Can I Use Red Hair Dye as a Filler? If so, how to apply it the right way?

pre pigmentation

If you’re reading this article, you probably want to dye your hair more than two levels darker. And if so, you’ve probably discovered that you need to apply a color filler first. So, to answer your question quickly, I would say:

  • Red hair dye can be used as a filler, so long as you use a brown hair dye after.
  • The reason why has to do with the laws of color: brown has red, blue, and yellow hues in it.
  • Therefore, using a red hair dye as a filler will make your brown hair vibrant and shiny, instead of dull and flat.
  • After all, the red dye is only there to pre-pigment your hair.


Like most hair color procedures,   it’s important to know what you’re getting into before applying a color filler. If you don’t, the consequences could be disastrous. 

Now I don’t want to bore you, but I think a brief explanation of color fillers would be helpful.


When you bleach your hair, you’re removing pigments from the hair’s fiber. Bleach removes brown pigments (eumelanin) first, then red (trichochromes), and finally, yellow (pheomelanin).

Now, what happens if you want to darken your hair to a brown shade that’s more then two tones darker than your natural color?


Most people would think that could be done by simply applying a brown dye. But it’s not quite that easy.

To get exactly the color you want, you’ll need to replace some of the pigments you’ve lost. And this is called color filler or re-pigmentation.


 Applying a color filler not only helps the new color deposit evenly, but also keep your roots from being as noticeable later when they grow in. 

Some clients have even come into my salon asking for help because they didn’t use a color filler. These clients tried to dye their hair brown, but because they didn’t use a color filler, they ended up with weakly brown hair with a greenish tinge.


So let me congratulate you for taking the wise step of applying a red color filler to get the perfect brown.

Brown hair contains red pigment, and the color filler deposits it in your hair before you apply the hair dye.

This way you’ll get just the brown you’ve been dreaming of.


Now the long-awaited moment has arrived: it’s time to use a red hair dye as a filler, so you can get that perfect brown. To that end, now we’ll explain:

  • How a pre-color treatment or using red hair dye as filler works
  • How to fill your hair with the red dye and apply the final color


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How a pre-color treatment or using red hair dye as filler works

pre pigment hair

As we went over earlier in the article, a red filler should only be used when the final color you’ve chosen contains red pigments.

But why should you apply a red dye, when what you really want is brown hair? Well, because hair color is formed by a mix of colors.


Pop quiz:

Which two colors make green? That’s right! Blue and yellow, of course.


Now, if you wanted to make orange, which colors would you mix?

 Very good, A+! Yellow and red. 


Just like paints in grade school, brown hair vibrant is created by mixing pigments, specifically red, blue and yellow.

Now, what happens with the various colors that make up brown?


  • The various pigments that in hair color create an endless range of possibilities, and various tones of brown.

For example, level 4 dark browns contain more red pigment.

Whereas level 6 lighter browns tend to have more yellow pigment, and level 5 medium browns have more reds.


 As you can see, there are different proportions of pigment depending on the shade of brown you choose, but it’s always a mix of yellow, blue, and red. 

This is why it’s best to use a red color filler if you’re going to re-dye your hair any shade of brown.


  • That being said, if your final color isn’t a shade of brown, you should avoid red filler like superman stays away from kryptonite!

If you don’t want to dye your hair brown, using red filler will only lead to disaster.

Can you think of why?


  • Because you’ll be applying pigments that are not in your desired final color.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to darken your hair from a level 10 extra blond to a level 7 dark blond and use a red filler. If you were to do that, the result would be an awful pinkish yellow.

Did you notice what happened?


What you wanted was a dark blond, and what you ended up with was somewhere between red and yellow.

That’s because blond hair is made up of different pigments than brown.


  •  If the color filler you apply includes pigments that are not part of your final color, the result will be a disaster. 

That’s why it’s important to make the final discussion on what color you want before applying a color filler.

If you want a beautiful brown, a color filler is your best option. It will help your hair absorb the pigment much better, and will create a radiant, long-lasting color.


How to apply a color filler

does not need bleaching

To create the perfect brown, you should use a color filler. Color filler adds pigment to your hair before applying the hair dye.

It’s just like if you dyed your hair twice

But there’s one major difference.

Color fillers do not use developer.

Why don’t color fillers use developer?


 Because you don’t want to deposit the red pigments into the cuticle of your hair. Instead, the goal is to apply the red pigments to the outside layer of the hair fiber so they can be absorbed by the brown dye later. 


To apply a color filler, you’re going to need:

  • Red hair color kit
  • Brown hair color kit
  • Hair dye brush
  • Gloves



Step 1

If possible, don’t wash your hair for 48 hours before applying the red color filler.

This allows the natural oils of your hair to form a protective layer.

Carefully comb your hair, to make sure there are no tangles that could interfere with applying the red dye.


Step 2

 Apply just the red dye, without mixing it with the developer, to all of your hair.  I recommend starting with the middle portion and ends of your hair, as they are usually the lightest part.

Let the dye process for twenty minutes before rinsing your hair.


Step 3

I know at this point your hair is going to look bright red, but trust the process. Things will change dramatically in just a few minutes.

Because now it’s time to use the brown hair dye kit.


  • Mix the brown dye with the developer in a plastic container until its evenly mixed.
  • Then, use the hair dye brush to apply the brown dye over the red dye you’ve just applied to your hair, covering all of it.
  •  Be very careful to miss any of your hair. 
  • Then let it sit for 40 minutes, and after the exposure time, rinse it with plenty of warm water.
  • During this step, be very patient and make sure to not leave any of the dye in your hair.


And now the moment has come to take a look in the mirror.

What you’ll see is that there’s not a trace of the red dye left, leaving a beautiful brown.


Not only that, but the color filler has one other perk: your new color will last much longer than normal.



  • Using a red dye as a color filler creates a more brilliant and longer-lasting brown.
  • And because you’re using the red hair dye as a pre-color treatment, you don’t need to mix it with developer.
  • Color fillers are used to deposit pigment in your hair and help create the final tone.
  • After using a color filler, your final color will last much longer.

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