Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? DIY How to Guide (2023)

Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? DIY How to Guide (1)

Bleaching your hair can be damaging, expensive, and time-consuming. And it’s for these reasons that a lot of people are avoiding the chemical completely.

If you want to achieve a bold red color without bleach, keep reading. In this article, we’ll dive into whether it’s possible to dye your hair red without bleaching it.

Table of Contents

  • 1 Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It?
  • 2 How to Dye Hair Red Without Bleach
    • 2.1 Permanent Dye
    • 2.2 Top Red Dyes for Bleachless Red Hair
    • 2.3 Hair Chalk
    • 2.4 Hair Wax
    • 2.5 Related Articles

Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It?

You can dye your hair red without bleach. Bleaching and hair dyeing are closely associated because bleach lifts your hair’s natural pigment and gives the dye a brighter base to cling to.

But the reality is that you don’t actually have to bleach your stands before dyeing your hair, though bleaching beforehand will produce a more vibrant color result. In fact, there are dyes that are specifically formulated to work on dark, unbleached hair!

Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? DIY How to Guide (2)

How to Dye Hair Red Without Bleach

There are a few different ways you can dye your hair red without using bleach. Although you might not get the same vivid color you’d be able to achieve with bleach, you can still end up with a beautiful result.

Permanent Dye

Permanent dye is your best bet for achieving a noticeable red result without bleach. It requires you to use hair dye and developer to lift out your natural hair pigments and deposit your new color. Here’s how to use a permanent dye to get red hair.

Gather the following materials before you get started:

  • Non-metal mixing bowl
  • Applicator brush
  • Single-step red hair dye (you may need 1 or 2 boxes depending on the length of your hair)
  • Wide-tooth comb
  • Hair clips
  • 20 or 30 volume developer (20 volume is gentler than 30 volume, but 30 volume developer will give you a brighter overall result).
  • Plastic or latex gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
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Get to Dyeing

  1. Before you start, put on gloves and an old shirt. Only use towels you don’t mind getting permanently stained. If you’re concerned about dripping, you may want to lay down some old towels or newspapers on your floors and surfaces. Make sure the room you’re in has adequate ventilation.
  2. Split your hair into four even sections and secure each section with a hair clip. This will help make the application process go more smoothly.
  3. Add a thin layer of Vaseline to your hairline, the back of your neck, and on the tops of your ears to prevent your skin from getting stained.
  4. Mix your dye according to the directions on your box. Typically, you’ll combine the red hair dye with developer in a non-metal bowl and mix well.
  5. Use your applicator brush to begin applying the color. Work in small sections and apply the dye generously. Start applying the dye on the mid-lengths and ends, and then go back and apply it to your roots.
  6. Let the dye sit for up to 30 minutes.
  7. Rinse thoroughly with warm water until the water runs clear. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to fully rinse the excess dye from your hair, so be patient and take your time.
  8. Follow up with hair conditioner. You want to avoid shampoo for the first few days after dyeing your hair red to preserve your color. You should, however, follow up your dye with a conditioning treatment to help restore your hair’s moisture. Allow the conditioner to sit for at least a few minutes before rinsing well.
  9. Dry and style your hair.
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Top Red Dyes for Bleachless Red Hair

If you want to dye your hair without bleaching it first, there are many products you can use. Some of the most effective dyes for bleachless red hair are:

  • Splat Midnight Hair Dye. This dye is specifically formulated to be used without bleaching your hair first. It contains micro-pigments that adhere to the surface of your hair and ingredients like baobab oil and quinoa extracts to strengthen and moisturize.
  • Clairol Professional Flare Me. A hair dye designed to work with dark, unbleached hair. The color is permanent and lasts for up to 5 weeks with little fading between washes. Just note that the developer is not included, so you’ll have to buy it separately.
  • Ion True Tones for Dark Hair. This versatile dye lifts, colors, and tones in just one easy step. It contains moisturizing pequi and argan oils and provides a rich color that lasts through multiple washes. Developer not included.

