Becoming a red-headed stranger.
November 15, 2011 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I want to be a redhead. If you've been something else previously (especially a mousy brunette), is this a good idea? What works? What doesn't? What will people SAY????

Last time I got my hair cut (about a month ago) I looked in the mirror after I'd been blown out and realized with horror just how colorless it had become. My hair was once reddish brown; as a small child, I was a strawberry blond, but now at a little over 40 it was kind of dirty straw-colored and half gray. Yuck.

I've been contemplating getting my hair colored for a few years now, but all the beauty magazines advise women of a certain age (of which I'm on the outer fringes, to be sure, but it is inescapable) to go lighter. My younger sister, who went gray prematurely, has been a kind of a light caramel-brown since she was about thirty, and while she looks good, I don't want to be her clone--besides, she got all the melanin in the family and it suits her better than it probably would me (I am very, very pale-skinned with freckles and green eyes.) In any case, I just don't see myself as a blonde.

Anyways, it hit me yesterday: why not go red? I looked at pictures of redheaded woman in Google Images and settled on a copper like Julianne Moore's--I haven't her bone structure, but I definitely have her coloring, and she carries it off pretty well at age 50. I'm about sixty-percent Irish. This should work, right?

I made an appointment for a consultation with a highly-recommended stylist in town for tomorrow afternoon. Here goes nothing. I've warned my husband and prepared him. (It helps that he likes Julianne Moore.) But other people might be shocked.

So what I want to know is: is this a bad idea? I'm a female professional in a tech field that's mostly male. Will I be stereotyped--seen as difficult and tempramental, or capricious or flakey because I made such a drastic change to my appearance? Or worse? (Yeah, I've heard all the jokes.) How do people react to someone who has gone red after being kind of nondescript for a while? And is there any advice you would give me about what to expect?

Sorry if this sounds like a frivolous question, but for me it would be an enormous life change. (Melodramatic much?) And it's my hair--eeep! I want to trust this stylist, but I've heard plenty of horror stories in general about botched color jobs (none involving him, though). I thought I would put the question to a group of intelligent, reasonable people. Maybe I'm just looking for reassurance. Thank you in advance for humoring me.
posted by tully_monster to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (49 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What will people SAY????

With your coloring, people will likely say, "Damn, you look good!"

It sounds like a great idea, and you're likely safe in the hands of a professional. And hey, if you don't like it, you can just dye it again.
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:35 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since you're very pale skinned with freckles and green eyes, I think red hair will look quite natural on you.

Since you're not doing it yourself, there's a very minimal chance that it will turn out poorly - it will probably turn out exactly the right color.

I really, really doubt that anyone will judge you for it - sure, they will notice at first, but after a day or two, it will become the new normal, and after a month most people will forget that you're not a natural redhead.

And, if you don't like it - just dye it back.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's a fabulous idea! After my dark blonde hair turned darker and started sprouting grays, my stylist and I decided I'd have red hair with blonde highlights (not streaks). It's such a great fit with my complexion that 1) people compliment it all the time and 2) they're surprised to learn it's fake.

All of that is to say that if you trust the stylist, let him/her adjust the color you desire to one that'll work well.

I also work in IT. It's a non-issue unless your colleagues are dorks to begin with.

Have fun! It's just hair.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2011

If you don't like it, you can always change it to a different color. Besides, red color fades faster than any other dye.

You can't actually control how people view you - at least not through a single characteristic like hair color choice. You have some control over how you come across, through the totality of your appearance and behaviour, but once the message gets out into the world it's in the eye of the recipients. If you had started coloring your hair red sooner, you would know this by now, because that is how a proper redhead thinks ;-)

posted by tel3path at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2011

Red hair is lovely, work with the colorist to find the shade for you. I would take the full plunge, people will get over it surprisingly fast. But if you want to be cautious, you can do it gradually with reddish highlights/over-undertones, going from Nicole Kidman light to Nicole Kidman dark. I love Debra Messing's hair. And this guy is gorgeous.
posted by shoesietart at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2011

You'll be fine. No one is going to react other than "hey, you look great!".

