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DIY Beauty: From Brown Hair to Bright Red Hair (Easy Steps, No Pre-Lightening)





Our editor, Megan, has been wanting to dye her hair red for quite a long time. As a matter of fact, she had pinned quite a few red hair images for inspiration for a while now.

The other day, Megan was talking about how she wanted to dye her hair and I had an idea… let’s put that red inspiration to good use. With the images in hand, I did a little research.

Megan’s Hair Inspiration:

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The main issue we faced… how were we going to lift her hair from a dark brown to a bright, bold red without having to do any pre-lightening with bleach? Well, turns out, it is not that hard!

This video from Nicole Guerriero was my main form of research. She had gone from a dark brown to a bright red with no complications. While she used a different color than the one we ultimately chose, she made some good points in her video and I used that as a starting point.

From there, I did a little research about the products she used and it looked like a lot of others had the same success with these products. I chose the L’Oreal HiColor Excellence. I did not use the HiLights color.

Megan’s hair had been dyed before and her roots were growing out. Both can add to the difficulty of hair dying and making it even. Now, I can’t guarantee that these directions will work for everyone and we are definitely not professionals but it doesn’t seem too hard.

First, we needed to figure out which color red we wanted to use.

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Things We Used:

L’Oreal Excellence HiColor Reds for Dark Hair Only (Colors: Copper Red or Red Hot)
30 volume developer
Riveting Reds conditioner (to keep the red from fading as fast)
Color Brilliance Demi Permanent 4RC-4.4 (Medium Copper Brown) *

* This is a “just in case” color. We weren’t really sure how the reds would turn out so we bought this just in case. We ended up not even using it!

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Steps:

We started with unwashed hair that was ready to go!

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We started with Copper Red. Mixed it up in the bowl and it looked like what one person described as mayonnaise and hot sauce. Pretty accurate description if you ask me!

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Once the dye was mixed with the developer, I applied the mixture to Megan’s hair starting at the ends first and working my way up to the roots. Keep in mind that your roots are new growth which means they will process faster. It’s best to start with the middle and ends of your hair before working on your roots.

We went into this knowing that we would have to do this process twice. The first time, the Copper Red did lift her hair from a brown to a light red but it wasn’t evenly covered. We washed out the dye, blow dryed her hair and started the next step. From here, we used the Red Hot color and applied it on her hair and left it on for about 30 minutes.

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Once the process was done, we rinsed her hair off and shampooed it before drying and styling.

Mission accomplished! It worked!!!! Megan was left with a beautiful bright, bold red that is really flattering to her skin tone.

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We highly recommend these colors when you are looking for a bright, fun red! If you have any questions, leave them below!!!!

Modern Day Moms

Modern Day Moms is an award-winning publication centered around motherhood that is real and unfiltered. Basically, we don't sugarcoat anything and aren't afraid to tell you the truth. Let's be best friends, we will make you feel more normal.

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113 COMMENTS

  • Lauren L.

    Where did you find the hair color? Thanks!

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      HI Lauren! We found it at Sally’s Beauty Supply!

      • Amber

        Hey Did you have put the 30 developer in the copper color first then put a 30 developer in the red hot next? Thanks going to go buy the stuff tomorrow from Sally’s

      • Ashley

        How much of the developer did you use with the colors?

        • Amanda M Fissel

          50/50

      • Sophiee

        Hiya when you dye your hair again the day after do you use the developer again? X

        • Amanda M Fissel

          Yes you always mix the hair color with the developer. The developer is what make it work.

    • sammii

      Hey there, id like to do this with purple? can you point me in the right direction?

    • Amanda M Fissel

      I am a hair color specialist. This is a good hair color to use. FYI in Cosmo school it is beat into our heads to ALWAYS APPLY HAIR COLOR TO THE MIDDLE PART OF THE HAIR SHAFT FIRST. It takes the longest to develop. Hairdressers they start in the middle of the hair shaft the roots then scalp. The scalp gives off a large amount of heat which makes the hair color work faster.

  • Kate

    I wonder how long the colour is strongly saturated? I used to dye my hair on a similar colour and it lasted only for one month, later it looked so lifeless… so do you use any toners to keep the colour?? I dream of having red hair again but I wish to dye only the roots not the whole every 3 weeks. Thank you! :)

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Kate,
      She maintained it with a red shampoo/conditioner that you can find at a place like Sally’s or online. It deposits red back into the hair when you do wash it. I always recommend washing your hair with cold water too. :)

      • Shelby

        I’m a professional and I tell people, with fashion hair colors, to make your own toner. Go to Sally’s and get a stain in the color you have and mix it into your conditioner. The color you see is the color you get! Use it in replace of your conditioner or use it on dry hair and let it sit a bit longer. Depending on the color you may still have to color all over when you color your roots but it will keep life/color in your hair between appointments and it won’t harm your hair. I have dark purple in my hair now and use my homemade toner every 3 to 4th shampoo and I dont do my ends when I do my roots . When I had red I started every 3rd shampoo then by about 4ish weeks it would do every other until 6 weeks when I colored my roots I’d retone my ends.

