Science of red hair best products for ginger hair

The science of red hair and how to look after it: The best shampoo, conditioner and treatments for ginger hair

5th February 2021 | Author: Phee Waterfield

Redheads makeup up to 2% of the world’s population and despite their unique hair colour – created as the result of a mutated gene – us gingers have some interesting features ranging from making our own Vitamin D to being able to detect temperature changes and having a higher pain threshold.

But when it comes to hair care, does being a redhead mean using different products? Should we be avoiding ingredients that could damage our hair? When it comes to hair colouring, can ginger hair be dyed?

To get to the bottom of his hairy mystery, we’ve spoken to experts from within the industry and rounded up the best products for red hair.

The Science Behind Being A Redhead

Compared to blondes and brunettes, redheads are rare for a number of reasons.

“Both parents must be carriers of the MC1R gene variant to be able to produce children with red hair,” Dr. Ophelia Veraitch, consultant dermatologist at the Cranley Clinic in Harley Street told mamabella. “There is a 25% chance of this if they don’t have red hair themselves.”

Veraitch goes on to explain that red hair is distinctive from other hair colours because of the balance of pigment. There are two types of chemical pigment melanin — pheomelanin and eumelanin. These are what give hair its colouring.

“Cells called melanocytes create melanin in protein clusters called melanosomes,” continues Veraitch. “The melanin is transported to keratinocytes, which are barrier cells in the top layer of the skin — this gives skin its colour. At the base of hair follicles, melanosomes bond with the keratin cells that produce hair and this is what gives hair its colour.”

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While eumelanin ranges from brown to black in colour, pheomelanin ranges from red to pink. Natural redheads have more pheomelanin in their bodies and this influences their hair colour as well as their skin colour — redheads often have lighter or paler skin tones, for instance.

Unlike other hair colours, being a redhead can come with complications that others might take for granted. “Red hair holds its pigment tighter than other hair colours, which means that in order to dye it, the colour needs to be stripped with bleach first – in order for a new colour to take,” explains Dr. Veraitch.

how to get red hair ginger Getty Images/iStockphoto

Red hair is also more easily influenced by external factors, such as sunlight. According to Schwarzkopf, pheomelanin pigments are light sensitive so the company advises ginger-haired sun lovers use UV protection hair products or wear a hat to protect both their hair and scalp.

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Veraitch concurs: “People with red hair tend to have fairer skin and are more likely to develop skin cancer. In fact, studies suggest that redheads are approximately 2.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer than people with other hair colours.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for gingers though. Redheads have less hair than their blonde and brunette peers, but each strand of hair is thicker than the other shades. Red hair also doesn’t go grey — it just fades to rose gold and then to white.

For those who haven’t been blessed with an increase of pheomelanin but dream of having red locks, there is hope.

According to L’Oreal, there is a red tone to suit every skin type. However, the darker the hair, the more lightning or “lifting” the hair will need. Once the transition has happened, use colour-safe shampoos and conditioners to keep the red vibrant or it will fade with each wash.

FURTHER READING: What hair colour suits me? Hollywood stylist Paul Edmonds reveals the key rule you need to know

Best Hair Care For Redheads

  1. Best Shampoo and Conditioner for red hair: Gingerful Henna and Rose Bundle £17.95
  2. Best UV Protection: Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil £23.50
  3. Best Mask for red hair: Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Mask £32
  4. Best For Scalp: Weleda Revitalising Hair Tonic £13.50
  5. Best Colour Intensifier for red hair: Superdrug Colour Effects Wash In Hair Dye Warm Copper Gold£1.99
  6. Best After Sun for hair: TIGI Bed Head Totally Beachin Mellow After-Sun Conditioner£14.50

♥︎ Gingerful Henna and Rose Bundle

£17.95 | Buy now from Gingerful

Why we love it: It’s so difficult to find hair cleansing products specifically for red hair on the high street, so this bundle is the answer to our redheaded dreams. According to Gingerful, the shampoo and conditioner work “in complete harmony” with one another to bring out the multi-tonal low- and highlights found in red hair.

Known for its red dying properties, henna is an unusual ingredient to find in hair cleansers but it definitely brings out the vibrance of red hair. Then, armed with rose the smell of the bundle, it leaves our hair smelling divine.

Gingerful’s products are vegan, gluten-free, sulfate, silicone, and paraben-free, and cruelty-free. The bottle is also made from sustainable sugarcane.

How to use: Apply the shampoo to the roots and massage into the scalp and hair. Leave on for one minute and rinse. For the conditioner apply to the midsection through to the ends of the hair, combing through with your fingers. Leave on for five minutes and rinse.

