Red can be a real pick-me-up for tired color or a mane in need of a makeover. Shake things up and energize your color with red highlights! Saucy shades of red will spice up your look and make basic blonde, brunette, and dark red colors come to life again.
Check out 20 gorgeous red highlights ideas and tips for achieving the perfect results in this guide!
Need Red Highlights Ideas? Start Here.
- Wake up boring color with lively red tones that energize your look
- Go with all-over foils, gradient ombre highlights, or balayage/ribbon highlights
- Find the red shades that best suit your complexion and base color
If you’re looking for cute red highlights ideas, you’re not alone. We’re all flocking to this burgeoning trend because it’s one of the few that looks amazing on everyone. Everyone!
Blonde highlights are beautiful and brown lowlights are beguiling, but there’s something really special about red. Red highlights have this unique power to visually lift and brighten your color without actually lifting the color level.
They add an irresistible sparkle and glow to any base color, from the lightest cool-toned platinum to the darkest ebony black. And they’re surprisingly low-maintenance when you choose off-root highlights!
Our favorite red highlights ideas instantly wake up and transform boring color to vivify and energize it. We’ve found gorgeous options from all-over radiant red foils that change your overall color to subtle balayage and ombre looks that glow ever-so-slightly red near the ends.
Don’t even get us started on the sheer versatility and range of the many red highlights ideas out there! You can opt for natural-looking shades in the copper (orange-red) and auburn (red-brown) spectrum to keep things subtle and earthy.
Or head straight for true red, fire engine red, or pinkish raspberry red tones to inject a little boldness into your look!
Best of all, red highlights can be done in a range of depths and levels from the lightest copper and strawberry blonde to the darkest rich auburn, burgundy, and mahogany tones. This means you can incorporate red into your look as a true highlight or as a dimensional lowlight for extra depth.
If it’s not clear that we’re obsessed with the power of fiery highlights yet, wait until you check out some of our favorite red highlights ideas below. You’ll see why this is quickly becoming one of the trendiest color options and find a few looks that you can’t wait to try!
20 Gorgeous Red Highlights Ideas to Transform Your Mane
You know you love red highlights – who doesn’t – but you might be struggling to find the inspiration you need to come up with your next look. Fear not!
Below, you’ll see a range of beautiful options from the subtlest face-framing red highlights to bold and daring high-contrast looks. Save your favorites so you can show your stylist exactly what you want!
1. True Red Underdye
Give red highlights a punky twist by working it into the deeper layers of your hair (underdye) in sections. Let a darker shade like this rich espresso tone dominate the rest of the look to really make the red tones pop where they peek through!
2. Mahogany and Raspberry Red Reverse Ombre
Ombre color is fun, but reverse ombre is always a little more unexpected and grabs your attention! Here, the deeper tones color the roots with a rich mahogany hue.
These feature a reddish-violet undertones in a brown color. Bright raspberry red with pinkish undertones is the transition color leading to gorgeous platinum in this reverse ombre.
3. Copper and Light Golden Blonde Ribbon Lights
Light up a brunette base color with ribbons of copper, auburn, and light golden blonde for a dimensional look. While there’s more blonde in this look than red, it’s the copper and auburn tones that steal the show and really stand out.
4. Subtle Auburn Face-Framing Highlights
Off-root auburn highlights with a rich, dark chocolate brown base shade makes a gorgeously subtle combo. Auburn’s brown undertone echoes the foundation color in this look while brightening up the strands around the face in a natural way.
5. Medium Auburn With Copper-Blonde Balayage
Auburn is a great reddish-brown color that allows brighter copper blonde tones to be the star of the show in this balayage look. Keeping that medium-toned auburn shade at the roots and letting it melt out into a brightened-up light copper blonde creates a high-impact balayage without a stark color contrast.
6. Ebony With Rich Auburn Highlights
Spicing up super-dark brunette and black color is easy with red tones. They don’t appear as harsh or high-contrast as blonde shades but deliver a nice lift in a flattering tone.
This really brings out a warm-undertoned complexion. Medium and dark auburn highlights are perfect to shake up your look without drastically changing the color.
7. Espresso Root Melt With Dark Auburn Balayage
Keeping your base shade and balayage color closer together in tone results in a more cohesive, natural look. We love how dark auburn subtly lifts and brightens a dark espresso brown base shade when applied with the hand-painted balayage technique!
8. Chestnut Brown With Dark Copper Dip-Dyed Ends
With dip-dyed looks, you’re not literally dipping the strands into dye to achieve the color – it’s skillfully painted into the ends and swept upward to blur out any harsh lines. Chesnut brown, with its reddish undertone, pairs really well with a dark copper red highlight at the ends.
9. Dark Brown Base With Auburn Highlights
Going dark with your color is a lot more fun with auburn red highlights to spice up the color! Opt for a light to medium auburn shade to create plenty of contrast with a rich brown-black tone, or go with a darker shade of auburn for a more subtle lift.
10. Rich Copper Blonde Highlights
Swathes of bright, cool-toned blonde and medium neutral brown base color set the stage for light copper highlights. There’s a ton of dimension and depth in this look and it’s all accented with bold, orange-red copper tones that sweep up through the hair for a rich contrast.
