“I like glosses for everyone, but mostly for people who don’t want to, or aren’t quite ready to, fully commit,” says Perry. “Glosses are not permanent, there is no damage to the hair, and they add shine and depth. It’s also good for in-between coloring and for refreshes—it stretches the longevity.”
While we discussed the shade, I told Perry that I’ll most likely want to go back to blonde in a few months. Even with red’s reputation for fading, returning to my original level of blonde would be a huge undertaking, so we settled on a gloss. Not only did this allow Perry a ton of freedom with mixing colors—she started with a copper gloss and added a violet-red one on top for extra pop—it also calmed my nerves about trying the shade, since I knew it would slowly fade in about six weeks or so. Glosses are a great way to try the shade if you’re unsure, and you can always add a demi-permanent dye on top if you fall in love. If you have darker hair, a gloss is also a fun way to add a red tint to your existing shade without having to touch bleach.
4. Red takes time—and money.
The two hours it took to go from blonde to red flew by compared with my usual four- to six-hour bleach sessions, but it’s still a time commitment, so plan your salon visit accordingly. Not only does the initial appointment take time, but you also have to factor in salon visits every other month or so to keep the color looking fresh and vibrant—especially if you go with a gloss option. “If a client is keen on a color that is low-maintenance, I wouldn’t recommend a red tone,” says Perry.
Since red hair color molecules are larger, it can take a few visits for the color to “stick,” so plan for a few rounds of coloring to get your ideal result. The initial color appointment can cost upwards of $200, with touch-ups and glosses starting at $100, so make sure that fits in your budget. Reds can easily go south—the line between not red enough and too red is a fine one—so don’t skimp on a colorist.
5. Don’t get too attached.
The major downside of a gloss? It will fade—and fast. My hair is already significantly lighter three weeks down the line than when I left the salon, and it’s only going to get lighter from here. Yes, there are things you can do to maintain the color—we’ll get to that in a second—but the best thing is adjusting your expectations and rolling with it.
I’m really enjoying how my hair color looks slightly different every time I wash it—and depending on whatever lighting I’m in. It’s a great benefit of the color. If you’re someone who loves consistency, be prepared for frequent upkeep. Otherwise, red may not be the shade for you.
6. You’ll need to revamp your hair-care routine.
After dropping a few hundred dollars on new color, the last thing you want to do is spend even more money on brand-new products. But trust me, it will be worth it in the long run. Luckily, one of the best tips for upkeep costs nothing at all: If you wash your hair every day, cut back to every other day at most to keep your hair as vibrant as possible. Per Perry, every other time you wash your hair, use a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner—she sent me home with Davines Alchemic Shampoo in Red and the conditioner in Copper. I personally like to use the shampoo once or twice a week, since the red tones stick better than the copper, and the conditioner three or four times a week so it doesn’t get to violet-toned.