People dye their hair for different reasons. Some dye their hair to portray a particular image. Some do it to fit in with the latest trend, or to go against the standards of beauty. Some would just want to randomly change something about them. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to point out that someone’s hair color, or their hair style, has been one of the ways that society judges someone. For women, it’s one of the ways that they can be objectified, to the extent that the way they style their hair is an indicator of whether or not they’re worthy of attention. Terrible, I know. Being one of the products that helps people in changing their image, hair dye has a long history, as CNN details:
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In its early iterations, hair coloring was done by both men and women to enhance their looks or hide white strands, according to Victoria Sherrow’s “Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History.”
Ancient civilizations used rudimentary hair colorants, based on recipes that included cassia bark, leeks, leeches, charred eggs, henna — still commonly used across the Middle East and India — and even gold dust.
Ancient Greeks favored gold and red-gold shades, associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, health and youthfulness. Likewise, high-class Greek and Roman prostitutes opted for blonde hues to suggest sensuality.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages in Europe that hair dyeing began shifting into a predominantly female habit.
Bleaches, often made with blended flowers, saffron and calf kidneys, were particularly in vogue, although Roman Catholics associated blond hair with lasciviousness.
Red dyes, often a mix of saffron and sulfur powder — the latter of which could induce nosebleeds and headaches, was popularized during the 16th-century reign of Elizabeth I of England.
The hue was a favorite in Italian courts as well, thanks to Renaissance artist Titian, who painted female beauties with red-gold locks. In the 18th century, European elites favored perfumed white and pastel powders made from wheat flour dusted lightly onto natural hair and wigs.
While most hair dyes were composed of plants and animal products, the evolution of the practice also saw the use of dangerous, even lethal methods to change hair color: lead combs to darken it, or sulfuric acid to lighten it.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that hair dye as we know it — chemical, in a rainbow of colors, shop-bought or salon-applied — came to be.
image via CNN