11. True Red and Blonde Highlights
It’s easy to make a basic brown color with blonde highlights a little more exciting when you use a healthy dose of vibrant true red! This hot shade instantly attracts the eye and totally transforms a boring style with added warmth and dimension.
12. Light Copper and Auburn Balayage
Get a lower-maintenance red highlight look with off-root color that gives you a little more time in between touch-ups! This balayage color features a dark brown root melt blending out into ribbons of rich auburn tones that fade into a light copper at the ends.
13. Mahogany With Vibrant Copper and Blonde Highlights
Violet, red, and brown tones anchor the base mahogany shade here with a neutral tone and depth to let the highlights on top stand out. Warm golden blonde and a super-vibrant copper color instantly elevate this long-top tapered pixie.
14. Dark Chocolate With Crimson Copper Ombre
Basic brown with a red undertone gets a major lift with a crimson and copper ombre color that fades out into a pale pink tone at the ends. Pairing dark chocolate brown with a true red and orange-red sets the stage for that gorgeous peachy-pink shade at the ends.
15. Crimson Red Balayage
Bold crimson red highlights run ribbons of color up through a dark brown cafe noir base color in this balayage look. Near the ends, the crimson tones take over to create the biggest color impact for rich red tones.
16. Mahogany With Copper and Blonde Foils
Want lots of dimension and depth? Start with a reddish brown base tone like mahogany and layer vibrant copper and golden blonde foils over it in the front. This look works well with a pixie bob as shown and you can style it to showcase different colors in the look.
17. Flaming Red Ombre Highlights
This look is fiery and warm with a smooth color gradient that gives it a luxe look. Light golden brown color at the roots fades into a bright coppery orange and radiant red. The ombre effect makes it look like a blazing flame and we love this look for a warm-toned complexion!
18. Subtle Copper Balayage
Adopt beautiful copper tones without jumping in headfirst when you try a subtle balayage look like this. A medium brown base with red undertones is dressed up a bit with copper color painted and swept up through the ends for a nice lift.
19. Fire Engine Red Chunky Foils
Hot, vibrant red tones make a great contrast with dark brown strands no matter what. But with chunky foils, you get the maximum contrast to really make those fire engine red tones pop! Try it with an edgy pompadour undercut look.
20. Mahogany With Burgundy Red Color Pop
If you want your red color to make a statement without working it in throughout your hair, try a bold pop of color near your face. This rich burgundy red-purple color with a brown undertone is the perfect way to splash a little red into a rich, darker color.
Tips and Things to Consider
Feeling inspired by some of these red highlights ideas? There are a couple things you should know before you head off to the salon to make it happen. Check out these tips and considerations!
- Pick a flattering shade of red. Red is a warm color, but different shades can suit all undertones from warm to cool. The warmest reds – copper, strawberry blonde, and bold shades like fire engine red – are best for skin with warm undertones. Cooler and more neutral reds, like true red, auburn, and raspberry, are suitable for cool and neutral undertones.
- Red fades fast. It’s true, what they say – red hair color fades faster than others. It has to do with the size of the dye pigment molecule and how it doesn’t penetrate the hair as deeply. Know this upfront and consider the additional maintenance it’ll need to stay vibrant – more color refreshes and touch-ups, more money spent at the salon, and more rigorous upkeep at home.
- Off-root highlights mean less maintenance. One way you can drastically reduce your red highlight maintenance is leaving the color off the roots. Balayage highlights and off-root foils will leave your base color at the roots so you won’t need touch-ups as often. Plus, it gives the highlights a really trendy look!
- Start small if you’re unsure. You don’t have to go all-over with red highlights, especially if it’s your first time experimenting with this color. Try a few face-framing foils, money piece highlights, or peekaboo color to give it a try without fully jumping in. You might love a more subtle look overall!
- Don’t wash away your color. Traditional shampoo with sulfates will strip red color from your highlights with every wash. Switching to sulfate-free shampoo is essential to preserve your red color and keep those highlights looking vibrant. You can even use a pigmented conditioner with red tones to refresh your highlights and subtly tint your base color!
So, Which Red Highlights Ideas Are You Stealing?
There are so many possibilities for adding red highlights to your hair. It’s one of the best ways to instantly perk up and energize your color without making a super-drastic change! So, which red highlights ideas are you taking for inspiration?
Maybe you’re digging a subtle, dark auburn highlight with dark brown hair. You’ll love the way it sparkles and glows in the light! Or perhaps a bright and shimmery copper-blonde highlight combo is right for you to illuminate your look.
Maybe you’re somewhere in between, planning on a deep mahogany base shade and cool-toned raspberry red highlights to vivify the look. Keep the tips and considerations above in mind to get the best results.
Go ahead and steel yourself for the extra salon visits since red fades quickly and make sure you’re looking at shades that are going to flatter – not clash with – your skin tone and undertone.
Keep maintenance in mind as you dig around for inspiration and try to keep the highlights away from your roots to reduce the number of touch-ups you’ll need.
Don’t be afraid to get just a few highlights to start with, since you can always add more later. And make sure you’re protecting your color with sulfate-free shampoo instead of rinsing that pretty dye down the drain with every wash!
Whatever your plans are for your new red highlights, get ready to fall in love with your hair all over again. We know it’s going to be great!