What is the Best Way to Transition From Blonde to Red Hair?

"My hair is blonde, but I am really leaning toward changing my hair colour to red."
Bill Angst
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"My hair is blonde, but I am really leaning toward changing my hair colour to red."
Hair consultation - Jennifer

Jennifer wants red hair, but isn't sure how to choose the right tone.

Want your own hair consultation from celebrity hairstylist Bill Angst? Send at least TWO well-lit, preferably hi-res photos of you (one close-up, one full-body) with a brief description of your hair texture, colour and main hair challenges to info@beautyeditor.ca with “Bill Angst Hair Consultation” in the subject line.

Q: I'm desperately seeking hair advice. I’m a 40-year-old mama of six. My hair is blonde, straight and fairly fine, but I have lots of it. Currently, I have a couple of purple streaks under the blonde, and some blonde highlights. It’s been more than six months since I’ve done anything to my hair—aside from just hacking the heck outta my bangs. (Oops… growing them now.)

I am really leaning toward changing my hair colour to red. My question is what tone of red will best suit my complexion? And secondly, can you tell me what kind of upkeep will I have in order to maintain red? Am also open to suggestions regarding a new hairstyle/shape. Thanks a bunch! — Jennifer

A: Jennifer, I know your primary question is about your colour, and that is a long story—so if I may… here is the cut I have chosen for you as well as your first foray into a new colour. I agree with you; your bangs work, but it's time to grow them out for a new, fresh look.

Reese Witherspoon, Water for Elephants premiere, 2011

Reese Witherspoon at the 2011 premiere of 'Water for Elephants'.

In order for red colour to take properly, the underlying pigments need to be in place. Start with gold to begin layering and filling your hair. Then you build to the next level, which is copper.

Jessica Chastain, Madagascar 3 photocall, Cannes 2012

Jessica Chastain at the 2012 Cannes photocall for 'Madagascar 3'.

From here, you could take it to the next level and add some natural pigment.

Strawberry blonde hair

Strawberry blonde hair.

Or you can brighten with a more orange copper.

Jessica Chastain - SAG Awards 2013 beauty

Jessica Chastain at the 2013 SAG Awards.

Keep taking it deeper and deeper until you reach your desired shade. Packing all of this pigment into your hair helps it hold on to the red colour best.

Another tip to get the best longevity out of your red is not to use an ammonia-based colour. Ammonia swells the hair cuticle, which makes it easy for the small red colour molecules to escape. Use non-ammonia colour.

After you achieve the shade you want, maintenance will depend on the heat, sun, swimming, etc. I would want it to stay fresh, so go no longer than four to six weeks between colourings.

I think any of these colours would be perfect for you. Please note the different lipstick shades! With a new hair colour comes a new lipstick colour…


Bill Angst is one of Canada’s top celebrity hairstylists and the owner of Angst Salon at 240 Queen Street East in Toronto. Call 416-360-5942 to book an appointment.