The celebrity hairstylist, who's been the mastermind behind Kim Kardashian's most memorable hair moments, tells PEOPLE she's "not afraid of doing something new"

When Kim Kardashian West debuted her dramatically different bright red hair on Monday, many fans quickly assumed that she was wearing a wig. But the star's hairstylist Chris Appleton made sure to set the record straight so the world would know her blood red hue is the real deal.

"Red head 🍒 it’s NOT a wig before you start with that s---," Appleton jokingly wrote on Instagram alongside a few photos of Kardashian West's new look.

The KKW Beauty mogul has said her favorite hair color on herself is red (she's worn a red wig before) and Appleton tells PEOPLE she fearlessly wanted to switch things up after keeping her locks the same shade while social distancing the last few months. "Kim is a trendsetter and not afraid of doing something new. We have done the blonde and the pink before and red was unexpected. I love that about Kim," Appleton says.

kim kardashian red hair
Kim Kardashian
| Credit: Kim Kardashian/Twitter

The duo was inspired by the fiery red wig Kardashian West wore in 2019 for a KKW Beauty "Sooo Fire" Collection promo shoot. "We felt a red vibe. I worked with Kim's skin tone to create red that suits her and that’s why I left the darker root," Appleton explains.

He also intentionally kept her roots dark to maintain her hair health.

"We left the roots her normal shade to keep the scalp and hair growth strong and then slightly lightened from about an inch towards the end. Then once the hair was lightened we went over it with this vibrant red," he says, calling the finished color a "cherry red shade."

"It’s a very lengthy process but Kim takes such good care of her hair that it stands up to the challenge," he explains, adding that it took about two hours from start to finish to dye her hair.

Kim Kardashian
Chris Appleton and Kim Kardashian West
| Credit: Chris Appleton/Instagram

Originally, it seemed like going back to blonde was Kardashian West's plan once she was able to see Appleton again when social distancing rules relaxed. “My hair is gonna be so healthy after this quarantined time,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a throwback photo of her platinum blonde tresses in March. “Contemplating dyeing it blonde when we can have human interaction again.”

But a few weeks later, it looked like Kardashian West began reconsidering which shade she wanted and she may have even hinted her future fiery hair color. When Appleton posted a series of photos of the star's various hair hues asking which one was everyone's favorite, Kardashian West said the crimson color was her pick.

"Slide through & Tell me what your fav Kim K hair color is. My vote 👱🏼‍♀️," said Appleton. Kardashian West replied, "Red ❤️💋.