If there’s one thing you learn from living a life with colored hair, it’s that not all colored hair is well received.
You don’t realize this, as the owner of said colored hair, but strangers and friends and family will approach you after weeks with a non-natural hue to tell you what they really think about what’s happening to your head, well after you’ve habituated to the change. It’s always a bit off-putting, inspiring a “Who me?” whenever you’re paid said compliment or backhandedly disparaging comment. Like wearing curse words, you stand out even though you don’t know you are anymore.
After years of getting reactions to the way my hair has been colored, I’ve started logging what people think, to categorize what people think in the hopes of ranking popular opinion of colored hair. The results are more surprising than you’d think since they are often misaligned with how I – the person wearing said hair – feel. Thus, a ranking of who likes what colored hair based on the reactions I’ve gotten over the year. They’re ordered from least beloved to most beloved.
Color: Apple Red
Most Beloved By: My former hairdresser, who I enabled experimentation with.
Most Notable Comment: Nothing. He was the only one who liked it.
My Feeling On Hair: Eh. Not a huge fan but didn’t hate it.
General Analysis: With an admittedly weirdo haircut, this look was not approachable in any shape or form. This is a huge factor in having hair that others will react to: if it is “friendly.” This was not friendly hair. No one liked it.
Color: Pastel, Peacock Rainbow
Most Beloved By: A few gays.
Most Notable Comment: “Is your hair different colors?”
My Feeling On Hair: Thought I was sickening but no one noticed the details.
General Analysis: Like the red, the strange color combinations and general un-kept-ness of my hair often made people more confused about what was going on up top, thus disabling conversation about hair color. The one group who will always comment, regardless of the outcome, are gays. They loved this hair! Perhaps, though, it also was reflective of pride in a very backhanded way. This also inspired a lot of questions about how it was accomplished. Multi-toned hair is met with more confused wonder than appreciation.
Color: Classic Pink
Most Beloved By: Older women and Europeans
Most Notable Comment: “It’s almost blonde.”
My Feeling On Hair: This is the old standby. Like shorts, this is the default look.
General Analysis: What’s funny about this “weird” color is that it has become supernormal in a contemporary way. No one actually cares about pink hair anymore because pink hair is everywhere. It’s very rare people comment on this anymore which is fine because it’s a lesson to step that hair up.
Color: Neon, Flamingo Pink
Most Beloved By: Art people.
Most Notable Comment: “It’s so bright! I love it.”
My Feeling On Hair: An all time fave, like a technicolor telenovela villainess.
General Analysis: Bright hair always gets a reaction. Pink has become a fairly accessible “weird” color so flamingo often is a bit more unexpected since it can lean into orange, something you rarely see. Hence, people want to comment.
Most Beloved By: Black women and TSA agents.
Most Notable Comment: “You’re like the ocean!”
My Feeling On Hair: Eh. Not a fan.
General Analysis: The strange thing about this hair was that so many black women and so many TSA agents stopped me and paid very deep compliments about this hair. They loved it! And I loved them for being so into it! But I did not dig the do. It just didn’t seem as exciting as it could be, something flatter and kind of boring despite being a pretty shade. Blue is such a ubiquitous, natural color that, to me, was a low lift. Granted, I was aiming for teal and ended up straight up blue.
Color: Highlighter Green-Yellow, a la Strega
Most Beloved By: Artists, young women of all stripes, and people who were required to talk to me.
Most Notable Comment: “Did you dye it again? It keeps getting brighter.”
My Feeling On Hair: Love it. This is my new default color.
General Analysis: People freaked out about this hair because it seemed to resonate a life that none of the other hairs have. It struck people, lasted a long time, and was so unexpected that everyone wanted to get in on it, in their own way. This color, out of all of them, was most unique in that people simply didn’t understand how it got to be as bright as it was. This was the rare occasion where I loved the hair as much as people commenting on the hair.
Color: Christmas Green
Most Beloved By: Literally everyone but me.
Most Notable Comment: “You got Christmas tree hair!!!!”
My Feeling On Hair: I wanted teal. I ended up green.
General Analysis: Full disclosure: this could have been seasonally affected since my green hair happened in December. Regardless, people were all about it, commenting not only that it was holiday adjacent but that it made them so happy. It reminded them of forests. It reminded them of plants. It reminded them of Ireland. People of all ages, all races, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all sexualities, genders, etc. went out of their way to talk about the hair. Out of all of them, this was the only one where people would literally cross a street to say something about it. Perhaps green hair is where the phrase “green with envy” comes from because people lost their shit over this look.