Anya Goy discusses the hard issues behind the growing bright hair colour trend.
As rainbow hair colours become more popular, concerns are raised about it’s effects on our physical, psychological and social well-being. Anya Goy addresses these issues, looking at what is driving the trend and how socially accepted these colours are becoming. Discover what colour’s might say about you and it’s perception by people around you.
What type of person do you think dyes their hair extreme colours?
Based on my online client data the demographics are: Female, American and UK, Age 17-25.
However, based on my experience as a stylist and what kind of personality/character…? Well I hate to stereotype, but I have found a lot of people who go for bright alternative colours tend to have a creative flare themselves in some way (e.g., business owners of crafty/handmade items, musicians/performing arts, design/fashion students). There are a few reasons for this… bright hair is a form of self expression, and creative types generally like to express themselves more visually. Moreover these industries don’t frown upon alternative hair colour; in fact it’s encouraged as it can help individuals stand out in a competitive environment.
I also find that those types with that creative flare will often associate themselves with one or more subcultures (e.g., Hipster, Scene, Hippy, Rockabilly…) in their sense of fashion and taste in entertainment (music/film/TV/games).
But I believe if all work/school environments accepted bright hair colour, and if people have no preconceived ideas/taboos about bright hair colour we would see a MUCH wider spectrum of people dying their hair this way, and it would be harder to define a ‘type of person’.
Have you noticed more clients eager to dye their hair bright colours?
Absolutely! And with pastels (e.g., lilac, rose, teal) and dip dying being on trend at the moment, girls who might shy away from the more intense colours are now game for trying these subtle colour tones.
Do you think it is purely linked to celebrities and what they are doing with their hair?
Not at all. Of course celebrities will always contribute to what’s fashionable or popular, but they are not what drives this trend. If anything they are following the trend, just look at Nicole Richie. No, I’d say the thing that is inspiring people to be more adventurous with their hair colour is the internet.
It used to be that clients would come it with a magazine cutting of a celebrity’s hair colour and ask for that, but now customers come in with their iPhone and show me heaps of photos that they have collected from places like Pinterest, Tumblr and Google images. In today’s world of instant sharing, hair colour ideas can go viral in a matter of hours, and a lot of these viral hair colours/styles are not celebrities, but simply everyday folk sharing their creativity and ideas.
Do you think extreme hair colour still has the same rebellious effect as it used to? (i.e punks, goths and other stereotypes?)
Yes and no, I think it depends on who you ask!
The older generations still view bright hair colours as an anti-establishment symbol, and this is why schools and workplaces that are run by this generation still ban vibrant hair colour. This is because the older generation first saw bright hair colour in the 1970’s punk era when brands like Manic Panic and Crazy Colour first launched. If colourful hair was no longer associated with punk rebellion or anarchy by the older generations it wouldn’t be an issue allowing it in establishments. So is that sense, yes it still has has the same effect on that generation.
However the younger generation’s view of bright hair colour is quite the opposite, as colourful hair become popular today. This generation does not associate bright colours with it’s anti-establishment history, but rather see it as a fashion statement. And although colourful hair is still associated with subculture fashion, these subcultures are much less about controversial ideals, and more about fashion, hair, make up, taste in entertainment (music/film/TV/games). So in this sense, I’d say no, bright hair colour has lost the controversial/rebellious effect, and is now about making a fashion statement and as an expression of individuality by this generation.
Do you think its still classed as individuality or has it lost its value?
Just because it’s more popular now to dye your hair bright colours doesn’t make it any less of an expression of individuality. You see unlike natural hair colour where colour options are limited (e.g., blond, brunette, red), rainbow colours open up an entire paintbox of options. You hair becomes more than just hair, it’s your canvas!
Why do you think people dye their hair?
Lot’s of reasons! And not everyone does it for the same reasons…
Bored of being natural
Wanting to identify themselves with a subculture
To stand out from the crowd
For shock/wow factor
Feel like a change, something new.
Obsession with all things colourful/rainbow
For a dare
Saw it on Pinterest or Tumblr and just had to have it.
Hairdresser talked them into it!
I’m sure there are more reasons, but that’s just a few…
Do you think it is linked to an obsession?
People can become obsessed with anything. For example young girls get obsessed with things all the time… shoes, shopping, the boy at school, losing weight, One Direction, selfies, the list goes on. So of course they can get obsessed with dying their hair, especially when it’s the first time in your life parents don’t dictate what you can do with your hair. But like most young girls obsessions, it’s often a phase they grow out of.
Now the people that have a REAL obsession with hair dye are folks like myself, who never grew out of it, but rather became more obsessed as time went by. People who don’t stop at colouring their own hair but want to colour everyone else’s as well! Who follow every hair blog, watch every tutorial, consider themselves hair dye nerds and are anal about colour combinations. We are called hairdressers and I think if you’re not obsessed with hair colour, bright or otherwise, you’re in the wrong job! However if you are this obsessed about hair colour and your not a hairdresser, you might want to consider and career change.
