Clairol Colour Consultation with Luis Pacheco (Redheads DO go grey) #PGMom

Redheads may not go grey as some say. But to me, white is still a shade of grey. I do not not want my hair any other colour than red. One time I dyed it and had horrible results. So I asked an expert. See the answers below.

current hair

1. Why is red hair harder to colour/match?

If you’re asking about matching hair colour to natural red hair, the challenge is that natural red hair occurs in the broadest colour spectrum – there are more variations of naturally occurring reds than blondes or browns. Reds can be light, medium, dark but also warm to varying degrees (coppers) cool (reds with blue or violet undertones) and also a mix of both (auburns contain both warm and cool pigments, and that’s also why they tend to suit the widest variety of skin tones).

2. Is it true red hair needs to be stripped to add colour? Why?

Red pigment is the most challenging to counteract, to remove and to maintain. There’s nothing you can do to change that.

Here are some simple rules to remember when you want to change your red:

• Going lighter: If you’re trying to go more than 2 or 3 levels lighter you will need to lift the red currently in your hair with bleach before you apply your final colour. This is a general rule with all colours, not just reds.

• Going darker: For darker reds, choose your colour and apply. It’s that easy.

• Trying to counteract the red (i.e. going neutral brown): If you’re going brunette, stay at the same level or darker, and use an ash or cool shade of brown to counteract the red in your hair.

3. People say redheads do not go grey. Well I have grey hair. Grey, lighter etc all the same. What is the best way to cover the grey while maintaining my natural colour?

Everyone goes white eventually; redheads are not exempt from this. That myth could be born from a colour illusion: when blended in with red hair, white strands reflect the warm tones from the red and look apricot, which is less visible. If you isolate those hair strands you clearly see they are white. The reason white hair is often called ‘grey’ is because on brown hair it reflects the darker pigment and thus looks grey.

In terms of maintaining your colour, if you have less than 50% white hair I would suggest using a demi-permanent like Clairol Natural Instincts that’s as close as possible to your natural colour. It will blend your grey for a more natural effect and will also gradually wash out so that you don’t get any visible roots as your hair grows.

4. Any tips on maintaining colour?

For reds especially, try to limit hair washing – water is the biggest culprit in colour fading. Avoid heat tools and excessive styling. I would also strongly recommend that you always use colour-safe shampoo and conditioner.

Colour Consultation:

If your hair is less than 50% grey, you can use a demi-permanent hair colour such as Clairol Natural Instincts Crème in 23R (Raspberry Crème, Medium Auburn). If you have more than 50% grey I would recommend a permanent colour such as Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice ‘n Easy in 6R (Light Auburn).

Luis is a Toronto-based hair colourist and founder of salon Hair On The Avenue. I thank him for sharing his tips for salon inspired looks and various techniques on extending the life of my hair colour between salon visits! 

This interview was made possible by the help of P&G as a P&G Mom I had the opportunity to submit my questions for answers. 


  1. Thanks for the tips – will forward these on to my redhead wife

  2. Great tips, especially for those who haven't ever coloured their hair. My hair is naturally on the lighter spectrum of red. I've been colouring it for years. I have quite a lot of white hair, which started fairly young. I have been pretty fortunate in finding colours (I like to change it up by a shade or 2 every now and then) that look very natural. Even my hairdresser compliments my colour choice/s and application, which makes me feel good. I've found good choices in the L'Oreal Excellence line – for shades that are as close to my natural shade as possible. I do find it a challenge to find good products specifically made for red hair, as it seems like every time I find one I really like, it gets discontinued. I do recommend that most get a professional consultation, at least the first time, to get a better idea of what to expect, and what descriptions of boxes mean when it comes to red hair. Lighter can mean brighter, which is not always a welcome look, unless Lucille Ball orange is the colour you're going for. It's when I've used different products than usual that I've had some crazy results. I now know to stick to what works, and it is better to pay a bit more for a good product than to try a save a couple bucks and end up looking like a clown for weeks.

  3. As a ginger and former educator for a professional colour line I would like to add a couple of points. Pardon my chem head talk for a moment. The following is directed to people who want to be red in all it's glorious shades!

    One of the reasons that red colour fades so fast is that the red molecules in colour are larger. They do not "lock" in place as easily as other colour molecules, which are smaller. Something to look for is a colour enhancing shampoo to help maintain the vibrancy of your colour.

    Now for the tricky part, natural hair colour is separated into levels. Level 1 being blue/black (think natural Asian hair) up to 10 yellow/blond (Scandinavian blonde). Most natural redheads would be naturally between level 4 and 8. Those are the natural levels that the residual pigment in the hair has warm tones. Think dark red to light copper.

    If you are colouring you hair at home look at the box and see what the colour number is. It may say light copper blond as the shade but it should also include a number such as *8## or Med golden brown *6##. Dark auburn would be *5## or even #4##. The lower the number the more likely you will get a burgundy or blue based red. The higher the number it will be a orange/copper base.

    With gray hair you should always look for gold base colour for the best gray coverage. Having said that a natural or neutral base colour will work as well. If you want a cooler tone use a natural shade. It contains less gold and would give you a better base for cooler red tones. You need to put warmth back into the the white hair to hold the colour properly. You CAN mix two colours from a store bought mix. If you are looking for a med auburn pick a level 6 med golden brown and mix it with a level 6 red, watch to see if the red colour has a blue/red base or a orange/copper base. If you have 50% gray mix half and half. If you have 25% gray mix 1/4 golden colour and 3/4 red.

    If you are doing this you can save the leftover colour for you next touch up. You will need more developer and have to buy another box of product but no big whoop, you'd have to anyway.

    3 big points:

    colour will not lighten an old colour. If you have already coloured you hair and are trying to go lighter you will need to use bleach.

    If your hair is really bleached out or very gray and you want to go more than two levels darker you will need to use a filler. A filler is just colour mixed with water or a lower level peroxide to put the residual pigment that has been bleached out back into the hair. Colour correction is a tricky operation and probably best left to a professional.

    Never mix red shades with ash base colour.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Btheredhead says

    After some trial and error, I have discovered the best way to go red and keep it looking its' best. Find a good hairdresser. The best. And once she (or he) starts with you, never deviate, for you will find that once you start with one, another will never produce the same results. It has taken a long time to get me the perfect shade, but yes I have arrived. And I love my hair. And so does everyone else.
    Yes, it is a little big costlier, but what is more important than your hair (especially if your a redhead)? Not to mention the fact that, if you have a good hairdresser that knows what she is doing, you don't have to figure out what will work and what will not work. It never requires bleaching- I can vouch for this, I have gone lighter and I have gone darker, and I have never had a problem. Even more recently, has more gray has appeared, I have had no trouble with getting a good color and it lasting and looking great.. Not to mention how much younger I look. It is also fun having everyone (except family members and friends from way back when, assume that I'm a natural redhead. I have the coloring for it, even my hairdresser has stated that (and she's not making anymore money keeping me young and red- if she didn't do me red, she'd be dong me some other color). I wasted many years, first as a brunette, and then some as a blond, never knowing that it's not either one of them that have fun or get more done. Among other things, my years being single can attest to that. Going red turned a boring dating life into a very busy dating life. it's the redheads far surpass them all in every way.

  5. kathy downey says

    I will past these on to my friend.Thanks for the tips

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