The Mysteriously Beautiful Art Of Red

4 October 2019

I have always been obsessed with red hair, lamenting my very dull dishwater blonde/brown hair. As a young woman I looked to my screen idols for inspiration. The beautiful Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Poison Ivy and my personal favourite femme fatale, Jessica Rabbit. Some may be cartoon characters but those flowing locks of vibrant red were the fantasy I could only hope of one day attaining. I envied the lucky few who naturally had auburn hair, feeling very hard done by because I had possibly the most boring hair on the planet. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to achieve these glorious tones on myself with ‘box dye’ in which I was always left disappointed that it definitely did NOT look like the picture on the front, I gave up and went with the classic teenage black. It was a wonderful day when I started hairdressing and had a professional to help me finally achieve my lifelong goal of bright red hair!

Strawberry Blonde, Titian, Ruby, Gingerbread, the descriptions of the various versions of red or copper hair evoke a sense of warmth, richness,vibrancy and in my opinion sometimes,   wild abandon. Fiery tempers, bold personalities and a great sense of fun are just a few of the attributes that we associate with red hair, making it an appealing choice for the more adventurous among us. Naturally occurring redheads are becoming more uncommon, so us hairdressers are swooping in to save the day and multiply the red population. Albeit artificially.

 Red is a controversial and divisive colour in our experience, with very little ambivalence about it. Those that love red really love it and those that don’t REALLY don’t! If we got a dollar every time someone complained about seeing unwanted red in their hair, we could have all quit hairdressing years ago and retired to a beach hut somewhere tropical. 

Quick little science lesson here; there are two types of melanin that contribute to your natural hair colour. One has yellow and red pigment the other yellow, red and blue pigments. Without going into too much boring jargon, what this means is that no matter what colour hair you are born with, somewhere in there is a red pigment molecule!

Because blue is the largest molecule, it sits close to the surface of the hair and is the first one to disappear. Blue is like your friend Gary, at every event he attends, blink and you will miss him. The yellow pigments are your friend Lisa, who is still going at 3pm the next day, while everyone else is lying on the couch drinking postmix coke from macca’s with sunglasses on. Red pigments are your friend Tony. Tony always says he’s leaving now but somehow is still there 4 hours later while you are yawning and making not so subtle hints about going to bed. Red pigments live in almost EVERY colour darker than light blonde and because they are the first pigments we see when we lighten natural AND artificial colour (remember those blue ones were gone before you even saw them!) it’s no wonder so many people notice them. It might seem contradictory to say that red is hard to remove and also it fades quickly but this is actually true!

Being the second largest molecule, they sit closer to the surface of your hair strands than the smaller yellow ones. Think of yellow pigments as marbles and red as golf balls. Now imagine holding twenty golf balls in your hands. Unless you have giant hands, it’s pretty likely you are going to lose quite a few of those balls! This is why your lovely cherry hair tends to look a bit wan after a few weeks, your hair just can’t hold that many of those larger red molecules for very long. Those golf balls that you didn’t drop, well,  they are super glued to your hand. The only way to get rid of those ones permanently are with some serious chemicals!

Going red is definitely a commitment. What with the possibility of staining your white linens, the eternal struggle of the fade, and the long road back if you change your mind it’s a wonder anyone ever chooses to do it! While all of these things are worth thinking about, remembering that all red’s are not equal is important. The more vibrant your red, the more of those pesky pigments are packed in and as we learned, those red pigments are the Houdini of the colour world ie. brilliant escape artists. Softer tones such as auburn, chestnut or ginger are much more forgiving and fade less obviously, without the mass exodus of colour that make you feel like you are in “Psycho” during the first few washes! Subtlety may not be your first thought when thinking of red hair but the most beautiful and stunning reds we see in salon are more natural looks.

Once you have taken the plunge and joined the fire brigade the right home hair care is imperative. A colour saving shampoo, a colour refreshing conditioner and depending on how much lightening you had to do to reach your goal, a repairing treatment, are all essential to getting the best out of your showstopping new colour. I’m sure you’ve heard us bang on about the importance of using the product recommended by a professional hairdresser so I’m not going to rave on too much. All I will say is, at Bach Hair we will only ever recommend something if we actually think you need it, and with so many years of training and proven examples of  how much difference the right products make we are confident you won’t regret it!

I may have defected to pale red these days (aka pink) but my heart will always belong to the glory that is a bright red sheet of satiny hair in the style of Jessica Rabbit. Now excuse me while I go looking for red sequins to make an evening gown…..




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