There’s a common misconception that redheads are a dying breed. A few years back a number of news organisations were reporting that redheads could be extinct by the year 2060. Fortunately they had the wrong end of the stick about recessive genes and without going into all of the science here* let’s just say we aren’t going anywhere.
I say “we” could be extinct but really I should probably be saying “they” because even though I am indeed red these days, you may be shocked to discover this is not exactly my natural colour.
Although I did have some natural red highlights back before I started messing around with rinses and dyes, my natural colour is something I have only briefly glimpsed once since high school, and that was when my hairdresser shaved one side of my head when I went through my asymmetric phase. So who knows what colour it really is now.
One thing I do know for sure is that I have a redhead’s skin. And regardless of whether you have natural red hair or if you’re, shall we say, enhanced, we redheads have the most difficult colour to maintain. That means we need to take extra special care of both our hair and skin if we want to keep the red vibrant in one, and absent from the other.
So for this blog I wanted to do a shout out to all the reds out there and share hair and beauty tips from three top people: Christina Butcher from the fabulous Hair Romance and Mr and Mrs Romance, who recently went red herself, the talented ‘Going Solo’ travel columnist for Escape, blogger at Cruisey Life and natural redhead Louise Goldsbury, and my own hairdresser and gorgeous friend, Jason Gardner of Suite Salon in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
Protecting Your Hair Colour on Holiday
When Jason took my hair from brunette to a vibrant red he explained that if I wanted to keep my colour from fading, I would have to treat my new hair carefully.
One of my favourite tips from Jason is that if you’re going into the ocean or a pool, you can help save your colour from salt or chlorine by giving it a protective coat of natural oil before you dive in.
“Coconut oil and jojoba oil are readily available when you’re travelling.” Jason says. “They work like a masque to protect your colour and are not only great for your hair but also for protecting and moisturising your face and body.” Nothing like a triple threat product when you want to pack light for a trip.
No oil on hand? Christina has another great tip.
“Always rinse your hair before and after swimming. If you make sure your hair is really wet before you enter the pool or sea, your hair can’t absorb as much chlorine or salt. Once you’re out of the water, rinse your hair again.
“I also like to use a leave in conditioner spray to counteract the drying effects of salt and chlorine on my hair.”
Sun protection is also a big factor.
“Both natural and ‘enhanced’ redheads need to protect their hair from colour fade.” Christina explains. “I recommend using a UV protectant spray on your hair before you head outside and wear a hat while in the sun.”
Jason also urges reds to remember they’re particularly UV sensitive and says we should reach for the SPF hair products whether we’re on a beach holiday or in the middle of the desert.
Treat Yourself Right
Whether we’re out in the sun or enjoying a winter wonderland style break, Jason says our hair easily can dry out, so pop a hair masque in your bag to help it along.
“Red hair is naturally drier than other hair colours so it needs some extra care.” Christina agrees. “Use a weekly conditioning treatment to moisturise your hair and keep it in top condition. Also look for shampoos that are sulphate free as these are gentler on your hair.”
As red hair can start to look a little dull Christina also recommends a clear glaze, to bring that vibrancy back, and says both in salon and at home treatments can add extra shine.
As a redhead who is always on the move, Louise loves the way we can find bargains for our locks when we’re exploring new places.
“As I’m almost always travelling, I often pick up little goodies from different countries, especially as many products are cheaper overseas. In the US, I used to stock up on John Frieda Radiant Red Shampoo and conditioner (for one-third of the price it costs in Australia) but then I discovered SACHAJUAN from Sweden.
“I think its “Ocean Silk Technology” appealed to the cruise lover in me. The standout star is the Overnight Hair Repair, which you don’t have to rinse out in the morning. Ideal for the low-maintenance girl on the go!”
And no matter how pretty those hotel shampoos may smell, if you want to keep your red rocking you should always use colour care shampoo and conditioner. I decant my favourite ones from home into small travel size bottles from Muji, but there are lots of great options out there to choose from.
Dry Shampoo for Redheads
Dry shampoos have been around for decades, but while only a few years ago you had to search for someone who stocked them, now you can find them everywhere from supermarkets to service stations. And better yet, now they come in colours!
“My lazy weapon is Ambiance Dry Shampoo, which amazingly has a red shade.” Louise confesses. “I use it when I don’t have time (or can’t be bothered) to wash and blow-dry my very thick hair. It’s a powder rather than an aerosol so it’s great for travelling. It also hides roots if I’ve dyed my hair a richer red and am a long way from my hairdresser at home.”
While Louise may think she’s being lazy, Christina says she’s being smart.
“The best thing ‘enhanced’ redheads can do is actually wash their hair less often. Even colour protect shampoos and conditioners will lift some colour from your hair every time you wash. Instead use dry shampoo to help you stretch out the time between washes.”
Simple Redhead Skincare on the Go
As a viral email by a Pulitzer Prize winner that became a Baz Luhrmann song once put it, “wear sunscreen.” Mary Schmich’s advice was to everyone, but redheads and their pale skinned friends should take particular heed as we are more susceptible to melanoma, we burn the fastest, and that red skin rarely transforms into a tan.
“At most airport duty-free stores, I grab another tube of Clinique’s Super City Block Oil Free Daily Face Protector SPF40.” Louise says. “A redhead can never have too much sunscreen, and this has a nice light tint to it too.”
Don’t forget to top up the sunscreen on your face and body regularly, and if you’re on a road trip keep in mind that even though you won’t burn through the car’s windows thanks to the glass filtering out most of the UVB rays, those damaging UVA rays are still making it through.
UVA rays are the ageing ones so if you want to keep wrinkles and skin damage at bay, you will still need to apply sunscreen even if you’re in the car.
As well as sun damage, redheads are also prone to dry skin, so when you’re heading on a long haul flight, make sure you have a good moisturiser on hand to apply throughout your time in the air. Personally I’m a big fan of organic rose hip oil. Just a few drops can go a long way, leaving lots of room in your airline liquid limit for other things.
Travel Make Up Tips for Redheads
As well as being my favourite hair dresser, Jason is known in the film and commercial business for both his hair and make up work. When I asked him for some make up tips for reds on the road he was all for the minimal approach.
“You must have a good shaped brow to be red, and reds can get by without any make up at all if they have an eyelash tint.”
As soon as he said the words I realised in horror I’d forgotten to book in with my secret brow weapon, Steve Supple of Brows By Steve before my upcoming Europe trip. A quick call later and that was put to rights. Phew!
As for other tips, Jason says to keep it simple with a tinted moisturiser, and if you’d like a little holiday glow pop a peachy tone bronzer in your make up bag.
But at the end of the day, Jason’s best advice is the piece he gives me before every trip. Have fun, and don’t worry about it too much. Your hairdresser can always fix it up when you get back.
So that’s it for now. Over to the other travelling reds out there – what products do you use, and what tips do you have for me to try on my next trip?
* Actually, the recessive genes science is really interesting. But rather than my trying to explain it I thought it was better to leave that to someone with a much better brain for this sort of thing, so if you want to read more, here’s Dr Karl on why redheads are not facing extinction.
Fancy some more hair tips? Head over to Hair Romance, which is full of great ideas and styles that are much easier than you’d think if you saw them on the street. I first tried out some of Christina’s styles when I was on a cruise through the fjords of Norway and got such a great reaction I’ve been using them ever since.
You can also see Christina Butcher share some of the strangest things that have passed her lips in The Craziest Things Travel Bloggers Have Eaten along with our fellow redhead and travel blogger Red Nomad Oz.