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How to Stop Red Hair from Bleeding | Step-by-Step

If you’ve recently gone red but find yourself waking up to a red pillow or watching pigment go down the drain in the shower, you’re probably wondering how to stop red hair from bleeding. These tips help color last longer and prevent you from losing your red.

Stopping Red Hair From Bleeding: A Summary

The best way to stop the color from bleeding out of your hair isn’t a simple solution. It involves preparation before dyeing hair and upkeep afterward. These are some steps to follow to keep red hair longer.

  1. Pretreat Hair Before Dyeing
  2. For Drastic Color Changes, See a Professional
  3. Do a Strand Test
  4. Choose the Appropriate Products
  5. Wash Hair Less Frequently 
  6. Cool Water 
  7. Pass on Heat Treatments
  8. Protect Hair Before Bed
  9. Prepare for Sun and Swimming
  10. Pause Color Treatments
  11. Get a Haircut
  12. Seek Professional Assistance 

Seeking the advice of a hair care professional who assists with treatments helps you learn the best way to care for your hair. They know how to stop red hair from bleeding and offer specific advice for your hair type. Follow these steps in conjunction with a stylist’s recommendations.

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How to Stop Red Hair from Bleeding in 12 Steps

You can start preventing your hair from bleeding red before you’ve applied the color. If you’ve already gone red, many of these steps help keep your hair looking the way you like.

1. Pretreat Hair Before Dyeing

If you’ve chosen a permanent color, your formula probably includes a lightning agent. When using semi-permanents, it still might be a good idea to lighten the hair beforehand. Bleaching hair removes natural pigments and opens up the cuticle, or outer layer of hair, to accept your desired color.

People who don’t want to bleach their hair still have options. A protein-infused product, like creams, masks, gels, or shampoos, opens up the cuticle while also strengthening the hair. Many people purchase these products to use at home, but others head to the salon.

Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo. These shampoos remove buildup around the cuticle, making hair easier to dye. A diluted apple cider vinegar rinse works for this purpose as well. 

2. For Drastic Color Changes, See a Professional

Many appealing products make it easy for people to change their hair color at home. See a colorist if you’re dyeing more than two shades lighter or darker.

The more drastic the change in your hair, the more potent chemicals and the more tricky it will be to dye. Ensure the integrity of your color by having it done professionally.

3. Do a Strand Test

Certain color formulas work better than others on different types of hair. Before committing to a color, try a strand test to see how it holds up in your hair. 

4. Choose the Appropriate Products

Purchase products designed for colored hair. Many products on the market are designed to help your color last longer. While you shouldn’t overload freshly dyed hair with too much product, having a specifically formulated shampoo is a great way to keep color in. 

You may also want to buy a color-balancing shampoo. Pigmented products provide another great option to help with the longevity of the hair. Look for shampoos or conditioners with red pigment added to the formula.

5. Wash Hair Less Frequently 

Even when treating hair with specialized products, washing less frequently helps color last. Each time you step in the shower and wash your hair, it removes oils. These oils protect hair and boost shine while strengthening the cuticle. 

6. Cool Water 

Opt for cooler temperatures when you wash your hair. Warmer water opens the cuticle, allowing more pigments to fall out of your hair. If you haven’t dyed your hair red yet, consider using this technique during the coloring process. Rinse the coloring agent out of your hair with cool water for a longer-lasting red.

7. Pass on Heat Styling

Freshly dyed hair is more sensitive to heat, making it easier to damage or become brittle. Avoid heat-styling tools, like hairdryers, straighteners, or curlers. Skip using these in your routine for the first week or two after dyeing. Continuing to avoid heat maintains the structure of the cuticle.

If you must style your hair, use tools in the lowest heat setting. Consider purchasing products designed for heat protection. These help your hair stay safe while being treated with heat.

8. Protect Hair Before Bed

Never go to bed with wet hair after it’s been recently dyed. Wearing a sleep bonnet or something similar also protects hair while you get your rest. A hair covering also protects your bedding from any red pigment that does bleed out.

