In 1957, the makers of Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath asked women if they’d ever colored their hair. Only 7 percent answered “yes.” There was a stigma attached to dyeing hair in those days. A woman who did so was seen as exhibiting an unladylike vanity and possibly questionable morals.
But that same year Clairol introduced a coloring product they could apply in the privacy of their own homes. A massive — and massively successful! — ad campaign claimed the dye was so natural looking, “only your hairdresser will know for sure.”
The produce launch was well-timed; women of the 1950s were emerging from an era of conformity into a decade that emphasized individuality and self-expression. Which is why, when Clairol polled women about hair coloring a little more than 10 years later, half replied in the affirmative. In fact, women were changing hair color so readily in the late ’60s that some states stopped asking women to record the color of their hair on the driver’s licenses.
This article is featured in the March/April 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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