        • Lilliam

          Hey Shelby. When you said “to get a stain and mix it with your conditioner”, what do you mean “stain”???

  • Paige

    How do you know how much developer to use? How many bottles of die?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      I wish I could say exactly but honestly, it was trial and error. We did end up using 2 bottles in the end because she had a lot of hair.

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Also, the directions on the box will tell you exactly how much to use. This was what we followed. :)

  • Rachel

    I just found your blog. I want to dye my hair bright red and am considering this product. Was the 30 vol bleach very damaging to her hair? I

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      I would definitely recommend a conditioning mask afterwards!

  • shineese

    Hi there I really have dameged hair and want to go red I need some advise every one says with my blue eyse it would look so good I am scard of damiging it. Its dark brown with a few highlites in pls need help.

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Use coconut oil to replenish hair and give yourself a hair treatment before and after. It is damaging. If your hair is damaged, I would definitely wait and give it a rest first.

  • Sydney

    I see that her hair before you dyed it was kind of copper, as if it had been dyed a red before and faded out. Thats how my hair is now from my last red color, except my roots are a light brown. Would it be safe for me to use this product since it says “for dark hair only” if my natural hair/roots are a lighter brown?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Yes, you should be fine. If you are trying to achieve the bright red color, this would be fine because it will lift to the desired red. You basically need to lift your roots and then it applies the color, if your hair was a light blonde or really light brown, you wouldn’t have to worry about that as much. Hope that helps.

  • Brenna

    My 16 year old daughter dreams of having bright red hair like Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” Her hair is darker than Megan’s, so do you think it’s a safe bet that I’ll need to get her lighter reds? The red fire swatch seems to be a closer match to an Ariel color. When you say you used two boxes, do you mean two boxes of each red or just one of each color?

    My hair is a darker auburn and I’ve always wanted my hair very red. I’ve committed my hair plenty of times, but it turns out much darker than the box shows. Maybe I’ll try a deeper red to start and finish with a copper red. I’m sure my daughter doesn’t want to have matching hair color. Haha! Doing my own hair is so tough but it’s worth it to get rid of the gray!

    Thank you!

  • Blondini

    Hi there! I’m a modern mommy to be and a Master of Cosmetology with a serious skill for color. I have to say, you girls did great! Only one thing I would change- her hair is mostly damaged from using 30 vol twice. The first time is important because it will open the scales on the shaft of the hair but the second go (with whichever vibrant you choose) stick with a straight overlay dye like Manic Panic or Pravana Vivids- my personal fav! Otherwise, killer job! As for the maintanence- cold water washes with lather free cream cleansers (No Poo is great) and Sebastian’s Laminents every week or two :)
    <3 Blondini (L.A. Color Magician)

    • Christine

      Hi Blondini,
      So I dyed my hair back several weeks ago to cover all the nonsense that was going on with my hair!!!! Many different shades of RED!!! At any rate I really want my red hair back, black is not my thing!
      Would it be safe to use this product on my colored black hair?

  • Crystal

    How do you go about retouching the roots? Do you repeat the process all over again to refresh color with the same volume developer? And how long did you go before refreshing the color all over and what volume developer did you use in doing that?

    • Cristina

      Hello!.
      I have recently died my hair blonde from a gingery brown. I have bleaced it twice withiin the last month. It feels ok, A little dry but i take good care of my hair. Currently the roots are light blonde and the rest is a light orangey/yellowish color. I am trying to get this color red but i am kinda afraid of bleaching my hair again. would my hair be to light to use this product or should i use a different product i.e. demi/semi dyes as i was going to do from the start. i dnt want a super bright red but i would love something like this. i hope to hear from you!

  • liz

    Did you mix the Demi copper color with the HiColor copper?

  • Vicky

    I’m using the color fix by jheri redding first before dying my hair with honey blonde due to a previous dye on my hair (golden brown). Can I dye my hair with hicolor with washed clean hair or it needs to be dirty? Pls rspond..thank u

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      I would recommend as dirty as possible because the hicolor still has some level of bleach in it. It might be easier on your scalp to wait until the morning :)

  • Emma

    hello, I am 16 years old and I really want to try a fire red to light pink hair, but my hair is a dark brown. darker than the lady above. do you recommend bleaching it so the hair can look better?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      No, I actually think this will lift it for you. The dye does have bleach in it already. If you bleach it first, I feel like it would just damage your hair.

