Everything You Need to Know About Red Hair and Highlights

Everything You Need to Know About Red Hair and Highlights

It may seem like blondes have all the fun when it comes to highlights, but the truth is that redheads can turn heads too with the addition of warm, dimensional highlights. Hair across the spectrum of red, from burgundy hair color to chocolate cherry hair, looks even more luxurious and full with added hair highlights. The best part? You can keep your beloved base color and just add highlights, taking your hair to the next level while still keeping everything you love about your hair color. Ahead, we explain how natural redheads can highlight hair, plus how to add red and auburn highlights in brown hair. Get ready for the hair color compliments to start rolling in.


How to Highlight Hair for Natural Red-Heads

Highlights aren’t just for brunettes and blondes— even natural redheads can use highlights to add dimension and a bit more personality to their hair. Whether you have strawberry blonde or auburn hair, highlights can take your red hair to the next level. Highlights are also a simple way to mix up your hair color without dyeing the full head at once.


Natural redheads can opt for highlights just as easily as faux redheads. According to Patricia Slattery, Assistant Vice President of Hair Color Education, Training & Testing at L'Oreal, for natural redheads seeking highlights, “a bleach is your best bet to lighten your hair, and the key is to leave some warmth.” Slattery recommends choosing a highlight color with the end result “’warm’” or “golden” to create some harmony with your base color and add deliberate hair dimension. You can check for these end results by reading the product name or description on the box.


To find the best highlight color for your hair, first determine if you have naturally light or naturally dark hair. For naturally light hair — think ginger or strawberry blonde — Slattery recommends coloring highlights with Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme H2 – Golden Blonde. The Golden Blonde shade helps create subtle contrast and, of course, highlights in hair. Light red, golden highlights help provide a warm, sun kissed hair look that will brighten up your days in winter or get your hairstyle ready for a vacation in summer. Bonus: the hair color also contributes to gray coverage, so highlights can help if your gray hairs begin to peek out.


If you have naturally darker hair, or have previously colored your hair to a darker red, Slattery recommends choosing to highlight with Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme H3 – Warm Bronze. The Warm Bronze hair shade helps add dimension and rich warmth to the hair. Garnier Nutrisse’s after color conditioner is formulated with avocado, olive & shea oils so your hair will feel nourished in addition to providing hair color payoff.


Now that you’ve chosen your upgraded hair color, the next step is to actually touch dye to follicle. Slattery recommends “bigger, chunkier highlights if you have thick, coarse hair.” Since thicker hair tends to have more movement, wave, and even curl, thicker highlights create a more successful, full-bodied look. Keep in mind that, as Slattery points out, “if highlights are too small, they’ll just disappear.”


Opt for small to medium highlights if your hair is fine. Smaller highlights will also appear more successful on anyone with naturally straight hair — or people who don’t have much hair to work with.


Whether you’re applying thick or thin highlights, the dye should be applied on dried hair. Slattery suggests “making sure that any area of hair where you want highlights is completely saturated.” For thick hair types, she even recommends buying two boxes of dye to cover all those luxurious hair strands. (For fine hair, this can also help so you have an extra box on hand when you’re ready for a touch up!) For best result, Slattery advises to “leave on for the maximum amount of time.”


How to Add Warm or Red Highlights to Your Natural Hair Color

Not a natural redhead, but want to add warm dimension to your own hair? Brunettes and blondes can get red highlights for a stylish hair color.


Slattery’s watchword for adding red highlights is “baby steps.” She explains that “your eye needs to get used to seeing lighter, warmer pieces in the hair. If you go straight to red, it might be too big of a shift. If you love the hair color, you can amp it up to a redder shade for the next round.”


If your goal is to highlight your hair to bring in some reddish tones or warmth, Slattery suggests you “start with a golden shade.” Aside from being beautifully eye-catching, golden hair shades meld well with your hair’s natural undertones and help amplify warmth.


Just as with natural redheads, blondes and brunettes should consider their natural hair shade when choosing a highlight color. Slattery suggests choosing a highlight color that is two to three shades lighter and has a golden reflect. If your hair is naturally the same color as Garnier Olia 4.0, aka Dark Brown, Slattery recommends Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme Light Golden Brown 63 or Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme Dark Golden Blonde 73. Even though these are regular hair color kits, these can also be used to highlight hair. “Apply using your fingers, a clean mascara wand, a toothbrush, or a hair coloring brush,” says Slattery. “Apply however you want your highlights, from ombre, to face framing highlighted strands, to a full head that covers all throughout your hair. Your result will be a rich honey or bronze hair shade.”


Regardless of the shade you choose, we have a feeling that the first time you highlight your hair won’t be your last. The freedom of adding a favorite shade atop a color you already adore is a great way to spice up your hair color. With hair color that makes the process simple and leaves hair looking gorgeous as a result, what’s not to love?