Skip to Content

Does auburn hair fade fast?


Auburn hair is a beautiful reddish-brown hair color that many people love. However, some people find that their auburn hair tends to fade quickly and they have to get frequent touch up appointments to maintain the vibrancy of the color. So does auburn hair really fade faster than other hair colors?

What Causes Hair Color to Fade?

All hair color fades over time due to a variety of factors:

– Sun exposure – The UV rays from the sun cause the melanin and artificial pigments in hair to break down more quickly. Auburn hair, which already has less natural pigment than darker brunette shades, is more susceptible to fading from sun damage.

– Washing frequency – Frequent shampooing strips color from hair over time. The detergents and surfactants in shampoo remove the hair dye molecules.

– Water temperature – Hot water accelerates color fading. The heat causes the cuticle to open and allows color to leach out.

– Chlorine and minerals – Swimming in pools or hot tubs with chlorine and mineral deposits can strip artificial color from strands.

– Heat styling – Using hot tools like blow dryers, curling irons and straighteners degrade hair color over time. The high heat damages hair and breaks down pigment.

– Physical abrasion – Rubbing and friction from pillowcases, hats, brushes and handling can wear away colored layers from the hair shaft.

– Chemical services – Any chemical process like perms, relaxers or lightening affects the integrity of the hair and underlying color. The chemicals alter the hair’s structure.

– Natural hair oils – The body’s sebum naturally lifts color from hair over time. As sebum travels down the hair shaft, it pulls out dye molecules.

Do the Red Pigments in Auburn Hair Fade Faster?

The characteristics of auburn hair that contribute to potential fading include:

– Low natural eumelanin levels – Auburn hair has lower levels of eumelanin, the dark brown/black pigment, and higher levels of pheomelanin, the red/yellow pigment. Eumelanin helps stabilize and lock in artificial pigments. With less eumelanin, the red hues are more prone to washing out.

– Large pigment molecules – The red and copper molecules used to create auburn shades are comparatively large. Their size makes them easier to dislodge and wash away with shampooing.

– Warm undertones – Auburn has dominant warm reddish-orange undertones. These warmer pigments tend to have less grabbing power than cool ash tones and don’t adhere as strongly to the hair shaft. So the red and copper molecules wash out more easily.

– Oxidation – The pheomelanin in auburn hair is very susceptible to oxidation, which causes fading over time. Oxidation breaks large pigment molecules into smaller pieces and degrades color.

Tips to Prevent Auburn Hair From Fading

While auburn hair is prone to fading faster than darker shades, there are steps you can take to preserve the vibrancy of your color:

– Use sulfate-free shampoo and lukewarm water when washing hair. This helps minimize stripping of color.

– Apply a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner containing sunscreen. Look for formulas specifically for color-treated hair.

– Limit washing to 2-3 times per week if possible. The less you shampoo, the longer the color will last.

– Rinse with cool water after shampooing. Cold water helps seal the cuticle and lock in color.

– Let hair air dry instead of heat styling when you can. Reduce use of hot tools like blow dryers and flat irons.

– Protect hair from sun exposure by wearing hats or using sprays with UV filters. Minimize direct sunlight on your hair.

– Get a gloss or glaze service done every 4-6 weeks. These mini color revitalizing treatments deposit pigment into the hair.

– Use at-home color-depositing products like shampoos, conditioners and masks to refresh color between salon visits.

– Get a trim every 6-8 weeks to remove dry, faded ends and maintain healthy hair.

– Use overnight deep conditioning treatments 1-2 times per week to improve integrity of strands.

How Often to Touch Up Auburn Hair Color

Most permanent hair dye will start noticeably fading after 4-6 weeks as the artificial pigments wash out over time. For auburn hair, most colorists recommend getting a touch up every 4-6 weeks to keep the color looking vibrant.

Some factors that affect your ideal touch up schedule include:

– Natural hair color – Those with darker natural bases can go longer between touch ups. Light blondes and grays will show fading sooner.

– Lifestyle – Frequent swimmers or sunbathers will likely need more frequent touch ups, while those who avoid chlorine and UV rays can stretch them longer.

– Shampoo habits – If you shampoo daily or use very hot water, you’ll need more frequent glossing services than if you shampoo less and use cooler water.

– Condition of hair – Porous or damaged hair holds onto color for a shorter time than healthy, well-conditioned strands.

– Shade of auburn – Darker auburns with more brown last longer than lighter coppery reds. The lighter the shade, the more maintenance it requires.

– Permanent vs. semi-permanent dye – Permanent color will outlast semi-permanent, but still fades. Semi-permanent washes out completely over several weeks.

Here is a general guide for auburn touch up frequency:

Auburn Hair Type Ideal Touch Up Frequency
Light coppery auburn on blonde hair Every 4 weeks
Medium auburn on light brown hair Every 5 weeks
Dark auburn on dark brown hair Every 6 weeks

Schedule your touch ups based on your individual hair characteristics and lifestyle factors. Book regular gloss services with your colorist to maintain your ideal shade of auburn.