Do you think coloured hair still has a taboo behind it?
Yes, sadly. Otherwise workplaces/school wouldn’t care if you dye your hair rainbow colours. But as I said before it’s the older generations who still have this negative view. I believe in the future, when the younger generations are running these establishments it will no longer be an issue. You can already see the change, with some workplaces/school changing their policies on bright hair colour.
Which colours do you think are the most popular?
The pastel colours are super popular at the moment, however generally I’d say pink is the most popular, followed closely by purple. These colours are associated with being feminine, so if you are a young girl and you grew up with My Little Pony, pinks and purples are an obvious first choice for cute girly locks. The least popular colours are green and yellow, unless used in a combination like rainbow, I rarely get young girls asking me for all yellow hair!
Do you think the colour of dye can reflect yourself, does it have a meaning to it?
Yes colour can have meaning and reflect that person’s personality and taste. Although it may not be a conscious decision. For example vibrant red hair can be associated with fiery passion, sex appeal, strong will, female empowerment, confident, trouble maker… think Jessica Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Merida from Brave and Rhianna. So someone who sees themselves as shy, agreeable, soft spoken, cute and silly is much less likely to dye their hair red, rather they might choose pink instead.
A lot of people constantly go from one colour to another within weeks, whether it be light blue to incredibly bright orange, do you think hair dying is a constant addiction once you start?
So the reason people change colours so often with bright colour is more to do with the nature of this type of dye. You see the majority of bright rainbow dyes are semi permanent and fade from the hair with each shampoo (with some colours/brands fading faster than others). So between 2-6 weeks and the colour will have faded away, it’s quite a high maintenance look. Also these types of dye are non-chemical and total safe to apply every day if you wished. So naturally if your old colour has faded and you know you can put a new colour over without any risk of damage why not use a different shade? Of course some people like to keep the same colour and will touch up with the same shade each time as well, and other people are low maintenance and leave it till they have a big re-growth before re-dyeing.
It’s like when your nail polish chips off, some people will change colour vanish each time, others like to stick with the same colour. So for most I’d say it’s more about maintenance and keeping the colour looking fresh.
As to whether it is addictive? Absolutely. I always warn my clients who try bright colour for the first time, once you go bright and realise how much fun it is, you won’t go back!
As Japanese colourist Iku put’s it,”If you make your hair colourful, you can become ultra happy, right down to your core.”
Do you think it is healthy for people to dye their hair, pushing them away from their natural colour? i.e making themselves into something better perhaps?
People have be dying their hair for a very long time, henna dye was first recoded being used in 1500 B.C! Ancient Egyptians were known to dye their hair with lead paste for 3 days, and African tribes used red earth. We might think bright hair is a new thing, but in 1914 people were dying their hair pink. I don’t think its unhealthy, I think it’s just human nature to want what you don’t have.
I don’t think hair dye can make someone into something better, its more about change, having something different and expressing your own sense of taste and fashion. Most people that colour, whether it is bright pink or a few subtle golden highlights do it because they are bored of their natural, fancy a change or saw something they liked and wanted the same.
The times I don’t think it’s healthy is when a girl colours for the wrong reasons. Such as “My boyfriend told me he want me to be blonde”, then I’d say that person is doing it because they are afraid of not being accepted as they are.
Ironically I think people who colour their hair bright colours are often the ones who are most self-assured, confidant and don’t worry about others opinions, or try to please others. Rather they know who they are and are not afraid to look how they want.
Is bright hair dye unhealthy? Do you believe hair dye is linked to illnesses such as cancer?
To the best of my knowledge hair dye is not a carcinogenic. Also as soon as any hair product is found to be carcinogenic it is recalled. Last year there was a keratin chemical straightening brand who was putting illegal levels of formaldehyde in their products. As soon as it was found out the product was recalled from the market. Governments generally have very high standards and tight restrictions on these kind of things.
Also with consumers being so much more aware of the ingredients in traditional chemical hair dyes, company’s are always researching gentler ways to achieve the same results. A lot of brands, such a L’Oreal, now have ammonia free colour ranges.
However with bright rainbow dyes they are non-chemical vegetable based colours anyway, and don’t even have ammonia or peroxide. So as far as hair dye goes it is the safest thing you can use!
Join the discussion…
Why do you colour you hair? Do you think it’s addictive? Do you think its still classed as individuality?
Comment below and let us know!
Want to learn how to create rainbow hair?
Discover Anya’s eBook guide: ‘Any Colour Of The Rainbow – The Ultimate Guide to Alternative Hair Colour‘. This guide covers everything from safe bleaching with ammonia free bleach to creating stunning multi colours with foil. Find out all the best products, how to do pastel colours, how to maintain vibrant colour, create ombre colour and so much more…