It's pretty clear that unnatural hair colors like pink, purple, green and blue have become the new normal. Fashion risk-takers like Katy Perry and Kesha have paved the way for us normies wanting to try out the latest bold shade (FYI: it's gray if you want to be super on trend), and the statistics prove it: In 2013, sales for pink hair dye went up 243%. Two. Hundred. Forty. Three. Percent.
Today, the bright hair hue trend has infiltrated into the not-so-obvious sectors of life: the workplace, women over 65 (hi, Helen Mirren!), dudes, and even hair in places other than your head, meaning there's a pretty huge chance that you've thought about—or actually dyed—your hair a crayon color over the last few years. But why?
Celebrity colorist Daniel Moon, who gave Nicole Richie her killer light purple shade, said it's because we're infiltrated with so many images of colorful hair on the runway and magazines, it's just becoming a part of our lives. "I think unnatural hair colors became the new norm when model Charlotte Free stepped into the picture with pink hair; model Chloe Norgaard walked the runway for Rodarte; Nicole Richie shot the cover for Paper magazine with lavender locks; and when Katy Perry kept being Katy Perry wearing every color Pantone could imagine. A color explosion has happened and now is being molded to our lifestyle–as normal as they can be."
Trends have always had a large influence on the population, but is there a deeper, psychological reason, too? Midge Wilson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at DePaul University said, "How we feel as a function of your hair color is socially constructed," meaning, throughout time, different hair colors meant different things. "Blonde hair was thought to be undesirable–pale, dull, untrustworthy, manipulative were adjectives associated with blondes. This really didn't change until the 20th Century and was definitely promoted by the Clairol 'Blondes Have More Fun' campaign." So, if society is accepting of pink hair right now, it makes us more apt to dye our hair pink, therefore perpetuating the cycle.
Daniel also says digital culture has a huge influence on our hair color choices—not to mention the ability to recreate anything we see on the internet. "Try looking at a image of a red crayon online and looking at a red crayon in the palm of your hand. One is analog and one is digital. By wearing an unnatural hair color, we become digital and attractive in a high-definition way. We connect with colors in life like never before. Sunsets, flowers, trees remind us of our hair color. You become the art in your Instagram picture standing next to a graffiti-painted wall."
Our hair color also projects an identity out to the world and can make us look and feel like a completely new person. "Hair color is one of three prominent features that others use to make a quick judgment about us, the other two being skin color and overall physical attractiveness," said Midge. "Hair is one of the few features on our body that can be easily changed without commitment—meaning with time or a particular product, we can always go back to how we looked before. This is not possible with most other feature-altering behavior." This, mixed with the fact that "it is becoming increasingly hard to stand out from the crowd" might be why we choose blue over brown when we visit the salon. She also added that today, "society as a whole is more accepting of varied appearances," which includes hair styles and hair color.
"People come to me when they want to take a risk, when they want to be someone else or maybe just for some electricity," said Daniel. "Social media has played a nice-size part in exposing people to a variety of colors they see that could work on them. What interests me the most is that I have a big percentage of new clients coming to me with hair that has never been dyed, all different lengths, from all over the world wanting to be a unnatural hair color work of art. Thats the biggest reason in my experience, they want to connect with people on a color level. No words needed."