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How to Dye Hair Ginger at Home

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Standing in between copper and red hair, ginger hair is timelessly elegant, bright, and luscious, and it’s no wonder many would love to go ginger at some point in their lives. In this guide, I will shamelessly try and recruit you into the army of ginger hair fanatics, with all of the facts about ginger hair.

I’ll help you pick the right ginger hair color for your skin tone, followed by all the steps to dyeing your hair ginger at home and for keeping it looking bright and saturated for as long as possible. Any hair color change is tough, but ginger hair is so vibrant that I’ve made sure to also give advice on how to fit your fashion and makeup to ginger hair.

In this article:

Ginger Hair Facts to Know

Ginger hair falls somewhere on the scale between strawberry blonde and a classic natural red. It is a light shade of red that looks extremely natural, which means that a few lucky people are actually born with this hair color.

Ginger can be considered an insult towards those with red hair, as exemplified by Tim Minchin’s hilarious song, although we see ginger as a beautiful hair color that is in the red hair family.

The ginger hair gene first showed up as a mutation in humans either in the Middle East or in Central Asia. The same mutation also led to lighter skin, freckles, and sun sensitivity.

Ginger Hair Facts to Know

Here are a few interesting ginger hair facts to know!

  • Ginger hair is colored red because of a higher presence of pheomelanin in the hair. Pheomelanin is the pigment that is normally responsible for the redness in lips, but redheads are lucky enough to also have it in their hair!
  • The red hair mutation became more dominant as our species migrated from West and North into Europe, and it even came in handy since redheads are able to produce their own vitamin D when sun is lacking.
  • Natural redheads only make up 2% of the world population, which means that those with the lighter, ginger variation on it make up an even smaller percentage.
  • Most of the natural gingers and redheads come from Scotland and Ireland, where they make up 13% and 10% of the population, respectively.
  • To have ginger hair naturally both your parents must carry the red hair gene – although this doesn’t mean that they both have to be redheads! Otherwise, unfortunately, ginger hair dye is your only way to achieve this gorgeous color.
  • One of the not so fun side effects of having naturally ginger hair is an increased sensitivity to pain, as demonstrated by various studies. Gingers usually need a higher dose of anesthetic than those with other hair colors.
  • Those with naturally ginger hair will never go gray. Instead, their hair will fade delicately into a pretty white – such a great way to age!
  • Natural redheads have less hair on their head than others. Brunettes have 140,000 strands on average, blondes have approximately 110,000, and gingers only have 90,000 strands. To make up for it, however, ginger strands of hair tend to be thicker and stronger.
  • Since both being ginger and being left-handed are recessive genes, and since recessive genes tend to come together, redheads are much likelier to be left-handed than others!
  • In religious texts ginger-haired characters show up both as “good guys” and “bad guys.” They include King David, Esau, Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, and the Norse god Thor.
  • Historically, ginger was a very polarizing hair color. A common Western belief was that those with ginger hair have a fiery temperament, and are quick to get angry, while in proto-psychology there was the belief that redheads have a sanguine or highly social and charismatic temperament.
  • Similarly, in Ayurveda redheads are associated with the Pitta dosha, meaning that they are fiery and energetic.
  • In the Middle Ages a fascination with red hair meant that it was associated with all kinds of malevolent things, including sinful sexual appetites and heresy, or as a sign of a witch, werewolf or vampire.
  • The Medieval stereotype about gingers having bigger sexual appetites might not be totally off base. A study showed that red-headed women reported to having sex more often than their blonde and brunette counterparts.
  • These days there are six festivals and conferences to celebrate redheads and gingers all over the world, in countries that include Russia, the Netherlands, the US, Israel, and, of course, Ireland.

What Ginger Hair Color to Pick for Your Skin Tone?

Ginger hair colors run the gamut from being a little more red-toned to being a little more gold-toned. There is very little brown or purple in ginger hair colors, so they are always on the warm side. However, because the ginger hair color is considered natural, it tends to suit most undertones quite well.

The most traditional ginger hair color is a warm orangey-yellow that works just as well for those with cool undertones (meaning skin that leans a little towards more pink, with veins that appear purple) as for those with warm undertones (meaning that their skin leans more towards yellow, with veins that appear slightly greenish).

You’ll see some examples of ginger hair that has a lot more gold and brown to it, and a lot less red. This variation on ginger hair is usually more flattering to those with warm undertones to their skin, while it might bring out unflattering pinkishness in those with cool undertones to their skin.

A red-heavy version of ginger hair works well for both warm and cool undertones, but those with olive undertones (meaning that there is more green in their skin) should avoid it, as it might make their skin appear sickly.

