Extreme Copper Hair Is Everywhere Right Now

Celebrities are very much on board.

Sophie Turner with extreme copper hair

Sophie Turner

Perhaps thanks to the hair color trends popping in 2023, we've got warm, rich hair tones on the brain—and apparently, so do stars like Tessa Thompson, Sophie Turner, and Shay Mitchell with their extreme copper strands. Consider the color to be the bolder answer to last spring's honey red hue. It's a shade that's flattering and statement-making across the board, simultaneously bringing warmth and dimension.

"Less than 2% of the world's population has red hair, so a copper-red is definitely a bold and declarative hair color," says Jamie Wiley, pro hair colorist and Global Artistic Director at Pureology. "It looks great on all skin tones, with the warmth of the color bringing a healthy brightness." Better yet, it's a shade that's fully customizable, with the ability to shift towards a ginger-tinged copper to flatter warm undertones, or a sangria-tinted copper to complement cooler complexions.

Ready to veer in a warmer direction? Keep reading to find out what the extreme copper hair trend entails, what to ask for in the salon, and how to maintain the look.

The Trend

The extreme copper trend is a hair color that borders on rich brown and vivid red—think Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane in Spider-Man with hints of a chocolatey brunette. With shades of auburn and red being so varied, make sure to find a reference point for your colorist—rooted in pop culture or anywhere else you find inspiration. For Thompson in particular, the inspiration came from her own family archives, with her colorist Aura Friedman referencing a childhood photo of the star to create the shade.

"While Thompson's hair color is more of a vivid warm copper, Mitchell and Turner's respective colors are a cooler auburn-copper," says celebrity colorist and Matrix ambassador George Papanikolas. "All three are in the copper family, but flatter each of their complexions."

If your skin is on the cooler side, Papanikolas advises following in the lead of Turner with a more auburn-toned copper, noting that warmer complexions are best complemented by ginger or true copper hues. "Those with neutral complexions can go in either direction and have the most flexibility in choosing their shade, as their skin tone falls right in the middle," he says.

The caveat? Extreme copper may be somewhat high-maintenance as the shade is prone to fading. "Although reds and coppers are some of the most vibrant ways to wear your hair, the red molecule is larger than any other color molecule," says Wiley. "The red color molecule sits on the surface of the hair cuticle and cortex rather than penetrating the hair as deep as other color molecules, so red and copper tend to wash out easier."

To extend the color's lifespan at home, make sure to stock up on at-home color glosses—the Pureology Color Fanatic Top Coat + Tone Hair Gloss ($35) is a great option—and other color-preserving shampoos and conditioners. You can also opt for an ombrè effect, similar to the one above, where your natural hair color is concentrated around the root area and gradually blends into the extreme copper, allowing for an easier grow-out period.

"This way, the color will continue to look good as it grows out and fades into softer hues," Wiley adds.

Extreme copper can be an easy transformation for certain hair colors, while others may need to be lifted slightly before the color is applied. "Darker hair naturally pulls copper tones when you lift it, so enhancing it with additional copper tones gives it a strong foundation to adhere to, and usually has minimal fading," says Papanikolas. "Lighter hair needs to have additional copper deposited to achieve these hues, and since the copper color molecules tend to be very small, they tend to fade quickly, but it's an otherwise easy transition for virgin or already-blonde hair."

Additionally, Papanikolas notes that previously-dyed hair will need to have the color stripped to an orange hue before the deeper copper tones are applied.

The Bottom Line

While the aftercare for extreme copper hair can be pretty involved, the finished result can be completely worth it if working the intense hue is your end goal. "Copper tones need to be retouched every 4-6 weeks since the root regrowth comes in at 1/2" an inch per month," says Papanikolas. "Whenever you retouch the roots, it’s also time to refresh the ends, so your colorist will need to use a stronger copper tone when do the refresh on the ends to avoid browning out the hair."

Understandably, this can be a lot if your color-care routine is pretty minimal, but according to Papanikolas, an acid-based shampoo and conditioner can help to seal the cuticle and prevent excess fading. Invest in glosses and color-preserving products you can use in your rotation weekly, and if you heat-style your strands, a little protective cream like Matrix's Keep Me Vivid Velvetizer Leave-In Balm ($21) can go a long way.

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