My natural hair color is actually a shade of ginger, and I started coloring my hair when I was very young because I was afraid other kids would make fun of me for my brightly colored locks. Looking back, I was a complete fool! My naturally strawberry blonde hair was beautiful and was a shade that many others desired on their own heads. For years I attempted to color it back to that natural ginger shade and even tried a few different ginger colors, so I’m here to tell you all how to find the best ginger hair dye for you.
Whenever I experimented with ginger hair dyes, I tried everything from dark auburn to copper to strawberry blonde. Each color had its own method to achieve that color, and I loved experimenting with all of them. There are many ways to get a ginger color, and some looked better on me than others. Today I will be going over those methods and how to choose the right color for you specifically.
The Best Ginger Hair Dye Up Front
The ginger hair dye I use more than any other is high-lift permanent color. If you want to try out a high-lift ginger color for yourself, the best ginger hair dye has to be L’Oreal Excellence Hicolor. However, this will not work for those with previously colored hair that is dark, so you may need to pre-lighten your hair first and use a semi-permanent vivid, like Pulp Riot NeoPop Nuclear, or permanent color, like Ion Color Brilliance.
Types of Ginger Hair Dye
You can get a gorgeous copper hair color in a few different ways. Each type of hair dye has there own benefits and drawbacks. Below I will go over the differences between each type of ginger hair dye and which one I use the most.
People typically tend to use standard permanent color when looking for a ginger hair dye. Permanent hair dyes can give a natural look while also lifting a couple of levels, which most people need when going for a ginger color. If your hair is naturally very dark, you may need to use a hi-lift color or pre-lighten your hair to get a true ginger color. However, permanent color does a great job if your hair is naturally a medium brown or lighter.
I love using high-lift colors for any type of red hair because it gives you extremely bright results in one process. High-lift hair color is different from permanent color because it has slightly more ammonia in the formula to provide it with more lifting power. This type of hair dye can lift natural hair to two to four levels, and that extra lifting power is what can make your ginger hair that much brighter.
I tend to use high-lift color for a ginger shade more often than any other type of hair dye. However, you must be careful with a high-lift color because it will lift your natural roots brighter than your ends and way more than previously colored hair. I recommend using permanent hair dye on any natural hair or your roots and the high-lift through previously colored hair or your mids and ends.
Demi-permanent hair color is an in-between of permanent and semi-permanent colors. It still requires a developer like permanent color does so that you will get brighter results on darker hair than a semi-permanent color. However, it doesn’t penetrate the hair’s cuticle as the permanent dye does, so it will only last about four to six weeks before fading away.
Since demi-permanent doesn’t penetrate the cuticle, it’s a much healthier option for your hair. I like to use demi-permanent colors mostly to revitalize faded reds. Since the base color is already there, you can easily brighten it back up with a demi-permanent without causing the repeated damage that permanent and hi-lift colors can cause.
If you want the brightest copper you can get, semi-permanent vivids may be the route for you. To get an extremely vivid ginger color, you will first need to pre-lighten your hair with bleach to at least level eight or nine (yellow-orange or yellow). You can then put a semi-permanent orange over the top of it to get a vivid copper color.
These types of hair dyes last the least amount of time, only lasting four to six weeks before fading out, depending on how well you maintain them. They are much different from any other dyes as they do not use a developer and come in more of a conditioning dye. Semi-permanent dyes cause virtually no damage and can even be put over lighter natural hair to give more of a copper tint rather than a full-on ginger look.
How to Choose a Ginger Hair Dye
Now that I have explained the different types of dyes you can use to achieve a ginger hair color, we will go over how you decide which type you should use. The factors below will help you determine what type of ginger hair dye is best for you.
Determine Starting Color
The first thing I always look at when choosing a hair dye for someone that wants something new is the hair color they are starting with. Your starting hair color can affect how well the dye works, how light it can be lifted, and how bright your ginger hair can be.
- Naturally dark hair: If your hair is darker than level five (medium brown), you will need to use a high-lift dye to get a ginger shade. If you want a very bright copper, you must pre-lighten your hair before coloring it ginger.
