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Can You Dye Your Hair Red Over Black?

Whether a vibrant, fire-engine red or the soft strawberry blonde of natural hair, red hair is a beautiful, fiery look. But if your hair is currently black, how to achieve a vivid red tone? In fact, can you dye your hair red over black?

Can I Use Red Dye Over Black Hair?

Yes, you can dye your black hair red, but you will have to bleach it if you are looking to achieve true, vibrant red hair.

If you apply red dye on black hair without bleaching first, you will simply get undertones or highlights. The end result varies depending on your hair type and whether it’s naturally black or dyed.

How to Dye Red Over Black Hair

Below are some factors to consider when deciding whether to dye your black hair red.

Is Your Hair Naturally Black or Dyed Black?

ways to dye red over black hair

While you can strip color from natural or dyed black hair, hair that is dyed black has already suffered a bit more damage than naturally black hair, which makes harsh chemical treatments a little riskier.

The way that the color strips from your hair will vary as well. You can’t go from black to red hair in one day safely; you will have to leave your hair in the middle step for at least a few days.

Natural black hair tends to lighten into an orangish brown in the first bleaching that a good toner or color-correcting shampoo can help mute into something that looks natural.

Dyed-black hair tends to bleach unevenly and may lighten into unnatural undertones unless you use strong, high-quality bleach and developer.

Do You Want Your Red Hair to Be Vivid or to Look Natural?

red hair color for black hair

Natural-looking red hair is difficult to achieve unless you start with very light hair that only contains undertones of gold or orange.

Vibrant or dark red hair deposits a lot of color onto and into the hair shaft, making it easier to achieve vibrancy. You will still need to lighten your hair with bleach, but it doesn’t need to be as perfect as if you attempt to dye your hair a natural shade, which is much subtler.

If all you hope to achieve is a red tint, consider using a temporary hair dye, which deposits color outside the hair shaft rather than penetrating the individual hairs and causing less damage.

How to Dye Black Hair Red Without Bleach

Gather supplies: Purchase a hair dye specifically for dark hair (such as L’oreal Excellence Hicolor for dark hair in red and magenta shades), 30 volume developer (like Ion Sensitive Scalp color Brilliance), a mixing bowl, a brush, gloves, and a color remover for aftercare.

Test strand: Mix the hair dye and developer in a 2:1 ratio, then apply to a small section of hair. Let it sit for 10 minutes before applying it to the roots, then let it sit for an additional 20 minutes before rinsing and checking the results.

Apply the dye: Section your hair and apply the dye mixture, avoiding the roots at first. Make sure to cover all areas of your hair evenly. Keep the dye away from your eyes, as it can cause irritation.

Process the dye: Let the dye sit for the recommended time, which can vary depending on the product used. Keep an eye on the color and rinse it out when you achieve the desired shade.

Rinse and condition: Rinse out the dye thoroughly and use a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner.

Use a protein treatment: Apply a protein treatment, like Ion Repair Solutions foaming protein treatment, to help repair and strengthen your hair after the dyeing process.

Dry and style: Blow dry your hair and style it as you want.

If the roots are too bright, use a color remover according to the instructions to correct the color. Keep in mind that dyeing your hair at home may not produce professional results and may require some trial and error. Be patient and always follow the product instructions carefully.

Other Options for Black Hair

black to brown hair

Dying your hair red from black may take four different dye jobs. It’s time-consuming and risks damaging your hair. If you don’t have the time or want to avoid hair damage, consider some of the other options below as an alternative.

Brown Hair

Even if brown is not as flashy as red hair, you can do a lot with warm or cool undertones to make brown hair look classy and elegant. Getting brown hair after black is much easier than red and causes much less damage.

Auburn Hair

While auburn hair isn’t quite as bright as red, it’s a good compromise. This dark, red-tinged brown is beautiful, rich, and much less damaging to your hair than many other shades of red would be.

Partial Dye Jobs

If you’re determined to have red in your hair, but are worried about the damage it will cause, consider dying portions of your hair red instead of the entire head.

If you dye the tips of your hair or only highlight your hair red, you can have vibrant, bright strands of color in your hair without enflaming your follicles or causing as much weakening in your hair strength.

So, can you dye your black hair red? Yes, you can but it’s riskier than other colors. If you do decide to dye your black hair red, use safe color treatments, give your hair a break in between bleachings, and keep your hair follicles moisturized with a high-quality dye conditioner.


Will dyeing my black hair red ruin my hair?

Dying black hair red can ruin your hair if you don’t do it right. You’ll have to dye your hair slowly and in stages, ensuring that you condition your hair and give it time to heal before dying it again to avoid irreversible damage to your hair.

Do I have to bleach my black hair to dye it red?

Yes. If you don’t bleach your hair first, the best you can hope for is a red tint to your black hair.

Is dyed red hair high maintenance?

Red hair tends to wash out easily, but there are steps you can take to prevent this. Washing your hair less frequently and using color-safe hair care products can help extend the life of your red hair. Additionally, avoiding heat treatments will help your hair stay red.