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Interview with Celebrity Hair Colorist, Rona O’Connor

She works with Hollywood's most famous redheads

Rona O’Connor is a celebrity red hair colorist who has worked with Hollywood’s most famous redheads: Debra Messing, Blake Lively, Bella Thorne, Joanna Garcia, Laura Prepon, Melissa Gilbert, Rachel Boston and Jayma Mayes.

In a 2013 H2BAR interview, O’Connor shared why she thinks red hair is so special.

“The color red is bold and makes a statement; whether it is about fashion, looking fierce or just for fun. The color red isn’t shy and everything about it is uplifting. Red hair can suit several skin tones if the right shade is chosen,” said O’Connor. 

She talked with us again to share her expert advice on attaining the perfect red and the work she has done on Hollywood’s favorite redhead celebrities:

H2BAR: What are your top tips/steps for achieving Debra Messing’s look? 

RO: On Debra, I create a medium true copper base color and undertone for depth – 1/2 level lighter than her natural color. This allows less demarcation when it grows out and touch-ups can go 5 weeks. I add vibrancy and a multifaceted color result with shades of ruby copper, golden copper and slices of gold tones.

I always finish her color with a custom toned sealing gloss, creating a veil of golden red hues, and even more reflective tones in her overall color. It sparkles.

H2BAR: How do you maintain the hair color? What certain products should you turn to when washing + styling your hair? 

RO: I love a variety of brands from Goldwell to L’Oreal. I look for brands who offer a variety of pigments to help create my painter’s palette of customized shades.

For all my red color clients, I recommend this at-home routine. Use anti-fade shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair. Care for your hair with leave-in conditioners and weekly masks. I highly recommend a color gloss like Goldwell color toning mousse for in-between touch-ups to keep the color fresh.

Flow Haircare is a great line free of sulfates, parabens and sodium chloride. It contains hyaline water which helps to ensure the maximum benefit of each ingredient used in its products. The line also includes UV protection!

 Credit: Flow Haircare

H2BAR: We’re loving Bella Thorne’s look from last summer. What are your tips for achieving the vibrant red hairstyle?

RO: I created a vibrant ruby copper base and undertone for depth. I then slice shades of pumpkin, pink golden apricot. It’s my favorite on her right now. Natural yet with a trendy twist. I always finish with a multi-toned gloss in shades of golden strawberry with apricot undertones.

H2BAR: Fading red hair. It’s a beauty dilemma many redheads face. How can you avoid it? 

RO: For colored redheads: Use my recommendations for the at-home routine (above). It includes shampoos and conditioners for color treated hair with anti-fade ingredients into your hair care regimen.

For natural reds ‘browning out’: I love the Goldwell colored mousse to safely and gently enhance red hues. It’s such a unique system.
There are also glosses and glazes available for those who don’t want to use permanent hair color that give great results as well.

READ: 9 ‘Redhead Friendly’ Root Cover Up Products

H2BAR: Covering those gray/white hairs! How can a redhead do it at home? 

RO: Red hair is special and not always an easy color to achieve and maintain. It is the hardest colors to achieve consistently. Most important question to ask yourself: Decide how much gray you have.

Less than 20%: Use a demi-permanent red that matches or is desirable to your tone to blend away gray.

30%+ more gray: Look for a desirable shade that has gray coverage.

L’Oreal offers some great at-home red hair dyes. Make sure to always read the instructions and follow the manufactures rules on the back of the box. 

More red hair tips from Rona:  

Tip #1: For ‘by choice’ redheads or those who enhance their natural red, if you’re working with heat styling tools, red hair will fade faster.

Tip #2: Keep brands of hair color with the same brand of styling products. They are designed to work together and give optimal results.

Tip #3: When using heat styling tools, choose one that has settings to adjust the temperature. Too much heat damages and fades red.

And always Rock it like a Redhead!