Any stereotyping you get from a new guy in IT you haven't met before will be due to the simple existence of your vagina and his enormous doucheosity, not the color of your hair, but if you've been in the job more than a week or two, absolutely none of your co-workers will give a fuck or change their existing opinion of your abilities.

Dyeing your hair is fun. Enjoy it!
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Speaking as another female working in a male dominated field that has coloured her hair every colour under the sun... they might not even notice.

But seriously, this is not a major life change. Its just hair dye. If you don't like it you can dye it back to brown over the top and it will eventually grow out. How often do you get your hair done? Reds fade easily, it will probably be less pronounced with the shade you've chosen but you still might be in for an increase in salon trip frequency.
posted by missmagenta at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

A good rule of thumb I've heard is: if you're trying to figure out a hair color shade that looks good on you, get a picture of yourself when you were a child and go with THAT color. So if you were reddish-brown as a child, reddish should work.

As for what guys around you at work will say or think: I have a strong feeling that few of them would even notice. (Much as I hate to perpetuate a stereotype, I've noticed few guys even notice stuff like this unless it's monstrously drastic -- like, you went with PINK hair or something -- they may not pay any mind.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

As a graying brunette myself, I too have resisted the urge to go blonder, blonder, blonder to cover grays. There's something about being a blond that just doesn't fit with my perception of myself. I have dabbled in red too. (Blue-eyes, fair skin.)

A couple of warnings: It will fade fast. If you're going to invest in the color, also invest in some gentle, non-color-stripping shampoo. Resist the urge to wash your hair every day, and you'll get more time from each color. But mostly, have fun! After my home hair-dye experiments went in a strangely orangey direction, the whole Ronald McDonald-like mess was fixed with one trip to my regular hairstylist, who turned me back into a brunette in 45 minutes.
posted by purpleclover at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

With your coloring it sounds like a great idea. I love Julianne Moore's color. Go for it. It will give you a boost. Your hair is your crowning glory. It's your best accessory. It should not be ignored. Do some research and go to a reputable salon and have a consultation and go for a great cut and color. You won't regret it.
posted by Fairchild at 11:45 AM on November 15, 2011

As a pale-skinned, green-eyed girl with naturally mousey brown (and increasingly gray) hair that who has been dying her hair various shades of red for almost 15 years, I think I'm qualified to say, go for it! Being a redhead is major awesome sauce.

You're smart to let a stylist you trust do it, as red can be tricky. It's a big change, so people will react to it, but I can't imagine those reactions will be bad. Anyway, screw 'em.

Also, be prepared for how much maintenance red hair takes. The dye fades faster than other colors, so gentle shampoo, cool water washes, and frequent trips to the stylist are necessities. I tend to refer to my hair as my major hobby because of the amount of time, money, and thought it requires, and how much pleasure it gives me. For reference, I wash my hair every other day (less frequently would be better, but my scalp is oily) and because of fading and roots, I have my color done every 5-6 weeks.

I think the investment is totally worth it and love how my hair is sort of my statement now, but of course, YMMV. And hey, it's just hair. You can grow it out or re-dye if you don't love it.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:46 AM on November 15, 2011

I would be shocked and put-off if anyone else thought it was some weird thing for your to change your hair color. I dunno, people do this all the time, professionals or not. You go to work and sometimes people have a different hair color. I dunno.

I'm not saying that there aren't people who would latch onto it in some odd way, but it's a really weird mindset for those people to have. What do they even say about it? "Can you BELIEVE so-and-so changed her hair color?!" How does anyone respond to that with anything other than, "Yes, that is a thing that people frequently do." I would just find that sort of comment from another person bizarre. I get not liking or understanding someone else's style choice, but I don't get fixating on it or talking about it. If those are the kind of people you work with, it pretty much doesn't matter what you do because they'll always find something. Some day you'll wear a shirt with buttons they don't like and it'll be their whole day. Don't try to cater to that kind of person, because you can't.

