Why red is the crowning glory the leading ladies of Hollywood
The fashion and film world has finally succumbed to all things scarlet
Ginger nut. Carrot top. Tampon head. These kinds of taunts were par for the course growing up with red hair, as the big kids dutifully yelled across the schoolyard and overzealous men barked out car windows on the walk home.
It was enough to make me want to frantically grasp for the hair dye, but now that Planet Fashion is seeing red, I'm lucky I never did.
Us gingers have had a rough go of it in the past. Prince Harry, now considered a bona fide heartthrob and one of the world's most eligible bachelors, revealed back in 2007 that he had been bullied for being ginger, while screen siren Jessica Chastain has said she considered going blonde early in her career after struggling to book auditions.
In 2013, Lily Cole opened up about being teased over her hair at school, saying: "I remember feeling very insecure. When I'd meet people, I would think they wouldn't like me - that was an actual thought process - because I'm a redhead. It's absolutely absurd."
If even supermodels couldn't escape the ginger jibes, it wasn't looking good for us mere mortals. But over the past few months, red hair has become red-hot, on and off the catwalk. On top of that, today marks 'Kiss a Ginger Day', a rather dubious holiday dedicated to celebrating the redheads in your life. There's no denying, Titian tresses are having a major moment.
A distinctive hairstyle can help transform the careers of up-and-coming models. Last season, emerging model Katie Moore chopped off her long blonde locks in favour of a blunt-edged red crop, and was immediately cast to open Alexander Wang's show and walk for Stella McCartney and buzzy label Vetements.
Kildare-born model Lorna Foran's flowing red hair helped her shoot to fame in 2016, landing campaigns for Vivienne Westwood and Orla Kiely, and storming the runway at Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela and Gucci, to name a few.
It's not just the fashion world that's been captivated by flame-hued hair - Hollywood's got scarlet fever too. The 2017 awards season is shaping up to be a redhead's game, if the Golden Globes were anything to go by.
La La Land star Emma Stone has been ruling the red carpet with her fiery bob, while Jessica Chastain has become one of the industry's most prolific actresses, despite her initial doubts about her mane. Amy Adams credits her success to swapping her natural blonde for auburn, and has been setting our screens on fire in Arrival and Nocturnal Animals.
"Around this time of the year, with the Golden Globes and Oscars, red is huge," says Laura Cathcart, colour specialist at Dublin's Zeba salon. "People see the likes of Emma Stone and Amy Adams on the red carpet, and under the lights the hair looks so healthy and glossy."
While a ginger mane looks set to be the beauty sensation of the season, choosing to take the leap can be a nerve-wracking decision. Leslie Ann (35), from Dublin, says it's definitely worth it. "I first dyed my hair red 10 years ago. I was sick of the hassle of blonde highlights and wanted to try something new. That first red came from a home dye kit and it was a disaster - the remains of my highlights underneath turned orange - but I instantly loved it," she recalls.
"Being a redhead has always felt somehow more 'me' than my natural dirty blonde. My granny was a redhead, so my hairdressers said there was enough red in my hair for the colour to take well and look natural on me.
"Over the years I've tried lots of different reds from vibrant pillar box to deep cherry and auburn to strawberry blonde. I've loved every shade. For the most part, though, my hair has been what you would call ginger.
"I think that all of the most beautiful women in Hollywood are redheads - Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain and my ultimate girl crush, Julianne Moore. I love how they can transform their look from old-school elegant to futuristic edgy and the red looks right either way. It's a wonder that it's taken this long for the catwalks to notice how striking and versatile red hair can be."
Feeling daring? Here are our tips on how to make the most of your mane.
Find your shade
According to Laura Reid, style director at Dublin's Brown Sugar salon, there's a shade to suit everyone in this colour spectrum, from strawberry blonde to vibrant red to burnt orange.
Before going red, she notes a number of factors that you have to take into consideration. "The client's skin tone, how much grey they have, their natural hair texture, and then how oily their hair is - if they have to shampoo their hair a lot, an intense red will wash out too quickly," she explains.
"If they have red in their skin tone, we tend to go for softer, golden coppers - think Jessica Chastain - as opposed to the intense deep reds. Otherwise it can clash with the artificially coloured hair and look really cheap and tacky."
Look to the stars
For natural redheads, Cathcart recommends taking inspiration for a cut from the likes of Yvonne Tiernan and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh.
"A lot of people with natural red hair have thicker, coarser hair, so it's lovely to have it a little bit longer with a beachy, wavy effect to it. Blathnaid and Yvonne have that gorgeous red hair that you can sweep to the side and it looks beachy and Celtic," she says. She cites Stone again as a major influence, particularly among younger clients. "It's that longer bob, with a real beachy, texturised look to it. Red hair needs that bit of length to give it support, if it's too short it can look puffy and it can go out of style."
Reid agrees that longer styles tend to suit her natural redheads better. "Because the hair is slightly more coarse, they have to go mid-length or longer so you have room to style and blow-dry it."
Raise your brows
Natural redheads might get frustrated with very light eyebrows and lashes, so Shannon Downes, brow expert at Benefit Cosmetics, advises going for a medium brown tint to flatter the eyes. "Go a shade darker, but stay on the warm tones. Avoid the blonde tones and go for more of a medium brown. The same goes for pencilling it in - stick to a medium brown, and keep it light with the pencil," she says.
Not all gingers are created equal - that rich, multi-tonal look can be difficult to achieve at home, so for best results, Reid advises going to a salon.
"The hardest thing is to get it even from root to tip. The problem with doing it at home is, when you apply the colour to the root area, your scalp is warm, so it develops better at the root than it does at the end," she says.
"It's also really important that your colour is multi-tonal, with red more than anything, so that when it reflects the light it's not a solid opaque colour."
Naturally red hair tends to be coarse, and should be treated as dry, says Reid.
"You have to keep it hydrated and look after it for humidity, because coarse hair is naturally susceptible to damage if you're blow-drying, using hot rollers or GHDs."
She recommends a light shampoo and a heat protection product with keratin to replenish the hair when styling.