Ginger-haired men are having a moment

Ginger-haired men are having a moment

Eternal flames

Text: Renée Batchelor

In case you didn't get the memo, ginger hair is big again. From everyone's favourite redhead Archie Andrews on Riverdale, to K-Pop stars and the models at Seoul Fashion Week, find out how to cop this unusual hair colour

If there's one hair colour that divides opinion, it has to be red tresses. Throw into the mix the genetic rarity of natural redheads — estimated at less than two per cent of the population, and reportedly shrinking due to global warming — and you have a hair colour that is both abhorred and fetishised in equal measure. Redheads do go through their fair share of teasing and name-calling: Think carrot-top or even just the simple, but cruelly-effective, carrots. But did you know that unlike the other 98 per cent of the population, red-haired individuals do not go grey? Instead their hair naturally lightens to a rose gold and then white hue — for a more graceful change of seasons than most experience.

But it may seem only a few male celebrities are prominent gingers — Ed Sheeran, Conan O'Brien and Prince Harry come to mind — there are actually quite a few red-headed hearthrobs hidden among us. Michael Fassbender, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch often hide their natural red under layers of hairdye for movie roles. Come to think of it, there seems to be a disproportionate representation among the celebrity set, which may say something about a redhead's standout factor. Some may argue that men who dye their hair ginger often look more striking than natural redheads, perhaps because they carry off the bold hue better than those who typically have the ultra-fair (and often heavily-freckled skin) that accompanies the colour.


And it seems being a convincing ginger man is not as hard as we previously imagined. Jaw-dropping fact 1: The actors who play Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series are actually brunettes IRL. Jaw-dropping fact 2: New Zealander KJ Apa who stars as the all-American Archie Andrews in Riverdale — a character who is perhaps the quintessential redheaded male — actually has black hair, and has to constantly dye his locks for the role. Jaw-dropping fact 3: Pablo Schreiber who plays the leprechaun Mad Sweeney in American Gods, is also naturally dark-haired, and wears a red wig and faux beard for his transformation. All this got us thinking, how is it that hairstylists and colourists are able to replicate ginger hair so realistically?


Going red is not an easy process. When asked how he attained his red hair, Apa revealed that for the initial transformation, it took about eight hours in the colourist's chair to get his bold, ginger hue. It's no wonder as the process might involve bleaching the hair — especially if the red shade you intend to attain is more of a lighter orange or blonde rather than a dark copper, and if you have naturally dark hair to begin with. When it comes to colour selection, most stylists agree that soft gingers and bright oranges are most flattering on fair skin — see K-Pop star J-Hope from BTS who carries off a very pale orange — but it doesn't mean that you can't experiment with other shades if you have a medium or dark complexion. (Shades like bright copper, auburn and dark cherry might work better for you.) To create the illusion of a natural ginger look, your stylist will also likely put in some highlights and lowlights for variation and depth, plus tone the colour with a gloss to prevent it from looking too stark or cartoonish. The tricky part? With red, you don't want to overhighlight the hair, as you still want to maintain the illusion of one, even colour, and not muddy the effect.

And speaking of maintenance. To upkeep the look of a natural redhead, you're looking at a hair-touch up every few weeks or your dark roots will show. It may not grow out as obviously as platinum hair, but along with tackling the roots, you'll have to deal with colour fading. Red is a pigment that notoriously washes out quickly from the hair cuticles, so be prepared for a glossing or colour refresh every six to eight weeks to maintain the vibrancy and oomph of your shade. Top hairstylists also recommend less shampoos throughout the week and more conditioning, when you're sporting freshly-dyed tresses, to prevent colour fade-out and damage. Last, but not least, you need to work on your eyebrows. Apa mentioned in interviews that his hairstylists have to tackle his brows as well to upkeep the authenticity of his whole, redheaded persona. And yes, if your brows are especially bushy or dark, dyeing them will help tie in the whole look with your new colour. In short, going ginger is not a low-maintenance endeavour, but as a carrot-y rarity, you'll certainly stand out from the crowd.