Anyway, I have pale skin and green eyes and when I have henna'd my hair red (it's normally medium brown) I have had strangers on the street compliment my hair color. You'll look good!
posted by Nattie at 11:46 AM on November 15, 2011

I went red from a similar color as yours. I will not be going back in my lifetime. I LOVE having red hair. I think I'm seen as temperamental and difficult, but that's because I AM temperamental and difficult.
posted by hecho de la basura at 11:48 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm also in the camp of "it's hair -- go for it", as that's how I feel about my own hair. Somewhere among many other shades of hair dye, I happened upon a few red ones soon after high school, and I've rarely looked back. When I occasionally went back to my more natural dark brown, I just felt less special, that I was missing some extra spark (note: this relates only to me -- I don't think people with that color hair have any less spark!). Back to red I went, and I'm just so very happy with it. As mentioned, it does require a little more upkeep because it fades quicker than other shades, so you want to treat it carefully.
posted by bizzyb at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2011

If your experience is anything like mine, your Aunt Hana will say, "Why did you do that to your poor hair!" and then your Uncle Ned will say, "Well, I think it looks great! It really suits you!" Uncle Ned is so awesome.

I agree with those who are saying that no one will say much except to tell you that it looks good. However, in some places, gingerism is rampant.
posted by amarynth at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2011

Hi, new redhead here. My childhood hair color was dark brown, though it had red highlights since I spent a lot of time in the sun and the ocean. As I've gotten older (mid-40s now), it's gotten black. And the grey is plentiful and silver-y.

I went red at my last haircut, just a few weeks ago, and I love it. And everyone has said "Wow, it looks awesome!"

I don't know if I'll keep it forever, because it's not exactly cheap to get it done every 6-8 weeks. But for once in a while? Hell yeah! I've been pretty careful with the not shampooing all the time, cool water for rinsing, etc., but since we went with a darkish red, it's fading pretty naturally (I hope) into my already dark natural hair.

Anyway. Do it!
posted by rtha at 12:04 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

People will probably say less than you think, and it will be complimentary, if my experience of 15 or so years ago is anything to go by (granted, I was changing my hair in my late teens/early 20s). You might not have the one problem I did, since you'll be working with a colorist and will get a much better match to your skin tone than I did from a box of henna, but I found that I needed to significantly overhaul my wardrobe and makeup after going red because some colors just did not work any more.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2011

You'll get compliments and then people in your circles will get used to it. And then you'll still get compliments from strangers. That's the only real change for me in terms of how people perceive me since I started coloring my hair deep coppery red--it's an attention-grabbing color. People will notice you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2011

I have dyed red hair, too.

When you get it dyed, get products to help keep the color. I use a special shampoo, a special conditioner, and a product that I spritz in before blow-drying. I also take colder showers and don't go swimming. Otherwise it fades very quickly. You should get all this before you take your first shower after dying it.

When I worked with mostly women, I usually got asked if it was my real hair color. I even had an AskMe about it. Now that I mainly work with men, I get almost no questions about it. My color is on the borderline of what could reasonably be natural.

I had one co-worker who was dismayed that I changed my hair. She thought of me as a blonde. I also had co-workers who debated what color my hair was when I thought I was a dirty blonde. So I am not sure it mattered what I did.

I dye my own hair, which is cheaper after the initial investment of stuff. It also allowed me to get a red that I can't find in the box mixes sold at places like Walmart or Target. I'll have to dig up my recipe and post it here.

I think there are some "rules" that redheads shouldn't wear red or pink or what-not. I don't pay attention to any of them. It still looks good.
posted by Monday at 12:16 PM on November 15, 2011

I'm 43, I work in an office, and I change my hair color frequently (red, black, brown, highlights, streaks, etc.) It's never been a big deal, or even a little deal!

I was red for about four years and then went brown for a change. I confused a few people who see me infrequently and didn't recognize me right away ("I always thought of you as a red head!") but that is it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:16 PM on November 15, 2011

My hair has been a whole bunch of different colors over the years and is now a reddish blond. (Well, at the moment it's a faded reddish blond, but it will be brighter after I see my fabulous hair person on Sunday.) I firmly believe that it's just hair, and you might as well have fun with it, and try different things, just as you might try different nail polish colors or different eye glasses. My colleagues are used to my hair changing shades and cuts so the only reactions I get are compliments. I don't think it's at all unusual for people to change their hair color. I have a hard time imagining that you'll get negative or stereotyping responses.

