Celebrity Hairstylists Share the 9 Prettiest Highlight Ideas For Redheads

BRB, booking Jessica Chastain's colorist ASAP.

Different Highlights to Consider If You're Redhead
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

While trying new hair colors is quite common for blondes and brunettes, folks with red hair tend to be a bit more hesitant about introducing color processing into their beauty routine. After all, with how coveted their natural color is, it's often thought to be a shocking concept to want anything other than that hue.

But if you've been dying to experiment with your red hair color, yet can't imagine kissing your natural mane goodbye, the good news is that you don't have to — that's where redhead highlights come into play. By incorporating a variety of different tones into your hair, you'll be able to embrace a more dimensional hair color without having to do the unthinkable.

Adding highlights to any hair color will give the end look more depth. And when it comes to redheads, in specific, celebrity colorist and Matrix Brand Ambassador Rachel Bodt says that it boils down to low- and high-impact color goals. According to Bodt, low impact red hair is characterized by tone on tone color in a way that shows just enough dimension and texture in the most natural way possible, whereas high impact color is all about vibrant, bright hues.

Beyond thinking about how bold you want your red hair to look when all is said and done, celebrity colorist Rita Hazan says that it's important to book an appointment with a colorist who specializes in natural redheads. "Natural red hair is more difficult to lift and color," she explains. "Redheads don't really need highlights — they are so beautiful on their own — but if you [want them], I like them to be very subtle and blend well with the base color."

The best way to ensure seamless blending, according to Madison Reed colorist Shvonne Perkins, is to opt for foil highlights of balayage. "Any type or placement of highlights that works for blondes will work for [red hair] highlights," she says. "However, while blondes are often fighting yellow and gold tones, redheads should absolutely be embracing these tones. If the base color is red, we really want to use soft gold and copper highlights to make the red look multi-tonal and soft."

With that in mind, uncover nine highlight ideas to consider if you're a redhead, ahead.

01 of 09

Copper Red Highlights

For a high-impact red hair color, Bodt recommends a copper red à la Barbie Ferreira. "We do a red copper with painted pieces that are only about a level or two lighter than her base to showcase the red," she explains. "This is a really great [color] on neutral skin tones."

When asking your colorist to recreate the look, repeat what Bodt said above, but also bring a few examples of the copper color you're going for. "The absolute best thing you can do when you want to go red is bring in pictures — reds can be so subjective and visuals are the only way to pinpoint the exact shade," Bodt shares.

02 of 09

Deep Ginger Highlights

red hair highlight ideas
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For a low-impact red hair color, Perkins suggests following Bryce Dallas Howard's lead.

"Her look is a perfect example of a light red with highlighted dimension," she says. "It's more of a strawberry blonde, with the highlighted ends in a honey golden tone. If using this as your inspiration for a stylist consultation, I would recommend describing this as deep ginger or strawberry blonde with golden babylights."

Since this is a lighter red hair color, Perkins says not to be surprised if when you walk out of the salon your hair looks notably darker than your desired hue. "Typically, reds look most bold and bright when they are first colored, and tend to fade to this pretty natural look over time, so don't panic if the immediate shade is slightly more vibrant," she says.

03 of 09

Golden Ginger Highlights

red hair highlight ideas
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For a slightly more neutral red hair color, Hazan suggests playing around with Emma Stone's toned-down red. "If you're looking for a change, subtle golden highlights that match your natural undertone are a great way to make color feel different," she says. "These shadow highlights are more subtle and natural and can be used on any hair tone. I recently did them with Beyoncé for the Oscars, but redheads can also achieve this look. A perfect example is Emma Stone."

04 of 09

Beige Copper Highlights

While darker than your typical red, Bodt says that a beige copper hair color, like Joey King's, is best done by starting with a soft base and incorporating plenty of hair painting. "Hair color that's sheer is perfect for this because you want it to read airy," she says. "The undertones are neither orange nor red but more gold/copper. This is great on all skin tones because it is a balance of warmth."

Since it's a more intricate hair color, however, Bodt recommends bringing pictures to clearly show what you want because words can leave room for the intended color to get lost in translation.

05 of 09

Soft Copper Facelights

red hair highlight ideas
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Love a high-impact red hair color but want to have fun with face-framing highlights? Perkins says that this red hair color from Rihanna is a great example of how to make a vivid red look sultry and glamorous. "This is a true red base, with softer red copper pieces around the face," she says. "What this does is soften the impact on her skin and bring attention to her eyes and lips. It's a great choice because the lighter pieces bring a 'wow' moment to the overall color — which is more of a true red as opposed to the golden coppers [we're seeing a lot of]."

When looking to recreate this look, Perkins says to ask for a bold, copper-based red — not a cool, violet red. Additionally, she says to ask for lived-in soft balayage copper highlights throughout, with brighter money pieces in front.

06 of 09

Vibrant Amber Highlights

red hair highlight ideas
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Strawberry blonde is often thought to be more blonde than red, but Jessica Chastain proves otherwise with this vibrant amber take on the hue. "Punching up the red with warm golden and strawberry blonde highlights that are weaved into the hair — versus chunks of balayage or painted on highlights — [will help you transition your] natural red hair into a modern redhead look," Hazan says, noting that that's what Chastain did at the Oscars.

To recreate the head-turning hair color, Hazan says that the most important thing is to be clear about the thickness of your highlights. "Thick highlights will make hair look too deconstructed," she warns.

07 of 09

Baby Copper Highlights

red hair highlight ideas
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Who hasn't seen (and swooned over) Kendall Jenner's nearly-pastel copper mane?

"I love calling this baby copper because it has almost that little kid strawberry tone to it," Bodt says. "It looks great on cool or warm skin tones."

When working to achieve the look, Bodt says to ask for a single-process pale copper. "One thing to keep in mind is you do have to go light to achieve this level of copper," she adds. "It's possible you'll need a double process deepening on how dark your hair is."

08 of 09

Penny Red Highlights

red hair highlight ideas
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Craving a darker red hair color? Hazan loves the look of Sophie Turner's vibrant copper hue. "For this look, your colorist will put in traditional foil highlights to lift some color and deposit a series of deep red and copper shades," she says. "The remainder of the hair will need a bright red toner to pull the look together. I call this look Penny Red Highlights. I personally love natural-looking redheads' vibrant copper with very subtle golden highlights to add dimension."

09 of 09

Copper on Copper

red hair highlight ideas
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For a low-impact, color-on-color look, Perkins speaks highly of Isla Fisher's copper on copper mane.

"This is a great example of using multiple levels of the same tone to create dimension and interest in the hair," she says. "She has a medium copper base with slightly more auburn lowlights, and slightly lighter copper highlights. Without bringing too much attention to it, the high and low lights are just making the base color really pop, without looking stripey or disconnected. In the industry we call these kinds of hair stories 'triflective,' using multiple tones or levels to create impact and dimension."

To snag the red carpet-worthy look for yourself, Perkins says to ask your stylist for a shade that incorporates the same tone in three similar levels.

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