A Lesson in Going Red

One London model with punked-out, fiery hair has us wanting to try the irreverent shade ourselves. Here's everything you need to know to get and maintain this cool, fall-ready color.

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The Inspiration: London Fashion Week

Although pink—by way of model Fernanda Ly—and platinum blonde were staples on the runway last month, it was hard to ignore one model's Kool-Aid red hair at the spring 2017 Fun Affair show. The bright, offbeat shade added even more aesthetic dimension to the model's blunt bangs, dark roots, and shaved sideburns. But it's a color that can be pulled off with any hair length, provided it's paired with a monochrome outfit and minimal to no makeup—yes, the color makes that much of a statement.

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The fiery hair was the perfect accent to a simple white and blue color palette on the Fun Affair runway. Photograph courtesy of Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

But this isn't the only red out there! Here's how to get the best rouge for your hair, and keep it vibrant all season long.

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Before: Find Your Perfect Red

Avoid bringing a photo of a model or actor with a shade of red you like with you to the salon. Internet inspiration can be a helpful first step, but you'll need to tailor your red to what looks best against your skin and eyes for a more flattering look.

A deep shade of red plays off a model's dark red lip backstage at the Mary Katrantzou fall 2016 show in London. Photograph courtesy of Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

"When choosing the right red, it's important to consider a few things: your natural hair color, skin tone, and the colors of your eyes and eyebrows," says Elisabeth Lovell, the owner and color director of Whiteroom salon in Brooklyn. "It's best to work with the qualities your hair naturally has, and use them to create the perfect shade for you."

The Expert's Guide to Choosing the Right Shade

A red mixed with orange complements a lighter complexion, as seen here backstage at the Moncler Gamme Rouge spring 2017 show in Paris. Photograph courtesy of Antonello Trio/Getty Images

For darker hair: "If you're a very dark brunette, a red tone that is a deeper auburn will probably best suit you, especially if you have an olive complexion."

For lighter hair: "If you have naturally lighter hair, try something that has tones of copper, strawberry, or bright orange, especially if you have paler skin with lighter eyebrows."

For the in-between shades: "If you are somewhere between a blonde and a brunette, and not quite as fair skinned, then a true red—something that falls between copper and auburn, has a little more vibrancy, and lands in the midpoint between cool and warm—might be best for you."

Before: Prep Your Strands

Elisabeth Lovell starts to apply color to a client's hair. Photograph courtesy of Whiteroom

As with any trip to the salon for a new color, make sure your hair is in tip-top shape before the dye is applied. "Red can be very finicky and how the resulting pigment looks can have a lot to do with the condition of your hair," Lovell says. "If your ends feel dry, get a trim or cut, especially if you haven't gotten a snip in a while."

Also, make sure your hair is well-hydrated and strong, as the color will hold longer and look more vibrant on well-moisturized strands. Not having dried-out hair is especially important if you're taking a chance on that punk, Kool-Aid red, as you'll need to get your hair bleached first so the shade can appear brighter.

After: Be Obsessive With Hair Care

Anytime you dye your hair, it's important to choose your products wisely.

First of all, keep your salon visits consistent. "Red can be very challenging for a colorist," Lovell says. "Your roots can come in quickly, so you want to be sure you're seeing the right stylist and often."

You'll need to invest in an arsenal of different products, too, designed to protect your hair and its new shade. "Avoid shampoos that use harsh detergents, such as sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates, and always use something color-safe," Lovell says. "You can also forgo shampoo and use a cleansing conditioner." Wait a couple of days after your appointment to shampoo.

"A color support conditioner will keep your ends vibrant, and they can be used quickly in the shower," Lovell says. "Color conditioners can also be applied to towel-dried hair and left on for 20 or more minutes to achieve maximum color deposit."

After: Get the Right Products

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