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Blue hair Comicon 2009.jpg

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. Some humans are born with bluish-black hair (also known as "blue black" hair), which is black that has a blue hue under the light.

The color has a long history of artistic and literary uses.


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 World War II.[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 US as it is thought to be carcinogenic.[10]

Biological occurrences in humansEdit

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 follicles. The color in these cases is "not merely superficial", but an actual coloration of the hair.[11]

Artistic representationsEdit

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] Traces of ancient blue pigment could be seen in the hair grooves of some of the 4-6C Buddhas known as the 'Qingzhou Buddhas' found in an ancient schoolyard pit in China in Qingzhou (Shandong) in 1996, shown on exhibit in London and many other world capitals.[16]

Literary representationsEdit

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.[17] For example, Odysseus' beard became black blue when he was transformed by Athena upon returning home to confront his wife's suitors.[18] Other Greek gods were also shown as having blue hair.[19] This imagery may stem from Egyptian myth, in which their gods were said to have hair of lapis lazuli.[20][21] In a similar vein, characters from the Bible, such as Eve, Leah, and Rachel, are often depicted with a "sky-blue" color of hair.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] In Maria Tatar's view, the color of his beard suggests otherworldly origins.[26]

Representations in comics and mediaEdit

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.[27]

Anime characters sometimes sport blue hair, including Bulma of the popular Dragonball series, Son Goku and Vegeta from the same series can change their hair to blue when transforming into a Super Saiyan God, Sailor Mercury of the Sailor Moon series, most blue Cures of Pretty Cure (like Cure Aqua from Yes! PreCure 5), and Rei Ayanami of the Neon Genesis Evangelion. One author, in writing of Rei, sees her hair color as a marker of both her 'unearthliness' and her introversion.[28] Konan, a character in Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto, has blue hair.[citation needed] Strong Bad, from the internet cartoon Homestar Runner, lampshades this trend by stating emphatically that in order to be a proper anime character, "You gotta have blue hair!"[29][30]


Sheep marked with blue dye
An example of a blue coated rat terrier. Note the pale, or "diluted," pigment of the nose and eyes.

Some varieties of rabbit have been bred with blue hair such as the Belgian breed, the St Nicholas Blue[citation needed]. 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.[31][32]

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.[33] Dogs with blue coats are often prone to skin allergies.

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.[34][35]

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.[citation needed]

Social stigmaEdit

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.[36] 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.[37]

