Search This Blog

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Dyeing. Bleaching. Coating with lard?! ..all things done on the top of our heads

Hello there!

In the 1930s, women who dared to dye their hair often left the beauty shop with violent headaches, swollen eyelids and blisters on their foreheads. Is has changed so much since those days...

History of hair colour

The first colors for hair were derived from plants and insects. Henna, Chamomile, and Indigo were commonly used in Egypt to color the hair, and in times before, berries were often used to tint the hair as well. Lemon and other citrus juices, black sulphur, alum, and honey mixtures were used to encourage bleaching in the hair to lighten it. These types of “natural” haircolors were predominantly all there and was available until the 19th century when some chemical discoveries were made.

In the early 1800s some men would use silver nitrate to darken the gray hair of their mustaches. This led to the development of a proper haircolor formula being developed. The mixture consisted of silver nitrate, gum water, and distilled water and was referred to as Grecian Water. It was highly popular although it lost some of its appeal when it turned out that repeated usage caused the darkened hair to turn purple.
The use of metallic salts has continued to this day, and there is a slightly comic twist to the fact that today’s metallic-salt-based products for covering gray can have a tendency to turn the hair a slightly green tint if allowed to continue to develop on the hair.

The real breakthrough in coloring, however, came in 1859, when a German student, experimenting with coal tar, diluted it with alcohol and found that he’d created a purple dye. This led to the creation of a synthetic dye for use on fabrics and hair, and later to the development of the dyes we know today.
In fact, two of the most widely-known products brands for hair coloring got their start at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. In 1907, French chemist, Eugene Schueller developed a hair dye based on a synthetic formulation of paraphenylenadiamine, which he called Aureole. This was later changed to ‘L’Oreal’. 

L'Oreal - "colour for the hair"

A few decades later, New York chemist, Lawrence Geld developed a haircolor that penetrated the hair shaft and started a company to produce and sell it. This was the birth of ‘Clairol’. In 1950 he further revolutionized the haircolor industry by creating and introducing a single-step hair color product called Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath, which was the first color product that could lighten and tint the hair (without using harsher bleaches) in one process.

Clairol Incorporated’s Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath – 
Which hair color should you use? 
Your professional beautician will tell you 
"the new, amazing hair color bath miss Clairol is the ’magic-in-minutes" 

The ability to change the color of your hair permanently (until the natural color grows out enough to show) and easily changed the attitudes many women had about hair color. In the 1920s young women were changing their haircolor to suit their sense of style and flash as the Flapper Age burst forth. This was followed by the inevitable backlash of dramatic changes in society, and hair coloring was stigmatized in the early 1930s as something only “loose girls” did.
By the end of the 1930s, though, the attitudes relaxed a bit and haircolor was again accepted – and sometimes even reveled in.

Amazing advertisement, saying "Colorince after each shampoo"
..and we now call it a "colour shampoo"

Does she .. or doesn't she?
Only the hairdresser knows for sure.

By the 1950s, however, there was still some stigma attached for many women, particularly when it came to admitting that they colored their hair. One of the major reasons for some women to use hair color was to hide the gray hairs which would develop with age. The absence of gray was equated with being younger (or at least looking it).
An advertising copywriter (Shirley Polykoff) is credited with helping to bring hair coloring into the mainstream for modern women when she created an ad campaign with the tagline “Does she… or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” This long-running ad campaign is thought to be largely responsible for the dramatic increase in the use of at-home haircolor products. During the next 20 years, until she gave up the account, the number of American women dyeing their hair rose to more than 40% (from around 7%). This lasting result also helped to cement the future of the company for whom the campaign was designed. That company, of course, was Clairol.

The reason for the success of the campaign was simple: it implied that women – respectable wives and mothers – had the right to color their hair if they chose, and could now do it with discretion in their own homes.

How about me?

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," the heroine pays instantly for her temporary insanity:
"Twenty minutes later the barber swung her around to face the mirror, and she flinched at the full extent of the damage that had been wrought. . . . It was ugly as sin."

True as it could ever be. In my case, it really took only 20 minutes on a first Saturday of this year, to turn my lovable short hair into a half-shaved "bold spot here and there" head.. my head.

Naturally, I was devastated. What a miserable way to start a year, no? So, as you had a chance to read I have chosen a wig
I you think wearing a wig is odd, try to understand what it must have been after I have discovered that I had a massive contact dermatitis. I don't regret the money, but I do regret the moment I had to take the wig off in order to save my head from more suffering, and show up at work: with bold-spot-here-and-there, funny red-and-brown colour, with a strange rash on my head. 
Not much to do, really, when in a situation like that one. Just sit tight,  listen to a large amount of sympathetic pep-talks from over-concerned colleagues (and a few kickers like "Does it itch?" and "You got a bold-spot over there").. thank you, I haven't noticed.

It has been a while since then.
I made a decision to avoid all contact with the hairdresser. That lead us to an array of interesting moments in my life. For instance: I never (ever!) imagined that I'd have my brother cut my hair - but he did. 
Another thing happened in these few months: more than a few hair colours.

Last few weeks I have made a change, yet another one.
My own hair has decided to hear my desperate roars and started growing again (truth is I have had some medical switches made, hair does not start growing on it's own.. but it sound better that way).By now, nomal person's hair would probably be twice as long as mine is... I do not envy them - I'm truly happy with the speed of growth, as long as there IS a growth. 

So.. I'm dark blonde now:

Taken on Thursday, after work

So, how about you?
Any "bad hair" days lately? Any serious changes?
..or, maybe you're thinking about a change?

Have you spotted my new blog design? Do you like it?


  1. You look absolutely gorgeous, my dear friend! I love your hairstyle these days and the way you've pinned some of it to the side in the last photo. Cute, cute, super cute!!! I'm very sorry that you got CD from a wig. I've had that happen as well with one I bought last summer. It was burnette, too, interestingly, so perhaps there's something used in some of the brown wig dyes that doesn't jive well with those of us who have sensitive skin. I haven't worn a ton different wigs yet, but the other ones have been okay, if memory serves me right. I just mention that in case, for whatever reason, you want to try a wig again.

    You really, really look fabulous, sweet friend! Thank you for showing your latest 'do to all of us.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you..
      I am desperately trying to manage it while it grows out (I'm not entirely certain what am I intending to get out of it, but growth is what I'm going for).
      There is a possibility that dye might be the issue, then again: it might as well be the very material it's made out of.