- Naturally light hair: Going ginger is much easier on lighter hair. You can use a permanent, high-lift, demi-permanent, or semi-permanent color to make your hair ginger, depending on what color you are going for and how long you want it to last.
- Previously colored hair: Hair that has been colored within the past two or three years (depending on your hair’s length) can be more difficult to color ginger. Permanent color won’t lift previously colored hair enough, high-lift will only lift a level or two, and demi-permanent won’t be strong enough to create a true ginger color on darker colored hair. You may want to pre-lighten your colored hair to get a ginger shade.
- Previously lightened hair: Hair that has been previously lightened to blonde or a lighter color can easily be colored ginger with a semi-permanent vivid, demi-permanent, or permanent dye. I do not recommend using high-lift colors on previously lightened hair because it isn’t necessary and can cause further damage.
Determine Your Desired Ginger Shade
You can choose between many different levels and shades of ginger when picking your hair dye. Ginger colors are typically between a level five to eight and can be between a bright orange to a slightly warm color. Below are just a few of the different colors that you can pick.
- Dark Copper
- Medium Copper
- Bright Copper
- Strawberry Blonde
- Vivid Orange
When choosing a ginger hair dye, you may also want to consider your skin tone. Luckily there is a wide range of different ginger colors, so you should be able to find one that will look good with your natural coloring. In general, you should follow these simple guidelines when choosing a ginger shade to go with your skin tone:
- Fair and warm tones: This is the skin tone of redheads, which means you can pretty much choose any ginger shade, and it will look great on you. I typically like to avoid darker shades of ginger on really fair people, but even that can create a striking look that stands out.
- Medium and neutral tones: The nice thing about neutral skin tones is they can kind of take on the appearance of a warm tone when ginger is paired with it. Usually, I’m not particularly eager to put too bright of a copper or color on these skin tones, but you can go as dark or light with your ginger color as you would like.
- Dark and cool tones: You need to be careful in your color selection if you have dark or cool tones. Generally, I stay away from reds for people with this tone, but if you really want to try it out, I recommend going for an auburn or red-leaning ginger.
Consider Your Hair Health
Ginger hair color fades faster than most other hair colors, so if you want your hair dye to last as long as possible, you want to start with healthy hair. If you have damaged hair, I do not recommend using a high-lift color or using a ginger dye that requires you to pre-lighten your hair with bleach. There are a few ways that you can check your hair’s health, and they include:
- Elasticity Test: If your hair is healthy, it can stretch and bounce back to its original length. Hold one strand of wet hair between two fingers and slowly pull the hair about a quarter of an inch. If it doesn’t bounce back when you let go, it has some damage.
- Slide Test: A healthy cuticle is closed tightly and feels smooth. To check your cuticle’s health, grab one strand of hair clasped between your pointer finger and thumb and glide your fingers up the strand towards your scalp. If it feels rough, your hair may be slightly damaged.
- Porosity Test: Porosity is your hair’s ability to retain moisture. When your hair is highly porous (damaged), it takes a long time to dry. Depending on your thickness, your hair should dry naturally in two to four hours.
What I Look for in Ginger Hair Dyes
Finding the perfect copper is more than just the type and color of hair dye you use. Certain brands of hair color are better for several considerations. When choosing the best ginger hair dye, I like to look at the following factors:
When it comes to reds specifically, you want something with outstanding longevity. Red hair colors like copper tend to fade much quicker than other colors because the color molecule is larger than any other color molecule. There are other ways to make your red hair color last longer, such as washing your hair less and using a heat protectant before styling, but I like to make sure the hair dye has better longevity as well.
Copper is one of the few shades you want to be extremely bright and shiny. Most likely, if you are choosing a ginger color, you like to stand out, which means you want a hair dye with maximum vibrancy. All of the colors I chose are far from a neutral shade.
Ease of Application
Certain hair dye brands are quite messy, and I tend to not like using those. Typically the messier hair dyes are gels and liquid dyes. I usually opt for a cream color because it is easy to apply evenly without flinging color all over everything.
