Pink Hair Ladies Have More Fun
With everyone from Helen Mirren to Lily Allen trying pink hair, how does ‘My Little Pony hair’ play out at the school gates?
Helen Mirren rocks it when she needs a “rose carpet” boost. So do Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne. Not to mention the rather passive-aggressive Fluttershy from My Little Pony.
There’s no doubt pink hair was this summer’s head-turning trend around the world, as the advent of easy-to-use home hair dyes combined with a reckless “Yay, the economy’s on the up!” mood. Who wouldn’t want to end up with a blow-dry that looks as if you’ve popped your head into a candy-floss machine? Living in the pink suddenly seems like a serious statement of intent.
At least, that’s what I thought when I agreed to put my classic ash blonde bob in the hands of colour expert Freya Haines, art director at Electric Hairdressing London, to test the trend now sweeping through older mums at the school gate almost as fast as those hipsters on the festival circuit.
Obviously I was hoping to avoid the Mrs Slocombe Bouffant. Also known as the Barbara Cartland Pastel Cloud. No one wants to look like they’ve had raspberry ripple ice-cream teased through their hair.
Having grown up in the 80s, I was hoping for a shock of Cyndi Lauper, a dash of early Madonna, a frisson of New Romantics. I think I wanted something else, too. A reminder that, at 50, I can still step outside my comfort zone.
Fashion commentator Hannah Betts has warned that one should “think hard about a pink barnet if you’re over the age of 30 (or under the age of 75)”. But I belong more to the Angela Rippon school of ageing; I like the way she announced an intention to Grow Old Disgracefully as she hit her sixth decade. I’m still 19 on the inside. Aren’t we all?
Moreover, the itch to change hair colour hadn’t just been ignited by watching Glastonbury from my sofa. I’d spent the summer dip-dyeing the hair of my daughter and her friends. They had enjoyed swishing about in shocking pink and purple shades, much as I had when young. When did I stop listening to that urge to have fun?
Still, I had to consider how my strawberry milkshake locks would be judged in the real world. Would I be laughed at by strangers? Would they smile in Proustian recall? Or would it prove, once and for all, that we femmes d’un certain age are utterly, irrevocably invisible. Even with My Little Pony hair.
First, the process. At Electric’s London salon, Freya stripped my hair back with a bleaching process, produced what looked exactly like a bowl of pink Instant Whip and proceeded to smother my hair with it. She warned that the porosity of each strand varies, thanks to previous highlights or weaknesses in the hair shaft, but assured me I’d be properly pink when she had finished, with perhaps just a few streaks turning more peachy at the back.
As the two hours ticked by, I calculated how many hours of her life fashion designer Zandra Rhodes must have put in to keep her head its distinctive shade of fuchsia (not to mention the cost; my pinking comes to pounds 200, without a cut, but it can be more, depending on length).
Then the reveal. Freya whipped off the towel, turned me to the mirror, and wow: I may not be a Beauty School Drop Out, but Frenchie - pinkest of the Pink Ladies from Grease - was looking back. I was rose, I was flush - I felt charged with the electricity of youth. Chic junior stylists all nodded approvingly.
Out of the salon, would it turn any heads? London, of course, is no acid test. You’d get no reaction if you walked the streets with a 5p bag over your head. But rural Hampshire? I tried a semi-rural Sainsbury’s first, but everyone was too busy browsing the Hallowe’en costumes to notice the real-life witch in their midst.
My husband and daughter chorused their approval, as did my teammates at the village quiz night. Then the supper plates came out, and everyone was (understandably) more interested in the vaguely rose-tinted cranberry-stuffed chicken than my new ‘do.
A few days post-dye, my hair has begun to fade a little, settling into a sort of pale creamy peony, which is not as exhilarating to wear as hot pink, but rather gorgeous in itself. It’s also so flattering to a winter complexion - it seems to light up my face and deflect attention from my lines - that I can see myself staying this way, although I will need regular trips to the hairdresser, as the pink washes out over three to four weeks.
If you are confident enough to try this at home, there are an increasing number of wash-in dyes, including the readily available Live Color XXL range (an informal survey of local 10-year-olds recommends the Ultra Bright Shocking Pink), and a range from pop star Pixie Lott (another pastel colours fan), which includes hair highlight pens and chalks in sorbet colours. Fudge even does a range of spray-in colours.
Job very much done for me. At least until spring... I hear that opalescent bright white hair is the next big thing, with Marie Claire calling it “the unicorn of dye jobs”. Fluttershy, your number may be up.
— The Daily Telegraph