After stars like Dua Lipa and Megan Fox rocked this bold color… learn about the surprising history of red hair
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — What’s the color of the year? The Pantone Color Institute still decides, but sometimes all the evidence you need to find is right in the heads of celebrities.
In August, singer Billie Eilish updated her signature hairstyle: black locks with bright dye at the roots. The star opted for cherry red this time.
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A month later, actress Megan Fox appeared with scarlet hair for the first time, and pop star Dua Lipa appeared with red locks in October. Red locks also appeared in the fall and winter 2023 fashion shows of brands including “Burberry,” “Robertde,” “Gucci,” and “Missoni.”
But the appeal of fiery locks isn’t a new trend; It has a surprisingly detailed history.
But this hair color has been considered dreaded and desirable for hundreds of years.
At the height of witch trials in Europe in the 15th century, red hair was considered a sign of the devil, and sometimes evidence of killing its owner.
According to hair historian Rachel Gibson, red locks have always been considered weird.
“Judas is depicted in the Bible as having red locks, and similarly, the ancient Gauls and Scots, the people who invaded (England) had red hair,” Gibson said in a phone interview.
Red-haired people, he says, “represented invaders” from the earliest times.
But for some, the individuality that red hair conveys is too rare and too powerful.
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During her reign in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I’s curly red locks were a deliberate choice, not a natural feature.
According to Jackie Collis Harvey, author of Red: A Natural History of Redheads, Elizabeth I wore a wig for most of her life.
She could have chosen any color, but she chose reddish-brown, and it is said that she dyed her horse’s fur the same color to match her appearance.
“When Elizabeth I was on the throne, red hair was the norm,” Gibson said.
Throughout history, red locks have often been part of fashion trends.
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In the mid-to-late 19th century, pre-Raphaelite artists such as Gabriel Rossetti painted beauties with almost red locks, while a fashion journalist noted in 1923 that this hair color had taken Paris by storm.
Attracting attention is still the main motivator of this hair color today.
“People who want to try red hair for the first time want to do something exciting,” celebrity hairstylist Jenna Barry told CNN in an email. “They want to exude confidence and stand out in a crowd.”
According to Chicago-based hairstylist Nicole Kenan, this particular color has an economic advantage for clients.
Kenin explained in a phone interview that red is easier to achieve than blonde, “especially for dark hair, where blonde is more expensive to care for.”
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