If you’re a natural blonde, you might have already experienced this, finding the random crimson hair–so you might have asked the question blondes have asked for time immemorial: can blonde hair turn red?
Blonde hair is one of the less common hair colors–after all, only about five percent of women in North America have naturally blonde hair, while just one percent of people worldwide have red hair. But what’s even more surprising is that the colors can overlap!
Can Blonde Hair Turn Red?
Yes! In short, both natural and dyed blonde hair can turn red.
For natural blondes, several bodily and environmental changes might cause a “redshift,” usually hormonal developments. On the other hand, those with dyed blonde hair might find their hair turning red because of the chemical breakdown of hair dye.
Why Natural Blonde Hair Can Turn Red?
If you’ve been a lifelong blonde, it might be surprising that you’re developing reddish hairs on your head. Don’t be alarmed, though, because there are plenty of benign explanations.
One of the most common reasons is hormonal change. Here’s some background. DNA determines the particular pigments (eumelanin and pheomelanin) that your hair can produce.
However, the genetics of hair is still very under-researched. Scientists are not exactly sure of all the factors that go into hair color, but it is clear that your genes determine the outline of the pigments your hair can produce, while your hormones signal which pigments should be produced and in which amounts at any given moment.
For that reason, hormonal changes, from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, can give hair cells different instructions for producing pigments. This is the same reason children with light-colored hair will develop darker-colored hair during puberty, but it can cause a change from blond to red in some cases.
A related reason for the blonde-to-red change is related to perception. While it might seem intuitive to think that there are four natural hair colors (red, blonde, brown, and black), this is not entirely accurate; many people have hair that technically straddles the line, from strawberry blondes to auburn.
This is because there is no on/off switch for red–it is related to the production of pheomelanin. This connects to blonde hair because it is possible that your hair has always been red, and it has simply appeared blonde to the naked eye.
That way, when the aforementioned hormonal changes happen, it only seems that your hair is suddenly red because you are noticing the redness for the first time.
Another reason for blonde hair turning red is related to nutrition. When one is severely malnourished, your body can develop protein deficiencies like Kwashiorkor. These conditions will cause your body to “ration” the proteins it produces, diverting them from your hair and using them to sustain your body.
As a result, both hair and skin can become brittle, dry, and rusty orange hue. That said, this is an extremely uncommon reason for blonde hair to turn red. Even though malnutrition is somewhat more common among the elderly and vegans, it would have to reach an extremely severe point for it to blossom into full-blown Kwashiorkor.
Nonetheless, if you suspect that you are experiencing a nutritional deficit, get in contact with your doctor, or perhaps see a nutrition specialist.
Why Is My (Dyed) Blonde Hair Turning Red?
If you get your blonde hair from dyes in the salon rather than from genetics, there are also reasons why your locks could be taking on red hue.
In simple terms, the chemicals used to bleach hair “lift” pigment out of your strands–but depending on how your hair reacts, it doesn’t remove everything. In that case, it might leave behind the naturally red pigments present in many people’s hair.
As the dye fades, this orange-red hue becomes more apparent, which could, again, create the illusion that your blonde hair is turning red.
If you don’t like these red pigments showing their crimson faces, you should use green or purple shampoo to neutralize the red or yellow-orange colors (following the basic principles of color theory, use green to neutralize the red and purple to neutralize the yellow-orange).
My Blonde Hair Didn’t Turn Red But Appear Reddish
There are some factors that can cause blonde hair to appear reddish:
Sun exposure: The sun can bleach hair, removing the eumelanin and leaving behind more pheomelanin, which can give hair a reddish tint.
Chemical reactions: Certain chemicals, such as those found in swimming pools, can react with hair and change its color. This is more commonly a problem for blonde hair, which may turn green from exposure to copper in pool water.
Hair products: Certain shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products can deposit color onto the hair shaft, which could result in a reddish tint over time.
Hair dye or color treatments: Hair color can change due to artificial color treatments. If you’ve dyed your hair blonde, it may fade over time or react with other products to produce a reddish color.
Nutritional deficiencies: Certain deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, can alter hair color over time.
If you notice an unwanted red tint in your blonde hair, you may want to visit a hair professional. They can help identify the cause and recommend treatments to restore your preferred hair color.
Long story short, blonde hair can turn red. This change might happen due to both genetic and perceptual changes–it might be that your hormones activate different pigments in your hair or that you’re simply noticing your red for the first time.
If you dye your hair, the color shift might be a consequence of the bleaching process, in which case you can simply correct it with pigmented shampoo.