Dua Lipa's Red Hair Has Quite the Origin Story

Colorist Ben Gregory exclusively tells 'Marie Claire' how the new look came to life.

Dua Lipa shows off her red hair.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dua Lipa may not have revealed the name of her upcoming third studio album, but she has been happy to share another major update: She's proudly in her red hair era. Last October, the 28-year-old blew fans' minds when she emerged from an Instagram hiatus with dark cherry hair. The look has informed every performance, song, and red carpet look since, including the music video for Lipa's ABBA-inspired single "Training Season," which arrived today.

How did Dua Lipa decide a bold, bright red was for her? As the superstar began planning her next career chapter, she turned to hairstylist Ben Gregory—the first of multiple colorists who have had the privilege of shepherding Lipa through life as a redhead. The collaborators first got to know each other when Gregory dyed the Grammy winner's hair raven black for the 2023 Met Gala.

A post shared by Ben Gregory

A photo posted by bengregoryhair on

"We were having conversations about her new era and the next chapter. She was thinking about changing her hair," the UK-based hairstylist tells Marie Claire exclusively. "The thing with Dua is that she’s such a beautiful, powerful-looking woman. She’s reminiscent in many ways of that old-school supermodel. They put her in the Chanel Claudia Schiffer gown for the Met, and there's a reason for that. She walks a line between being this fashion figure and a music artist for me. She has this old-school supermodel sexiness about her, but she’s also super young, contemporary, and cool."

Gregory was bent on finding a look that would capture all of Lipa: the fun, the impressive, the classic, and the contemporary. "I was thinking, How do you walk the line between the two things? I love this idea of her being a full sexy vamp but at the same time being this bright, vibrant, trendy music artist," he explains.

The pair decided that going red was the answer.

Dua Lipa shows off her red hair.

Dua Lipa showed off her red hair's vampy aspects at the Academy Museum Gala in December 2023.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"We had this idea of working with red—really loading up the pigment so that when it photographed in the daylight it shined really bright red, but when you’re indoors or on the red carpet it was more like a blood red," Gregory shares. “That was our starting point with this idea. It's not gothic, but kind of touching on a real vampy, dark red."

To the stylist, it's a look that walks the line between two modes: "It can be up in space buns or a ponytail and be a coy red. Or if it's styled busted out and all over her face it's super vampy and hot."

In Lipa's "Houdini" music video, the color looks cool: a little sweaty, a little greasy. The brand new "Training Season" visuals bring the shade to the daylight, a casual sunlit red that looks natural as ever as the pop star sits in a café.

"It's really fun with somebody like Dua, who’s such a chameleon and can wear such strong fashion and beauty with conviction and confidence," the hairstylist adds. "[A]nd I guess in some teeny, tiny, microscopic way I've had a part to play in the character she's created for this new era."

Dua Lipa shows off her red hair.

Different day, different light, same red-headed Dua Lipa.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're trying to get the look yourself, Gregory suggests telling your stylist you want to "jump on the cherry coke trend"—the moniker that's been swirling since Dua's color first premiered. He also suggests showing lots of pictures so the professional knows exactly what hue you're going for.

"Like we've discussed, the color will be different in different light. Make sure you know your limitations," he adds. "Really, the thing to just make sure of is that you’re really loading up the red. Although it’s dark, it’s very strong."

And remember, whether you start as a blonde or have to lift a couple shades from your natural brunette, the color is a big commitment. Lipa's hair has been touched up countless times since she went red, most recently by Los Angeles-based celebrity colorist Matt Rez for the 2024 Grammy Awards.

For the pop star, the shade is worth the commitment. "As I was working on this album I kept seeing the color red. I don't know how to really explain that, but I was hearing sound in color, in a way. Red was a recurring theme," Lipa shared in a November 2023 appearance on the "Smallzy's Surgery" radio show. "I think red is just like, it's a lot of energy. It's love. It's passion. I think it varies."

As intended, the color is simply everything.

Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a freelance beauty writer at Marie Claire, where she writes about the latest and greatest skincare launches, hair colors, and Cardi B manicures. Her work can also be found at Byrdie, Bravo, and Us Weekly. You can find her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.