Why Are So Many Men Dyeing Their Hair Blonde?
Mr Lucky Blue Smith at NYFW, Feb 2016. Photograph by Mr Julien Boudet/BFA/REX Shutterstock
As everyone from Mr Lucky Blue Smith to Mr Lionel Messi reaches for the bleach this year, we explore the history of the bold hairstyle.
We’ve already remarked, this year, that the stylistic codes of Britpop (retro sneakers, tracksuit tops, velvet jackets, corduroy) seem to be having a resurgence. We’ve also plumbed the annals of film to reflect on what classic 1990s movies such as My Own Private Idaho and Mallrats have to teach the style-conscious man of today. But we didn’t see this one coming. Suddenly, a switch has flicked it’s like we’re back in 1995, at the height of the so-called “lad culture”, beaded necklaces round our necks, Oasis blaring on the airwaves. Why? Simple: peroxide.
Over the course of 2016, we’ve seen many high-profile men go blonde. Not a natural, nice-and-easy, platinum colour, but a harsh, Day-Glo yellow. The “why not use the whole bottle” approach. It started with Mr Zayn Malik, who, obviously looking for something to do over the Christmas holidays, bleached his hair in December 2015. Then came the rise and rise of Messrs Lucky Blue Smith and Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, both of whom tend to sport bleached locks, with or without visible roots. Some high-profile men, such as Mr Miles Teller and Mr Daniel Craig, have had to dye their hair blonde for specific movie roles. But others have done it for fun. Footballers Mr Lionel Messi and Mr Aaron Ramsey, for example. And actor Mr Luke Evans, who revealed a new, dramatic blonde haircut in the middle of August.
Mr Robbie Williams at Glastonbury Festival, 1995. Photograph by Mr Brian Rasic/Getty Images
Though dyeing one’s hair blonde is hardly a new sartorial statement (in fact, for women, it’s a pretty widespread practice), it’s definitely redolent of a certain time in pop culture. Of course there was punk, with its various hair excesses, which often included a fair amount of bleach, but what this new trend really reminds us of is the heady days of the mid-1990s. Two examples in particular spring to mind. First there’s the character Sick Boy, played by Mr Jonny Lee Miller, in Mr Danny Boyle’s 1996 film Trainspotting. A con-man and, later, pimp, his bright-yellow hair clearly places him as someone outside the normal rules, and values of society. Then there’s the pop star Mr Robbie Williams, who, when he quit boy band Take That in 1995, immediately set out for Glastonbury, several kilos heavier, a tooth seemingly missing, his hair bleached and spiked. It was two fingers up to his band, his fans, the sanitised world represented by the international media.
Mr Lionel Messi, Nou Camp Barcelona, 2016. Photograph by Hollandse Hoogte/REX Shutterstock
Both figures are renegades, with renegade haircuts. If men are dyeing their hair blonde, therefore, does it mean that there’s a spirit of rebellion in the air? Perhaps. Of course, anyone looking for reasons to disassociate themselves from the mainstream has plenty to pick from at the moment. A Britain that’s divided in half. A high-stakes US election that could go either way. A crisis about borders and civic identity that’s spread across Europe. Does the resurgence of men with blonde hair signal a growing feeling of disaffection? Or are these guys just trying to change things up a bit, so they get a few more likes on Instagram. Unfortunately, we at MR PORTER don’t have the answers. What we can do is dole out a few key tips on the dos and don’ts of the blonde hair trend. Scroll down if you’re thinking of taking the plunge.
Go to a salon
It’s very punk to dye your hair at home, but it’s not very punk to burn your scalp, or toast your follicles to the point that all your hair starts to break off. No one likes a shedder, however daring their barnet is.
Wear a tracksuit top
Use the right products
Worry about roots
It’s very 1990s to have the roots showing, so let them grow out. Mr Lucky Blue Smith does it, and he has all those teenage girls running after him all the time.
Expect a promotion
It might look good – and, let’s be honest, even that’s debatable – but a bleached blonde head of hair is not going to make anyone take you more seriously at work. Unless your work is being a model, or a socialite, or some kind of fashion world person. It’s hard to appear anarchic and thoroughly competent at the same time, so be warned.