This question has troubled the minds of hairdressers for decades.
Women color their hair for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons are to cover gray or regain a childhood blonde. Sound familiar? We, as colorists, hear the same words during most consultations. “I do not want any red in my hair.” So, we talk options, tones, levels of lightness and darkness, and maintenance. We formulate and apply the color, and Voila! – Fabulous color!!! Six weeks later, when it’s time to touch up the color we begin to hear, “People say I have red in my hair” or, “In certain light I see red in my hair.” This is not uncommon. In almost all cases, the “warmth” that seems to be creeping into the hair color is perfectly normal.
Does it mean you’re becoming a redhead? Or that we added red to your color when you weren’t looking? No, it does not mean either of those things.
Even though it doesn’t appear this way from the outside, hair is actually composed of the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Blue is usually the smallest percentage of pigment, yellow is in the middle, and red is the largest. When permanently coloring your hair a wondrous transformation takes place inside the hair shaft. The hair’s natural pigment is broken down and replaced with an artificial pigment. Whether you are darkening or lightening your hair, some of your natural pigment remains. While this transformation is happening, the least of the pigments – let’s say blue – goes first then the greater ones – yellow and red – go next. Since the warmer colors of red and yellow are harder to remove they leave behind underlying warmth. So even though an ash or neutral tone may have been used in your hair color formula, as your color fades what you are seeing is the natural underlying pigment that was left behind starting to reassert itself.
Most of the time re-emerging color is on the gold-yellow side of warm and very seldom red. It could be a brassy tone you are seeing in your blonde which would indicate you have naturally darker hair and hair color alone did not lift you to your desired color. When using a darker color you may begin seeing cooler ashier tones fading away revealing the neutral base color that was left behind.
These sample photos show shades from lighter to darker blonde and then two medium brunettes. All have a warmth about them and none have red added to their color formula.
If you have been “seeing red,” I hope this helped answer your questions. We’re here to give you fabulous hair color, so let us know when you are ready for a touch-up and we’ll get the colors balanced out again, just the way you like.
Enjoy your hair,