The Pro Guide To Make Red Highlights Work On Every Color

We’re down to bleach our hair to oblivion, or try coffee-colored balayage, but red hair — strawberry blonde, rusty copper, blazing auburn, and the like — has long been considered a color category reserved for the 2% of the population born with it. But as it turns out, those warm, red shades we’re currently craving are totally achievable on every hair color. The trick is knowing what to ask for at the salon.

“Red-tinged highlights add dimension and tonality to the hair,” explains colorist Stephanie Brown. “No matter your natural shade, it looks gorgeous when you infuse, or lift up, those red undertones.” Plus, vibrant orange-red color works to instantly brighten up many skin tones, which is perfect for minimalists who feel too groggy to dab on highlighter in the morning.

Ahead, we’ve compiled your guide to going red, inspired by some of the best red looks we’ve seen on your favorite celebs. Plus, we’ve sussed out the best advice from the pros on how to take your hair — be it jet black or mousy brown — to a vivacious red that will have people asking, “Is that your natural color?”

If you have auburn hair…

Wedding Crashers gave us more than just an early crush on Bradley Cooper, it left us with a lasting obsession with Isla Fisher’s auburn hair. If your hair is a similar shade of red brown, or even auburn-adjacent, you can add a super-soft strawberry blonde highlight around the face, which celebrity stylist Andrew Fitzsimons tells us will add a little more contrast between the red shades to really make it pop.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images.

Jessica Chastian’s soft red color is a bit lighter and more orange in tone compared to Fisher’s. “When highlighting red hair you want to keep the orangey tones in the color,” hair pro and resident redhead herself, Kristin Ess tells us. “A natural balayage technique will always look more natural than a foil highlight — plus the grow-out process is very low-maintenance.”

Photo: Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic.

If you have black or dark brown hair…

Colorist Anthony Holguin tells us that the trick to adding a warm highlight over dark hair is to ask for a light, caramel brown with red undertones like Karrueche Tran did here.

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.

“Hair lifts in stages, meaning warm highlights can show orange, yellow, or bright white,” Holguin explains. “To achieve a red tint on black hair, your colorist should use a blend of yellow and pale yellow color.” This will give the color an auburn-y richness without it looking fake or brassy, like Jourdan Dunn shows off here.

Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage.

RiRi has taken her hair blazing red before — and it was fresh — but we can’t discount her soft, copper balayage color, circa 2013.

Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images.

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