Why does my red hair dye look purple? It may one of these 3 reasons

red hair that looks purple

There are three possible reasons why your dyed red hair looks purple.

  • You chose burgundy red dye that turns purple when it fades because of its pigments.
  • You colored your hair blue but you didn’t wait for it to fade before applying the red hair dye.
  • Your hair was ashy before applying the red dye. As the underlying pigments of ashy dyes are blue, the hair looks purple when you apply a red dye on top.


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As you can see, these three reasons derive in two issues:

  • Your red hair looks purple  because you chose the wrong hair color number. 
  • Your red hair looks purple  because you didn’t take your base hair color into account when applying the red hair dye .


Almost everything has a solution. And as the saying goes, “it’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

So, I’ll offer you several solutions according to the causes for your red dyed hair looking purple.

I understand your disappointment. I understand it as a hairdresser, but I also understand it because, believe it or not a few years ago, the same thing happened to me too.


A few years ago, when I was a rebellious and daring teenager, the first color I chose to dye my hair was red.

Believe me, I still get butterflies when I remember that moment. I had dreamed of sporting fiery red hair. And I had finally convinced my mother to let me dye my hair.


But, as the days went by, and after several washes, I began to notice some subtle changes in my red hair.

At first, I thought it was a lighting issue. Then, I thought the shampoo I was using could be damaging the red dye.


But after twenty days, I knew it wasn’t a visual effect. Definitely,  my red hair looked purple. 


So, I ran out to the hair salon.

At that time, I didn’t know about colorimetry or hairdressing. My training came many years later when I entered hairdressing school.

But that day, I learned something: the red dye I had chosen faded to purple after a few washes.


But that day and thanks to that mistake, something even more important happened in my life: I met what I wanted to do in life. That day I knew I would become a professional hairdresser and colorist.

So, as I understand what you feel right now when you look at your red hair having turned purple, I suggest we find the solution so that you can show off the color you really want in your hair: red.

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If your red hair looks purple because you chose the wrong hair dye color number, apply a 6.66 or 7.66 red hair dye

coppery red hair

I’m sure you made the same mistake I made as a teenager when I had no idea about colorimetry.

What is that mistake?

 I thought that all red dyes are the same, but they’re not. 


Each red dye has a different composition, therefore, each is different. Mahogany red isn’t the same as copper red, burgundy red, or fire red.

 Those colors don’t look the same after they are applied to the hair, nor will they look the same when the dye starts to fade. 


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So, for example, if you colored your hair fiery red, it’ll fade to orange with washes.

But, in this case, your red hair looks purple.



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 Your red colored hair looks purple because you used burgundy or red hair dye whose second digit is number 5. 

Did you check the number codes on the coloring kit when you chose it?

get rid of green tones

Those number codes have a meaning. They give us valuable information about the pigments in the dye.

Those numbers tell you the base color and the undertones in the dye. The first number is the base color, and the number followed by a period describes the undertones.

Do you remember which number of red dye you chose? I’m sure you chose one of these two:

  • 4.55
  • 5.55


Why am I sure?

Because  these two red dyes contain both violet and red pigments. 


As the red molecules are large, they don’t penetrate deep into your hair fiber. So, they don’t reach the core. Therefore, after a few washes, red fades more easily than violet.

And that’s why  your red hair looks purple. 


If you want to show off your red hair without making it look purple, you should choose another red dye with different shades.

For example:

  • 6.66
  • 7.66


Number 6 at the end indicates that the dye has red as a secondary color or undertone.

You should also include a red toning shampoo in your hair care routine to keep the color vibrant for longer.


The base color also plays a part in your red hair looking purple

base color before dyeing hair red

In this case, we’ll also have to do a memory exercise and it’ll be very simple.

Let’s remember.  What color was your hair when you applied the red dye? 


Your hair’s dye history is very important.

For example, let’s say you wanted to try fantasy colors. So, you bleached your hair and decided to apply a blue semi-permanent hair dye.


When women bleach their hair to apply fantasy colors, they go through an endless time of color changes.

They go from pink to green, green to purple, and purple to blue.


But wait, if your hair was blue before you colored it red,   did you wait for the blue pigments to fade? 


If you didn’t, you’ll get purple hair when you color it red.

As you know, red and blue form violet.

What can you do now?


 What you can do is maintain the red pigments by using red toning shampoo once a week. 


Now, if your hair wasn’t blue before applying the red dye, there may be another explanation for it being purple.


Were you using ashy dyes before you dyed your hair red?

hair dyed red looks purple

 If you’ve been dyeing your hair ashy colors for many years, the red dye can turn purple. 




You’ve probably been using dyes that end with the number 1. It means the dye has blue pigments.

Those blue pigments quickly penetrate the hair core and lock in very easily.

 If you apply a light red dye on your ashy hair, such as 7.66 or 8.6, a slight purple hue will emerge. 


As blue and red form violet, your red hair will turn purple after some washes because it fades easily.

If you applied any of these dyes, and you like the color, what you can do is use the red shampoo to prevent the purple from appearing.


Joico color infuse

If you can’t find red toning shampoo, you can create your own toning shampoo by mixing equal parts sulfate-free shampoo and red semi-permanent dye.

My recommendation is to use it twice a week and leave it on for five minutes to keep your red hair perfect.



There are several red dye alternatives. You need to choose a red dye that doesn’t contain purple undertones to prevent your hair from looking purple when the dye fades.

If you chose the incorrect hair dye, go for 6.66 or 7.66 red dye at the next renewal.

You should also include a red toning shampoo to keep your red hair from looking purple.

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