It’s been done time and time again, and yet when Nicole Scherzinger made the move from brunette to bleach blonde, the results were fairly striking.
Do blondes really have more fun?” she captioned in an Instagram post. Many fans initially mistook her for Kim Kardashian, another woman fond of moving from one end of the hair colour spectrum right to the other.
Scherzinger isn’t the only one wondering about whether blondes have more fun, evidently. Shania Twain was almost unrecognisable as a platinum blonde as she embarked on the promotional trail for her latest album. At the Grammys, she went one further by colouring her hair fire-engine red. “I’m so ready for it. I’m way more fearless than I would’ve been. Years ago, I would’ve been more conscientious about, ‘Is this too over-the-top?’” Twain admitted recently about her bold new look.
For a celebrity with a crack team of stylists and colourists at their disposal, switching hair colour dramatically is par for the course. The Jenner-Kardashian clan are old hands at it. Billie Eilish nearly broke what’s left of the internet when she ditched her black/lime green combo for platinum blonde. Selena Gomez, Claire Danes, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway — they’ve all seen the light (well, light blonde).
“Sometimes it was simply about having fun, other times, it ran deeper. It was a need to change the outside to feel better on the inside”
Like all of them, I can attest to the power of a dramatic hair colour change. In the last 10 years alone, I’ve moved from blonde to copper-red, and from red to dark brown. From dark brown I made a dramatic switch to blonde, and from there, I reverted to red (none of these are my natural hair colour, incidentally). A number of different reasons were involved. Sometimes it was simply about having fun with fashion. Other times, it ran deeper than that; a need to change the outside to feel better on the inside
It’s probably no coincidence that I went from red to black in the year after my mother died. It wasn’t so much about not liking who I saw in the mirror, but rather being bored with my own reflection. It was, in a strange way, about attempting to wrest back control in a largely uncontrollable situation. Other times, I wanted to put a resounding full-stop on one part of my life, and to dramatically move into another. As Coco Chanel once said, “ A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” What better way to do it than changing your own reflection?
Hair colour isn’t just a statement about where you think you’re going in life; it’s also, according to top stylist Dylan Bradshaw, “A huge deal when it comes to relaying who you are”.
“Red, for instance, is a statement colour,” he notes. “A lot of women feel that blonde is feminine and soft and sexy. Red-headed women are braver and more confident. I’m not saying blondes aren’t more confident, but if you’re talking about the psychology behind the colour, red says ‘look at me’. When some women go from blonde to brunette, often they want to look more calm and controlled.”
As I sat in the hairdresser’s chair, requesting the move from red to dark brown, the stylist blanched. “Now are you sure you want to do this?” she ventured, a note of sternness in her voice. She spoke like someone who had heard this request many, many times before, and usually when people were Going Through A Thing. Yet I’d never been so sure.
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And yet, within a couple of years, I was keen on another change. This time, moving from black to blonde was a much more significant undertaking. I’d been using brunette box-dye, which had the unfortunate effect of turning my hair a flat, matte black. Removing the colour would take two eight-hour sessions in the salon chair, six weeks apart.
What was interesting is not just how hair colour signalled a new phase; other changes seemed to be afoot too. Although researchers from the University of Tampa published research in 2018 that notes that men and women both viewed people with brunette hair as the most attractive, I dated much more regularly and with far more success as a blonde. I also encountered several men who professed to having ‘a thing’ for red-heads. Oh, the disappointment they felt when they realised that I was not in fact a genetic rarity.
Is there a link between hair colour and the way we see ourselves? Is it psychosomatic? Or do we unconsciously play up to stereotypes?
In a poll conducted via Garnier, it was revealed that 33pc of men said they were most likely to associate red-headed women as a short-term girlfriend compared to women with other colours. The survey also found that blonde hair was identified most with one-night stands (55pc). Black-haired women were considered the most self-sufficient and ambitious with 57pc of respondents identifying women with black hair as being the highest earners.
Bradshaw issues a practical caveat or two for those looking to change things up significantly when it comes to hair colour.
“As a blonde, 40pc of the blonde colour should be in your natural hair. If you’re going to do it, go to a reputable salon and get it done right. The potential for disaster is too great. Less is more when it comes to colour. I can’t say it enough.”
Moving from blonde to copper red is also no small deal, and due consideration should be taken. “Not only is an entire image overhaul needed, because make-up and clothes often clash after a drastic colour change, but going back to blonde from red is hard because of all the coppery warmth,” notes Bradshaw. “That said, many women do it for the short-term, for a couple of months, get it out of their system, and then go back to blonde.”
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