I'm going to give a lot of background so forgive me for being wordy.

I have naturally dark auburn hair. Actually, it's more dark than it is auburn but the red highlights are definitely there. In fact, I have a natural streak of true carrot-top red on my front hairline and I really love it (my mom is a redhead with a blonde streak in the same spot, lol!) I would like the rest of my hair a similar color and since my hair is already pretty red I think it would be easy.

I want my hair a few shades lighter and sort of a fiery (but still natural-looking, none of that nailpolish color) red. I tried using a ruby red dye at home but being new to hair dye I didn't realize that it would only put bright red highlights in my hair instead of make it lighter, lol. I really don't want to try flat out bleaching it as I'm not sure my hair could take it. So far, it's stood up really well to hair dye but bleach just scares me. I've heard that lighter permanent dyes will lighten hair only a few shades but if one wants it lighter than that (say my natural color to platinum blonde) bleaching is needed, preferably by a professional. Luckily, I only want a few shades of lightening.

I'm using A Touch Of Sun right now to give my hair a bit of lightening as gently as possible. People warned me that that stuff, if used on dark hair, would turn my hair red, but I told them that that's what I'm going for anyway! It's going really slowly so far and I haven't seen much progress yet but maybe that's a good thing. I've heard that hair that's resistant to bleach is very thick, coarse hair that won't damage easily. I've bleached my arm-hair before and it definitely wasn't an easy task! I hope that's a sign of thick, healthy hair.

Anyway, I still have a couple weeks to go before the instructions in my last hair dye package said to dye again, so until then I'm doing as much research as I can to see if I can get the shade I'm looking for. I don't want to majorly lighten my hair, just a few shades. Right now if I'm standing indoors away from direct light my hair looks like just a regular dark brown with no red visible. If I go outside or stand under a light only highlights are visible but they're very bright. I want a noticeable difference without direct light. I want my hair to look red no matter what amount of light I'm standing in.

I've been thinking about using a strawberry blonde or very light auburn shade on my hair. Since my hair's very dark it would go a shade somewhere in between which is about what I'm looking for. Also, the peroxide in the dye is what lightens the hair, but it's like bleach isn't it? It would cause my hair to go red. Therefore, a nice, bright medium red would result, right? I hope?

And this is why I'm asking here, because I don't know if my plan would work. I have a lot of art training so the color wheel is extremely familiar to me. I've also been told I should go to beauty school because I have a natural knack for it, so hopefully these things will help guide my hand on my quest to hair-dying.

So what, in your professional opinion, would get my hair the shade I'm hoping for with as little bleaching as possible?