      • Emma

        So if I want to go with the color the girl in striped shirt has then I don’t need to bleach it? and thanks for the advice. Life saver

        • Modern Day Moms
          AUTHOR

          If you have dark hair, go with the hi-color version. You should be good. I’m not sure what color your hair is but the hi-color will lift it because of the bleach in the color.

  • Taylor

    How do you figure out which type of red matches your skin tone. Also do you think that this will look good with purple/blue highlights. Also do you have any tips on how to do highlights at home.

  • Taylor

    How do you know which red is right for your skin tone. Also would purple/blue highlights would look good with red. Also any tips on how to do highlights at home.

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      HI Taylor,
      If you wanted to do highlights at home in a different color, you’d probably have to lift those strands of hair with bleach. Red & purple would be cute!

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      As for skin-tone, do you have warm skin or cool skin? You can check by looking at your veins. Are your veins more towards the blue side or olive side? If blue, then you are cool tone and you’d do better with a blue/purple type red instead of a gold/orange red. :)

      • Briyana

        Hi, I was wondering could you posibly do a purple this way as well? I’ve been wantiing to go either purple or red for a while now, but I do not want to bleach my hair. My hair is a dark brown. I have had an ombre’ style done to my hair in a dark red, but it has faded so much that you can’t even see it anymore. Could i use this product? (oh and by the way, my skin is a little more tan-ish)

  • Chanell

    Hi, I already have my hair dyed red, but I want a more vibrant red. Can I still use this?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Yes, absolutely!

  • Christie

    Hi there. I haven’t recently dyed my a mahogany brown color, and would really love a red magenta color. Do you think it would lift my hair enough? ALso do you have a suggestion on a color to USE to reach a more magenta color ?
    Thank you CHRISTIE :)

  • Jordan

    Ok I just had my hair died red in a salon but it’s not as red as I wanted. Could I try this just one time on my hair and if I do should I color the roots too?

    • Jordan

      Dyed* stupid auto correct

  • Nadia

    I have never dyed my dark brown hair EVER. It’s really long and I wanna change things up. I want to do 1/4 of my hair dipped in vibrant red! Do you think it will work the same way?

  • Meghan

    How long did it last? Before you had to touch-up the roots?

  • mariela

    Where did you buy all what you needed?

  • Daniella

    That’s soo much! Doing this tonight. Heading over to Sally Beauty after work!

  • karla barbree

    in the past week i tried to dye my naturally dark brown hair fire-truck red and in the process had to bleach it. The dye was demi-permant but but has already began to fade to were i can see the bleached blonde. do you think it would hurt my hair to use this product? or is there another product you would recommend to get the color i would like?

  • Megan

    In the hopes of this working, I tried it. Using the exact same products you used, my hair did not come out red, but instead only has tints of red in it. Highly disappointed, any suggestions?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      What color was your hair before you started? Did it have dye on it already?

  • emily

    My hair is dark brown with blonde highlights will this work for me

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      I think so. You may have to do the process twice.

      • emily

        Does it bleed a lot when wet?

        • Modern Day Moms
          AUTHOR

          Not really no. Make sure to rinse with cold water after you’re done.

  • Emi

    Does the bleach in the hair dye lighten your natural hair? What I mean is when you decide you don’t want red anymore is your hair lighter?

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Yes it does.

  • Amy

    I currently have this dye in my hair. I found this blog by looking for browns going red. Every time I wash it or it rains and my hair gets wet it bleeds. Is this normal? I’d really like to find a way to intense red that doesn’t bleed every time it gets wet

  • Jenny

    My naturally brown hair is bleached and dyed with Pravana Vivids Red. I usually go to the salon and have my roots done, but money is tight and im WAAYY overdue ,would this process work for me?
    If so, with pravana?

  • Amy

    Just wondering how often you had to maintain this colour and how you maintained her roots? :) Thanks.

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Use red shampoo and you can touch up your hair with these products too.

  • Jordin

    Did u put developer on the second time

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      I followed the same directions both times.

  • Leah L

    Hi I just dyed my hair today with the “redhot” and it didn’t come out all one color, should I dye it again with “redhot” ? Do u think it will be one beautiful red color then?!

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Yes definitely. Try once more.

    • Chealee

      How did yours turn out girl?

