Introduction: Fire Red Ombre Hair

I have been dying my hair a vibrant red for over a decade, so this summer, I wanted to literally give it a bit of flare by creating an ombre color change from the regular red to blonde. Creating this effect was pretty fool proof, does minimal damage, and is totally gorgeous!

Step 1: Hair Backstory

My hair is super fine, super straight, and has an average thickness.

Before I began this particular dye job, my roots were pretty visible as pictured above. My natural hair color is somewhere in the ballpark of light brown to dark blonde. I couldn't find a picture of my natural color without digging into the physical photos, because I didn't start storing my photos in the cloud until after the first time I dyed it this color. So, I've been dying it red every 3-4 weeks for over a decade. Despite the regular dyeing, it's very healthy.

My haircut has lots of layers, so the the way I apply the colors only works if you have layered hair. If your hair isn't layered, you'll need to improvise on how you apply the colors.

I tell you this to make sure you keep reasonable expectations in mind when attempting this process. If your hair is black or light blonde, you should adjust accordingly. If you have questions, head to your nearest professional beauty supply store like Sally's Beauty Supply. I wouldn't have been able to pull this off without the help from a wonderful associate at my local Sally's.

Step 2: Fire Red Ombre Hair

You'll need all these supplies if you want similar results to what I got. I put them all in order so you can make your own decisions based on your specific hair. For example, you may already have vibrant red hair or may not want to bleach. This instructable is only a reflection of the results I got and may not work the same for all hair types and colors. Be sure to read and follow all instructions on all products before using. If you have a full day to devote to this process, you can do it all in one day. It takes several hours because of how many times you need to air dry your hair.

For all steps:

plastic mixing bowl

dye brush


optional: measuring cup and small silicone spatula

For vibrant red hair:

Ion 7RR Intense Red permanent hair dye

Ion 20vol developer

For removing dye to transition to lighter red:

One 'N Only Color Fix

For bleaching:

Wella lightening powder

20vol developer

neutral protein filler

For lighter/natural red hair:

Loreal Preference Mega Reds MR1 Light Intense Copper hair dye

Loreal 30vol developer

optional: argan/olive/coconut oil


deep conditioning treatment

olive oil

Step 3: Vibrant Red

Mix one part developer to one part dye and brush onto hair from root to tip.

This dye has convenient markers on the side of the bottle of dye to help you measure out smaller amounts. I only need half a tube (1oz) mixed with 1oz developer to cover my hair.

I went ahead and re-dyed my whole head since the roots were showing and it wouldn't make any of the other processes more difficult. If your hair is lighter than the red, you should only color what you want colored the deepest red. You may be able to avoid the dye remover step to come.

Leave the dye on according to the instructions or no more than 30 min. Rinse thoroughly and condition with sulfate free conditioner.

Dry hair before moving to dye remover.

Step 4: Dye Remover

As I said previously, I've been dying my hair a dark red for a decade, so there was no way to get a lighter red without stripping the dark red out first.

This really was as simple as following the directions on the package for One 'N Only Color Fix. Parts 1 and 2 are mixed equally and applied to hair. I won't lie. The smell is an awful sulfur smell and it lingers even after you've rinsed and washed, but it will fade after you re-dye it or in a day or so, whichever comes first.

Pull up the top half of your hair with a clip so you can work from the bottom layers up to the top layers. You'll want to start with the roots so they have longer to process while you work your way up. If you want to try to avoid bleaching, apply to the roots and let them process for 10 minutes or so before moving up the rest of the hair.

Move up the bottom layers of the hair as far as you want to go with the lighter red. I opted to go all the way to the roots on the bottom layers, about halfway on a second layer and just the tips on the top layer of my hair.

If you're doing these processes all back to back like I did, you won't want to wash your hair since you just dyed it. I opted to rinse thoroughly and condition twice instead of washing like the instructions say. There don't seem to have been any ill effects.

You can repeat this process up to three times. I got 5 or 6 uses out of the one box by measuring out just what I needed to cover the small portions of hair. You need to get your hair at least as light as the Light Intense Copper color you'll add later.

Use Part 3 according to the directions, and allow hair to air dry or use a blowdryer on cool before moving to the next step.

Step 5: Bleach

Pin up the top half of your hair.

I wanted the bottom to be as light as I could get it without too much damage, so I opted to bleach just the tips.

Follow the directions on your lightening power to mix it with the appropriate amount of 20vol developer.

Mix well and apply to the tips of your hair. Wrap it in plastic and keep an eye on it.

Rinse thoroughly and condition when it's light enough or when you've left it on for the max time allowed. Because the dye remover worked so well on my hair, I only had it on for about 10-15 minutes.

Allow hair to air dry or use a blowdryer on cool before moving to the next step.

Step 6: Natural Red

Now it's time to add some color back in.

The last time I bleached my hair, I had trouble getting color to stick afterward. Using a protein filler will help the color attach to the hair. It's easier to apply the protein filler in a spray bottle, so I put mine in a spare, but some come in spray bottles to begin with. Apply everywhere you used the bleach and dye remover.

Pin your hair up in three sections: a top, middle, and bottom layer with the very bottom layer of your hair still down.

Mix up the Light Intense Copper dye with 1 part dye and 1 part 30vol developer. I wanted this dye to lighten even the dark red, so I used the 30vol developer. Using 20vol likely won't show much on top of the dark red.

I also experimented with adding a tablespoon or so of this argan oil product to see if it would help condition the hair during this process. I didn't notice any difference except it made the dye even more watery than it is without it. I'm not sure I'd use it in the copper dye again, but I'd try it in the dark red, as the cream dye was super thick and might be a bit easier to apply with this additive.


Once you've mixed up your dye, begin applying from the roots to the tip. In a nutshell, you'll apply this dye to the "middle of your hair, leaving the top and tips alone.

On the bottom layer, start at the roots, and leave the tips alone.

On the next layer (3rd from the top) you'll do the same as on the bottom layer.

On the next to last layer, you'll apply dye to the whole section.

On the top layer, apply some dye in streaks at the tips.

Rinse thoroughly and condition.

Step 7: Aftercare

The sections you used the dye remover and bleach on will be dry. The dye remover sections will recover in a few days of regular conditioning, but the bleached sections need more help. I haven't been doing this long, so I don't have any particular preference or recommendation for aftercare except to avoid heat when you can and use deep conditioning and protein treatments like the one pictured.

I applied this protein treatment to the tips of my hair and clipped it up for a half hour before my shower and noticed a difference from when I'd use it in the shower.

While I was skeptical, I also tried applying olive oil in the same way the following day. It actually seemed to be softer. Considering most of us likely have olive oil in our cupboards already and it's totally natural, it can't hurt to give this a try yourself.

Also, keep in mind that red hair dye fades fast, so you'll need to re-dye regularly and may want to invest in some color depositing conditioner. I've been using Aveda Madder Root shampoo and conditioner for years, but they recently discontinued it. : (

Step 8: Enjoy Your Fiery Red Hair

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