Red and Blonde highlights are often associated with two distinctly different looks: "not a blonde, not quite a redhead" strawberry blonde, and the chunky streaks worn by early '90s pop star Ginger Spice. But let's break down those associative barriers for a moment and hone in on the facts. These two hair colors add a lot of warmth to any natural coloring—mixing the two together in a blend of highlights can certainly add some spice, if you will.
Red and blonde may actually go better together, no matter your hair type, base color, or natural texture. We tapped colorist Olivia Casanova of IGK salons and California-based hairstylist and colorist Ashley Rourk to talk to us about the perks of this highlighted color combo. Keep scrolling for our list of 18 celebs who show just how versatile red and blonde highlights can be.
Meet the Expert
- Olivia Casanova is a colorist with IGK's salons in New York City and Miami.
- Ashley Rourk is a hairstylist and colorist specializing in low maintenance haircuts and beach blonde color. She works in Santa Barbara and the Bay Area.
A marbled sheen of red and blonde highlights can be very mermaid-esque. For an all-over color shift that differs from your normal hue, Casanova suggests using a gentle demi-permanent color, such as Redken Shades EQ. "It will give you the tone and vibrancy you’re looking for, without the commitment or hardships normally associated with permanent red dyes or bleach."
Keep it Natural
"For the natural red heads I think less is more," says Rourk, who suggests maintaining a tone that's true to your natural coloring. "Adding rich lowlights is a great way to bring browned out reds back to where they want to be. "
Who says these two colors need to be interwoven to complement one another? A split tone color palette, with deeper reds beneath and blonde up top to keep things bright and open around the face, is a great way to wear this red and blonde combo on curly layered cuts.
Consider it a throwback to a throwback: Much like Ginger Spice's chunky highlights in the 90's, Rihanna early aughts 'do plays with contrast. Instead of blonde highlights on a bright red base, however, this look weaves platinum and bright red into a black bob for a dramatic look.
While hints of red and blonde can truly work well with any hair type or complexion, Casanova notes, "people with a lighter natural [hair] color and/or warm undertones are perfect candidates for red and blonde highlights."
If you have a darker base color, don't rule red and blonde highlights as out of the question. This color duo can certainly be incorporated into your 'do without looking unnatural. Rourk says "it’s best to lighten your hair only two levels lighter than your natural hair color in an effort to keep things looking natural. I also prefer the balayage technique as opposed to foil when I want things to look seamless and natural."
A Sultry Melt
Ombre has made dark base colors with lighter ends a trending, low-maintenance approach to color. By pairing your dark brown base colors with a sultry melt into golden red and blonde blends, you'll get all the perks of this color combo sans high-maintenance upkeep.
The key to making your red and blonde blend work well boils down to one key component: balance. "Red and Blonde can work really well together as long as you achieve the perfect tone and level of lightness/darkness," says Casanova. Without that balance in tones, your color may be a little less natural.
High and Low
The key to making red and blonde highlights work well for darker base colors is mixing in highlights and lowlights. A good blend of contrast in the hair will provide a natural depth and believable dimension.
Keep It Fresh
Keeping a nice vibrancy and shine to red and blonde highlights is crucial. "Using a color depositing conditioner is great to add tonality back to dulled natural redheads," advises Rourk. "You can also opt-in for an occasional in-salon glossing treatment."
Vibrant and Dimensional
"Beige, honey, and wheat toned blonde highlights can all be incorporated into a darker base to create beautiful dimension and nice glints of light," says Rourk. "The same goes for adding rich red highlights. These auburn, soft copper, and cinnamon tones will make brown hair vibrant and dimensional."
Face Framing Duo
By paring down the vibrancy and using subtle tones, Adele has modernized the face framing chunk of blonde to complement her red tinted locks. This updo is a lovely way to showcase the color duo.
Red and blonde highlights are an excellent color choice to break up natural brunette bases. Since darker base colors have so much coolness in their tones, the addition of red and blonde highlights can add warmth to the hair and really brighten up your overall complexion.
Go Back to Your Roots
For many colorists, looking at a photo of the client's hair color from childhood can help inform their approach to the most natural-looking highlights. "When it’s done correctly, red and blonde tones can create a gorgeous natural looking strawberry blonde, or even a natural copper," Casanova says.
For some natural color tones and complexions, highlights may not be the go-to answer. "I’d usually add some lowlights for a brunette client who’s looking to achieve this style, as opposed to highlights," says Casanova. Be sure to have a consultation with your colorist about the end goal. Instead of requesting "highlights," strictly mention your desired shades, colors, and tones, and allow your colorist to be the one who gives you the roadmap of highlights and/or lowlights needed to get you there.
If you're a natural redhead and your red hues begin to fade, adding more highlights can keep your strands looking intentionally vibrant and warm.
"Blonde and red can be interchangeable when it comes to hair color," Rourk explains. "The key is getting the right tone of either color that best complements your skin tone." There is a wide range of warmth levels for you and your colorist to choose from, so the sky is truly the limit here.
Of course the list wouldn't be complete without the original red and blonde icon, Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell. In more recent years the pop star has traded out her trademark, starkly-contrasted locks for a more blended strawberry blonde look.