This girl is on fire – why red is the hottest hue for now

A fiery red tone could be exactly what you need to beat the pandemic blues

If you’ve caught Scarlett Johansson in Marvel’s Black Widow, we’re betting you’ll have been struck by that burnished tone she’s sporting on her locks (alongside the jaw-dropping stunts and action, naturally). Well, you wouldn’t be the only one: according to the website Justmylook, there has been a 163 per cent spike in demand for red hair colour since the movie came out.

In all its glorious iterations, from copper to scarlet, red is set to be a key colour as the weather cools. Tying in perfectly with the warm, earthy and autumnal tones we’re seeing in fashion, while providing the perfect pop of contrast against your summery white T-shirts and floral dresses, red is so versatile and about to become a very Big Deal in hair.

Way back in February 2020 colour king himself Josh Wood foresaw red’s power. He and his team created ‘hi-vis’ red locks on the models for Alexander McQueen’s AW20 show. It was certainly a strong colour, but not over-powering. Think of red hair as that leather jacket or killer heel to elevate and complete your look.

Image source: @guidopalau

“Following lockdown I’ve noticed more clients have been open to change! Many clients request a more bronzed effect to their colours, so blondes are open to copper/golden tones and brunettes more red/auburn,” says Katie Allan, founder of MAYFIVE Hair in London.

Jason Hogan, advocate colourist at Josh Wood Atelier in London, agrees, pointing also to the ravishing reds sported by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Dua Lipa. But how to find the shade for you?

“From a professional point of view, reds would usually fall into two categories – warm and cool,” he explains. “However the true spectrum of red hair is vast and, like a fingerprint, unique and custom to an individual.” When choosing a red to suit your complexion it’s all in the veins:

  • If your veins are green then you have a warm skin tone. Think shades of cinnamon, copper and ruby.
  • If your veins are blue or purple then you have a cool skin tone. Berry, burgundy and crimson will work beautifully.
  • If you cannot tell the difference, it is very likely that you are neutral. Lucky you, you can flirt with both sides!

“Within these categories, if you have darker skin stick to deeper more saturated shades, and if you have light skin then softer, sheer shades will be more flattering,” Jason adds.

Once you’re ready to get all fired up, you’ll need to come up with a plan with your colourist to get you to your desired shade.

“When transitioning to red, it’s not dependant on whether your hair is currently black or blonde, it’s the desired end result,” Jason advises. “Black hair can transition to a rich auburn in a single process in salon – however if that black wants to be a pale strawberry/rose blonde, it is going to be a journey. Blondes going red can be tricky; getting that balance of pigment to make the colour look vibrant, but still respecting the clients natural features and not making it look so fake. Each has its own hurdles.”

Veronica Wysocka, a colourist with Jason at Josh Wood Atelier, stresses that clear communication on what you’re aiming to achieve is also important. “If you’re looking for something very specific make sure you show your hairdresser a lot of reference pictures,” she advises. “Instagram is the best course for all of the hair colours ideas. One person’s strawberry blonde is not the same as someone else’s, or Dua Lipa’s red that you like so much might look something completely different on you. Make sure you do a proper brainstorm with your colourist and see what your options are.”

Jason and Katie both highlight the importance of both homecare and quick top ups between appointments to keep your hair looking vibrant rather than smouldering ashes. “Reds are notoriously fickle by nature and fade or lose vibrancy quickly, they need to be glossed regularly to keep it fresh and the tone in check. Clients should realistically be in the salon every four weeks for little tweaks,” says Jason.

“Most of the colours required are achieved with using toners. My top tip for maintaining the longevity of these colours is to use sulphate-free shampoo. There are many shampoos available that are specific to certain hair colours to help add a glow and maintain your desired shade,” Katie adds.  “My main tip that many people often forget, is to rinse hair in cool water rather than piping hot or warm water. Warm water will open the cuticle and let colour molecules escape!”

There you have it – are you ready to trial red hair, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes? You can book in with Katie at MAYFIVE here, and Jason and Veronica at Josh Wood Atelier here.