Throughout life, it’s common to see our red hair change shades. For blondes and brunettes, this change often comes in the form of white or grey hairs appearing at the root. For natural redheads, the change can be a little bit different. You may notice white or grey hairs popping through, but the most common change comes in the vibrancy of red hair usually referred to as “fading”. Deep auburn reds might fade to a strawberry blonde. Strawberry blondes might completely turn blonde.
What causes this fading of the natural red hair? Let’s get into it:
1. Simply put: natural red hair fades with age
Our H2BAR co-founders, Stephanie and Adrienne, were quoted on this very topic in a 2020 Huffington Post article. Also, in the article came some information from Carlina Ortega of Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. Ortega explained that “natural redheads and blondes are born with hair whose cells produce a pigment called pheomelanin. As we age, we produce more eumelanin, which leads to hair darkening.“
Stephanie experienced this herself. She told the Huffington Post, “When I hit my mid-20s, I noticed my red hair was becoming dark and brassy. I started having strangers ask me if my hair was red or brown. It made me SO upset. I wanted to scream, ‘I am a redhead!’”
The loss of pheomelanin isn’t the only thing to blame for fading red hair as we age. Later in life, most redheads go through something called Achromotrichia. This is when the hair follicles stop producing pigment while on the way to white or grey. This can cause the hair to have an overall lighter copper look or even a warm blonde appearance.
2. Sun exposure can contribute to fading red hair
Another thing that can impact the vibrancy of natural red hair is too much sun exposure. The UV rays produced by the sun can permanently damage our hair follicles, just like they damage our skin. If you’re in the sun a lot without your hair covered or protected, it may lead to fading and loss of vibrancy. This can be combated by covering the hair with a hat or using hair sunscreen.
3. Dyed red hair fades easily too
For redheads ‘by choice’, or redheads who are touching up their fading natural red hair, you have to worry about fading as well, but for different reasons. Dyed red hair fades the fastest of any color, so more frequent touch-ups are necessary. However, you can help to minimize fading by washing your hair less, using color-safe hair products, using less heat on your hair, keeping it protected from the sun, and keeping it away from harsh chemicals like chlorine.
Kendall Jenner recently commented about her dyed red hair saying she really misses it but the upkeep was too much for her.
4. What to do if your red hair is fading
Regardless of why your red hair is fading, you might want some of that vibrancy back. Of course, you can have your hair dyed, but you can also use color-depositing shampoos, glazes, and glosses to help bring back your red. If you do decide to embrace your fading red hair, that’s fine too! Red hair is gorgeous in all its forms and just because your natural color has faded doesn’t make you any less of a redhead.
Rock it like a Redhead!
READ: Does Plucking Gray or White Hairs Actually Make More Grow Back?
READ: The 6 Best Redhead-Approved Hair Products for Shine and Luster