I also firmly believe in paying a competent professional to do my hair color and have never had any problems with botched color.

Do it!
posted by gingerbeer at 12:33 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You sound a lot like me. I to temp dyes in red all the time. So much fun and 90% of the reaction is "wowza."
posted by Foam Pants at 12:34 PM on November 15, 2011

I'm also a female in a tech field that's mostly male, and my red hair has never been a problem. It surprised people when I went to red from my natural blonde way back when, but several of the comments I got were, "Did you go back to your natural color?" because it looked quite natural thanks to a good stylist. So, getting it done professionally is key! And I don't see why a copper color wouldn't be lovely with your coloring. The problems are when you see older women getting theirs colored a shocking, unnatural red or that deep almost purplish-red. Even younger women struggle pulling those off right, to be honest!

Things to watch out for:

Are you in the States? People in general here seem to have a redhead fetish. I get stopped in the street all the time by folks commenting on my hair, usually other women. This is very flattering! But attention sometimes makes me feel weird. So, if you're the same way, prepare yourself!

As has been mentioned, it fades faster than other colors. You can keep it fresher longer with color-safe shampoos. Even better if they're color-depositing shampoos, though you won't want to use those every time you wash your hair. Follow the directions, basically. There are also glossing mousses that add a little temporary color. Really, just ask your stylist for recs.
posted by katillathehun at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2011

Unless you're in England, everyone loves a redhead. I enjoy it when I am a redhead. Go for it!

Note with regards to hair washing: you know how the hairstylist will massage your head while washing your hair? If you do that on yourself at home you can go 2-3 days without needing to washing your hair. Actually it still stays pretty clean-- just gets flatter as the days go on. But it's a great workaround for the hair washing thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2011

Why "unless you're in England" jenfullmoon? I ask because I've been thinking about going red on and off for a while and I'm moving to London next year (I'm actually from London originally but haven't lived there as a real adult or in a long time so I'm missing lots of little cultural pieces of knowledge...)
posted by crabintheocean at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2011

Auburn hair is awesome. Go buy yourself a teal scarf.
posted by leigh1 at 12:58 PM on November 15, 2011

Green-eyed mousy blonde/brown here who dyes her hair a dark/deep red. I'll never go back, and I wish I hadn't waited so long. If you had a fair complexion as a kid, then red should look fine on you.

I'm fairly nondescript, work with all guys at a tech company, and I had several major "wow" compliments at first and then no one really cared. Lots of people didn't notice. Remember, changes you make to your appearance are magnified to you but might be totally unnoticeable to others.

I occasionally get complements from strangers off the streets, almost always from women. There's some redhead myths, but the only time I've ever run into them have been through guys using them as pickup lines.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2011

Do it! You're gonna love it! If you don't, red fades fast.

I can't wait to go red again, myself. I miss it so much.
posted by hotelechozulu at 1:14 PM on November 15, 2011

What will people say? (With my standard responses.)

"Hey Red!" (Stony silence.)

"You have red hair!" ("I know it!")

"Your hair color is so pretty!" ("Oh, how nice of you to say that.")

"Is that your natural color?" ("I'm afraid so.")

"Are you Irish?" ("Not a bit.")

"Are you sure you're not Irish? People who have red hair are usually Irish!" ("Really? I've never heard that. I'm actually Russian."*)

"I bet you are at least a little bit Irish and you just don't know it." ("Well, suit yourself.")

"My hair was that color when I was a baby!" ("Yes, so was mine.")

"I have a red-haired [relative]." ("Me too.")

