After writing yesterday's entry, my curiosity took over. Since safe blond dyes did not appear until the 1950's, I wondered about other colors and how long they've been around.
I know one young lady who changes the color of her hair as often as one normally changes the sheets on a bed. Last time I saw her, her hair was green. Fading, ready to host a new color.
So how long have people been dyeing their hair? A long, long time. The first recorded use of dyes dates back to the Egyptians who used henna to cover gray. I've used it and I know it can take a long time to get the proper color. I used it to add highlights to my auburn hair and I loved the results.
The Romans are reputed to have created the first permanent black hair dye but it was toxic to use so they created a substitute out of fermented leeches. In addition, the Roman Empire required all prostitutes to have yellow hair so many wore wigs rather than trying to dye it. Up until the mid 1800's all dyes were made from natural substances and did not last that long.
In 1863, the first synthetic dye was discovered by a man who was working on a quinine substitute. It produced a beautiful mauve. A chemistry professor took this chemical, adjusted it and discovered the chemical which provides the base for all modern hair dyes. It wasn't until 1907, the first commercial hair dyes hit the market as the brand Aureole later to become L'Oreal. He listed the colors as black and gold.
In 1931, Howard Hughes released the movie "Platinum Blonde" staring Jean Harlow. This was such a popular film that women tried to dye their hair the same color and Howard Hughes offered $10,000 to any hairdresser who could recreate Harlow's exact shade. It was never collected.
By 1950, the first one step blonde dye hit the market that did not use bleach to lighten the hair. Prior to this, if you wanted to be a blonde, you had to use a concoction with bleach that left the hair damaged. This dye produced by Clairol was much better on the hair.
Over the last 60 years, it has become socially accessible to dye hair. Dyes have become safer and easier to use. One day you can be a blonde, two weeks later you are a red head and in a month, you can have purple stripes.
Several interesting facts about hair color:
1. The Gauls dyed their hair red as a way to distinguish class and rank.
2. In medieval times, it was believed anyone with red hair was a witch. The belief changed when Queen Elizabeth came on the throne and had reddish hair.
3. Around 300 B.C., you could tell the class of a lady by her hair color. Rich women dyed their hair red, middle class women went for blonde hair and the lowest classes wore black hair.
4. In Renaissance times, women wanted to be blonde because the hair color was associated with angels.
Have a good day and let me know what you think, Take care.