Hair Chalk

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Hair chalk is a fun, temporary way to try out a new red hair hue. The chalk does not contain harsh chemicals and will be completely gone after one wash. Here’s how to get red hair using hair chalk.

To go red with hair chalk, you’ll need:

  • Holding spray
  • Hair chalk
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Gloves (optional)

How to Use Hair Chalk

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  1. Start with clean, detangled, and product-free hair to give the hair chalk the best possible chance of clinging to your hair.
  2. While hair chalk can stain clothes and skin, it’s only a temporary effect. Still, wear clothes and towels you’re okay with staining just in case.
  3. Dampen your hair with a spray bottle, or start on freshly washed, damp hair. Hair chalk can be used on either wet or dry hair, but starting with wet hair will give you a bolder, more intense color result. If you have very light, blond hair, you might want to skip this step and apply the chalk to dry hair. Otherwise, the color might be difficult to remove.
  4. Working in one-inch sections, slide or rub the hair chalk over any hair you want colored. Build up color by going over each section more than once and gently massaging the pigments into your hair.
  5. Spritz your hair with hairspray to lock in the color.
  6. Shake your hair to help get rid of any excess dust.

Hair Wax

Hair wax is similar to hair chalk in that it gives you a temporary hair color makeover. The main difference between the two, though, is that hair wax has a stickier consistency which lends itself well to twist-out and wash n’ go hairstyles.

Here’s what you’ll need to go red with hair wax:

  • Hair wax
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Gloves

*Curls Unleashed Color Blast is a hair wax specifically formulated for natural hair. It deposits vibrant color that lasts until you wash it out. The beeswax in the formula helps lock in moisture while elongating and defining your curls.

How to Use Hair Wax

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  1. Protect your area. Hair wax can stain fabric, so make sure you’re wearing old clothes or a towel you don’t mind getting dirty. Also, you can put on gloves to avoid staining your hands.
  2. Start with clean, slightly damp hair. You can start with freshly washed hair or use a spray bottle to wet your hair before applying the wax.
  3. Working in small sections, begin applying the wax. Use your fingers to spread the wax over any hair you want colored. Start with a thin layer, and gradually layer the wax for a bolder color. If you only want red highlights, you can wrap the finished sections in tinfoil to keep the color from transferring to the rest of your hair. If you want a twist out, twist up your hair after applying the wax to each section.
  4. Let the wax dry. You can let your hair air dry or use a blow dryer on its cool setting to speed up the process. The wax may drip while it’s wet, so be mindful of that.
  5. Once your hair dries, you’re ready to style.

Note: If you want to wear your hair straight, start with dry and straightened hair instead of damp hair. Using heat tools with colored hair wax isn’t recommended, as it can damage both your hair and heat tools.

Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? DIY How to Guide (8)

Related Articles

  • How To Counteract Red Tones in Hair
  • How Did Ginger Hair Originate
  • Can Black People Have Red Hair?
  • How To Dye Brown Hair Red

So, there you have it– dyeing your hair red without bleaching it first is possible. Try one of the methods above to achieve the color you want while avoiding the damaging effects of bleach.

Anytime you dye your hair, be sure to use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to preserve your color for as long as possible. We hope this article was helpful and wish you the best with your hair color change!

Kenneth Byrd( Co-founder and Owner )

Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With over 15 years of experience, Kenneth has been dedicated to hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box alongside his wife. As a team, they promote healthy hair care practices through their comprehensive platform, Curl Centric. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.


Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? DIY How to Guide? ›

That means going red is possible without bleach — but only if your strands are virgin. "You can do a single process using permanent dye on virgin brunette hair and it would pick up the color," Jaxcee says. On strands that are super dark, she recommends using a 30-volume developer with a customized red color mixture.

How can I dye my hair red at home? ›

Let the hair process and apply dye to your roots.

Then, put a shower cap on and let the dye process for as long as the product instructs. After about half of the processing time has gone by, remove the shower cap and paint your roots red with the dye. Then put the cap back on and let your hair finish processing.

Can I put red over black hair? ›

If you dyed your hair black and want to go red, you have to remove the color first. This is because dye only adds color; it does not lift color. The easiest way to do this is with bleach, but if you don't want to use that, then you have to use a color removing product first.