  • tae

    Hi, which L’OREAL color would best match pravana vivids red? i need to give my ends some color again

  • Becca

    My mother in law wants to get that same red, as she had tried every thing to get it but she ends up looking like roneld McDonald, so how would I go about getting the right color for her,? I’m stumped please help me

  • Taylor

    Her hair is pretty light I have very dark Brown hair with box dye on it do you think I’ll get the same result ?

  • Emily Pimentel

    Does this really work?

  • Tara

    Hello I’ve recently bleached my hair and then put two red dyes on it to try and get the vibrant red I desired. This still hasn’t worked and turned my hair brown orange sort of red, would this dye be ok to use?

  • Zeydid

    Hi. I really love this color and I want it on my hair. Do I have to add the 30 volume developer twice on the colors when I mix them up? And also I have highlights on my hair but on the tips which are going away can I still do this to my hair?

  • Bailey

    I went from blonde bleached hair and I wanted to go back red and I got manic panic wildfire but the orange tones made my hair look pitiful. I put a red on top of it and now it’s brown/with a little bit of red:( would this process make my hair more intense/brighter or should it just bleach my hair again and start over with a color with more blue/purple tones?

  • Kaylah

    Is dying your hair back to back like that not bad for it?

  • Jessica

    I have thin hair, and it is dyes red. It has faded quite a bit and is now a medium red brown color. I want a vivid red like this. Would you recommend the same color for my hair? Im worried about it looking more hot pink than red :/

  • Danielle C.

    Hey to all! Thanks so much for this post!! My hair is dark blonde naturally and I’ve had it every color of the rainbow! For the last 8 months I’ve dyed it jet black. Decided I wanted a bright red again and I came across this life saver! I did do a few things differently though, because I knew the black would be a PAIN to remove. I applied a bleach bath to my hair with a 40 vol developer to my ends first, then worked up and let it sit for 15 mins before applying the rest to my roots. Total processing time for the bath on my hair was 30 mins. My hair was a bit dry after rinsing, but it was nothing compared to the damage a full bleaching would have done. I didn’t condition in between the bath and dye for concern that the conditioner would keep the dye from holding. Next, I applied the copper red mentioned above with a 40 vol developer (for maximum lift) to ends, mid-shaft and upper-shaft only. Left that on for 1 hour, and then applied the remaining mixture on my roots and allowed it to process an additional 10 minutes. Rinsed in cold water and didn’t shampoo. The end color result after the FIRST color application was almost identical to the picture above! Only difference was my roots were a bit brighter due to my natural color being dark blonde. Completely satisfied with my color, I then applied intense moisturizing conditioner to my damp hair and left it for 20 mins before rinsing. It looks so awesome and feels so soft! I’m finally red again!! Thanks!

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      Yay! Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience! Love it!

  • Rachael

    Did you add developer to the bright red? or did you add it alone?

    • Ann

      You must add developer to the color or it will not process correctly.
      Unless you are using a hair stain (which just sits on top of the hair shaft) you always need a developer to activate the color.

  • gabby

    Hello I got my hair done woth red hightlights amd it washed out and now I want to do my hold head hot red my hair is a light brown mixed with the red lights. So I can mix 30 volume with the red hot hi color? To gwt it red and would I leave it in for 30 minutes

  • gabby

    Sorry for typos

  • Lynn

    Professional hair colonists Please help!! I have been coloring my own hair for several years, various shades of red and sometimes add highlights. I get tons of compliments. I’ve never used the Loreal brand but instead Ion level 7 or 8 with 20 or 30 volume.. In thinking that it would keep it healthier I used a Demi a couple of months ago in a level 6& 7 mixed but all it did was DARKEN. my hair which I didn’t want at all. I like a vibrant Copper red at like level 7 . SO, I went to a professional and dropped $170 to have hair trim & color. Told her I wanted the copper red & came out seriously looking no different than when I walked in except she trimmed ends & touched up roots. Going back to doing my own hair

    • Anna

      Lynn, the lower level you go, the darker the color will be. Level 1 is darkest, black. While 10 or 12 would be platinum blonde or white.

  • Rachael

    How long did u have to wait to do the process the second time? I’ve read that If you dye your hair twice in one day It damages your hair and can cause a lot of hair loss.

  • joana

    I already had a reddish very faded tone in my hair with extreme roots im talking 5 fingers worth… I used magenta and red hot with 30 developer. I do NOT recommend these 2 combinations it results in very dark color. next time I will probably do red by itself. or red hot with the copper as they do tend to be on the dark side. but other than that they are Great, ive done them before they always come out bright, and glossy. but just a fyi for everyone. I think now im going to have to bleach which I was avoiding luckily, it wont be much since my hair is burgundy-ish red now

  • sam

    If my hair is freshly dyed (dark burgundy) how long should I wait to achieve maximum results following this red hair guide?

