Approximately one million years ago, I went into a Brooklyn hair salon intending to get my usual warm blonde highlights and left with a full head of pastel pink hair. When my then-boyfriend saw me, he said, "Now that you've dyed your hair pink, are you going to break up with me?" in a tone that wasn't entirely joking. He couldn't articulate why, exactly, but he knew instinctively that the pink hair signified a mental shift. (Incidentally, he was also right about the breakup.)
One could argue that the entire world has spent the past quarantined weeks undergoing a far more intense mental shift. Among the words my friends have used to describe the feelings of fear and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic, one I keep returning is "emotional roller coaster." With so much out of our individual control, it makes sense that people are turning to at-home grooming to regain a sense of stability. But people aren't just doing at-home pedicures and giving themselves DIY haircuts — they're dyeing their hair. And the color they're choosing is pink.
Ess has a theory for why her fans are buying pink hair color in droves. "The main reasons are simple: Pink is such a happy color and because of its pastel shade, it still feels light and bright, the way blonde hair does," she tells ishonest. "It makes you feel like you have a brand-new color. Plus, the pink tone really upstages the line of demarcation [around your roots], which sort of makes you forget about the grow-out for a minute."
"Pink represents all that we need in this world right now."
Why Pink Hair?
Aside from the beauty benefits of pink hair, there may be psychological reasons why pink is an especially comforting shade right now. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based neuropsychologist, says that pink is the color of "universal love of oneself and of others."
"Pink represents all that we need in this world right now," says Hafeez. "Very often, pink is thought to have a calming effect. It is not a 'loud' color like yellow or orange. As most of us lounge around in scruffy clothes like sweatshirts, sweatpants, little to no makeup, and messy hair, pink hair is a way of bringing out our softer side in a way that does not require everyday upkeep and is also not expensive."
While many of us are learning how to do our makeup for Zoom calls, the work- from-home mandate for non-essential workers (and the sad reality that many people have lost their jobs) provides more freedom in how one looks.
"A lot of people want to do a fun crazy color, but [professional dress codes] of their business doesn't allow them to," says stylist Riawna Capri. "[Now], it's a time where you can really experiment with things you've always wanted to do." Ess agrees, and speculates that one reason her Temporary Tint is flying off the shelves is because it only lasts for a few washes, which gives that freedom to experiment without the nerves of a permanent color commitment.
"Dyeing your hair pink is fun and a little punk, but it also offers an easy out because it doesn't usually last very long."
"Pink is a perfect color for being safely rebellious," says Brooke Jordan, the cofounder and master stylist at New York City-based salon The Bird House. "Dyeing your hair pink is fun and a little punk, but it also offers an easy out because it doesn't usually last very long, and doesn't come with as much risk for long-term staining. Pink, especially pastel pink, is also an awesome gateway drug to playing with more daring creative colors." Jordan is leaning into the trend and focusing the next iteration of her at-home Quarantine Color Kits on "having fun with color."
Pink Is Simply Fun
Mental health experts and hair-color experts have their own thoughts about the prevalence of pandemic pink hair — but we also checked in with someone who thinks about color for a living. Susanna Merrick is a fashion stylist and the founder of Aura Wear NYC. She uses intuitive energy healing to build a wardrobe based around a client's aura. "I could say so much about pink," she tells me.
According to Merrick, the color pink is associated with a long list of traits: "gentleness, empathy, sensitivity, caring, sweetness, compassion, tenderness, nurturance, and deference."
"When it comes to our auras this color is very strategic. It's all about romance, nostalgia, and love," she explains. "People with this energy in their aura definitely enjoy being feminine, and pink energy can bring out the divine feminist in us all."
She recommends anyone who is hoping for more fun or playfulness in their daily routine try out the color pink. "Subconsciously, we're also reaching for this color because it represents self-care and love for ourselves, which is greatly needed right now," she says.
How It's Done
Whether you need more joy, playful energy, or just need a project, now might be the perfect time to try out pink hair. Before you stock up on Manic Panic, keep in mind that your base hair color plays into how any dye will look. "I hate to burst anyone's bubble-gum pink bubble, but during quarantine, the only people who I would recommend pink colors to (or really, any fashion colors, sadly), are blondes," says Jordan.
Creative colors are "direct dyes," Jordan explains, which means they stain the hair instead of permanently coloring it. A light color base means your stain will show up, whereas on a base of brown or black hair it will probably be invisible or very subtle.
"Subconsciously, we're also reaching for this color because it represents self- care and love for ourselves."
In a salon, a stylist would bleach your brown or black hair before adding the pink color. Of course, there's the option to bleach your own hair — which worries Jordan. "Bleaching your hair on your own is highly risky, not only because of the potential damage you could do, but also because if the color doesn't turn out right, you'll be in an orange misery," she says.
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