Red hair: A Complete Guide

Most of my formative years were spent bleaching the shit out of my hair, and then putting coconut oil on it, because I am from Byron Bay. OR applying Henna to make it brown, which is as weird as it sounds. Growing up as a red head in Australia, specifically in a beach side town, was pretty challenging –  the term Ranga, is not exactly a compliment. My ginger disposition also means tanning was/is near impossible, unless of course it is straight from the bottle so, as well as having “interesting” hair colour/s, I spent most of my teens with my naturally pale skin faux tanned a nice shade of Dorito.

Somewhere between growing up, leaving high school, spending time in Paris with cool French boys who didn’t have the localised idea of blonde-hair/blue eyed beauty, AND working in fashion (my red-head muse: Grace Coddington) I fortunately realized that being a red head, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Actually, it’s pretty fucking great. Wiki tells me that only 2% of the global population have naturally red hair, so I feel compelled to embrace it rather than mask it…

Currently, I am writing this from the chair at Anthony Nader’s RAW salon in Surry Hills, after enthusiastically telling colourist Stella Greenwood, ‘Let’s go redder’.  Below is a complete guide (Stella’s and mine) covering – consultation, choosing your colour, and maintenance – for all my fellow redheads and wannabe redheads.



I don’t like to do things by halves. In the same way I approached bleach, henna and fake tan with gusto growing up, I figure if red hair is going to be my thing, it is really going to be my thing. In the briefing phase, Stella and I discussed firing up my locks adding vibrancy while keeping the base as natural as possible.  My advice here: pick a salon/colourist you trust, spend a lot of time in consultation, consider your natural hair colour, eye colour and skin tone, and bring pictures so there is less margin for miscommunication, remember a picture speaks a 1000 words, and adjective is literally just one.



Picking the right red for you definitely depends on what base level your hair is. According to Stella, “If you’re blonde (or strawberry blonde), its super easy, we just use a lot of golds and coppers and that’s the best way to achieve a natural looking result.” And as close to natural as possible is best: “You wouldn’t pick up a really red colour and put it on a blonde because it will look unnatural. For brunettes, who already have a slight red pigment in their hair, I would recommend a warm chocolate brown tone with copper levels,” she says.



“If you have fair skin, you can go as rich as you like but adding a golden touch will help anything looking too harsh (or unnatural). If you have olive skin you can afford to go a bit richer because these tones will blend with your skin tone,” Stella says. When it comes to eye colour, this doesn’t make a huge impact on the colour you choose, however be prepared for a red colour service, to make any eye colour pop, even brown eyes.



Stella recommends using a colour-safe shampoo, or a shampoo that has has built-in copper and gold tones to help make colour last. To give roots a bit of a lift in between salon visits, DeLorenzo make a shampoo with warmer copper tones, it also works for natural redheads who want some vibrancy but don’t want to commit to colouring it. Also, she warns against over-washing your hair – recommending once or twice a week, tops: “I always say to my clients that having coloured hair is a bit like being sunburnt, you have to moisturise it all the time to protect it and make sure it fades properly.”

Photography: Brooke James


Written by: Ella Jane


Ella Jane’s hair colour by: Stella Greenwood at RAW by Anthony Nader.