Following the red makeup wave that took over New York Fashion Week in September, red has emerged as the bold statement hair color to try in 2024. The striking color took off in late 2023 when celebrities popularized the hair look. From effortless cowboy copper to rich cherry cola, the versatile hair dye has swept the likes of Hailey Bieber, Hande Erçel, and Dua Lipa. Fashion has also witnessed redhead appreciation on the runways of brands such as Rodarte, Casablanca and Études.
EnVi investigated the roots of this red hair renaissance with the help of Redken brand ambassador Adrienne Dara and Melessia Wade-Smith, Better Natured’s hair expert. Keep reading to discover how red hair became the new year’s hottest hair trend.
Red Hair Roots
Throughout history, red hair has been regarded through contradictory lenses. In Red: A History of the Redhead, British author Jacky Colliss Harvey writes, “In the search for an explanation for it, [red hair] has been hailed as a sign of divinity, […] ostracized and persecuted as a marker of religion or race; vilified or celebrated as an indicator of character; and proclaimed as a result of the influence of the stars.”
Although stereotypes of red-haired people have changed over time — shifting from untrustworthy and hot-tempered to “beautiful and brave” — the common denominator has been its association with strength. “The color red historically has represented power,” says Dara. The hair educator anticipates this year to be all about power hairstyles like the blunt bob, as well as copper and red hues. “It is a bold color that makes a strong and memorable statement,” she adds.
Meanwhile, for Wade-Smith, the allure of red hair in modern times is the connotation of “what being a redhead represents” — being adventurous, mysterious, sexy, fierce, and heroic. The hair expert also highlights that red hair involves “an easier, less expensive upkeep than maintaining a shade of blonde.”
Ginger Snap Dreams
While people might associate red hair with Lucile Ball’s warm red ringlets or animated characters like Jessie from Toy Story, the 2024 version emphasizes versatility and easy-going appeal. Mahogany, toffee, and auburn shades are popular choices, but Wade-Smith points out the importance of customization. “The most flattering shade of red for 2024 is a rich, renaissance shade of red achieved with a customized blend of a warm red shade with a cool red shade resulting in a beautiful, natural-looking red,” she says.
Take as an example Turkish megastar Hande Erçel, who debuted her gingersnap hairdo on social media during the holiday season. The actress swapped her silky dark brown locks with a cheeky 1990s-style blowout. Modifying a traditional red color, Hande opted for a light ginger shade to suit her warm undertones and presented the perfect example of understanding your complexion and making the most out of it.
Flirty and fun, Hande’s locks brighten up her looks for a specific reason. “The benefit of copper is the reflection it provides to the hair, promoting the appearance of shiny, healthy hair,” Dara tells EnVi.
Cherry Cola Hair
Though Dara spotlights “romantic, renaissance-inspired red” as the ultimate hair color of 2024, many celebrities are pushing the barrier with other shades across the red color spectrum. Actress and global pop star, Dua Lipa, famously loves a dramatic transformation. After wiping her Instagram feed clean, the artist teased the beginning of her “Houdini” era with a picture where she flaunted a cherry-cola hair makeover.
Due to the excellent use of color theory, Dua Lipa’s hairstyle proves how flattering a bold color can be. “It all comes down to eye color and skin tone,” says Dara about finding the perfect red shade. Dua Lipa’s artist Ben Gregory, for example, made a case for the complimentary colors theory, utilizing warm red to bring life to the olive undertones in Dua Lipa’s complexion.
Another example of finding a suitable cherry-infused shade is rapper, songwriter, and overall K-pop ace, Mark Lee. The singer is a man of many hats, but also hair colors, so it comes as no surprise that he caught the red hair bug after a weekend stint performing in Jakarta. Wearable yet distinct, the dye leaned au naturale and could be coined as “ginger meets cherry.” Mixing burgundy undertones with renaissance red, Mark’s custom cherry cola hair is a perfect fit that enhances his boy-next-door charm.
