How can I brighten up my red hair without frying it?

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japanese Halloween red hair

Kaci’s gotta know:

I’m a redhead, and I’m looking for a safe and gentle way to brighten my natural red. I’ve finally gotten tired of killing my hair, but I’d still like to jazz it up a little.

I’ve looked at at-home henna creams, but I don’t have experience with them. I’d really appreciate first-hand knowledge.

Besides henna, are there other options out there that I should know about?

What have y’all used on your hair? Henna? Kool-aid? Lay it on us in the comments.

Comments on How can I brighten up my red hair without frying it?

  1. Henna is nice and all, but it does not last. At all. I actually went red with henna [On blonde hair], and it only lasted five washes [With natural, sulfate free shampoo]. Henna is great, however, for making your hair super healthy.

    I suggest stopping by your local health food store and picking up some permanent natural hair dye. I cannot for the life of me remember the name, but it’s in a green package, is great for your hair, and works wonders [And, as I just said, is permanent!]. No ammonia or any of that other gross stuff in normal hair dye.

    • Were you using pure BAQ henna? Because the pure stuff IS permanent on your hair. Mine has lasted months.

        • Surya is not permanent – it’ll do the trick to brighten it up temporarily, but it only has a tiny amount of actual henna.

          If you use BAQ (body art quality) henna, it IS permanent and, IMHO, much, MUCH better as far as the condition it leaves your hair in afterward.

          I am a henna artist, and I will use nothing but Jamila henna on bodies and hair. It is simply THE best – pre-sifted and date-stamped so you can be assured of its freshness.

      • agreed. I use BAQ henna, and haven’t dyed my hair in coming on 6 months, and it’s still orange.

        I convinced my sister to try it once, (she’s usually very very bottle blonde, but her hair needed a rest for a while and she had to do something else for a year) and her hairdresser told her off, cuz apparently you can’t even bleach it out completely.

  2. My friends and I go to an organic hairdresser who specialises in using chemical-free products – they’re becomming quite popular in parts of NZ. My local store also sells Australian brand Tints of Nature which is “crap” free and not much more than the regular brands of dye

  3. This is not an all natural suggestion, but I’ve had good results from John Freida’s Radiant Redhead line. At one time I mixed a ‘marigold’ tinted shampoo from Clairol with a darker red glaze from John Freida. I was able to perfectly control what shade of red I ended up with, and the resulting color was rich and multidimensional. My natural color is a brown that doesn’t take dyes well, so I used the products over blond highlights. It took several daily washes to attain the color was going for, but since I re-applied every time I washed, I never had to worry about my roots.

  4. I used a red-tinted conditioner for a while to brighten up my auburn hair. It worked!

  5. My mother has red hair and every once in a while she hits it with sun-in spray and then a hot hair dryer. Works like a charm!

  6. I’m a natural red head myself. When I’m in the mood for change I will dye it a shade or two brighter. It’s not noticeable to other people, but it is to me. I also use the Radiant Red collection of shampoo/conditioner by John Freida; they work really nicely. From time to time I will wash my hair with pomegranate juice. In my experience it gets a nice bright red sheen to it. You may want to research it before trusting me completely on this though.

  7. I forgot: Davine’s Alchemic System shampoo and conditioner may be a good lift, too, in either copper or red. They’re expensive, but easy and you wouldn’t need to use them every day. I used to use just the conditioner once a week, combing through and leaving it in maybe 10 minutes. It deep conditions well, too.

  8. I used light mountain brand henna that I got from PCC, whole foods has it too. I didn’t use hot distilled water as the instructions indicated, but instead used bottled lemon juice. My natural color is dark red, but it’s been fading now that i’ve passed 30. i love the effect of the henna, it’s bright and it covered my white hairs. it’s more permanent than drugstore-bottle red, too. but, i don’t wash my hair often so it might be different for you!

