That Elusive Red

As most of you know, after more than a decade of wearing my hair long and dark brown, I finally bit the bullet and added some coppery red highlights to my hair last December. Inside, I’ve wanted to be a redhead for a while, and given that my mom is a hairdresser, you’d think I would’ve changed it up a long time ago.

But this is the funny part:  I also really love being a dramatically-dark brunette. I didn’t change my color for so long because it not only worked with all colors of clothing and makeup, but also because I thoroughly enjoyed how low maintenance my single-process color was. 

That said, I finally felt like I needed a little change, and hey, I’m not getting any younger. At the minimum, it was time to take my base color up a shade or two. So why not do something a little more daring, like pick RED…THE HARDEST COLOR TO MAINTAIN.

Of course.

Left: Fresh, new, beautiful red highlights. Right: After my first root/color touch-up.
Left: My new red highlights. Right: After my first root/color touch-up.
Please forgive the selfies; I never have a willing photographer.


But OH MY GAH, I love it! And I really do get compliments on it all the time. And now all I do is worry about it all the time. No exaggeration.

Although only a third of my hair is highlighted red (baby steps to big red one day), I’ve already joined that never-won battle all the bottle-redheads in the world wage day in, day out: The fight against the fade. 

When it comes to maintaining red hair and you’re not a natural redhead, these are your choices:

  1. Get the exact shade of red you want at the salon, and leave with rich, stunning and perfect red hair. Don’t wash it for like five days, praying not to see any red on your towel after you do. Those are wasted prayers, honey; it’s all futile. Within two weeks, your perfect color is at least three shades lighter.
  2. Or, when you visit the salon, you pick a red that’s a little too much—too bright or too cherry or too whatever—so that when it does fade, it is kind of the color you really wanted, for a little longer. Don’t wash it for like five days, praying not to see any red on your towel after you do. You know how that story ends.
  3. Try every color-enhancing/preserving/depositing product on the market.
  4. Wear a hat or a headscarf if you’re going to be in the sun longer than five minutes.

I am now acutely aware of how precious red hair is, how difficult it is, how expensive it is, and I’m not even Taylor Tomasi Hill red. Yet.

I’ve been testing a number of products over the last few months, and for my redheaded readers, I have a future post planned on what worked and what didn’t.

In the meantime, I want to know: What products, strategies, or practices do you employ to preserve your precious hair color?


The Author



V is the founding editor of GRIT & GLAMOUR, a professional content developer by day, and a die-hard Southerner. When she's not writing or trolling Instagram, she's spending time with her other loves: her Aussie husband and dog Macy.

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  1. April 17, 2014 at 8:27 am — Reply

    OMG Vahni you look ah-mazing!! That color looks fantastic on you. I’m getting bit by the hair coloring bug myself. 😉

    • April 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm — Reply

      Thanks sweetie!

  2. April 17, 2014 at 11:11 am — Reply

    I love that you went red! And I think it looks great. I do home you go full blown TTH – her hair is amazing and I think you could pull it off!

    I wish I could do something fun (although, I don’t think red would work with my skin tones). For several years (when I was younger) I went blond– and it worked (It was an ashier blond), but the maintaining it was killer. Not something I am able to do right now— but who knows what the future will bring!

    • April 17, 2014 at 12:07 pm — Reply

      Thanks, Alexis! Yeah, upkeep isn’t much fun. But my hubby also really loves the new color, so I guess it’s here to stay!

      By the way, I thought your (OCD) packing post was great. The spreadsheet idea is brilliant. I have a move coming up shortly, but fortunately, it’s pretty simple and nothing will remain in boxes. But if they ever do, I will totally be doing what you suggested!

  3. Erica C.
    April 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm — Reply

    You look gorgeous as usual. I haven’t colored my hair in a while. Since I hit the big 40 I’m liking the grey that’s coming in at a rapid pace.

    • April 19, 2014 at 10:48 am — Reply

      Thank you, Erica! Good that you are liking your grey. How I wish I could like mine.

  4. April 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm — Reply

    I get the same type of highlights and boy, do I love them when I first get them. I like Pureology’s shampoo & conditioner — it does seem to help the red fading a bit. But, it’s all gone to hell in 3.5 weeks, it seems!

    Ironically, after years of doing some red highlights, I think I want to go to a darker brown [like your previous locks!]. My hair is a medium to dark brown to begin with.

    • April 19, 2014 at 10:49 am — Reply

      Hi Stephanie,

      Yes, Pureology is good…I recently discovered it and will feature it in an upcoming post. Can’t blame you if you decide to go back to brown…the highlights are a ton of upkeep.

  5. Lee Anne
    April 18, 2014 at 10:17 am — Reply

    Hi Vahni. I love your hair with red highlights – very striking. One product you might check into is the Keune color line. My hairdresser and salon owner is a redhead and she searched for years trying to find the one product that doesn’t fade for those of us who like to sport a shade of red. She finally landed on the Keune product line and has been using it ever since. I’ve even received compliments on the color of my hair and it was usually right about the time I was due for a touch-up; I was no longer getting the faded brassy look indicating it was time for fresh color. I know your mother is a hairdresser but if you ever want to try the product I’ll be happy to give you my salon owner’s contact information and you can give it a go. Take care.

    • April 19, 2014 at 10:50 am — Reply

      Hey Lee Anne! Good to hear from you. Hope you are well!

      Thanks for your sweet words and the tip. Will definitely check that line out.

    • April 22, 2014 at 11:11 am — Reply

      Lee Anne, I checked out Keune online. Sorry to discover products contain methylisothiazolinone, so I can’t use them. I wish I could say I’m surprised by it, but I’m not. Methylisothiazolinoneis in bloody everything now!

      • Lee Anne
        April 22, 2014 at 11:17 am — Reply

        That’s a shame to hear. I had never heard of that ingredient before you mentioned it in your post, much less that people can be allergic to it. Sorry Keune won’t work out for you, but I’ll keep my eyes and ears open and let you know if I hear of anything that might work for you.

  6. A Brit Greek
    April 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    Καλό Πάσχα και καλή Ανάσταση!
    Wowsers, I am totally loving the red locks Vahni! Yup, I’ve also been there and prolonging the colour is not easy. Have fun being a redhead love.

    • April 22, 2014 at 9:51 am — Reply

      Hi hon! Xristos Anesti! Hope you are well. Thanks for your sweet words!

  7. April 21, 2014 at 3:05 am — Reply

    I think the red colour looks great on you! My natural hair colour is actually auburn, but I dye it almost black most times, Shh! Yes, it’s certainly nice to have a hairdresser in the family. I hope you’re enjoying your spring so far V! 🙂

    • April 22, 2014 at 9:49 am — Reply

      Thanks, Madison. Yes, I am enjoying spring and hope you are too!

  8. April 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    Hi Vahni,

    Your red highlights look so pretty on you.

    I really enjoy using Wen hair cleanser in Fig and Wen cleanser 6 13 and my hair color last so long. I really like Garnier Nutrisse hair coloring.

    • April 30, 2014 at 10:05 am — Reply

      Thanks, JT! Hope you are well!

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