Why is My Hair Turning Red Naturally? Why You Feel Like You’re Becoming a Redhead

Have you been noticing a change in your hair? Is there a difference in color or tone, even though you haven’t been dying it? Perhaps you’ve been asking yourself: “Why is my hair turning red naturally?”

No, you’re not going crazy. Hair color can and will change over time without doing anything to it consciously. Why does hair color change? There are a couple of reasons, and I’ll go into the reasons in this article.

But why stop there? Besides discussing the causes of hair turning red, this article will talk about the things you can do to prevent and even reverse this strange phenomenon. 

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Is Your Hair Really Turning Red?

why is my hair turning red naturally

If you have black hair turning red or brown hair turning red, you’re not the only one. Many people notice their dark hair becoming reddish as they grow older. Some folks notice it after moving to a different area or even switching shampoos.

But sometimes, black hair looks red in the sunlight. This doesn’t mean your hair is becoming red. 

Dark hair contains red tones, which are prominent in the sun, giving hair a reddish tint. Once you step out of the sun, your hair will look black or brown again.

But if you notice the tips of your dark hair becoming red, or red strands in black hair that are visible indoors out of the sun, this is a different story.

Why Does Dark Hair Become Red?

Before I go into why black hair may gradually become red, let’s take a quick biology class.

Hair color depends on the pigment melanin, which determines the darkness of skin and hair. The darker your hair, the more melanin it contains. There are two kinds of melanin that determine hair color and tone: eumelanin and pheomelanin.

The concentration of eumelanin will decide how dark our hair is. However, the amount of pheomelanin pigment determines the redness of the hair. The amounts of each pigment in hair depend on the genes that command their production.

With me so far? Genes are important because they are manuals that instruct the body to make pigments, hormones, and proteins. The interesting bit is that genes can turn on and off, stopping or starting the production of pigments.

If certain genes are switched on, your body will start producing more pheomelanin, which will give your hair a red color. 

So genetics is most often the cause of reddening hair. And there isn’t anything anyone can do about that!

There are also other reasons that can change hair color. Now, what can cause these genes to produce more pheomelanin? 


Hormones can cause hair color changes. People going through puberty and menopause notice their hair changing. Pregnant women also notice black fading into red hair due to the massive hormonal changes in their bodies.

If your hair is changing color for hormonal reasons, there really isn’t much to do about it. Your doctor may prescribe medication in case of any hormonal balance, but otherwise, there isn’t really a cure.

You can, however, dye your hair to cover up the redness.

Exposure to Sunlight:

If you have a ‘red roots black hair’ kind of problem and you’re always out in the sun, maybe your hair is being bleached. Exposure to UV can bleach and lighten hair, making the natural pheomelanin stand out more.

In this case, it is best to use hair products with sun protection, like this Kerastase Soleil Huile which absorbs UV rays, preventing them from damaging hair strands.

Hard Water:

If you move into an area with hard water, you may notice your black or brown hair becoming rather reddish. In this case, your red and black hair dye will quickly strip away, giving your hair a brassy, unnatural look.

Your best bet will be to get a water softener and attach it to your shower. You can also add a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse to your wash routine every couple of weeks.

Diet and Health:

Sometimes, what you eat, (or rather don’t eat) can affect your hair color. If you are undernourished and lack essential protein, your hair can get damaged and become red. 

If your hair is suddenly turning orange-red, go see a doctor. After being put on a protein-rich diet, your hair should return to its dark color.

Of Hair Dyes and Ginger Locks

If your red hair is due to harmless hormonal changes or genetics, you can simply dye your black or dark brown. A good salon will get your hair back to its normal shade in no time at all.

But if you prefer a DIY project, make sure you use quality box dye. Something like the Arctic Fox dye is semi-permanent and won’t damage your hair.

If your brown/black hair is just starting to go get a reddish tint, you can prevent it from getting even redder. You can easily neutralize red tones in dark hair by using a green toning shampoo like the MATRIX Total Results Dark Envy Color-Depositing Green Shampoo.

But what if you like the red in your hair?

Well, I have the solution for you.

If you have natural reddish hair that you want to make even redder, try dying your hair with good quality henna. Getting your hands on freshly crushed henna leaves is ideal, but if that doesn’t work out, you can try a henna powder to intensify the red in your hair.

If you have dark hair and want to dye it red, go to a good salon and get a shade of red that will complement the undertones of your skin. If you don’t want to bleach your hair, Arctic Fox has red shades like Poison or Wrath that will turn your locks fiery and vibrant.

However, it is important to remember that if you have black hair and use dye without bleach, your hair will be more of a deep auburn-brown instead of bright red or orange.

Got Questions?

Below you’ll find answers to questions I get asked the most about why hair turns red naturally.

01. My Hair is Turning Red with Age. What Can I Do About It?

As we age, our bodies produce less melanin in the hair. For many, this means going grey. For others, their hair becomes reddish. There isn’t any way to reverse this, but you can use toning shampoos and hair dye to cover up the red.

02. If I Dyed My Hair Brown And It Turned Red, What Can I Do to Fix This?

This usually happens when you dye your hair at home with a color that has a light, warm or reddish undertones. To prevent this from happening, pick darker shades of brown with cool undertones and maintain your color with a toning shampoo.

03. How Can I Bring Out Reddish Notes in My Hair?

To make your hair look just a touch redder without dye, tint with henna. However, many people make hair masks with crushed beets and other naturally-occurring red pigments. Cranberry or carrot juice rinses are also popular.

Certain serums, conditioning treatments, and leave-in conditioners also give hair a red gloss.

Final Word

Why is my hair turning red naturally? You might have been desperate before, but now you know why this is happening and what you can do to fix the issue. Whether you want to get rid of the redness or intensify it, there are steps you can take.

Either way, do what makes your hair feel fabulous and toss your head with pride!

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