Purple Hair

An 80s trend I can get behind

Susan Robertson
Jul 28 · 3 min read

I had a massive crush on a boy in my high school — until the day he came in with very trendy hair coloured platinum over his brow and red in the back. I hated it!

Now I see kids with flaming red hair or purple highlights or silver blazes. I love it.

I’ve seen older women with bright purple hair and I was jealous. My hair is dark blonde/brown in the back but the sides are pure white like fresh snow.

I started off with a washable purple highlight that called itself “make-up for hair” and it went in easily as a liquid. It dried to a powder and made my hair feel like straw and was hard to comb through or style. However, it washed out completely or came out over a day or so as it turned to dust. I used the little bottle enough and then it was empty. I looked a the small plastic waste I’d just generated and decided it was time to go for something that would generate less garbage.

My second effort was a semi-permanent vibrant lilac that promised to wash out in 4 to 8 washes. Given I wash my hair roughly twice per week these days, I thought that it would give me a nice bit of colour for about a month. It came in a single bottle that required no mixing so it’s easy to use a little at a time. I decided to go for a single chunk of hair behind my left ear. The colour would show through when I braided my hair or when I wore it up. The results were beautiful. I loved the colour — just vibrant enough to show through. It lasted a single wash. Admittedly, there was still faint hue of purple showing after the first wash but even I, who knew it was there, had a hard time seeing it. After the second wash there was a faint hint of what might have been purple at one time.

I was sufficiently disappointed in the outcome of trial #2 that I decided to take the plunge. I went looking for a permanent hair colour in the same shade. I was disappointed. I could buy a really dark violet, which didn’t suit me at all. I could buy a really pale shade that came in pale pink or blue, light purple, silver, and a silvery mauve. I went back and forth for a bit before I decided to go with the light silvery purple. I already have enough white hair that having white with purple wouldn’t be that dramatic. I did the same chunk of hair behind my left ear.

Results and box image. It came out pretty much as advertised. You can see the white/purple contrast in the hair above my ear.

This time it looks a bit like I tried a blue rinse in my white hair and the colour stuck around, but only on the bits that were not yet pure white. The white bits came out silvery purple and are subtle enough that my hair does not now scream PURPLE at me. Yet there it is, a stripe of purple that will show through in a braid, or will create a stripe of lavender when I pull it off my neck and twist it around to make a bun or clip it out of the way. It’s more subtle than the previous colours, which is simultaneously a relief and really disappointing. It doesn’t look awful, so whoo! But it’s so subtle that it’s not that easy to see, either. I worry that it just looks like a bad rinse. I think it will gleam in the sunlight.

While it’s not as vibrant as I’d like, it’s purple and I love it. It makes me wonder if I should just do the whole head!? Given my starting colour of mostly white it wouldn’t look that different …

Susan Robertson

Written by

Susan is an economist who worked in international development. Interested in food, board games, dogs, and development. Writing about whatever I feel like.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade