Is Red Hair for You?

The rules for ravishing red hair

Fiery red hair is something Hollywood has loved throughout the ages. Julia Roberts, Christina Hendricks, Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton have all been redheads. These days, dazzling and talented actors Lindsay Lohan, Debra Messing, Susan Sarandon and Kirsten Dunst (in Spider-Man) are among those who make us covet the vibrant color.

But from strawberry blonde to auburn, crimson to copper, there are so many ravishing reds available that it's difficult to know which is right for you. New York City's Wendy Bond, co-owner of Oscar Bond Salon Spa in SoHo, has these suggestions:

  • The good news is that anyone can wear some shade of red. Some look natural and others don't '- which is okay, if that's the look you're going for. The key is to learn which works best for you and then adjust your makeup ' especially your lipstick '- accordingly.
  • "Keep in mind, blue-red or red-red hair color doesn't exist in nature," says Bond. "People can wear those hues, and they can be very flattering; however, they will never look natural. All reds that are natural for people are red-orange tones. So if you want hair color that looks natural, go with a red-orange shade ranging from the palest golden strawberry or copper to the most intense red-orange."
  • When it comes to discussing red hair with your stylist, Bond recommends communicating through photographs because people often have different ideas about what a copper, strawberry or auburn shade is. A photo ensures that you're speaking the same language.
  • Next, you need to consider both the level and the tone of the color, says Bond. That applies whether you're talking about reds, blondes or brunettes. "The level describes the lightness versus darkness of the color," she explains, "while the tone is what you're seeing reflected in the color."
  • Once you and your colorist are on the same page, you need to think about your entire image before proceeding. For example, wearing a certain shade might require a complete change in makeup. If you're willing to do that, go for it. Just consider the cost, and make sure you get a makeup consultation and lesson from the salon before leaving.
  • Finally, know that red hair color fades faster than other shades because the red color molecule is the largest, making it the most difficult for the hair shaft to hold on to. "The key to long-term success is to use a shampoo and conditioner especially formulated to preserve red hair color from day one," says Bond. She recommends Goldwell's Stay Red series, available at salons like Oscar Bond. (For a retailer near you, visit GoldwellUSA.com.) "The mistake many people make is to wait till the hair color starts to fade and then try to revive it," notes Bond. "You'll be much happier if you maintain your new red from the first day you wear it home."
  • Another way to ensure that your red lasts is to ask your colorist about the color she uses, says Bond. She loves Goldwell's Elumen, which she says is longer lasting than traditional color and doesn't cause damage because it attaches to the hair with a magnetic charge. (Go to Elumen-HairColor.com for a salon near you.)
  • WATCH: Your Hair Style
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