Whether you have red hair or not, a sulfate-free shampoo is a great way to cleanse your locks without stripping away your color. It can also help strengthen strands, improve shine and add moisture back to your hair. Once you massage the shampoo into your scalp, Perkins suggests using cool water to rinse it out. “While it’s not comfortable to do in the shower, using room temperature to cool water is much gentler on your hair. The cuticle layer of the hair stays more protected when water isn’t super hot,” she says. 

how to maintain red hair a photo of a woman getting her hair wash in the salon
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4. Try a Deep Conditioner

Aside from shampoo, consider adding a deep conditioner into your lineup, which can help soften hair, minimize frizz, improve texture and so much more. When shopping for a deep conditioner, Perkins suggests looking for key ingredients that can help maintain red hair. “A deep conditioning treatment that has amino acids, antioxidants and a very low pH can seal the cortex and cuticle of hair to keep color in place longer,” she says. You’ll want to deep condition hair at least once a week or bi-weekly for best results. 

how to maintain red hair brushing hair
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5. Stop Brushing Too Roughly

Have frizzy hair? According to Perkins, your brush might be to blame. “Most people don’t think brushing has anything to do with their hair color, but it can rough up the cuticle and allow color to escape and rinse out more easily from hair,” she says. To combat this issue, Perkins suggests detangling damp hair, starting from your ends and gently working your way up with a flexible bristle brush or a detangling brush designed for wet locks. And if you are going to brush dry hair, consider using a boar bristle brush (or one that has a mix of plastic and boar) to avoid damaging strands and causing more tangles.

how to maintain red hair a woman with her hair wrapped in a towel
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6. Wrap Hair in a Microfiber Towel

Towel drying can also cause friction and frizz up your red mane. Perkins suggests a microfiber towel, which can “dry hair quickly without causing frizz and roughing up the hair, so you can really keep color in place over time.” A great option that our experts and editors love? The Aquis hair turban that dries hair 50 percent faster than a regular towel, while reducing frizz, flyaways and damage over time. 

how to maintain red hair a woman outside in the sun
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7. Don't Forget Sun Protection

We don’t have to remind you how important SPF is for your skin, but do you know that it’s crucial for your scalp and hair, too? As Perkin explains, adding sun protection is a great way to maintain your red hair. She suggests applying a hair serum packed with black spruce, as the key ingredient is known to protect strands against UV rays and other environmental aggressors. “Black spruce acts as a natural sunscreen for the hair and offers a great low-maintenance way to protect your hair when you’re going to be in the sun all day,” she shares. Other protective ingredients to look out for includes avobenzone, homosalate and octisalate, as well as vitamins A and E. Some of our favorite products that include these ingredients are Sun Bum Sunscreen Scalp Spray ($17), Coola Scalp & Hair Mist ($28) and Rita Hazan Lock Block Protective Spray ($26). 

Now that you have some tips to maintain your red mane, here are a few more things to keep in mind. 

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How Do You Keep Red Hair from Fading Quickly?

The key here is hair gloss. Perkin suggests doing a gloss every four to six weeks to keep your hair color looking fresh. The treatment can also help neutralize brassiness, improve shine and add warmth. She also recommends a red color depositing mask (like Madison Reed’s) and a shampoo/conditioner combo that caters to red locks. 

Why Is Red Hair Difficult to Maintain?

It's a matter of science. As Perkin explains, “Red hair fades faster than other colors due to its chemical build. Red and orange color molecules are a little bigger than other [shades] and tends to get pushed outside of the hair cortex before other pigments.” 

Is Getting Red Hair Worth It? 

As someone who has always wanted red hair, I say it’s definitely worth it. I have naturally dark hair, so I was curious to see if I could rock the trendy hue. I visited a Madison Reed salon, where I was able to go through the color process without bleaching my hair. As Perkin shares, the process can easily be achieved on dark hair by doing an all-over color or adding a copper (or red-toned) gloss over an existing color. 

My ends were previously colored a caramel blonde, so it was easy for the red shade to attach and show up nicely on my locks. I was left with an ombré effect, which I loved and have found to be easier to maintain at home. I’ve been rocking red hair for three weeks now, and while I see some of the dye swirling down the shower drain after every wash, I’ve been able to keep it vibrant, thanks to my new hair care regimen, which includes a color-safe shampoo, conditioner and a bond-building leave-in conditioner. So, if you’re on the fence about dying your hair red, let me be the first to say, go for it. With these tips, you’ll be able to keep your color from fading too quickly. 

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Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...