Best Ginger Hair Dyes
Best High-Lift: L’Oreal Excellence Hicolor
Hicolor is a line by L’Oreal Excellence that is meant for naturally dark hair to lift if three to four levels lighter. You can get a brighter ginger color with this hair dye without having to pre-lighten your hair with bleach. It simultaneously lifts your hair color and deposits color pigment at the same time. This creates some of the brightest shades of ginger that you can get.
The nice thing about this specific high-lift color is it gets brighter if you layer it over a couple of sessions. Most high-lift colors will not make your hair brighter if you have already colored your hair once. Make sure that you are not using a developer higher than twenty-volume if you plan to layer the color, or else it could cause some damage. L’Oeal’s Hicolor also lasts a long time without fading until at least six weeks after being colored.
Like most other high-lift colors, this one comes with a potent smell. This is due to the higher amount of ammonia put into the formula to help it lift color better. Make sure you are coloring your hair in a well-ventilated or open space. It also won’t lighten previously colored hair, so I do not recommend this color for those with darker hair colors on their hair.
- It can lift your hair color three to four levels.
- Has seven different ginger colors in this color line.
- Has excellent longevity.
- It can be layered on if you want it even brighter.
- Won’t lighten previously colored hair.
- Smells pretty strong.
Best Permanent: Ion Color Brilliance Permanent Creme
Whenever I am coloring my friends’ hair at home and don’t have access to my professional stuff, I usually go for Ion Color Brilliance to get the job done. I love the consistency of this color, the colors are always true to what they are supposed to be, and the scent is actually quite nice for a permanent color. I don’t think I have ever had any issues with this hair dye line, and the color seems to last a long time.
One thing that really stands out about Ion color is its tremendous selection of color choices. Just in the colors that I would call ginger color, there are fifteen different choices. I almost get overwhelmed by how many choices of color I have every time I walk into Sally’s looking for an Ion color.
The only thing that I wish Ion did differently is to make their color tubes hold more dye. Each tube only contains two ounces of color, about an ounce less than any other standard color tube. Although I love the thicker consistency of Ion creme colors, it does make you need quite a bit more color to color someone’s entire head of hair. I’ve never had an instance where one tube was enough to color someone’s hair.
- It has about fifteen colors that I would classify as ginger
- It has a really nice floral scent
- The consistency is thick but easy to spread
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Each tube doesn’t come with a lot of color
Best Demi-Permanent: Wella Color Charm Demi-Permanent
Wella Color Charm is a brand that I have seen flourish over the many years that I have been doing hair. It went from being the cheap color brand at Sally’s to having one of the most recommended toners by stylists for at-home use. Another color type I have liked lately from Wella is their Demi-permanent cream color.
Most demi-permanents come in a gel or liquid, which you know I hate, but this one comes in a glorious cream formula. It also has a mixing ratio of two parts developer to one part color, so a little bit of color goes a long way with this one. Wella’s demi-permanent colors are also extremely vibrant for a demi, which is usually not the case.
I do wish that Wella would come out with a few more colors in their demi-permanent line. I think it might be pretty new, so it may be a thing that will happen in the future. There are only about two colors that I would call ginger, and they are bright ginger. If you’re wanting something a bit more subdued, I recommend mixing one of the RR colors with a WG or G color to make it less vibrant.
- A demi in a cream formula instead of a gel
- Very vibrant for a demi-permanent color
- It has a 2:1 ratio with two parts developer and one part color, making it more economical
- It doesn’t have much of a color selection
Best Vivid: Pulp Riot NeoPop Nuclear
Pulp Riot is one of my favorite vivid color lines to work with because it covers so much more evenly and, most of the time, is brighter than other vivid color lines. This orange is meant to mimic those cartoon characters with ginger hair, so it is the perfect shade if the ginger you’re going for is to mimic Jane Jetson or Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls.
