Is blonde hair cheugy now? Let’s investigate

Reports of the death of the blonde hair craze have been greatly exaggerated.

In October 2021, fashion publication i-D questioned whether the status color was falling out of style. Weeks later, the New York Post declared that Gen Z now finds blonde to be “cheugy,” or painfully un-trendy, citing a TikTok with only 16 likes as evidence.

i-D noted that famously blonde celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber abandoned their lighter locks for a darker color this fall. But that’s just it — that’s a typical seasonal trend. “Going dark” for fall is as classic as fall itself.

In a semi-viral TikTok with 64,000 likes, user @girlbosstown mused about whether being blonde is now cheugy.

“Every celebrity cool-girl model is going dark with their hair,” she said.

The only examples she provided, though, were the elder Hadid and Bieber — two ultra-famous women on the cusp of Gen Z and Millennial territory, who initially skyrocketed to fame thanks to their famous parents. They’re undoubtedly influential, but they’re both associated with wealth and privilege.

Gigi’s younger sister Bella and model-slash-potential-nepotism-beneficiary Lily-Rose Depp also made headlines recently as fashion experts questioned whether AirPods were going out of style in favor of the wired headphones popular in the late 2010s.

Were they setting trends — signaling a shift in a cultural attitude — or appealing to an audience that prefers to be influenced by celebrities who adhere to accessible trends they can actually afford?

Wired headphones come free with the purchase of many Apple products, while AirPods cost upwards of $200. In the same way, being born a brunette and sticking to the shade won’t cost you anything, but constant highlights and bleaching to attain a natural-looking blonde costs $300-$600 per month. Natural blondes only make up 2% of the world’s population.

There’s a reason dupes, inexpensive products and sales hacks are so wildly popular on TikTok. Users bash influencers who flaunt their wealth. Since they’ve grown up in such a digital era, bombarded by picture-perfect social media posts and left to struggle with what’s actually attainable in their lives from a young age, members of Gen Z prefer what is sustainable and accessible over the aspirational.

Bearing in mind the fact that Gen Z favors authenticity, does this mean the end of the faux-dyed hair trend is approaching? Not at all — just those starkly unnatural shades associated with wealth. Commenters on @girlbosstown’s video noted that “poorly tanned skin with platinum blonde hair” is out, but understated blondes are “timeless.”

Highly regarded influencers who are staunchly Gen Z and don’t hail from famous families such as Addison Rae and Billie Eilish made waves with their fresh blonde locks — Rae debuted hers to fanfare at the Met Gala, and Eilish broke records on Instagram with her Marilyn Monroe-inspired hue.

Though the recent Y2K renaissance seems to have dodged the A Simple Life-inspired bleach blonde trend in favor of the “boring girl” mousey brown of the Vampire Diaries and Twilight heroines of the late 2000s, that doesn’t mean it won’t come back around eventually.


embracing bella swan and elena gilbert core??? #fyp

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According to data from online beauty shopping destination LookFantastic, Google searches for “blonde hair colors” increased by a whopping 631% recently. Since Gen Z favorite Lily Collins debuted a platinum pixie on the cover of Elle Magazine in November 2021, searches for “platinum blonde hair inspiration” increased by 400%.

Leo Izquierdo, the owner and founder of IGK Salons and Products who has worked with famous blondes like Hailey Bieber and Britney Spears in the past, told In The Know that “blonde hair will never go out of style.”

Credit: Leo Izquierdo, pictured here styling Hailey Bieber

“The trends of blonde hair change all the time, whether it’s a bleached-out look or more natural balayage with a long blended route,” he said. “I think people are opting for more of a natural look now like Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber because it’s less maintenance, but the early 2000s Britney [Spears] and Paris Hilton blonde will come back soon for sure.”

All in all, it seems some celebrities are opting for a darker, more accessible tone for fall. While it’s possible that articles declaring blonde hair cheugy could frighten fashion devotees into ditching lighter locks in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, it’ll likely be back as the weather warms again, just as it always does.

In the meantime, may natural brunettes enjoy a slightly cheaper maintenance period — unless you’re going to pursue the infamous “expensive brunette” look, that is.

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