* This is true, not some kind of obscure crack about Russian people, just to be clear.
posted by milk white peacock at 1:17 PM on November 15, 2011

omg, you are making this into a much bigger deal than it actually it actually is. in fact, it's not a big deal in the least. a lot of people color their hair. and red has really surged in popularity in the past few years, so it's not that unusual.

i've been pretty much every color under the sun, and i have been a redhead of one shade or another for the past ten years, the majority of the time a very bright red red (think rihanna or florence from florence and the machine). it's become my signature. i'm in my late 30s, have medium skin and freckles. i'm also asian. so people tend to remember me, and i do get stopped around town randomly every once in awhile by people telling they've seen me at such and such a place, or by girls asking me where i got my color done. my natural color is dark brown, and as much as i can remember, the brown makes me very mousy, very ordinary. but the red—everyone loves my red hair. currently it's a bright red with ginger ends, creating an ombre effect.

the thing about red though, is that it is a lot of maintenance, bc the color tends to fade the fastest of any color. i'm pretty lucky in that my color maintains quite well. i have it recolored every six weeks. religiously. i use shampoo and conditioner specifically for color-treated hair, and i use a color depositing shampoo/conditioner called artec (now discontinued) as well. and i wash my hair as infrequently as i can get away with.
posted by violetk at 1:23 PM on November 15, 2011

If you do it, please update with pictures!

And do it!
posted by kinetic at 1:31 PM on November 15, 2011

What a great idea! It sounds like, with your coloring, that red will be a really good-looking color on you. I wanted to put in a plug for henna, if you're thinking of going red. I gloss with henna, and it provides a really natural red color that looks very textured and awesome because it incorporates natural variations in your hair color. It's almost as if you put reddish saran wrap over your hair: it stains your hair a particular color but keeps the 3d textured look. For instance, lighter hairs of yours will look like highlights. It also adds shine, gloss, and body to your hair. The other advantage (or disadvantage) is that it's VERY permanent. I hear that red dye can look unnatural and certainly fades very quickly. You don't have to worry about fading much at all, if you use "Body Art Quality" henna. And it's much cheaper than the salon because you can do it very easily at home, plus it's good for your hair and scalp unlike salon dye which can be irritating and/or carcinogenic.

The procedure is: you buy the powder (this is where I buy mine), mix it up with water or tea etc., let it sit in a warm place for a bit, and then spread the mud through your hair, saran wrap it, let it sit for a few hours, and then wash it out. Your hair is glossier and has more body, and a gorgeous red color, and it can have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities on the scalp. It's a bit fiery orange at first, but mellows over the next few days. If you want to see some before and after pics, I'd recommend here. There's another site of a woman with greying hair who's hennaing it, but I'm having trouble finding it - I'll keep looking. You do want to get Body Art Quality, as lower quality henna can be old and not give vibrant color, or can be mixed with metallic salts and/or other unsavory things that can react with old dye.

You may want to try red once first in the salon, to see if you like it on you, and if you do, take the henna plunge. Henna is an absolute ass to get out of hair (you usually have to cut it out), so it's a big commitment to do. If you're sure you like red though, it's a great way to have healthy, glossy, thick hair with long-lasting natural-looking red color.
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:40 PM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I cut my hair short and dyed it a dark red and EVERYONE loved it. Even my boss's boss who is the epitome of social awkwardness told me how much he liked it. I say go for it!
posted by JXBeach at 1:44 PM on November 15, 2011

Do it!

But ask her to do your eyebrows too. The biggest mistake I see people making when changing their hair color is neglecting to color their eyebrows. If you are starting to notice grays in your hair, your brows might need some color. Most salons have a special eyebrow tint they can do while your hair color is setting; mine doesn't even charge for it.

And nthing what everyone else has said about the maintenance and upkeep. Have a frank talk during your consultation about how often you're willing to come in to have touch-ups, and make sure to buy the products that are recommended (color safe shampoo, heat protectant, etc.).
posted by stellaluna at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2011

What a coincidence! I had my hair dyed this weekend to about this color (picture on the left). It's naturally a dull-ish brown, but now it's a coppery red and I love it. I've already gotten a few compliments.

It sounds like you have the perfect coloring for red.

