Purpled-haired seniors

I’m not talking about high-school seniors, of course.

Last weekend I noticed an elderly lady sporting a mane of slightly purple hair. Now, it’s not an incredibly uncommon sight, and it really got me wondering: why?

This phenomenon spreads beyond culture, as I’ve seen purple hair in both East Asia and North America.

Why? What makes someone go, after 70 years of “natural” hair colour to go: “I think I’ll try purple this time!” It seems like such an unlikely choice, and yet it’s hardly a style I’d consider excentric.

So, what’s the story behind the hair? Anybody thinking of trying golden purple?

IANAHD*, but grey and white hair sometimes gets a yellowish or brassy tinge to it that theoretically can be neutralized by the application of a mimeograph purple rinse, as purple is the complement of yellow on the color wheel. So they’re trying to remove the yellow and change it to whitish highlights. Bottle blondes (who, ME?? :wink: ) often use similar “toners”, and now they make shampoos with it built right in. If your use is, let us say, over-enthusiastic, you risk a lavender result.

*I am not a hairdresser.

:confused: “I just wanted to be blonde!” says confused purple smiley…

This is more of a guess, but gray and white hair is more sensitive to coloring, and hair dyes affect gray and white hair differently than they do other types of hair. My haircutter has gray hair and mentioned once that even some shampoos can alter her hair’s color.

My guess is that these women have tried a hair color that didn’t work with their hair, and/or they have been using that particular color since before they turned gray and never noticed how the final color has changed.

A friend of mine - a blonde - tried to have her died black for a role in a stage play. It came out green. :eek:


Ahhh, the famed blue rinse.

I have often wondered about that myself, I mean, it must have started somewhere. Can you imagine the conversation?

<Old Lady>…and so the doctor said…
<Hairdresser> ANYWAY, what will it be? just a trim, or do you want to try something different? A bit shorter maybe?
<O/L>Well, now you mention it, I think I’d like it dyed a very pale blue.
<HD> :confused: :eek: :confused:

When I worked for the VA House of Delegates there was an elderly lady from Norther VA who was among the leadership of the Demorcratic Party. She always had a blue rinse, and even had a dress that was a perfect compliment to her hair color.

I thinkthispoem might have something to do with it.

My Grannie’s a PUNK! ** NEXT on Jerry Springer.** :eek:

Actually, it’s when I get to be that age that I’m planning to do those sorts of experiments. What’s my other option, to cut my gray hair short and get it done in tight curls like everyone else?
I also plan to liberate some of the freakiest clothes I can find from the Goodwill, and whack people with my cane.

OK, sit down and come to order, while Aunt Eve tells you about Elsie de Wolfe. Famous actress, interior designer and the “Queer Eye” gal of her day. When she first saw the Pyramids, she exclaimed—“Just my color! Beige!”

Elsie’s hair went white early, and she began tinting it pale blue (this would have been c1930). She was such an influential role model that “blue-haired ladies” became seen more and more in society, and the fad trickled down. It’s rarely seen these days, as the original blue-haired ladies died off a generation or more ago.

Now, ask me about the pinkish-orange troll-doll hair seen on today’s 70-somethings!

But, Eve, what about those 70-somethings with the pinkish-orange troll-doll hair?

Ask and ye shall receive. Though the color I’m thinking of—when applied to white hair—is a bit lighter and pinker than in these photos. It was briefly a fashionable color c1960, and those 25-year-olds from 1960 are now 70-ish. You still see well-dressed dowagers strolling around in NYC with perfectly coiffed, pinkish-orange hair.

Another anecdote from the Haircolor Is Dangerous Department: Apparently the above can happen if you change blondes from ash (which has a purplish cast) to say, honey blonde, which is more orange. My roommate, too, ended up with green hair. Not a slight green cast, but GREEN, like a ring you might see around a copper drain or something. She was so upset. I ran out and got her a red rinse (red turns green to brown), which was ok temporarily, but ultimately she dyed it red & it’s been red ever since.

Dungbeetle, thanks so much for asking Auntie Eve about the Troll Hair :slight_smile: .

My grandmother and her two sisters, when they were alive (well, one of them still is, actually), all had puffy white hair. They must have all had the same hairdresser or something (yeah, just give me the “Jessie”).

At all of our family functions, they tended to sit at the same table and gossip. Years ago, my mother’s friend’s daughter, who was maybe 12 at the time, commented that the three of them collectively looked like a box of Q-Tips. The three of them roared with laughter, and the name has stuck ever since.

As far as the purple hair, they had a friend named Viola, who could have been a Q-Tip, had it not been for the lavender colored hair. I never asked, but I just figured her hair was violet on account of her name, the same way that guys named Rusty usually have orangish-red hair.

This always reminds me of Mrs. Slocombe.

Oh, this is very popular with the senior set in my neighborhood. There’s a couple who walks the same route I do every morning and I can spot her several blocks away, just by the hair.

There was also a great example at the car dealership where I went for repairs today. You won’t be surprised to learn that we drive an old Buick.

I blame Lucille Ball, especially the later version.

Maybe she’s possum. That is, a fan of Dame Edna Everidge.

I have noticed same thing ,where I live there is large Pakistani population and a lot of their old folks in particular men have that purple hair. :confused: White geezers in most cases have regular grey hair Hmmm?
Maybe diet have something to do with it or uv light.

Ah yes, what my daughter the hairdresser calls MBO #15. ( MBO=monkey butt orange)

There’s a shampoo for white-haired folks from Clairol called “Silver Brights.” The blue is supposed to counter act any yellowing or dullness. I believe it may also have some reflective agents in it.

They make similar products for white horses or dogs. You shampoo them with it prior to a show to get them brilliant white and shiney. It really works well, but do NOT leave it on too long. I found out the hard way when I ended up with a blue horse! That stuff does not wash off in one or two normal shampoos. It took a lot of scrubbing to get rid of the blue! After multiple washings with industrial-strength cleaner, I thought I’d gotten rid of most of it only to find my horse still had a blue tint to her when I brought her out of the barn and into bright sunlight.

I imagine if the human stuff is similar, it could be that some poor old lady just left the shampoo on her head too long.