FURTHER READING: Why sodium lauryl sulfate found in high-street shampoos is being shunned by experts

Buy now from Gingerful

♥︎ Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil

£23.50 | Buy now from Aveda

Why we love it: Did you know you needed UV protection for red hair? In fact, hair of any colour (not to mention the scalp) can benefit from being protected by SPF.

Don’t worry though — there’s no need to apply thick sunscreen to your hair and scalp. The Aveda hair mist is a lightweight, water-resistant defence against UV rays. It forms an invisible screen against sun exposure to minimise damage and dryness. For redheads, making sure that each strand of hair is protected is key as they have fewer hair strands than other hair colours.

The mist can be used alone or in combination with a three-part defence and recovery system from the brand. Ingredients include UVA and UVB filters derived from wintergreen and cinnamon bark oils, known for protecting against the drying effects of the sun.

How to use: Using this mist is as simple as spraying evenly on dry or damp hair before and during sun exposure. Start with a small amount and layer as needed. Aveda says to not saturate hair, and make sure you reapply after swimming.

FURTHER READING: What is SPF and why is it so important?

Buy now from Aveda

♥︎ Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Mask

£32 | Buy now from Amazon

Why we love it: This product isn’t specifically for redheads but it certainly does the job for us. This weekly hair mask treatment is designed to nourish and moisturise hair strands for up to 72 hours, leaving it softer and reducing frizz.

Formulated with a blend of oils such as coconut, macadamia, sweet almond, argan and more, as well as plant extracts, this mask is suitable for all hair textures and densities — making it ideal for dry, damaged and colour and chemically treated hair.

How to use: This product should be used weekly as a pre-shampoo treatment. Apply to dry hair and leave on for five minutes, then rinse. If you have extra dry hair the mask can be left on for up to 20 minutes.

FURTHER READING: The best hair masks for dry, fine, curly and natural hair types

Buy now from Amazon

♥︎ Weleda Revitalising Hair Tonic 

£13.50 | Buy now from Amazon

Why we love it: A healthy scalp means a healthy set of hair and Weleda’s hair tonic definitely leaves our scalp feeling nourished.

The company behind products such as Skin Food has created this rosemary-infused tonic to be massaged into the scalp to strengthen hair and invigorate the scalp.

It doesn’t weigh down the roots, which can be a problem with some similar products we’ve used, and it soaks in quickly allowing you to get on with your day. It also smells amazing so there’s no need to worry about hair freshness.

How to use: Apply to your scalp morning and evening, massaging into the skin and roots. We also used this in combination with Philip Kingsley’s Flaky/Itchy Scalp Soothing Dry Shampoo in-between washes.

FURTHER READING: Best scalp tonics: Unlock the secret to longer, healthier hair with these scalp treatments

Buy now from Amazon

♥︎ Superdrug Colour Effects Wash In Hair Dye Warm Copper Gold

£1.99 | Buy now from Superdrug

Why we love it: Perfect for people wanting to experiment with red hair, or those looking to intensify their natural colour, the Superdrug Colour Effects Copper Gold conditioning colour adds warm red tones to light brown and mid-brown hair. According to Superdrug, it can also be used on natural hair for subtle tones as well as colour hair to boost colour and prevent fading.

This easy-to-use formula doesn’t damage your hair and leaves it in great condition. The price tag doesn’t’ hurt the bank either.

How to use: After shampooing, use it as a conditioner. The longer the conditioner is left in, the redder the final colour will be.

FURTHER READING: Best hair dye: Dye your hair at home and hide those lockdown roots safely and easily

Buy now from Superdrug

♥︎ TIGI Bed Head Totally Beachin Mellow After-Sun Conditioner

£14.50 | Buy now from Lookfantastic

Why we love it: Just like our skin, our hair needs to be nourished after sun exposure and the TIGI Bed Head after sun conditioner is exactly the solution we need for beautiful post-sun locks.

According to TIGI Bed Head, this colour-safe formula is designed to protect and care for hair, using a UV complex to help maintain colour vibrancy. It also has a dose of Aloe Vera, just like the After Sun you would have likely used on your skin, plus antioxidant Vitamin E to target signs of damage.

The smell is refreshing — locks smell of sweet mango and tangerine, reminding us of those tropical beaches and citrusy cocktails.

How to use: Work thoroughly into wet hair after shampooing and leave in for one-three minutes. Rinse.

FURTHER READING: Best hair dryer 2021: Get salon-worthy locks with these best dryers from GHD, Revlon, Remington and Panasonic

Buy now from Lookfantastic

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