Most people haven't reacted to mine other than "hey, I like your hair!," so I wouldn't worry too much about negative comments.

FWIW, a note to anyone who wants a coppery red: my stylist used a mixture of equal parts red-red, copper-red, and brown-red with a little bit of gold mixed in.
posted by cp311 at 2:13 PM on November 15, 2011

I used to change my hair color like some women change their lipstick. I wore red hair for several years in the late 90s and early 00s - the fakey fake Lucille Ball Technicolor sort of red that was in vogue then. I was a white-blonde child and my hair turned mouse-brown at the start of adolescence, so I started dying it at 12. I've always been quite pale.

The biggest problem I had when I wore red hair was that the colors I could wear successfully changed quite markedly when I went red. Between my hair and my skin tone, it became much more difficult to find colors that would flatter me. Some things clashed with my hair, some things weren't flattering to my natural coloring, and the two problems added together made me feel like nothing looked good on me, clothes- or makeup-wise. Finding a lipstick that would work was a serious trial.

I had to stop coloring my hair because of chronic illness in 2004, and when it went back to my boring old mouse brown, after having colored my hair for sixteen years at that point, I was really surprised how many colors I could wear that I'd been ruling out for years. I hadn't realized how limited the palette I'd been able to choose from had become.

This may be less of an issue for you because of having coloring more suited to red than mine, but it's something to be aware of. If it turns out you hate it, you can fade it fast by lathering your hair with Prell shampoo and letting it sit for an hour or so. (That was the advice my hairstylist gave me when I ended up with a home-done color I didn't like.)
posted by jocelmeow at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2011

Seriously, my experience working with men in IT is that they aren't likely to notice. Go for it.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2011

I sometimes dye my hair, usually in February/March when it's bleak and grey and I can't wait for spring. Natural color is medium/dark blonde with hints of red if I stand in the sun. Usually I do highlights, or combo blonde/red highlights, or a strawberry blonde tint, or sometimes pretty red.

Once, when I was in (science) grad school, I went auburn (eyebrows and all). It looked fine - pretty darn good but not perfect (it's my mom's haircolor, so it wasn't a terrible fit, but now I know it's not for me). Drew a lot of attention because it was so different from normal (i.e. darker), whereas similar-tone and lighter-tone dyes only got a few comments even on the red end of the scale.
My grad advisor (big nerd alert) saw me, paused in his tracks, blinked.
"Why did you change your hair?" he asked.
This took me kind of off-guard - why?? umm... "Fashion!" I say.
"Ah!" he says, in a that-makes-sense-now tone of voice, "You *are* my most fashionable grad student."

Just to say, there's no telling what people in tech fields will say when presented with the unexpected, but there's no need to take them seriously. It's just hair.
posted by aimedwander at 2:53 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just dyed my hair red for a failed Halloween costume and I have been getting SO many compliments (from both men and women). When I first did it I was worried that it was too loud and looked ridiculous, and when anyone said, "hey you have red hair!" I was all "haha Halloween costume it'll fade soon but I guess I'm stuck with it for now, hahahaha, maybe I should dye it brown to cover it up...?" but the universal response was that I should keep it. I used a temporary (28 washes) dye, and now I am kind of tempted to redo it again soon. It definitely does fade fast. I am pale, not freckled, naturally sort of dirty blonde, gray-green (but more gray) eyes, not at all Irish, fwiw.
posted by naoko at 3:02 PM on November 15, 2011

Seconding henna! I've been doing mine for a year with henna and I will NEVER EVER go back to dyes. No chemicals, no burning, it's cheaper, and the color is fantastic. I buy it at my local grocery (but I do live in a very ethnically-diverse part of town--it's sold near other Indian items), or at the farmer's market and it's under $3 a box. The people recommend doing all sorts of crazy things (mixing it with yogurt or lemon juice, letting it sit overnight, etc.) but I add hot water, glop it all on my head, cover with a shower cap for an hour, rinse, and done. I'd recommend doing it in the shower though, because it can make a HUGE mess. And wear gloves. And have fun! I get compliments ALL THE TIME on my hair. Memail me for info/photos!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:02 PM on November 15, 2011

I just did this a week ago. I'm very pale with blue eyes and my childhood hair was reddish-brown. I'm 50 and my hair had gone blah and greyish; now it's like the 1979 Julianne Moore.