  • Arriana

    I tried the red hot first and it didn’t take. It only lightened slightly to a dark burgundy. Why? I was coming from natural black hair

    • Anna

      I am a licensed stylist :)
      My best guess is that you didn’t use a high enough volume of developer. If you hair was black it would take a lot of power for it to lift to a lighter red.

  • Misha

    I am a licensed hairstylist and the reason the area an inch out from your scalp develops a lighter color is because of the warmth your head puts off. The heat makes the color develop faster. so it is as if you left on longer. The same thing would happen if you didn’t have new growth and previously colored hair. To avoid hot roots you should only apply the color to the scalp about halfway through the time you let the color sit and develop.

  • Tifaney

    Hello, I was wondering if you had any tips on getting half black and half red hair to one even color of red??

  • Rosie

    Ok so my daughters hair is already red it’s a dingy auburn on top faded into a light sun kissed aiburn from the sun on the bottom and it’s very ling half way down her back she want a very bright mermaid red like Eva Marie from wwe wrestling red very whoa hello there red but does not want to use peroxide bleach to lighten her hair to achieve that what do you suggest ?

  • Betty garcia

    Can u give me tips on how to retouch the red color after 3 to 4 weeks of coloring it.

    • Anna

      Betty, I am a licensed stylist :)
      The best option if you are not going to a professional (which I highly recommend) would be to apply color to your regrowth (roots) only, then add shampoo to the remaining color and apply it to your previously colored hair as a refresher for the faded red, for the last 10-15 minutes of processing time.

  • amanda

    Thanks so much for the information in how to dye your hair red I will definitely trying this out

  • Yasmine

    I’m more than a year late haha. But I wanted to know if you can answer a question for me. I just dyed my hair with the Ion dye in a light burgundy brown and my hair still looks brownish so I was wondering if I can use the red dye you mentioned above on top of what i have to achieve a more red/auburn shade?

    P.s. her hair looks great!

  • Anonymous 253

    I just recently dyed my red but the middle of my hair to the ends aren’t ad red as my top is. Any suggestions?

  • carrie

    Hey there! I do musical theatre and i’m Annie in Annie the musical and i was wondering if this hair coloring is none permanent. I’m a brunette, but I don’t want to stay bright red hair forever. I was just wondering if you could recommend me to hair products that might help? thanks

    • Modern Day Moms
      AUTHOR

      You could possibly try a temporary dye or even spray from your local Sally Beauty store! This one is permanent (mostly)

  • Dakota

    I have dark purple in my hair and I want to go to a deep chestnut or something alone there. Can you help me?

  • Maddie

    Will a colorful color protein filler #10 red red, make my red hair bright again?

  • carmelita

    Hi my name is carmelita i used the magenta in loreal but my roots took extremely well the middle of my hair is still dark brown. How can i fix it?

  • Kat

    Once you do the copper red and washed it out , do you do the red hot next or wait until the next day ?

  • Nicole

    Tried using loreal in red hot but turned burgundy with hints of red. How could I fix to get more of a red color?

  • Kim

    My hair is been died purple and I want to go to the red, I bought the hot Red color with the 30 volume developer, now I can strip my hair out with bleach and will turn white in like 15 min, but with the double developer do you think I will be OK, thanks

  • Tessa

    The lass in video has bleached her hair if she says other wise it’s bull you can’t go that red from black you can by going bright blonde though I mention that judging by its obvious that the lighter you are the more brighter you go

    • Keri

      Yes actually you can, these colors they are using have a lifting bleach in them, I just personally went from a level 3 brown to the vibrant red magenta using the loreal high color highlights. with a 30 vol. so it is possible. i was skeptical at first and did my research, but it can be done.

  • Jasmine Morrison

    I dyed my hair red with a Walmart box dye and I want the color above but i don’t know what I should do. My hair is faded and my roots are showing ( roots are a light to medium brown )! HELP PLEASE!!

  • Trish

    What did the dying the hair with the copper color first do? Is this a necessary step?

    Just curious if this is a step I should’ve done to get that bright color, thanks in advance!

  • Gia Flannery

    So does thisean you have to use both colors? Bc I love the way her color came out!!!

  • Louise

    Can u put this on faded red hair to get the brighter red? Also will I have to do this twice considering I’m already red not brown

  • Debbie Boren

    I have dark brown dyed hair ( my natural is mousy brown. I also have red sections. Can I use this on my entire head. I want that beautiful “pin up” red all-over! :) I also have an undercut. How long will my scalp stay stained red. Lol

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