I also seem to go to Pulp Riot when I’m having a hard time getting someone’s hair to lift light enough for vivids. This color won’t be as bright as it would be on level eight or nine hair, but you will still get quite a bit of color on level seven (dark orange) hair. I’ve even had Pulp Riot show up on grey hair that hasn’t been bleached yet, which, if you’ve ever tried dyeing grey hair with a vivid, you know it doesn’t usually work.
You do need to be careful for a few days after applying Pulp Riot colors because they bleed for a few washes. You’ll still see orange going down the drain with your water, and it can even stain some towels and sheets when the hair is wet. I recommend using black or dark color towels and pillowcases for at least a week after applying Pulp Riot.
- Extremely bright
- Will even cover hair that hasn’t been lifted quite light enough
- It covers even the most resistant hair
- It lasts a good amount of time and fades nicely
- The color bleeds for quite a bit of time after coloring
Where to Buy Ginger Hair Dye
Luckily, all the recommendations I have listed above are super easy to find online or in person. Here are a few places you can look for these ginger hair dyes or others:
- Sally’s Beauty Supply- Sally’s is my go-to store for hair color because they are almost always located within fifteen minutes of where I’m at and I like to shop around to ensure I have everything I could need for the coloring service I’m about to do. They have a wide selection of colors in the store, but if you prefer to have your products shipped to you, you can order from their online store as well.
- Ulta- Ulta is another great place with many locations, although not quite as many as Sally’s. Unfortunately, Ulta usually doesn’t focus on hair color products, so you may have to check online first to ensure they have what you’re looking for. If they don’t have it in store, they will most likely have it available online and can ship to your doorstep.
- Amazon- I usually use Amazon as a last resort when it comes to hair coloring products because you can’t always trust the sellers for quality products there. However, if I can not find what I’m looking for anywhere else, Amazon most likely has it available. Plus, I get free two-day or one-day shipping with my Prime membership.
Answer: Ginger hair dye does tend to fade faster than any other color, and the same goes for all other red hair colors. This is because red color molecules are much larger than other color molecules, making it difficult for your cuticle to hold them in. To make your color last longer, rinse your hair with cold water, use color-safe shampoos and products, and use a heat protectant when styling your hair.
Answer: This mostly depends on what color you’re starting with. If you’re starting with light hair color, blonde hair, or hair that has never been colored, you do not need to bleach your hair to get a ginger color. If you start with very dark hair or hair colored to level five (medium brown) or darker, you will most likely have to lighten your hair with bleach before coloring it with ginger hair dye.
Answer: I like to think of ginger hair as a wide spectrum of reds and oranges. When I (and probably most other hairstylists) say ginger, I usually mean anything from auburn to copper to strawberry blonde. There are a ton of different ginger colors that you can do on your hair, so make sure you are bringing in pictures to your stylist of what you want, so there are no mix-ups in what ginger really means.
Answer: If you have already colored your hair ginger and it has faded or just want your natural ginger hair a bit brighter, the best way to revive these dull tresses is with a demi-permanent dye. This acts as what I like to call a “gloss” and causes virtually no damage to your hair like permanent color does. Demi-permanent colors are bright but don’t go past the cuticle of your hair, so they did a great job of just slightly altering hair color.
Answer: Ginger hair color is slightly more challenging to maintain because it does fade faster than other colors. You will most likely need to touch up your ginger hair with a retouch and gloss of demi-permanent color every six weeks. Retouch your roots with the ginger hair dye you used the first time and brighten faded ends with the demi-permanent color to get back to your desired ginger shade.
Should You Try Ginger Hair Dye?
Going ginger is most definitely not for everyone, but if you are one of those people that can pull off a ginger color, you should go for it! You wouldn’t believe the number of people that asked me if my ginger was natural and how lucky I was to be able to pull off such a beautiful color. Everyone wants to be able to pull off ginger hair because it is the only natural color that stands out as it does.
I always loved the idea of trying a vivid ginger color with semi-permanent orange but never got around to it. However, when I did color my hair ginger, I loved using high-lift colors the most because they made the color so much brighter. I’m back to my natural color now, but I often debate about returning to my beautiful bright ginger color.
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