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Blue hair

thumb Blue hair is a type of hair color that does not naturally occur in human hair pigmentation,[1] although the hair of some animals (such as dog coats) is described as blue. In humans, the color may occur after exposure to cobalt or indigo.

The color has a long history of artistic and literary uses. In modern times, its cosmetic uses have been contentious.



thumb The 18th century English politician, Charles Fox, was a fashionable macaroni in his youth and tinted his hair with blue powder.[2]

In 1913-1914, just before World War I, there was a vogue for dyed brightly coloured hair in exotic shades such as blue, violet or emerald. This started in Paris and then spread to other cities such as London.[3][4][5] In 1924, the first celebrity hairdresser, Monsieur Antoine, dyed his dog's hair blue. An influential client, Lady Elsie De Wolfe Mendl, took up the same style and this started a new fad.[6] Later in the 20th century, mature ladies had a blue rinse to conceal grey hair. The Queen Mother was the trend-setter and the peak of popularity for this fashion was the period following the Second World War.[7][8]

In the 2007 autumn fashion season, designers such as Marc Jacobs and Duckie Brown dyed the hair of their models blue to give them a shocking punk look.[9] In 2011, the blue rinse became fashionable again and exemplars included Kate Bosworth with a dip-dyed style of turquoise tips while Thakoon Panichgul continued to present models with startling, all-blue hair.[8]

A synthetic dye used to colour hair blue was 1,4,5,8-tetraaminoanthraquinone prepared as Disperse Blue 1 with water and lignosuphonate dispersant. This is a semi-permanent dye as the dye molecules do not penetrate the hair shaft and so wash out in subsequent shampooing. It is no longer used in the USA as it is thought to be carcinogenic.[10]

Biological occurrences in humans

The hair of workers who regularly come into close contact with cobalt or indigo may become blue because of the dust of the substance mixing into the hair follicle. The color in these cases is "not merely superficial", but an actual coloration of the hair.[11]

Artistic representations

Buddha painted on a rock wall in Tibet Blue hair has been described as a "sacred aesthetic" in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where lapis lazuli was used in funerary art and statuary.[12]

Many colored pictorials from the Anglo-Saxon tribes after the departure of Roman troops feature women with blue hair. According to Gale R. Owen-Crocker in Dress in Anglo-Saxon England "the use of colour in Anglo-Saxon art is not realistic ... and there is no need to assume dye was used on the hair."[13]

Representations of the Buddha often feature blue hair, sometimes of a brilliant hue.[14][15] This artistic convention emphasizes the blue element in the 'blue-black' hair said to be one of the 32 special physical characteristics of the Buddha.[15]

Literary representations

In some works by Homer, characters are said to have dark blue (kyaneos) hair or eyebrows when they are angry or in an emotionally intense state.[16] For example, Odysseus' beard became black blue when he was transformed by Athena upon returning home to confront his wife's suitors.[17] Other Greek gods were also shown as having blue hair.[18] This imagery may stem from Egyptian myth, in which their gods were said to have hair of lapis lazuli.[19][20] In a similar vein, characters from the Bible, such as Eve, Leah, and Rachel, are often depicted with a "sky-blue" color of hair.[21] Color in ancient Greece and Egypt were also more expressive rather than natural: blue or gold indicated divinity because of its unnatural appearance and association with precious materials.

The Fairy with Turquoise Hair is a major character in Pinocchio. She is often titled as the "Child with the Blue Hair" and even has a chapter in The Adventures of Pinocchio devoted to this title.[22] Literary critics have offered varied interpretations of her hair color. It may invoke associations with "the ineffable or infinite," with the Italian sky, or with the Virgin Mary, who is often shown with a blue mantle.[23]

The color blue acquired aristocratic associations in Europe during the second millennium, and this linkage with blue blood was reflected in Charles Perrault's story of Bluebeard.[24] In Maria Tatar's view, the color of his beard suggests otherworldly origins.[25]

Representations in comics and media

The animated character Marge Simpson is depicted as having blue hair. Jok Church's character, Beakman, also has blue hair, which is a throwback reference, according to the creator, to an older version of Superman, who also had a blue tint to his hair.[26] Anime characters sometimes sport blue hair, including Bulma of the popular Dragonball series, Sailor Mercury of the Sailor Moon series and Rei Ayanami of the Neon Genesis Evangelion. Konan, a character in Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto, has blue hair. One author, in writing of Rei, sees her hair color as a marker of both her 'unearthliness' and her introversion.[27] Quadra Blu, a character from Lyman Dally's Max Rep comics and star of her own webcomic Steroids 'n' Asteroids with Quadra Blu is named for her distinctive hair color.

In the virtual band Gorillaz, the band member named 2D has blue hair.


Sheep marked with blue dye Some varieties of rabbit have been bred with blue hair such as the Belgian breed, the St Nicholas Blue. This was a light sky blue in colour with a white blaze. Other breeds of blue rabbit are darker and there are about 45 different shades or textures recognised by show judges.[28][29]

There are several breeds of dogs which may have a blue coat including the Kerry Blue Terrier, Bluetick Coonhound and Grand Bleu de Gascogne. This arises in two main ways: from a dilution or silvering of a black coat so that it is seen as blue-grey; or from a mottling or marbling effect which mixes black and white to be seen as navy blue.[30]

The fleece of sheep may be a natural blue-grey, such as the Himalayan blue sheep, or may be dyed blue as a raddle or to make them more conspicuous in snowy conditions.[31][32]

The coat color of several other animals is called blue, including those of blue roan horses, the Russian Blue cat, and the blue variant of the Arctic fox's coat.

Social stigma

71% of the adults polled by the Christian Science Monitor in 2002 said they would not allow a 12-year-old to dye their hair blue.[33] The social dislike of the hair color can lead to a suspension from school and the loss of a job, among other things. The "blue hair effect" has been used as a metaphor for social distancing.[34]

For example, a man who worked for a hospital for 10 years was fired for coming to work with blue hair after refusing to dye it back to its normal color.[35] In two cases that were followed by lawsuits, students in the US and Canada were sanctioned for dying their hair blue.[36][37] The American Civil Liberties Union intervened in the US case.[33]

See also


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