With the arrival of autumn, certain things are inevitable: The leaves will change color, the temperature will drop, and people everywhere will dye their hair some shade of rich, silky auburn. There’s something about this red-brown color that just suits the season. Maybe it’s a tried-and-true trend because it suits all different skin tones, mimics the color of the landscape, or brings luster back to gloomy fall days. Whatever the reason is, it’s back in vogue this year, too.
Take it from Mark Mileti, Joico Global Artistic Guest Artist. "Auburn is always a tried-and-true trend tone for fall," he says. "So much so that I find my blondes and brunettes who are color shy to even request warmer highs and lows to be infused in their chosen blonde or brunette. I find it pretty regular… Once the weather gets cooler, the hair color gets warmer." But before you think Been there done that, know that this year auburn is getting updated into a number of new shades. Keep reading to see whether you prefer copper, sun-kissed, plum, or true red auburn.
Just like with any other hair color, there are different shades and levels of auburn. You can go for a mostly brown dye with a hint of red-gold undertone, or, you can opt for a fiery and undulating red shade. As Mileti tells us, auburn is a tricky color since some people's definitions differ from others.
"Auburn can be very subjective to the person describing it. I like to share photos, swatches, even textiles with clients when describing what auburn means to me," he says. It might be a good idea to take his lead and bring in photos and examples of the shade you're going for so you can avoid disappointment at the end. Mileti describes true auburn as "a copper color with a slightly brown base and a hint of gold." It's a "more mellow sister to copper, the slightly saner cousin to burgundy."
Sun-kissed auburn is a "deeper more red base with lighter and less vibrant ends," Sanger says. "The main difference between them is the gloss/base color that adds the specific tone you want to see." With this specific shade, the highlights will need to be placed close to ends to brighten the overall look and add more dimension. "As for aftercare, I recommend the Davines Alchemic Shampoo ($27) and Conditioner ($31) to preserve and enhance the tones in your hair," he says. For this shade specifically, use the "Golden" version, because it will keep your strands bright.
He predicts that this one will be the most buzzy shade of auburn for late 2017 into early 2018. "I believe this year we will see more of a sun-kissed auburn—especially in blondes who want to try something new or change it up for fall but still want to feel light and bright. It's a great way to try out this color trend without too much commitment."
Plum auburn "has a violet tone to it and is overall a deeper auburn," Sanger says. This shade can look almost chocolate brown in some lighting because its red tones are less fiery and more subtle. It's a shade of auburn for people who are bright color-averse when it comes to their dye preferences and looks like it was practically made for wearing throughout the autumn and winter. Sanger recommends using the same Davines Alchemic Shampoo ($27) and Conditioner ($31) he recommended for sun-kissed auburn, but this time in the "Silver" version, as to keep the cool plum undertones intact.
True Red Auburn
"True primary red tone can be as bright and vibrant as you want or more subtle and natural," Sanger says. If you do decide to make the jump and go for something brighter, Mileti recommends staying away from too much color at the roots. He says it's the make-or-break habit to dyeing your hair with a red undertone.
"When I formulate for clients and a fiery auburn is desired, it is very important not to go too far from the natural color so as not to throw off the eye color or skin color. Too many times reds are unsuccessful because they go too fiery at the base (or root), drawing away the woman’s natural God-given coloring."
To avoid a harsh, unnatural color, Mileti says to concentrate the most vivid hues mid-strand. "I like to concentrate bright slashes of color through the body and ends of the hair to create the warmth, fire, and passion that we associate with reds or auburn. Multiple tones are applied via highlighting and low-lighting to create personalized auburn hair color."
If you're in love with each of these shades, and you can't tell which one would best suit you, Mileti says to look at your eyes, not your skin tone. "When determining whether a person can be a great auburn, the truth is in their eyes. I always look for warm flecks in the eye—copper or golden tones. Even blue eyes can have warm undertones."
As for the products he recommends for auburn hair upkeep, Mileti likes Joico products. "I remain very impressed with the performance of the K-Pak Color Therapy Shampoo ($17) and conditioner as well as its Luster Locks Deep Conditioner ($22)," he says. "I always remind my clients that auburn is a commitment and proper products are paramount." These products are color-preserving, so much so that they promise to double the longevity and vibrancy of hair color, thanks to the oil and peptides found inside.