Wine Red Hair
Fluorescent and bright red tones might have been popular in the past, as Dara comments, but they’re also making a comeback this year. Case in point: the Latin American queen of red hair, Dulce María.
During the early aughts, the pop star was a pivotal player in the bright hair wave that took over Latin America. After starring in one of the most popular TV productions of all time and becoming a member of the pop sensation RBD, Dulce’s image became synonymous with colored hair.
Oozing with nostalgia, her iconic red mane made a comeback for RBD’s Soy Rebelde reunion tour in August 2023. The singer even secured an exclusive collaboration with Garnier Latin America, so RBD fans could twin hair colors with their idol.
Dulce’s wine-red hair gave us a sneak peek of the rich hues expected to dominate 2024, but she was not alone in promoting bright shades of red. As an early adopter of trends, certified rocker boy Yuta Nakamoto also foreshadowed the rise of bold red in late 2023. The Japanese singer is passionate about unconventional styles — black nail lacquer, mysterious tattoos, and most importantly hair dye — so he has already sported red hair a couple of times. However, last year Yuta opted for a striking, fierce and edgy tone that set the standard for the perfect 1980s rockstar-inspired mullet.
With so many red hair varieties to try, it’s safe to state this trend is not going anywhere anytime soon. While visiting a hair expert is always the first option, Wade-Smith knows there are “times in life when you need a time and/or money-saving solution to coloring your hair.” For those occasions, the Better Natured hair expert recommends using salon-quality hair dye such as Better Natured’s Permanent Liqui-creme, which is a naturally derived hair color.
“It offers concise, step-by-step instructions online,” she says about the product. “You can check off your progress on Better Natured’s pre-color checklist as you go. You can also chat with a Better Natured Educator from Monday to Friday (9 AM – 5 PM), in case you have any additional questions in real-time.”
If you’re trying this look from the comfort of your home, Wade-Smith suggests purchasing an at-home color kit that contains all the items needed to successfully color your hair. Other non-negotiables are a loose-fitting or button-up shirt that you don’t mind getting stained with hair dye and a hair conditioning product like Better Natured’s Color Care Deep Conditioning Balm, to apply as a barrier around your hairline and tops of ears to avoid skin staining.
Maintaining Red Hair
After dyeing your hair, it’s important to learn how to preserve the color. Basic, well-known recommendations include avoiding products with sulfates, parabens and petrochemicals, as well as reducing heat-styling. For instance, instead of using a heat curler, you can opt for hair curlers or popular hacks such as sock curling.
Introducing a good shampoo and conditioner into your hair care routine is equally necessary. “For maintaining beautifully vibrant shades of red, be sure to purchase products created specifically for the care of color-treated hair,” adds Wade-Smith. She recommends Better Natured’s naturally derived formulations, which preserve color while nourishing the hair follicles. The brand’s Color Care line carries shampoo, conditioner and deep conditioning balm featuring a Triple Plant Milk blend of Coconut, Tahitian Palm and White Orchid.
Meanwhile, Dara recommends the Redken Acidic Color Gloss line, which offers sulfate-free shampoo, conditioner, and treatments to lock in color for up to 32 washes. The hair professional shares, “With the ability to help clients maintain their Shades EQ color in between appointments, [the Redken Acidic Color Gloss line] is a no-brainer. The line is intensely hydrating to ensure your hair stays revitalized and healthy.”
Red Hair Renaissance Recommendations
Versatile and charming, the red hair renaissance captivates the hearts of the beauty elite and everyday consumers. Generating endless color options, this trend proves itself to be a powerful force in the current beauty space. Whether you’re intrigued by this style revival or you’ve already joined the red hair wave, check out some of these EnVi-approved product recommendations to achieve and maintain the perfect red mane.
Want to read more about iconic celebrity beauty looks? Check out the 23 beauty moments that marked 2023 here.