4 Ways Hair Color Ads Entice Us

The first of the 4 ways hair color ads entice us—to buy their products—is by planting the idea in our heads that we need to cover up any signs of ageing.

They tell us gray hair is embarrassing.
“Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” I grew up with commercials like this one from Clairol that enticed women to cover their gray. In the early ads, the assumption was you didn’t want anyone to know your color was fading, that you were already graying.

Dying our hair is fun.
The next ad said,“If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde!” We didn’t need to be gray to dye our locks—we could color them no matter how young we were and choose any shade we wanted. Purple or blue or orange hair—why not?

We can use a color that imitates our own.
Today’s ad says, “So natural looking, they’ll never know your real color.” What will Clairol’s slogan be next year? Anything that sells the product.

Too expensive, we say? Not to worry.
L’Oreal gave us the perfect rebuttal for spending so much on hair coloring. “Because I’m worth it.” The slogan was updated during the last decade to say, “Because you’re worth it.” We love hearing this phrase because it makes us feel significant, important, valued, and special. The covert message says our ageing appearance is worth whatever it takes to improve it, i.e., to make us look younger and, therefore, prettier. Who could argue with that?

Peers pressure us, too.
Still, I resisted coloring. When my hair sprouted wiry clumps of white here and there, hairdressers sympathetically said, “We can do something about that bit of gray, you know.” A friend advised me to color it for the experience. “Why not have a little fun while you’re still young? You could put a rinse on it and see what you think.”

So I did and liked it. Only later did I learn that any kind of color—permanent or not—actually puts a layer on the hair follicle that never washes out. You have to cut it off to get rid of it. (For hair coloring gone wrong, see http://givingupdieting.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/stress-and-eating/ )

Anyone who’s willing to spend the money, time, and effort can have young-looking hair color, no doubt about it. But have you ever seen a woman from the back with long, lustrous hair and assumed she was young only to have her turn around with a mature face that didn’t match her youthful hair?

Bucking the tide, sort of.

For the present, I’m taking the middle road—a little color, a little gray. What’s your hair coloring philosophy?

14 thoughts on “4 Ways Hair Color Ads Entice Us

  1. I didn’t know about the permanent layer on the hair follicle. Is there a problem with that? I don’t have a hair color philosophy. I like the way I look better with color in my hair, but I enjoy not bothering and not paying the money for it more, I guess!

    1. The only problem is when a hair-coloring product is advertized to “rinse out in 28 days,” yet doesn’t, which is how I got into the cycle of coloring. But like you, I think I look better with hair color, although I really want to give it up. Thanks for commenting, Judy!

  2. I just recently grew out all my hair to it’s true color and I keep it short. It was a gradual process going from long layered hair that was almost black to highlighted hair, then to brown, and now an unfashionable grey. For the first time in 30 years I know what my own hair looks like. Without the coating on my hair follicles, I notice my hair is more frizzy. My husband okay with it, but likes it better with color, but female members of his family all say they love it this way. I think I will keep it natural, at least for now. Like Judy I too like the freedom of the expense and bother of dying it. Becky

    1. Your hair looks nice, Becky! I admire you for going back to your own color. Did you go through a period when the roots were a different color from the rest, and if so, how did you handle that? I’m thinking I might wear hats for a while. Thanks for the feedback.

      1. Actually I just let it grow, having it short now it looked like it was highlighted with the light brown. Longer hair I’m not sure of, you will need want to do what makes you feel you look your best. No body ever said my hair looked strange, most people can tell if you are growing a color out. What happens is that as the top shows grey, the rest of you hair will too. The skunk-strip part is relatively a short time, at least it was for me. Good luck with your choice to go dye free. Becky

      2. I love the term, skunk-strip! Guess I won’t be able to hide the grow out after all, ha. Thanks for encouraging me, Becky.

  3. My natural hair color (at least I THINK it is!) is dishwater blond with lots of gray. It’s dull and depressing! So I get my hair frosted blond every few months. That adds a little sparkle, grows out gradually without discernible roots, and looks natural on me. I also think the color gives my hair more body. It’s probably that coating you mentioned.

  4. When I was young I colored my hair all the time. I stopped when when one of the cosmetics companies advertised that their coloring would give you “European Natural” color. I realized that I already have European Natural, so I stopped coloring it.

      1. Well, there you go! 😉 Thanks, Norma! Anyway, gray is “in” these days. Look at all the celebs who are flaunting their gray–whether it comes from Mother Nature, or out of a bottle.

  5. I’m trying to age “graycefully!” At this point, the brown hairs still outnumber the gray, but gray is definitely gaining ground on my head. My face has acquired a more lived-in look to match! Young hair surrounding an older face clashes worse than two different plaids.

    1. I beg to differ, Diane, but I know how you feel. One celebrity who aged “graycefully” was Colleen Dewhurst from Anne of Green Gables. Although she’s gussied up in some photos, I preferred her natural look. Thanks for commenting!

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