  9. I use Henna from I have shoulder length hair, medium thickness and one block is perfect for me. I use a coffee grinder to get the right consistency and leave it in about an hour and a half. It lasts forever as far as I can tell. I color about once every six weeks to catch the roots and brighten it up, but I don’t lose color much.

  10. Two words: JAMILA HENNA.

    Get the fresh stuff, add lemon juice and a tiny bit of room-temp black tea, let sit overnight. In the morning, put the goo in your hair (it’s kind of like mud), let it sit as long as you can stand it (6 hours is best!).

    Voila – Lucille Ball Red Hair.

    NOTE: If you are a brunette or darker, it will give you red highlights.

  11. Ahh Jamila Henna ooohh I loved that stuff so much…I almost cried when my local indian grocer closed down – now I can’t get it anywhere in my town 🙁

    So I moved on to lush. Get the Sales Assistant to give you a sample of ultrabland and use that instead of Vaseline around the hair line…actually I’m pretty bad I never bother with that, as the skin on your face, ears and neck exfoliates itself in 3 days so if you mess up in three days you’ll be fine. But wear gloves though!! Ohh and I’ve found you dont need to grate, just pour boiling hot water on the blocks and let them sit 10 mins, then they go mushy and you add more water (and lots of stiring) to get them to the double cream consistency

  12. I use Davines copper conditioner, it works AMAZING. For 28 bucks it’s pricey but I have had the same bottle for over 6 months. I have auburn dyed hair with natural copper highlights, this brings out just enough red/copper without making me orangey. I mix it in with my regular conditioner for a little pick me up. The smell is very perfumey, but it does absolute wonders for my color.

  13. I have natural auburn hair, too, and whenever I cut it people ask if I’ve colored it darker. I HATE that! I’m so mad that my hair has gotten darker, because I’ve identified as a redhead all my 37 years. I swore in high school that I would never color my hair, but I’m just so angry at my hair for betraying me that I’m ready to turn to the (dye) bottle. This thread has been very helpful! My hair is pretty darn short now (with this cut, I kind of look like my dad when he was in high school) so I’m thinking about the Sun-in method or the tinted shampoos or conditioners. I refuse to be a brunette the rest of my life. I absolutely refuse.

  14. I would do a henna gloss rather than a total application if you just want to brighten the color. BAQ henna please!

  15. I have been using henna now for about 7 years. In the interm my hair has faded to silver grey under it, was very pretty but aged me a lot. Using some cider vinegar makes the henna cover really well over the grey.
    I was having trouble with hair loss and thinning so about the same time I started using the henna I went no poo. I swim 3 times a week so I use a cap and rinse with baking soda in water then follow with an apple cider rinse. Its gotten thicker and I actually can get a style out of my hair instead of just super fine static flat hair. I use Rainbow henna light brown, I mix it with hot coffee and vinegar to darken it since I want it a bit browner, It starts getting darker on the roots so I switched to the blond for the ends with the coffee and vinegar. It still has a red color to it, but I love it. With practice it is not such a mess to use-but I have a special hair dying robe. LOL
    I mix it put it on and wait at least an hour and rinse it out. Using conditioner gets it out easy so I don’t have to wash it at all.
    It has done wonders for my hair, it is the longest and healthiest its ever been. I do have to do it once a month or I look like a skunk with silver roots.
    I really don’t notice a smell, and none of the burning scalp like with conventional dyes-and those do stink. If the smell bothered me I might add some lavender oil or something to the mix. When the hair gets dry I have used coconut oil and it helps to condition it. But I haven’t had to do that since I went no poo after it grew out the nasty ends. Even after swimming I can get a comb thru the hair without conditioning it flat first. It took about 3 weeks for it to start to adjust the oil factory. LOL And after swimming it was crunchy, but it soon changed for the better.
    I was kinda surprised to find I actually have some natural curl to my hair. I will never go back to conventional hair dye.
    I would think if you only wanted to brighten the hair using the blond would do that as it really is quite light, almost clear.

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