Red is autumn’s hottest hair trend, from copper and cinnamon to cherry and chilli

Muted tones take centre stage as the quiet luxury aesthetic goes to our head this season

Autumn's red hair trend ranges from fiery chilli pepper to Zendaya's muted cinnamon highlights. Getty Images
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Just in time for autumn, the latest hair trend embraced by celebrities and style-makers is reflecting the season of changing colours. All manner of reds, from fiery chilli pepper to muted coppers and cinnamons via light cherry hues, have become the A-list go-to, with Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Bieber leading the charge.

Warmth is the buzzword for hair this season, as copper, strawberry and candy tones infuse brunette and blonde locks.

One-tone hair is out, replaced by highlights, lowlights and colour gradients, while the quiet luxury aesthetic that has proved such a big hit in the fashion world has also made its way into hair trends, with muted tones replacing bright, brash colours.

Different shades for different skin tones

“There is an array of red colours on show this season – everything from coppers to fire engine scarlet,” says Dany Bou Malham, educator at Olaplex Arabia. “The reason we need the entire spectrum is that not all reds suit all skin tones. There are different shades that include cool and warm hues to ensure there is a red for everyone.”

If you are paler-skinned, look to warm colours, while cooler tones work better on medium to dark skin tones
Dany Bou Malham, educator, Olaplex Arabia

A recent TikTok trend is revisiting the penchant for finding colours that complement your appearance and personality. Dubbed “seasonal colour analysis”, the concept was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and used for choosing clothes and make-up.

People are sorted into “seasons” according to what suits their hair, eye and skin tones and then assigned a corresponding colour palette, as advocated by Carole Jackson in her best-selling 1973 book Colour Me Beautiful.

“Not all reds are created equal, and what looks drop-dead gorgeous on one person might not quite hit the mark on another,” says Sam Carpenter, hair artist and educator at Eideal.

“It's like a matching game, but with your skin. A professional stylist will be able to take you through the spectrum of colours, including demi-permanent colour ranges – meaning you won't be committed for long if you don't like it.”

Malham adds: “If you’re already a redhead and want to enhance your colour, or if you are paler-skinned, look to warm colours, while cooler tones generally work better on medium to dark skin tones.”

A rainbow of reds

The many iterations of red can be overwhelming (case in point: Hailey Bieber’s hue has been dubbed “cinnamon cookie butter” by Vogue) and so colour personalisation is key.

“This trend isn’t about one specific shade of red, which is fortunate as different colour incarnations work for different skin tones,” says Malham. “Red is generally thought of as a warm hue, but actually cool reds exist, too. Cool tones are those with blue, purple and violet bases, while warm tones are red, orange and yellow based.”

Red can be a showstopper, no doubt. But it's also more high-maintenance
Sam Carpenter, hair artist and educator, Eideal

Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest places, from Halle Bailey’s recent version of Ariel in The Little Mermaid to the animated Jessica Rabbit from Who Shot Roger Rabbit?

Off-screen, the likes of Euphoria star Zendaya and model Gigi Hadid often switch up their colours, with the former opting for subtle highlights.

“There are a host of red shades this season – everything from fiery crimson to deep burgundy, and even those subtle hints of strawberry blonde,” says Carpenter. “It’s a whole spectrum of red goodness.”

Caring for red hair

Red tresses require colour-specific haircare products to maintain the hue for as long as possible.

“Reds tend to fade faster than your regular hair colours,” says Carpenter. “Blondes might have it a tad easier making the transition, but brunettes can rock a red colour too as long as they use proper home care such as a coloured shampoo and conditioner range to keep the red fresher for longer.”

Muted colours will look fresher for longer as the fade will not be as noticeable as it is with more fiery reds.

“Once achieved, you need to use specifically designed products to keep the vibrancy of this elusive colour alive,” says Malham. “Make sure you use a gentle shampoo and conditioner formulas that are colour-friendly and have zero sulphates.

“One thing to remember is that the fashion-statement-making hues are apt to lighten and fade more easily than natural-looking colours.”

Should you go red?

This season’s red hues lean towards natural-looking colours as opposed to bold, bright reds. Earthier tones are proving more popular, which will take the trend more easily into the traditionally more muted winter months.

On the other end of the scale, blondes are moving towards strawberry blonde shades.

“Before you take that leap into the world of red hair, you should ponder a few things,” says Carpenter. “First off, how bold are you feeling? Red can be a showstopper, no doubt, but it's also more high-maintenance. Then, there's the whole matching-your-skin-tone strategy. And don't forget about your wardrobe – red hair can change your style game.”

Updated: September 27, 2023, 4:42 AM