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When Did Pink Hair Become Office-Appropriate?

The first time I dyed my hair pink was in college. It was an act of defiance. A way for me, a natural blonde, to set myself apart from the cookie-cutter sorority girls at my Southern state university. The second time was shortly after landing my first job as a beauty assistant at a magazine. My boss got wind of my love of black lipstick and rock music and mentioned, in passing, that I made our team cooler. That weekend, I revisited the dye jar, thus solidifying my reputation as Riot Grrrl gone corporate.

Now that I’m in my late twenties, with far more professional aspirations than rebellious inclinations, I’ve gone pink again. But this time, it’s not so much about being an outlier as it is about embracing a new normal. Spring’s runway models were awash in the hue, from Nicopanda and Ashley Williams to Matty Bovan and Marc Jacobs.

image From left: Marc Jacobs, Nicopanda, Matty Bovan

Jason Lloyd-Evans, Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images;

Last fall, Julia Roberts and January Jones, two women presumably well past their Disney princess days, debuted bubblegum dip-dyes. Roberts told Jimmy Kimmel that her look was the result of a flamingo costume from Halloween. Still, she’d gone pink before, back in 2008. And paired with the actress’s very 2018 pantsuit, the subtle shade appeared office-appropriate.


Randy Holmes

According to Redken global creative director Guido Palau, who masterminded the pastel hair for Marc Jacobs’s spring 2019 show, women’s attitudes are changing: Hair color doesn’t have to match what’s found in nature. “Today, they’re using color almost the same way they use lipstick,” Palau says. “They’re feeling much more adventurous.”

Of course, natural blondes have an advantage. For color, pink or otherwise, to take hold, bleached strands are best, which can lead to damage. A celebrity can afford the upkeep—and has the freedom to try a range of outré colors without fearing not being taken seriously at work. Yet this isn’t a look strictly for Kardashians or Jenners (or beauty editors). U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez brought pink underlayers to Congress in 2017. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Larry Nassar haloed by a swirl of strawberry streaks. And in Los Angeles, BlackLine founder and CEO Therese Tucker oversees her multibillion-dollar company with a headful of cotton-candy hair. “Pink used to be perceived as edgy, but now it’s been normalized,” says Color Wow global creative director Chris Appleton, the colorist behind Kylie Jenner’s pink pony.


Courtesy of Chris Appleton

For my third pass with pink, I considered its executive presence. Instead of a DIY session, I booked an appointment with Manic Panic colorist Ayumi Mitsuishi. A color-safe shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Color Vibrancy Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner ($6) are part of my new shower arsenal, plus products to minimize wash days: TRESemmé Style Refresh All-in-1 Spray ($5) and endless cans of dry shampoo. True, going with the grain does not a rebel make. But the fact that pink now transcends my college dive bar to fit into a career plan suggests that the world is slowly coming around to women doing whatever the hell they want. And that’s pretty punk rock.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of ELLE.


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