The Psychology of Hair Color
by Laura French March 24, 2021
Image by Madison Reed
“I’ve just had this addiction to changing my hair,” makeup mogul Kylie Jenner shared on her website in 2015. “It makes me feel like a new person.” While the youngest JennDashian’s choice of words may strike you as extreme, there’s no denying that she’s had a plethora of hair colors—from warm burgundy to rose gold to caramel brunette—and she’s tried every fashion shade of the rainbow, from lavender, turquoise, and fuchsia to baby blue and cherry red. (Her natural hair color—black—is perhaps her most infrequently-sported hue.) Kylie once said she’d never go blonde “because that’s Kim’s thing and I don’t want to copy her”...but that resolution clearly didn’t last long, as she’s been spotted out with both platinum blonde hair and beachy bronde locks. Hooked on hair dye...is that even a real thing?
Absolutely, according to NYC-based psychologist Vivan Diller, Ph.D., who has written extensively about self-esteem, body image, and broadening cultural definitions of beauty. “Everyday activities like eating, drinking, working, sports, and shopping can become habit-forming. So it is with hair dyeing.” As Kylie said, you can definitely get a rush out of coloring your hair—who doesn’t love the feeling of starting fresh? Sometimes, people change their hair to get out of a rut, as in the case of getting post-breakup bangs or signaling the end of an era with a new hair cut or color. My childhood friend Carly has always had Reese Witherspoon-esque golden blonde hair, but she had the inexplicable urge to start her freshman year of college as an ashy medium brunette. “It just felt like a concrete way to establish the start of something new,” she says, “and it was a lot of fun while it lasted.” (She’s since gone back to her blonde roots.) And sometimes, it could be as simple as wanting to change your hair color because you’re bored. Certain personality types crave change more often than others, and can get sick of their look quickly and want to mix it up. If you’re into fashion shades like Kylie, standing out in a crowd (reminder: she has 7 older siblings) might be a trait that’s important to you. “Women who dye their hair in bright, rainbow colors are often risk-takers,” Diller says.
Are you taking a risk when you dye your hair too frequently, though? It depends, says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. “Switching your hair from one bright color right to another isn’t going to do that much more damage.” Hazan says the bleaching process is what’s toughest of all on your hair. When it comes to Kylie’s fashion shades, she’s already bleached her naturally dark hair, so it makes sense for her to try a whole array of colors at once. But constant coloring can absolutely make your hair more brittle and breakable. While dyeing your hair new colors can be fun, variety is the spice of life, etc. it’s not nearly as simple as changing up your lipstick—we always recommend waiting at least 2 weeks between permanent hair color applications. If your hair is prone to breakage from over-doing the dyeing, go cold turkey—no coloring your hair for 6 months, minimum. Add Pro Boost Strength as a deep conditioning treatment to your routine at least once a week—the highly-concentrated rice protein formula repairs damaged hair, plus hyaluronic acid fills and restores structure while adding moisture. And of course, when you do go back to permanent hair dye, be sure to opt for ammonia-free hair color to avoid further damage. To maintain long-lasting hair color, Hazan suggests adding a hair gloss to your routine at home—“An at-home gloss will help maintain color and shine. The healthier your hair, the longer your color will stay.”
So if expressing yourself through your ever-changing hair color is your thing, own it! Just be sure you’re giving your hair enough TLC and plenty of nourishment and hydration, plus breaks from coloring if your strands are feeling stressed and more fragile than usual. And we’re dye-ing to know...what shade of hair color will you choose next, you risk-taker, you? We’d love to hear about your experience coloring your hair many different shades in the comments...and please share which color has been your favorite, too! (Pics or it didn’t happen.)
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