Then and now
The evolution of the coloured mane through the decades
Whether it is to cover greys or to make a style statement, colour has become one of the most sought after salon treatments today. Walk into any salon and the first thing you will notice is the sheer number of people getting their hair coloured. But hair colour’s popularity is not recent; the dye fascination has been prevalent since centuries, even without the sophisticated techniques that we see today.
It’s common knowledge that ancient civilisations like the Greek, Roman or even Indian laid a lot of emphasis on beauty. Face paint and ornaments were common, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they may have experimented with hair colour as well. Plant extracts and animal substitutes were used to dye hair, most of which fell in the dark, black shade palette.
Coal, henna, lard and, sometimes, even dried animal blood was used to colour hair for a distinct look. Believe it or not, colour wasn’t just about hair fashion in that period. It was a mark of societal distinction, where only people of a particular strata were allowed to wear a certain colour.
Closer to the middle ages, wigs gained populairty. Coiffed, bulky wigs were an easier option to getting your hair serviced. In the English empire, Queen Elizabeth I’s red (or strawberry blonde, to be precise) hair was in the spotlight. And as emulating royal styles was always a given, this became the preferred colour choice as scores of women tried to get this look, sometimes even treating their hair with sulphur and sunlight to achieve the desired results.
MOVING TOWARDS THE MODERN
As we moved on to the mid-1900s, better technology and science lent the hair industry a certain sophistication. The early years saw the use of toxic chemicals to treat the hair in order to colour it, which if administered wrong, could be very damaging. All of this was done in the quest to achieve lighter hair as blondes gained popularity world over.
Hollywood sensations such as Jean Harlow, and later Marilyn Monroe, became the poster girls for perfectly sexy blonde hair. Silver-screen idols dethroned royalty as the trendsetters, and hair colour slowly moved on to becoming more acceptable. People were more open about dyeing hair, as opposed to keeping it under the wraps as earlier.
These years also saw the introduction of home hair colours, which made the whole colouring process convenient. As colour became more of a fashion statement, people tried application techniques such as highlights and streaks, experimenting with vivid hues to create interesting looks.
Enter the 21st century. Colour craze is all over and there’s literally no escaping it. Look around and you’ll find most celebrities endorsing colour brands—think Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor for L’Oréal Paris, Disha Patani for Garnier Color Naturals or Kareena Kapoor for BBlunt.
Colouring hair has slowly seeped into our regular beauty routine, and the ways to wear these are endless! New trends are cropping up every day—pastel hair, opal colour, unicorn locks and so on. Colour choices are bolder and now, expressing your individuality takes precedence over copying a celeb’s style— more people now want customised colour services. An increasing number of men are also sporting a head full of vibrant hues. With the new innovations that have cropped up, the process is also not damaging anymore. You can strip your hair of all its colour and still end up with soft, nourished locks—who would have thought that’s possible a few decades ago?
Today, hair colour has become a booming industry by itself, bringing together science, technology, innovation, fashion and art. You can choose from permanent colour, temporary ones, spray ons, coloured extensions—the list is endless. Looks like hair colour is here to stay, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it continues to evolves.