When it occurs naturally, ginger hair usually comes hand in hand with lighter skin. This doesn’t mean that women with darker skin tones shouldn’t give ginger hair a try – quite the opposite!

The effect of ginger hair with darker skin can be magnificent, as the warm shade brings out bronze undertones in the skin! We’ve all seen Rihanna rocking all kinds of different shades of red and ginger hair and looking fabulous, but other famous examples include Keyshia Cole and Tina Campbell.

What Ginger Hair Color to Pick for Your Skin Tone?

Tips for Dyeing Hair Ginger at Home

So if you aren’t a natural redhead and have decided to switch to that gorgeous ginger hair color, these are the steps to follow if you choose the DIY route!

Before You Start

  • The hair color you start with is very important when it comes to using ginger hair dye at home. If you have black, dark brown, or even medium brown hair, then you will have to bleach your hair first before dyeing it ginger. This is because ginger hair dye doesn’t really lighten hair – it just changes its color by depositing pigment into it.
  • Ginger hair color looks great as part of a balayage or with simply slightly darker roots. After looking at all of our ginger hair inspiration photos decide how you would like your hair to look, and apply the ginger hair dye accordingly. My instructions further down, however, will be for all-over colored ginger hair.
  • If you’re doing all of the processing at home then definitely avoid bleaching your hair on the same day that you intend to dye it. By doing too much to your hair in one day you can seriously damage it.
  • In general, prepare your hair for processing by not washing it too much, and by keeping it healthy and nourished with the help of hair masks and conditioners.
  • If this will be your first time dyeing your hair, make sure to first conduct a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to the hair dye.
How to Dye Hair Ginger

To dye your ginger hair you will need:

  • Ginger hair dye (or a ginger color kit)
  • Developer
  • An applicator bottle or a small plastic bowl for mixing
  • Latex or plastic gloves
  • Hair dye applicator brush
  • Hair clips
  • Old button-up shirt
  • Disposable shower cap or a plastic bag
  • Hair conditioner
  • Petroleum jelly (optional)

Step 1: Prepping for the Ginger Hair Dyeing Process

  • Before you start, make sure you have absolutely everything that you need – nothing is worse then finishing dyeing your hair and realizing you don’t have a shower cap or plastic bag.
  • Put on the old button-up shirt. Make sure it’s a shirt that you don’t mind getting a little dirty, although the joy of button-up shirts is that you can take them off without having to worry about pulling them over your head.
  • If you’re using a box kit of ginger hair dye, then simply mix the hair dye and developer according to the instructions in the provided container. If you’re using two separate bottles, mix according to the instructions on each of the bottles in a plastic bowl. Use the applicator brush to mix everything together.
  • Allow the mixture of ginger hair dye and developer to sit for as long as it takes to develop – normally just a few minutes.
  • If you’d like to protect your forehead, temples and ears from errant hair dye, then smear petroleum jelly along the perimeter of your hairline.
  • Begin sectioning off and clipping up your hair according to the way you would like to dye it. For all-over color, four sections are usually the easiest to manage. For four sections, first split your hair at the crown from ear to ear, and again at the center – you’ll end up with four sections. Twist each one of these sections of hair into a bun, and clip it up.
How to Color Hair Ginger

Step 2: Applying the Ginger Hair Dye

  • It is best to start by dyeing one of the front sections. Let the hair loose from one of the front section clips, and then from that section pick out a smaller piece of hair that is about 2.5-cm in thickness.
  • Apply ginger hair dye to that piece of hair, starting at the root. With the hair dye applicator brush. Brush the hair dye down towards the ends, or at least as far as it will go. If necessary, apply more ginger hair dye in order to cover the full length of the whole piece of hair.
  • With your gloved fingers massage the ginger hair dye in to the hair to make sure it really gets in there and surrounds each hair individually.
  • Grab another 2.5-cm piece of hair, and apply ginger hair dye much in the same way you did to the first one.
  • Continue dyeing the hair in 2.5-cm pieces until you have covered the whole section of hair. Once all of that section is covered in dye, twist it back up into a bun or knot and pin it with the hair clip.
  • Let loose the next section of hair, and dye it much in the same way you did the previous section. Continue in this vein until your whole head is covered in ginger hair dye.
  • With all of your hair dyed and pinned up, it is processing time. Put a plastic bag or shower cap over your head in order to trap in heat and to protect your surroundings from getting stained with ginger hair dye.
  • Don’t dispose of your leftover ginger hair dye yet – you might need it later for corrections!

