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Can I Dye My Hair Red Without Bleaching It? | Sometimes

Dyeing your hair red is a fun way to change your look. If you’re considering a hair revamp, you may wonder, “can I dye my hair red without bleaching it?” Fortunately, you may be able to make the big change to red without using bleach. We’ll show you how below.

How Can You Dye Your Hair Red Without Bleaching It?

Bleach can cause a lot of damage to your hair, so it’s best to avoid it when you can. Many people with dark hair mistakenly believe avoiding bleach means no bright or light hair colors. However, there are ways to dye your hair red without bleaching it.

There are several good reasons to try dyeing your hair red without bleach. Bleach harms your hair in various ways, including:

  • Damaging the hair cuticle
  • Compromising the internal structure of your hair
  • Making your hair more vulnerable to environmental harm, such as the sun

With that in mind, hair care companies have made several different kinds of products for dying your hair red without using bleach.

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Ways to Dye Your Hair Red Without Bleach

You have a few options for dyeing your hair red without bleach. The best approach depends on whether you want a permanent or temporary dye job.

People who want red hair long-term can use permanent hair dyes combined with developers. Those who wish to have temporary red hair can try out certain red styling products.

Permanent Hair Dye

You will need a permanent dye to dye your hair red without bleach. Unsurprisingly, permanent hair dye is formulated to be permanent, meaning the color only goes away completely when the hair grows out.

The high-impact effect of permanent hair dye is useful if you want the pigment to appear on your hair without using bleach first. Permanent hair dye has a lasting effect because it both removes existing color and adds a new color.

For instance, if you have naturally brown hair, a permanent red hair dye will eliminate some of the brown pigment and impart red pigment. Several permanent red hair dyes are designed specifically for lightening the hair by a few shades, such as L’Oreal Excellence HiColor Red.

These types of products are intended for people with dark hair colors who want a red hair result without bleaching. Keep in mind that these products often produce a more subtle red than what you would get with bleach. 


In addition to permanent hair dye, you may want to use a developer as well. A hair developer, or an activator, is a treatment product for lightening hair color. Boxed hair dye kits often include developers. 

Developers come in different volumes, with higher volumes indicating a greater lightening effect (and chemical intensity). Most people with dark hair colors need a 20 or 30-volume developer if they want to get red hair without bleach.

Remember: even with a developer, dark hair that you dye red without bleach will never be a light red.

Abandon any hopes of strawberry blonde or orange-reds if you have already committed to the no-bleach approach. Instead, you should anticipate your hair coming out with a burgundy or auburn shade.

That said, with the proper developers and lifting agents, your new hair color will still be a distinguishably red tone. Developers and permanent dyes aren’t fantastic for your hair’s health, but they still aren’t as intense as bleaching, making them a good alternative if you want a visibly red hair color. 

Once you finish dyeing your hair red, be sure to help your hair recover with a nourishing and moisturizing hair mask. You should also invest in shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair, as this will help hydrate and repair the hair to protect it from further damage.

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Temporary Red Hair Products

Not everybody wants to commit fully to red hair. You may want a short-term hair color change for a party, costume, or just to mix things up. If you merely want to try out red hair for a day, some fun products can create your desired look.

One of the most popular temporary red hair options is hair chalk. Hair chalk is exactly what it sounds like: chalk that you rub on your hair for temporary color.

You can get the best results if you spread the chalk on clean, damp, detangled hair. The color usually comes out after one or two washes. Another similar product to hair chalk is hair wax. Red hair wax is a useful product to apply to the outer layer of hair that has already been styled.

The sticky wax makes it easy to use when coating your hair and creates the appearance of red locks. Color hairspray is also a good option for temporary red hair. Red hairspray functions much like hair chalk, but instead of having to awkwardly rub it into your hair, you can spray it on.

Do this just like you would with a regular hairspray. Red hairspray is probably the best option for short-term red hair if you want to get full coverage without spending a lot of time applying it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman with red hair and pale skin in a black dress stands in a grey room for a piece on can I dye my head red without bleaching


Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about dyeing your hair red without bleaching it.

Can I dye my hair red without damaging it?

Any permanent or semi-permanent red hair dye will cause your hair some damage. You can limit the damage by dying your hair red without using bleach and maintaining your hair afterward with quality products.

What happens if you put a red dye on black hair?

Typically, if you put a red dye on black hair it makes the black hair darker, and no red color appears. You can make the red dye more visible by first using a developer to lighten the hair. You can also experiment with red dyes that have pigment-lifting ingredients.

Is red hair high maintenance?

Red hair is one of the most high-maintenance colors you can dye your hair. Red hair fades extremely quickly and the roots usually stand out when they start to grow.

Regularly touching up your red hair will be time-consuming and expensive. For lower maintenance red hair, consider getting red highlights instead. 

Is it easy to go from blonde to red? 

It is relatively easy to go from blonde hair to red hair. If you are a natural blonde, all you need to do is find a shade of red dye that suits your skin tone and apply it.

The red pigment should cover up the blonde without many issues. Depending on how dark your blonde hair is, or if you have natural darker streaks, you may want to use a developer first. 

So, Can You Dye Hair Red Without Bleach?

Generally, you can dye your hair red without bleaching it. If you have dark hair and want to dye it red, you will still need some kind of lightening chemical for the red to be visible. However, developers and dyes that contain lifting agents are still less harsh than traditional bleach.

There’s no reason to limit your hair color choices due to bleach. With contemporary hair dye science, the whole rainbow is at your fingertips, no bleach required.