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.[38] In two cases that were followed by lawsuits, students in the US and Canada were sanctioned for dying their hair blue.[39][40] The American Civil Liberties Union intervened in the US case.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rod Fairweather (1998), Basic studio directing, ISBN 978-0-240-51525-0
  2. ^ William Edward Mead (1970), The Grand Tour in the Eighteenth Century
  3. ^ "Emerald Coiffure New London Style", The New York Times, 28 December 1913
  4. ^ Emile Long (1999), "January 1914: Blue, Green, Red and Violet Hair in Demand in Paris", Hairstyles and fashion: a hairdresser's history of Paris, 1910-1920, ISBN 978-1-85973-222-9
  5. ^ "Coloured Hair: A New Fashion From Paris", The Sydney Mail, May 20, 1914, Some hair is of a strange blue tint, unreal ...
  6. ^ Victoria Sherrow (2006), Encyclopedia of hair, pp. 164–5, ISBN 978-0-313-33145-9
  7. ^ David Derbyshire (April 21, 2006). "End of the blue rinse". The Daily Telegraph. The blue rinse hairstyle became popular in Britain in the 1930s, but grew to its peak after the war. The rinse was a dilute hair dye designed to reduce the appearance of greying hair. ...
  8. ^ a b Alicia Waite (26 October 2011), "Welcome to the new blue-rinse brigade", Daily Telegraph
  9. ^ "Designers Punk Out With Blue Hair, Eyes", New York, 2007
  10. ^ Barry Leonard (1999-11-01), "Disperse Blue 1", Eighth Annual Report on Carcinogens: 1998 Summary, ISBN 978-0-7881-8396-6
  11. ^ Hermann Beigel (1869), The human hair: its structure, growth, diseases, and their treatment
  12. ^ David Wengrow (2010), What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West, Oxford University Press, p. 34, ISBN 978-0-19-280580-5
  13. ^ Owen-Crocker, Gale R. (July 1990), Dress in Anglo Saxon England, Manchester Univ Press, p. 169, ISBN 0-7190-3290-3
  14. ^ Veronica Freeman (2006), The poetization of metaphors in the work of Novalis. Volume 78 of Studies on themes and motifs in literature, Peter Lang, p. 171, ISBN 978-0-8204-7865-4
  15. ^ a b Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky (2000), Early Buddhist narrative art: illustrations of the life of the Buddha from Central Asia to China, Korea, and Japan, University Press of America, p. 78, ISBN 978-0-7618-1671-3
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-24. Retrieved 2016-02-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Selina Stewart (2006), "The Blues of Aratus", Beyond the canon, ISBN 978-90-429-1813-9
  18. ^ Homer, Allen Mandelbaum, Maria Luisa De Romans (1990), The Odyssey of Homer, ISBN 978-0-520-07021-9CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ Fenno Hoffman, Charles; Lewis Gaylord Clark; Kinahan Cornwallis; Timothy Flint; John Holmes Agnew; Washington Irving (1834), The Knickerbocker; or, New York monthly magazine, Volume 3, pp. 218–219, retrieved December 10, 2010
  20. ^ RD Griffith (2005), "Gods' blue hair in Homer and in eighteenth-dynasty Egypt", The Classical Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, 55 (55): 329–334, doi:10.1093/cq/bmi034
  21. ^ W.H.R. Rivers (1901), "Primitive Color Vision", Popular Science, McClure, Phillips and Co., 59: 54, retrieved December 11, 2010, Even in the case of Egyptian art, one reads of statues of human figures with blue hair, and in the case of early Greek art, the inappropriate Use of one color, blue appears to have been very common. ...
  22. ^ Conant Church, William (1873), The Galaxy, Volume 15, W.C. and F.P. Church, p. 289, retrieved December 10, 2010
  23. ^ H. Frey, Charles; John W. Griffith (1987), The literary heritage of childhood: an appraisal of children's classics in the Western tradition, Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0-313-25681-3, retrieved December 12, 2010
  24. ^ Carlo Collodi, Nicolas J. Perella (2005), The Adventures of Pinocchio/ Le Avventure Di Pinocchio, University of California Press, p. 30, ISBN 978-0-520-24686-7CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  25. ^ Maria Tatar (2004), Secrets beyond the door: the story of Bluebeard and his wives, Princeton University Press, p. 19, ISBN 978-0-691-11707-2
  26. ^ Maria Tatar (2002), The annotated classic fairy tales, W. W. Norton & Company, p. 145, ISBN 978-0-393-05163-6
  27. ^ Jok Church (June 30, 2006), "Comics: Meet the Artist", Washington Post, It was actually Marge Simpson. But the blue hair is really more of a tribute to Superman than to Marge, as much as I do love Marge. Superman/Clark Kent's hair was always black with a blue sheen to it.
  28. ^ Dennis Redmond (2004), The world is watching: video as multinational aesthetics, 1968-1995, Southern Illinois University Press, p. 135, ISBN 978-0-8093-2535-1
  29. ^ Japanese Cartoon
  30. ^ sbemail 57
  31. ^ Meg Brown; Virginia Richardson (2000), Rabbitlopaedia: A Complete Guide to Rabbit Care, ISBN 978-1-86054-182-7
  32. ^ Barry Martin (1990), Rabbits as a new pet, p. 42, ISBN 978-0-86622-618-9
  33. ^ Catherine Marien-de Luca, Blue dogs, The Canine Information Library
  34. ^ Fighting leaves male sheep blue, BBC, 24 September 2008
  35. ^ "Dyed blue sheep graze in the hills of County Antrim", The Daily Telegraph, December 2010
  36. ^ a b "Tangled up in blue: new strands in hair wars". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2010-12-14. But for parents, constitutional rights pale in feuds as caustic as peroxide: In a recent Monitor/TIPP poll, 71 percent of adults said they wouldn't let a 12-year-old child dye his hair blue. ...
  37. ^ "Those with blue hair please step forward: An economic theory of group formation and application to Cajas Rurales in Honduras" (PDF). University of Minnesota. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  38. ^ "Blue Hair Gets Him a Pink Sheet". Los Angeles Times. December 15, 1989. Retrieved 2010-12-15. Ray Fuller, 38, was told last week that blue was not acceptable and he was given five days to dye it back to black, the color it had been for some time, said hospital administrator Darryl Henley. Henley said Fuller's attempt was not acceptable and fired the 10-year employee. ...
  39. ^ IN NEW SCHOOL, TEEN FINDS BLUE HAIR ISN'T ALARMING, Daily Press - Newport News, Va., Author: JUDITH MALVEAUX, Daily Press, Sep 14, 1999
  40. ^ "Cleavage in a Tank Top: Bodily Prohibition and the Discourses of School Dress Codes". The Alberta Journal of Educational Research. Archived from the original on 2015-02-20. Retrieved 2010-12-14.