“Nice Girls” and Dyed Hair

extra care must be lavishedQ Dear Miss Abigail:

When did dyeing your hair blonde became acceptable ~ you know, when “a nice girl” could do it? When did it start ~ and who was doing it?

Yes, my name is Abigail, too!

A Dear Abigail, too:

How did you know that I used to dye my hair? Must be that “nice girl/Abigail” thing. Though my hair wasn’t blonde, my hairdresser commented on the loveliness of my particular shade of Clairol Light Auburn.

Authors in my collection started addressing such issues in the 1950s and 1960s. Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder, including a bit of history from Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, by Gayelord Hauser.

1955: Colorings

There was a time, not too long ago, when any woman who dared change the color of her hair was looked upon as distinctly no lady. Those days area gone forever. But ~ mark this well ~ the upkeep is still a serious matter. Before you decide to go blonde, or redhead, or whatever, consider the prospect that keeping your hair its new shade involves regular, lengthy, and expensive visits to the hairdresser; that extra care must be lavished on both hair and scalp to counteract the inevitable drying effects of tints and dyes; that the growing-out period, if and when you decide to go back to your natural hair color, can be a fretful one.

Source: Hart, Constance. The Handbook of Beauty. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1955.
~ p. 56 ~

1961: A Change of Color

Nowadays one out of three women colors or highlights her hair.

Hair coloring is nothing new. In Cleopatra’s time, and even before, Egyptian ladies used henna and indigo. Roman matrons, admiring the blond Teutonic slaves brought back by Caesar’s legions, bleached their hair with such mixtures as ashes of plants, oils, nutshells and vinagar. Renaissance women were known to mix alum, sulphur and honey to become fair-haired. Powdering hair with gold or silver dust was the vogue among fashionable Americans right after the Civil War, and, at the turn of the century, bleaching and dyeing were considered smart by actresses and playgirls. Henna rinses again became popular just before World War I, then were replaced by peroxide bleaching which became so popular in the thirties.

A woman may have many reasons for wanting a different hair color. A shining crowning glory is still a mighty symbol of femininity, and the woman who does not care how her locks look may have deep-seated problems. A New York psychoanalyst, Dr. Harold Green, tells of a patient he had under treatment who did not appear to be responding, when one day she came with a new hair color. ‘Suddenly I knew she was getting well,’ said Dr. Green. ‘At last she was ready to establish a personality, to respond to attention. Vanity in a woman is a sign of mental

Source: Hauser, Gayelord. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Invitation to Beauty. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960.
~ p. 192 ~