Beauty trends come and go, but all the best ones make a comeback—including copper hair. Having dyed my hair copper almost a decade ago, I was quick to notice when the shade started showing up everywhere once again. Cowboy copper hair is the new and improved version of the trend. When the color first caught my eye back in 2014, it was connected to an indie aesthetic and felt like it could only be worn by a select group with very specific features.
Today, the look is less indie and more about taking inspiration from Western leather (hence the name). The result is a hair color that features a beautiful blend of caramel, red, and golden hues. And this time, the trend is more inclusive—as it should be.
My Copper Hair Journey
If you, like me, were obsessed with the Tumblr girl aesthetic in 2014, your feed was probably loaded with photos of copper hair color, but always on pale girls with straight hair. Of course, these looks were stunning. However, the message this sent was that you had to be a part of a certain demographic—one I am not a part of—to be a redhead. Seeing all this gorgeous hair inspiration without any representation of girls like me contributed to my teenage self believing I needed different features to be beautiful.
Eventually, I realized that even though I wasn’t the expected demo for copper hair, I could get closer to it with a couple of tweaks. I started with changing my naturally curly hair. At the time, I didn’t have much information or access to products to properly care for my curls, so I permanently straightened my hair before dyeing it copper.
For years, I wore my hair like this. And for a long time, I thought copper strands were the ultimate look for me. I felt beautiful, people recognized me as “the copper-haired girl,” and most of the compliments I got were about my hair. But on a random Saturday afternoon, I got the rebellious urge to dye it black.
It wasn’t intentional, but that Saturday ended up being the start of a new relationship with my locks. I also started to coax my curls back, and I realized that I’ve never felt more like myself.
My natural hair journey was part of growing up. Having straight copper hair was an important expression of my teenage years. But as a grown woman, I feel the most beautiful and powerful having my natural curls represent my identity and personality. Now, I’m certain that my hair doesn’t define me—it reflects me.
How is the Cowboy Copper trend different?
After my experience with copper hair, the first thing that caught my attention about the revival of this trend was that it no longer lacked diversity. In 2023, I saw women of color as the leaders behind this look. I was relieved and excited to see them flaunting how their skin glows against the reddish hue.
The shade itself remains as pretty as it was 10 years ago, but there’s an obvious shift in brand marketing. Today, there’s an increase in color campaigns that feature models with a spectrum of skin tones and hair types like that of Redken Shades EQ. While a decade ago the dominant message was that redheads had to be white, now it’s clear that copper fits any complexion and hair texture, which only makes it more beautiful.
3 Tips for Trying Cowboy Copper Hair
My copper hair era may not have been all positive, but I still love the shade. I also learned so much about having red hair. Even though I’m keeping my natural hair color for now, I’m eager to share all the best tips I collected back then.
Tip 1: Regular root touch-ups are a must.
Regular root touch-ups are a must if you want to rock a full head of cowboy copper hair. When you go red, new growth can be pretty stark, so you’ll likely become a little obsessed with keeping your hair looking fresh. For me, aligning on a maintenance strategy with my colorist was essential. Booking a retouch every four to six weeks is usually the recommended standard, but your colorist can help you find a customized schedule. They can take factors like your curl pattern, hair porosity, and lifestyle into consideration.
Tip 2: Stock up on salon-quality color maintenance products.
You’ll also want to get—and use—heat protectant because hot tools can make colored hair look dull. On days when your hair needs an extra boost, you can do a color-reviving gloss or mask at home. This is a great way to stretch time in between your hair appointments a little longer.
Tip 3: Experiment by mixing in other trends.
If copper hair ends up being more than a trend for you, and you want to keep this color for a while (just like I did), know that there’s a whole universe of auburn hair colors you can explore. I encourage you to play around with dimension and contrast. Even smaller changes can give you the feeling of a whole new look, so don’t sleep on how powerful they can be.
From strawberry blonde to copper strands paired with a chunky platinum money piece, I rocked many versions of the trend. These variations kept my look interesting and updated. Making shade tweaks and exploring other hair trends allowed me to satiate my need for experimentation without completely overhauling my look.
There were times when my goal was to keep my copper hair as natural and neutral as possible, and others when I accentuated the orange and pink undertones to stand out from others. My platinum streak was one of my favorite moments during my copper journey. It made me feel so unique and became my signature look for some time.
Cowboy Copper Hair: The Bottom Line
Although I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that cowboy copper hair came back as a universal look, I don’t carry any regrets about my experience with it. At the end of the day, the beauty of hair is in the capacity to grow, change, and start from scratch.
Meet the Author: Manoela Caldas is a 26-year-old Brazilian journalist. With a love for everything culture-related, she enjoys traveling, art, fashion, gastronomy, and expressing her identity through her hair.
Read My Natural Hair Journey as a Hijab-Wearer Led to a Thriving Business to learn about one writer’s natural hair journey and cultural roots. Also, check out our salon locator to get professionally styled by a pro near you.