Why is my hair not dying red? ›

Red doesn't penetrate the hair strand easily.

Because the molecules in red pigment are much larger than the molecules in other colors, the first few times you try to go red, the color won't fully penetrate and stain the hair.

How long does red hair without bleach last? ›

Even with the most talented colorists in the best salons, red hair dye will noticeably fade in around four weeks. It can even take a few attempts to get the red pigment to stick to your hair. And even then, red hair is prone to fading and looking orange or brassy.

Is Dying Your hair red damaging? ›

“To keep it simple, if the red you are trying to achieve is lighter than your hair there is a possibility you will or may experience chemical damage or breakage. If you are going darker than your natural or current color, then the chances of damage are low to minimal.

How can I add red to my hair naturally? ›

Other options for coloring your hair red are highly pigmented juices, such as beet or carrot juice. For cooler undertones, use beet juice and for warmer undertones, try carrot juice. Simply mix the juice with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, and leave on your hair for an hour or until the desired color is achieved.

Can I dye my own hair red? ›

There are two ways to go about going red: see a professional, or DIY. If you go the boxed-hair-dye route, you'll only be able to achieve all-over color; if you go to a professional hair colorist (which would be our recommendation), they'll be able to customize the look to your liking.

How light does hair have to be to dye it red? ›

Good news – most of the intense and dark red hair dyes don't require bleaching your hair in advance. Our new red hair colours will work on dark blonde, medium blonde and light brown hair colours. To colour your hair you will need to mix hair dye with developing lotion.

What happens if you put red dye on dark hair? ›

Color Can Never Lift Color

“If you have dark brunette hair, you can't just put a red color over it, expecting it to be red,” Dietrich tells TZR. The darker your starting color, the more lifting your hair will require. If the red you choose is more vibrant than your brunette hair, the hair will need to be lifted first.

What's the best red hair dye to use on dark hair? ›

9 Best Red Hair Dyes For Dark Hair
Top Choice:SoftSheen-Carson Dark and Lovely go intense! – Radiant CopperPrice on Amazon Price on Walmart
Best Chemical-Free:Manic Panic – Vampire RedPrice on Amazon Price on Walmart
7 more rows

How to dye dark hair to red? ›

That means going red is possible without bleach — but only if your strands are virgin. "You can do a single process using permanent dye on virgin brunette hair and it would pick up the color," Jaxcee says. On strands that are super dark, she recommends using a 30-volume developer with a customized red color mixture.

Why is red so hard to keep in hair? ›

Jenny explained to me that red is one of the more difficult colours to opt for as it's the fastest to fade but also the hardest to remove entirely. This is because the pigment clings to the hair more intensely than others.

Why is red the hardest hair color to maintain? ›

The red hair molecule is larger than other color molecules, so it doesn't penetrate the cortex of the hair as deeply as other color molecules. Therefore, since it isn't as deep, it can wash out easier. Red hair dye may be more inclined to fade, but it can also be one of the most vibrant, unique ways to color your hair.

What do I need to know before dying my hair red? ›

Caption Options
  • Your skin tone and eye color. "Make sure that your colorist is looking at your skin tone and eye color in determining the right shade of red. ...
  • Your makeup is going to change. ...
  • Color-protecting products will make or break you. ...
  • It's going to be high-maintenance.
Feb 26, 2014

How can I dye my hair red without bleeding? ›

Use conditioner to keep color dyes from bleeding onto lighter hair. During the dyeing process, coat lighter hair in conditioner to protect it. The conditioner will act as a shield when you rinse the dye itself out, lessening the unwanted contact that the dye has with your hair.

What colors show up on dark hair without bleach? ›

How to Color Dark Hair Without Bleaching
  • Auburn. If you are looking to add a touch of warmth and youthfulness to your look, auburn is the best no bleach hair colour. ...
  • Burgundy. If you are a fan of red hues with purple tones, burgundy hair colour is perfect for you! ...
  • Caramel brown. ...
  • Chocolate brown. ...
  • Golden brown.

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