Pink hair just won’t go away. A quick online search reveals articles about the etiquette of going pink started in around 2013. Bleach London, the fabulous salon that lead the way in rainbow coloured hair has been going since 2010. But there is still that tiresome old debate as to how old is too old to go pink.
On the Sheffield Forum, (not living in Sheffield, it’s a forum I hadn’t thought of spending much time on before) there is a long and amusing thread about whether middle aged women should dye their hair pink. Whilst “Jason Bourne” prefers a “hot milf brunette”, there are only a few women on the thread who stand up for pinkies. Mostly they’re damned as saddo youth hunters. An American thread is equally judgemental, talking about pink “Walmart hippos.”
Meanwhile, a year or so ago, the style commentator Christa de Souza wrote a piece about the mid-life punk, a new identity picking up speed amongst middle aged women. It was greeted with positivity; women refusing to go invisible but paint themselves bright instead.
So what’s the difference? I hate to say but I’m pretty sure there’s both a class and gender bias going on. What is considered desirably outre and individual in the art galleries of Albemarle Street, is considered cheap and pathetic in the aisles of a discount supermarket. I use these examples because I frequent both venues. I was once at an opening where an lady so frail and elderly that she had to be helped down the stairs, was resplendent in diamonds, revealing leopard skin chiffon and topped with neon pink hair. She was the star of the evening. But when I sported a pink quiff around Liddles, my companion (a rather fussy mummy from my son’s primary school) refused to walk with me. My very bestest friend also condemned the quiff as ‘try-hard’.
Styles tend to either be dictated from on-high (the designers and uber-stylists) or they bubble up from the street. Pink hair on middle aged women definitely bubbled up from the street and if you’re middle aged and wealthy, the street always seems a cool place to be. So pink hair is for middle aged women wanting to seem young and wealthy women wanting to seem cool and all women who desperately want to be seen as individuals. Perhaps it is a little try-hard.
I also think there’s a gender issue here in that middle aged women are still expected to hold onto their sexuality. Pink hair is not considered sexy by many of their male contemporaries (admittedly this is based the very scientific research of “me talking to me friends”). It may be because their ideas of what was sexy was honed thirty years ago in an different world. It maybe because they don’t like the individualistic, independent image of a pink haired women. So pink hair is fine for the young (different aethestics and youth is always sexy) and different for the very old, who are not expected to be sexy. But when you’re desperately tying to cling onto the last vestiges of babehood, pink hair really isn’t going to help.
And yet… I still have a yearning to go pink, it still seems cute and fresh to have bubble gum hair. I still admire those women who take the plunge and do it, regardless of the Sheffield forum and their understanding that they don’t need to impress “Jason Bourne.” I still think Zandra Rhodes, Betsy Johnson, fabulously creative, fuck ’em all women whose hair seems to sing “I’m living life on my own terms”. I can’t reject the whole thing out of hand.
So if we were going to do rules for pink hair (contradictory as that might seem) what wold they be?
- Don’t do it unless you really, really want to. This is not a trend to be pressurised into by Baddie Winkler and all those cool Instagram posts. If you’re ever going to make a statement, make that statement truly and authentically you.
- Just as you would with any style, make sure your hair is in great condition and a flattering style before you do it.
- Recognise that unless you have very light coloured in the first place, you are going to have to bleach. This is harsh. This is commitment. But there is no point in trying to dye anything darker than cream coloured hair. It will just look like you rolled around in the mud.
- Taking 2 into account, if you’re not super talented with the bleach, go to a professional. Obviously Bleach London are the queens of this but my own hairdresser is great and she does it from her kitchen. Just find the right person.
- Not all pinks are equal. Firstly you have to decide between a pastel pink, sweet candy pink or vibrant deep pink. How bold do you want to go?
- Then you have to check your colours! Do you suit warm or cool colours? Use the wrong tone and you’re asking to be mistaken for a corpse that’s escaped the mortuary. This is why a professional is your best option again, for the first time at least. Off the peg colourants are limited in tone but they will be able to mix up something just right for you.
- Once it’s done, you have to commit to either keeping it or getting rid of it. Roots will show fast. Whichever you choose, it’s back to the hairdressers on a regular basis.
- Condition, condition, condition. But then you already knew that, didn’t you?
- If your hair is a flattering style and great condition then whatever colour you choose to be, it will look fabulous on you.
- And finally, whilst you’re pink, if you feel at all nervous or unsure, need a confidence boost and some reassurance that you’ve done the right thing … there’s a gallery in Albemarle Street you can visit.