Femme Fatale: Classic Hair Colors
It seems like today’s hair color trends are all over the place: opal hair, watercolor hair, even cinnamon bun hair. While all of those looks are absolutely gorgeous and the talent of the hairstylists is certainly immense, sometimes it’s nice to go back to simpler times, when hair was mostly all one color, and more focus was put on natural beauty than creativity (even though both of those are fun ways to express beauty and art). In order to fully appreciate the exotic range of possible modern hair colors – everything from rainbow locks to pastel highlights – it’s important to understand where hair color started, and what some of the classic hair colors can offer.
Hair coloring as a practice can be found as far back as the 11th century B.C.E., when Egyptians and other North African and Middle Eastern communities were using Henna, crushed bugs, and plants to color hair. However, because of the expense, this practice was really only exclusive to the upper echelons of society, and never really expanded into the hair routines of everyday women. Other types of hair coloring can be seen in Victorian England, where, instead of traditional dye, cosmetic hair powder (made cocoa, flour, or other combinations) was patted onto wigs and graying hair. Again, this kind of hair powder was only available to the upper classes.
Everything changed in 1907, when synthetic hair dye was invented by L’Oreal founder Eugene Scheuller. At that point, hair dye was still mostly unavailable to everyday women, but in 1947, the first home hair dye product called “Poly Color”, made by Schwarzkopf, hit the market, and suddenly hair dye was more common than uncommon. The first colors available for home use were black, red, and platinum blonde.
Red hair was the most popular classic hair color in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and really only fell out of fashion in the 1990s. Glamorous screen icons like Rita Hayworth and Bette Davis made the obviously-dyed look of light-red, orange-tinged hair a fashion staple for most of the mid-century and beyond. Today, stars like Emma Stone and Famke Jassen make red hair look absolutely stunning, albeit in a slightly different way: instead of the untoned, light red (almost pink!) looks of the 1940s and 50s, modern celebrities take on the classic hair color with slightly darker tones and lots of beautiful caramel and crimson lowlights, which gives them more depth and dynamic movement in their hair.
Raven-black hair is always a classic hair color as well. The combination of Sophia Loren’s raven locks and startlingly bright eyes wooed the country for decades, and the dark tresses of Elizabeth Taylor and her vibrant violet eyes captured audiences across the globe with their beauty. Black hair, like red hair, is a classic that will never go out of style.
And of course, the platinum blondes ruled the 1950s, with Marilyn Monroe’s gorgeous white-blond bob stunning the screen every time she stepped onto it.
What do you think: did we miss any of your favorite classic colors? Let us know in the comments!