Step 3: Waiting for the Color to Process

  • Wait for your hair to process. This normally takes around 20-45 minutes, but you’ll have to read the instructions on your hair dye to know exactly how much time you’ll need. Be careful not to let your hair process for too long, as this can damage it without having an effect on the color itself.
  • Once enough time has elapsed you can remove the shower cap, and get undressed so you can hop in the shower – this is when that old button-up shirt becomes a blessing.
  • Get in the shower and rinse away as much of your ginger hair dye as possible with just lukewarm water – no shampoo needed.
  • Once the water runs clear and no more hair dye is left in your hair, you can absolutely condition your hair or apply a mask to it in order to make it shiny, healthy and strong. Rinse it out after a few minutes, of course.
  • When you’re ready to get out of the shower, try to avoid blow-drying your hair. Instead, gently dry your hair with a towel (without rubbing), and once it’s just damp let it finish drying by air.
  • Once your hair is dry you can admire your new look! If necessary, this is your time to apply more ginger hair dye anywhere where corrections might be needed.
  • Avoid shampooing your hair for the next few days in order to keep your ginger hair color intact.
How to Maintain Ginger Hair Dye

Ginger Hair Care Tips for a Brighter Color

  • No matter how you do it, washing the hair will always strip away some of the ginger hair color. That is why you want to try and reduce how often you shampoo your hair. Once or twice a week should be enough, but if your hair is very oily and if you feel like you must, then you can go up to washing it every other day.
  • When you do shampoo your hair, concentrate your efforts on the roots and the scalp, which is where oil is produced. The middle and ends of your hair don’t really need the heavy cleaning, and it will just take the ginger hair color away from them.
  • In addition to reducing how often you wash your hair, you also want to make the switch to a sulfate-free shampoo. Most store-bought shampoos are made with harsh sulfates, which are cleansing agents that strip the hair of oils as well as dye, and speed up the fading of hair color.
  • Even better than just a plain old sulfate-free shampoo would be a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner set, like the Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo from Ulta.
  • Hair masks are super important for bringing moisture and nutrients back into the hair after the damaging dyeing process. You can make your own mask out of simple coconut oil, especially if it’s dry, but if your hair has also become brittle or dull then opt for a mask or leave-in conditioner loaded with proteins.
  • Try and minimize your heat styling habit. This means that you should avoid blow-drying your hair as much as possible, by either letting your hair air-dry after a shower or by simply washing your hair less. It also means you should totally avoid harsher styling tools like curling and straightening irons. Heat protectant spray also comes in handy when you have to heat style your hair.
  • In the same vein, shower in lukewarm water to maintain the vibrancy of your ginger hair. Hot water, much like heat styling, can damage your hair and speed up its fading.
Ginger Hair Care Tips for a Brighter Color

Makeup Tips for Gingers

What’s the best makeup you should wear to make your ginger hair stand out? Here is what you need to know!

Complexion Makeup for Ginger Hair

  • As with copper hair, ginger hair is a more natural color so for the most part it is not likely to bring out unflattering tones in your skin – quite the opposite! This means that you don’t have to wear a foundation with higher coverage the way you might if you switched over to fire engine red or grass green hair. If you like the light coverage of a tinted moisturizer, stick to it, while if you prefer a heavy-duty cream foundation, by all means go for it.
  • The same principle applies to contour and highlighting. If you’ve always hated going through the effort of carving out your features, then ginger hair might be the perfect choice for you – this bright color does not wash out the skin, so it does not mandate you to add color back in!
  • If you’re really into the Instaglam look, however, you’ll be happy to know that just because you gave ginger hair dye a try, it doesn’t mean you have to throw away your contour kit.
  • When it comes to blush, the colors you use do depend on the rest of your makeup look. If you want to keep things natural or if you’re wearing a makeup look that is heavy on the eyes, then stick to understated blushes in tones that will echo the tones in your hair. This means wearing peachy and pale orange blushes, and sticking to a warmer bronzer.
  • If your makeup look focuses on the cheeks or if you’re wearing a cool-toned lip (think magenta, eggplant, purple, or red-blue), then you can play around with cooler raspberry, pink, or pink-violet blushes as well, as long as you’re careful not to over-apply. The blush will stand out against your hair in a very interesting way.
Makeup Tips for Ginger Hair