Read Next: How to Wear a Bonnet: Complete Guide

9. Prepare for Sun and Swimming

Chemicals in pools and UV from the sun damage hair. Take precautions while spending time in the sun. Wear a hat or apply hair sunscreen. When swimming, wear a swim cap. Rinsing hair with non-chlorinated water before and after a dip in the pool also preserves hair health. 

10. Pause Color Treatments

Take a break from coloring your hair if the color doesn’t last as long as you’d like. When dye treatments are repeated frequently, the outer layer opens. While this helps to absorb the color, if the cuticle doesn’t close, color escapes just as fast. 

Pausing color treatments, especially when using permanent dye, helps your hair recover. Once your hair is healthy, you can try dyeing it again.

11. Get a Haircut

Trimming hair frequently prevents split ends. Hair that develops split ends weakens hair. Healthy locks retain color far better than damaged ones.

12. Seek Professional Assistance

If you’ve experienced color bleeds in your hair often, it might be time to go to a stylist if you haven’t already. Professionals with expertise can pinpoint the source of hair’s inability to keep color. From there, they can recommend the best course of action to reach your desired hair color.

Choosing Your Shade

One of the best parts of going red is choosing the exact shade. With red, there are numerous options, from deep reds that are almost brown to bright fire engine red. Selecting the correct color of red to complement your hair sometimes helps the hair keep its color. 

Going too light or dark might stop the pigments from entering the cuticle. Luckily, there are many options, most of which will work for anyone with the proper pretreatment. Consider some of these popular options: 

  • Strawberry Blonde: The lightest shade of red, strawberry blonde works best on lightened hair. This red incorporates pinkish tones creating a light golden hue.
  • Ginger: While close in color to strawberry blonde, ginger tones use more orange. 
  • Copper: Copper colors range from light to dark, resulting in orange-hued hair of various shades. 
  • Auburn: A more intense option adds red tones to a darker dye base.
  • Magentas: Red formulas with hints of blue create a dramatic look. 
  • Brights: Super bright reds are available in many colors, from neon to intensely dark shades. 

Consider your complexion when choosing the shade of red to use in your hair. Specific colors are more complementary with some undertones than others, but don’t let recommendations constrict your choice. A more important factor is how dramatic the change will be.

As mentioned above, dramatic changes don’t only drastically change your look, they are more likely to damage hair. If your favorite shade of red requires a significant change, consider reaching that color slowly by changing just a few shades at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman running through a field of red flowers in a white dress for a guide on how to stop red hair from bleeding


Do you have more questions about how to stop red hair from bleeding? Let’s look at some of the most commonly asked questions on the topic.

Why does my red hair dye keep bleeding?

The color red has some of the smallest pigments, making them the most prone to falling out of the cuticle. Even if hair dye bleeding hasn’t been a problem for you in the past, you may experience color bleed with red dyes.

Is it normal for dyed hair to bleed?

Yes, color fades when pigment leaves the hair. Prevent excessive bleeding by following the steps above.

Does vinegar seal in hair color?

Vinegar is acidic, which helps remove buildup from the hair and smooth the cuticle. Smoothing the cuticle may help seal in the dye. Many people use diluted apple cider vinegar for this purpose. However, others use vinegar to fade their hair color. Stick to salon-recommended products for sealing color for the best results.

How long does red hair last?

Red, like most colors, lasts for four to six weeks. How long red lasts in your hair depends on many factors, like the type of dye and how it is maintained.

Which hair color fades the fastest?

Red fades faster than other colors due to the small pigment size mentioned above.

So, How Do You Stop Red Hair From Bleeding?

Preparing for and maintaining after treatments prevents red hair from bleeding. Remember, sometimes, less is more when caring for hair after dyeing. Protect your hair and give it a break from harsh shampoos and prolonged sun exposure!