How to Dye Your Natural Hair the Perfect Shade of Red


You can dye dark hair red without bleach if your natural hair is lighter than your red hair dye. This is also the case when figuring out how to dye black hair red. If your natural hair is a few levels darker than your hair dye, then your hair dye could lighten your hair slightly, but the results won’t be as vibrant as they would be if you started with lightened or bleached hair.

In most cases, lightening your hair is necessary to get your dark strands as close as possible to your desired red shade. For super dark hair, multiple bleaching sessions are necessary. But avoid lightening your hair in one sitting, because doing so may cause your curls to loosen.

Now that you have an idea of which shade of red works for you, let’s dive into how to dye your hair red.

How to Dye Natural Hair Red at Home

Step 1. Select your shade.

As mentioned above, factor in how light or dark you want to go, your current hair color, and your undertone. See which red suits you using our virtual try-on tool.

Unless you have ear-length hair and a hair type that’s between 2B to 3B, you’ll probably have to buy 2 or more boxes of hair dye. If you’ve got ear-length hair and a hair type between 3C to 4C, then you’ll need to get up to 3 boxes. We get into specifics here:

Step 2. Plan to pre-lighten your hair if needed.

If you are going to bleach your hair first, wait at least two weeks after bleaching before dyeing your hair.

Step 3. Gather your supplies.

Many box dye kits like Dark & Lovely Fade Resist Permanent Hair Color contain all the essentials for taking your hair to a new hue. Still, it’s helpful to have additional supplies to keep mess at a minimum.

  • General Hair Dyeing Must-Haves
  • Hair dye (1 or more boxes)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Plastic hair clips
  • Moisturizing product to protect the skin along your hairline (petroleum jelly, moisturizing cream, etc.)
  • Color brush and bowl
  • Shower cap
  • Handheld mirror
  • Towel


Step 4. Start with dry hair that hasn’t been washed for 2-3 days.

Between wash day and dye day, you’ll want to give your scalp time to produce natural oils that protect your scalp from hair dye chemicals. You’ll also want to skip applying any hairstyling products, such as styling creams or hair sprays, because they might affect the way hair dye adheres to your strands.

Step 5. Using a wide-tooth comb, part your hair into 4 sections.

If your hair is long, use plastic clips to keep the sections in place.

OPTIONAL:  To prevent hair dye from accidentally staining your face, apply petroleum jelly or a moisturizing product along your hairline.

Hair dye that gets on the petroleum jelly or moisturizing product can be easily wiped away.

Step 6. Mix your ingredients.

Dark & Lovely Fade Resist Permanent Hair Color comes with a developer bottle. Simply dispense the hair color inside and then shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.

Step 7. Apply your hair color mixture section by section.

Start at the front of the hairline and top of the head. The squeeze bottle design of Dark & Lovely Fade Resist Cream Developer Bottle makes application a breeze. If you prefer, you can also use a color brush instead. At this stage, your entire root area should be saturated in hair dye.

Step 8. Immediately spread the color from your roots down through the mid-length and ends.

The mixture should cover all of your hair now.

Step 9. Follow your box hair dye’s directions for processing.

Typically, natural hair that hasn’t been chemically processed should sit on your head for 30 minutes, so set a timer. During the wait, cover your hair with a disposable shower cap to prevent the hair dye from getting on you or any of your belongings.

Step 10. Lather up your color mixture with a little lukewarm water.

This preps your hair for the next step.

Step 11. Wash out the mixture until the water runs clear.

If any color mixture gets in your eyes, quickly rinse it out with water.

Step 12. Towel dry your hair.

Don’t forget to be gentle.

Step 13. Follow up with a rinse-out conditioner.

If you’re using Dark and Lovely Fade Resist Permanent Hair Color, you’re in luck. Every shade comes with a conditioning Moisture Mask to protect your hair from dryness. 

Step 14. Style your hair as you always do.

Get ready to show the world your new red hue.

How to Maintain Red Dyed Hair

Congrats, you’ve entered your red-hair era. Next phase: maintenance. These tips will help you keep your new hue intact.

Use a shine serum.

A shine serum not only seals in moisture but also imparts a glossy sheen that’ll make your hair color stand out.

Adjust your wash-day routine.

Your hair color fades a little more every time you wash your hair — and even faster if you have hard water due to mineral buildup. Harsh formulas can worsen this while also stripping away naturally occurring moisture in your scalp.

One of the best things to do to prevent color fade is to shampoo infrequently. And when you must wash your hair, reach for a gentle, sulfate-free formula. The temperature of your water is key too: always use lukewarm water. Too-hot water opens the hair cuticle, making it easier for hair dye molecules to rinse away. 

Even better, make your wash days really count with products formulated for red-dyed hair that deposit red pigments.

Hydrate with deep conditioners or masks.

Curls, dyed or not, tend toward dryness and love hydration. When you color your natural hair, the chemicals in your hair dye can remove moisture. With deep conditioners or intensely hydrating masks, you can boost your hair’s hydration. Both products work similarly in that they coat the hair shaft and provide moisture and nutrients.

Guard your hair against the sun, sea, and pool.

Ever notice how your natural hair color, over time, seems to lighten from your being out in the sun? That’s because the sun’s rays can fade the melanin in hair, a process that happens even faster in color-treated hair. To slow this down, wear a hat or cover up your hair in a wrap on sunny days. You can even go the extra mile by using a styling product with a UV filter.

Saltwater in the ocean and chlorine in pools can also speed up color fade and cause dryness. Wearing a swimming cap or putting your hair in an updo will minimize the risk of your hair getting into contact with chlorine or saltwater in the first place. You could also coat your hair in an oil, leave-in conditioner, or mask for added protection. Alternatively, you could pre-wet your hair with fresh water before taking a dip. This popular trick will cause your hair to absorb less chlorine or salt water.

Apply a heat protectant.

Even hot tools can dull hair color. When blow dryers and irons heat the hair, they open up the cuticle, allowing pigments to escape. Like hair washing, heat styling should be done infrequently so that hair color lasts longer. On occasions when you do blow dry or use a straightening or curling iron, apply a heat protectant and use a lower heat setting.

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