Points to consider:

- My face looks paler now that my hair is a more intense color. I didn't use makeup much before but now I at least darken my eyebrows. Lipstick helps, too. So bring an eyebrow thingy (I use a kohl crayon) and maybe more to the hair appointment so you can make your face match your hair while you're still at the salon, and see how you like the whole picture.

- I tended to wear black shirts a lot but now that my hair is darker I'm veering toward other colors, including (of all things!) pink, which looks surprisingly good all of a sudden. I think I was wearing black to counteract my pale mousiness. Now that I've got hair with oomph I can wear pastels without feeling like a piece of fluff.

- If the color isn't exactly what you want, that can be fixed. You might have to wait a few days if your scalp is sensitive or the stylist is concerned about the health of your hair, but (almost) anything is possible.

The only people who have said anything have said, "Hey, I like your hair." And: "You look younger!"
posted by ceiba at 3:40 PM on November 15, 2011

And another thing: I used to use henna. Once I started getting grey, henna started turning my hair orange.
posted by ceiba at 3:41 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

With your colouring, and getting it done professionally, I'll really doubt that anyone will percieve your red hair as unnatural or aging. I think anyone with relatively pale colouring can pull it off.

One datapoint: I'm a lightly freckled natural blonde, went red three years ago using an at-home semi-permanent colour (more foolproof than permanent for the at-home dyer) and most people appear shocked if I disclose that I'm not a natural redhead.
posted by Kurichina at 3:41 PM on November 15, 2011

I think it will be a good change. Be prepared to change makeup and clothing shades as well- you'll discover that new things look good on you.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2011

My observations have been that unless you dye your hair some sort of extreme color (e.g. green, blue, purple, true black), in general people aren't going to be offended by it or think anything weird about you. To some people, it even makes you look more interesting. One time, I dyed my hair its usual red color after letting it grow out for a few months, and my delightful boss at the time remarked with surprise that I actually looked like I had a personality. Not making that up. Anyway, any other reactions I've gotten from people have been actual compliments.

It took me a while to get used to people referring to me as a redhead. My natural color is a very boring brown.
posted by wondermouse at 7:29 PM on November 15, 2011

I've been a dyed redhead for about 6 years and have very similar coloring to you. My natural color is a mousy brown which is much too boring to go back to.

A couple things to keep in mind: some hair takes dyes better than others. red fades the fastest, but if you are lucky enough to have hair which holds color, you may not have to recolor as often. Either way, be sure to use colorsafe hair products.

Having red hair will change your complexion & coloring. If you wear makeup, you may need to change the colors slightly, depending on the tones you wear. I would suggest going in to a good makeup counter and having a consultation after you color. You may also need to change the colors of your wardrobe, depending on what you already wear. I mostly stick with black, grey and jewel tones (blues, greens, purples), but when I had brown hair I could wear red clothing, now it makes my hair look horribly orange.
posted by nerdcore at 10:29 AM on November 16, 2011

People won't react to your hair color. They will react to how you react to your hair color. If you think it's fabulous, you will appear more confident.

And as noted above, most guys won't notice.
posted by desjardins at 1:48 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just dyed my hair deep reddish brown (L'Oreal Healthy Look 5R Medium Red Brown) yesterday. My natural hair color is a medium-dark brunette. New color looks great and I wore a red sweater today. Go for it!
posted by sideofwry at 3:20 PM on November 16, 2011

Hey, folks. It has been almost seven months since I got my hair dyed a dark red, and I have not regretted it in the least. It is gorgeous. My husband loves it. I think I was supposed to be a redhead from the beginning, but Nature must have made a mistake. I have gotten all kinds of compliments on it, even from strangers. Thanks for the advice and encouragement--it was incredibly helpful.
posted by tully_monster at 6:38 PM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

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