Eye Makeup for Ginger Hair

  • Your eyebrows will require the most significant change once you dye your hair ginger. If you want your ginger hair to appear on the more natural side, then definitely fill your eyebrows in with a lighter, warmer pencil or pomade like the NYX Micro Brow Pencil in Blonde or Auburn from Ulta.
  • Some people love the look of light ginger hair and darker brows, in which case you can opt for a brown eyebrow product, but still make sure it is on the warmer side of things with some red undertones.
  • Gingers can wear all kinds of eyeshadow and eyeliner colors and don’t have to worry about clashing! If you prefer a more natural look, wear eyeshadow looks with matte neutrals like beige, taupe, and chocolate brown.
  • For a bit of a retro feel, wear winged black eyeliner!
  • For fancier events, play around with metallics that will echo the tones in your hair, like gold, copper, bronze, and champagne.
  • A dark smoky eye can be really striking against bright ginger hair. Most gray eyeshadows tend to have cooler undertones, so stick to black and dark brown when creating this sultry look.
  • Feel free to play around with colorful eyeshadows, but just remember the basic principles of the color wheel. The ginger hair color is essentially a yellow-orange shade, so its opposite on the color wheel is blue-violet, although other shades of blue and purple will also stand out against your hair.
  • Greens are actually quite closer to ginger on the color wheel, so they don’t clash as much as they would against copper or red hair. Either way, since your hair already has so much color in it, if you do choose colorful eyeshadows, make sure to keep the rest of your makeup very neutral, with nude lips and a muted blush or bronzer.
  • Deep jewel tones combine the beauty of color with the sultriness of a smoky eye, so you can certainly give them a try for special occasions when you’re feeling daring.
Makeup Tips for Gingers

Lipstick for Ginger Hair

  • On the runways you will find that most women with ginger hair will wear a warm, nude lipstick that is just a few shades darker than their skin. This is a totally safe choice that is guaranteed to work with the more natural effect of ginger hair color.
  • If your makeup look is already heavy on the eyes, then definitely stick to a more natural, nude shade, or if you prefer, a light, “my lips but better” raspberry shade.
  • Nude is not your only route, however! The truth is that all lipstick colors can work nicely with ginger hair, as long as they also suit your skin tone and that they don’t clash against the rest of your makeup.
  • Wearing a red lip with ginger hair is a daring choice that has real payoff. While some sources may suggest wearing a warm red with an orange undertone to match your hair’s undertone, I disagree – warm red lipstick looks too dull against ginger hair, which totally defeats the purpose of wearing a red lip.
  • A true red or blue-red lipstick will really stand out against ginger hair, and as long as the rest of the makeup is neutral (with some sharply winged liner, perhaps) then there will be no chance of clashing.
  • As long as you keep most of your face understated and neutral, you can also play around with other dramatic lip colors like purple, magenta, brick red, burgundy, eggplant, taupey brown, and whatever else you might have in mind!
Fashion Tips for Gingers: The Colors You Should Be Wearing

Fashion Tips for Gingers: The Colors You Should Be Wearing

  • Because ginger hair is more on the natural side, there are very few colors that you cannot wear with it! However, you do need to remember that whatever you wear, your hair will play into the color scheme.
  • Whenever you try and come up with a color palette for your outfit, consult your color wheel first, because no matter what you wear, that yellow-orange of your hair will be part of the overall look.
  • When it comes to only wearing a single color, you can easily opt for a violet-blue shade (orange-yellows opposite on the color wheel) if you would like it to really emphasize your ginger hair. In general, deeper shades of blue, purple, and green all tend to work well with ginger hair for that colorful look.
  • Contrary to popular belief, those with ginger hair can absolutely wear red! However, there is the risk of the mix of colors washing you out a bit, so make sure to pair your smouldering red dress with a touch of bronzer.
  • Color blocking with ginger hair requires a bit more thought. If you want to embrace an analog color scheme then pair yellow and true orange with your orange-yellow hair, or even throw a red in there for extra drama.
  • In addition to playing around with colors, make sure to play around with tints and shades. Pastels, for example, are lighter tints of colors, and they tend to play nicely with lighter ginger hair.
  • is a great app for managing color palettes. Find the shade that matches your hair most closely, and then use the app to see what other colors can work with it! You can even save your favorite color combinations, which will make shopping a breeze.
  • Find yourself some fashion inspiration! Instagram is filled with fashionistas who sport ginger hair – check out their profiles to get some style suggestions! Some of my favorites are @vioroise, @morofungo, and @pammelchiades.
  • If you are feeling a little nervous with all of these color and inspiration suggestions, it’s actually perfectly okay for you to play safe and stick to neutrals! If you want something a little more mature and edgy, stick to black, while if you want to embrace the youthfulness of ginger hair, wear white. For a more sophisticated effect, wear taupes and beiges. With neutrals your ginger hair is guaranteed to stand out!
Fashion Tips for Ginger Hair

Photos via @viorosie, Instagram