Long-Lasting Semi-Permanent Options for Auburn Hair

While traditional permanent and demi-permanent auburn hair color fades quicker, there are some longer-lasting semi-permanent options that can extend the time between touch ups:

Deposit-only semi-permanent color – These conditioning formulas only deposit color without lifting or damaging hair. Brands like Overtone, Celeb Luxury and Lime Crime last 4-6 weeks.

Direct dye semi-permanent color – Direct dyes like Manic Panic, Punky Color and Arctic Fox cling to the outside of the hair shaft without peroxidation. They fade gradually over 6-8 weeks.

Vegetable-based semi-permanent color – Natural vegetable dyes from brands like Naturtint and Original & Mineral are gentle with lower peroxide levels. They last up to 6 weeks.

Color-locking additives – Products like Olaplex No. 4 and 5, Redken Color Extend Magnetics, or Smartbond Protect + Colorlock help lock in color and prevent fading.

Using strategic color-depositing routines at home along with these longer-lasting semi-permanent options can stretch out your salon touch ups and keep your auburn hair vibrant for longer.

Does Auburn Hair Look Good When It Starts to Fade?

As auburn hair begins to fade, it goes through some transitional color stages:

– From vibrant red to a more subdued coppery-auburn
– From rich auburn to a lighter ginger or strawberry blonde
– From deep red-browns to softened coppery-browns

These softened, faded versions of auburn can be very pretty and flattering in their own right. The shades take on a slightly sun-kissed, dimensionally brighter appearance.

Many people enjoy embracing the faded color as it transitions gradually to a lighter, softer version of the original auburn shade. With proper color-depositing maintenance at home and gloss treatments every 4-6 weeks, you can maintain the color so it fades gracefully rather than washing out bluntly.

The faded phase of auburn hair can be a very pretty, versatile color palette to work with. Amp up your color-care routine to preserve the fading hue and make the most of the dimensional, softening effect.

Should I Go Darker with My Next Auburn Color Touch Up?

When your auburn hair starts to fade significantly, you may be tempted to go darker or more intense with your next salon touch up. However, there are a few reasons why staying close to your original shade is advisable:

– Intensifying the color dramatically creates a starker root regrowth line as your new growth comes in. Keeping your refreshed color closer to your natural results in softer grow-out.

– Darkening your auburn shade significantly alters your overall hair color and requires a lot more work to transition back to your original hue. Going gradually lighter is easier.

– Boosting intensity with more vibrant toner or gold/red tones can oversaturate the hair. Pastel tones diluted with conditioner are gentler.

– If your faded color is still flattering, you don’t need to force an unnatural, jarring change. Work with the natural fade progression.

– A lighter, softer refresh touches up your auburn hair without damaging or drying it by overly saturating the cuticle.

Aim to choose a shade for your refresh that closely matches your original color, just boosted with some renewed vibrancy. Consult your colorist on ways to freshen up your auburn tones without going dramatically darker or bolder. Stay consistent with the colors that complement your complexion and style.

How to Transition Auburn Hair to a Lighter Shade

Over time, you may get the urge to transition your auburn locks to a lighter, brighter shade. This is totally doable with the right techniques! Here are some tips:

Get a clarifying treatment first to strip excess warmth and increase porosity. This allows better lightening.

Lighten gradually over multiple sessions to protect your hair’s health and condition. Avoid drastic lightening in one step.

Use bond-building additives like Olaplex, Smartbond or Colorplex to prevent damage when lightening.

Tone frequently as you lighten to counteract brassiness and orange overtones. Use blue and violet toners.

Use lower volume peroxide like 10 or 20 vol to lift more gently. Higher volumes damage hair.

Go for balayage or babylights to create a sunkissed, dimensional look as your lighten. An ombre effect works well.

Use a gloss or glaze in between full coloring services to freshen your tone and hydrate.

Get regular trims to remove any overly dry or damaged ends as you transition lighter.

Use purple shampoo to reduce warmth and enhance icy tones. Mix with conditioner to adjust intensity.

Have patience and consult a skilled colorist to achieve a seamless transition from your auburn to lighter blonde or strawberry blonde shades. The process requires care and maintenance but yields beautiful results. Your colorist can guide you through the stages while keeping your hair healthy.


Auburn hair does tend to fade faster than darker brunette shades due to its warm, delicate red pigments that are more prone to washing out. However, you can take proactive steps to extend the vibrancy of your red-brown locks with the right color-care regimen. Use sun protection, minimize heat styling, incorporate bond-building treatments, get regular trims and touch up your color every 4-6 weeks. With the right maintenance, you can rock vibrant auburn hair for months on end. And you can always embrace the gorgeously softened hue as your color naturally fades. Work with your colorist to keep your auburn hair looking its best through all its beautiful stages.