People go blond to level up their careers

Legally blond: Influx of bleach blonds highlights trend to improve their prospects

5 min read
blonde cleach blond
caption Going blond, like this woman at Stanhope and Company in Halifax, is therapeutic for some people.
Warren D'Silva

Rain Johnson, a fine arts major at NSCAD, went level nine blond last week. 

“My sister always had really blond hair. And I kind of wanted to look like her,” he said. 

Johnson is one of a surge of people who have bleached their hair to between a level seven to 10 blond in the past couple of years, according to industry sources. Level 10 is the lightest shade of hair colouring available. 

A hair stylist bleaches a client's hair in a salon

Toni Borden, lead sales executive in Halifax at Cosmoprof, a major distributor of salon products in North America, said the Halifax’s store’s quarterly sales of blonder and developer have increased to 20 boxes of 24 units, from 10 boxes previously. She says they ship to brands, salons, and hairdressing students. 

She feels these sales figures are higher in Halifax since it’s a university town. University students are going blond either to “twin” with their peers or to further their job search, she said. 

Three women talk in a cafeteria
caption Students at University of King’s College with blond hair.
Warren D’Silva

Future Market Insights, a market research organization based in Delaware, said that the market value of hair lightening products in 2022 was US$7.32 billion in 2022 and is expected to rise to US$10.78 billion in 2032. With an annual growth rate of 4.4 per cent, the hair lightening market segment is expected to boom this year, according to the company. 

Tasha Moller, a third-year student at University of King’s College, went blond over the summer.  

“I feel like I definitely became much more unassuming. I fit into a crowd much better,” she said. 

This hair colour change received her family’s seal of approval, with members telling her this change would help her in her ongoing job search. 

Blond hair colour is often taken to symbolize youth, sunshine and having a positive outlook.

National Library of Medicine conducted a study where they found that  versions of natural and colored hair were perceived as significantly younger, healthier, and more attractive. In the workplace blonds are not perceived as a threat but are considered professional, endearing, and approachable, enabling them to grow their career.

Research by David W. Johnston, who is a part of the Faculty of Business and Economics in Clayton, Australia, found that blond women receive a large wage premium. Blonds get a wage premium equivalent to the return from an extra year of schooling.  

Moller said her grandmother advises her that colouring her hair blond is what is the expected norm to help further her career and be a “grown up.” 

Two per cent

According to World Population Review, about two per cent of the world’s population is naturally blond.

Research from University British Columbia business professors Jennifer Berdahl and Natalya Alonso said 35 per cent of female U.S. senators are blond, while 48 per cent of female CEOs of Standard & Poor 500 companies are blond.

The researchers said this suggests many powerful people are adding blond highlights to their hair.  

A 2022 study by market research firm Mintel said it expected the worldwide market for blond haircare to reach US$4.8 billion. This represents an increase of nearly 30 per cent compared to 2017, said the study.

A hair stylist looks at the camera with scissors in his hand
caption Hair stylist Christopher van Der Meulen at Stanhope and Company in Halifax.
Warren D’Silva

Hairstylist Christopher van Der Meulen has been in the industry for more than 40 years. Fresh off touching up a client’s blond highlight at Stanhope and Company in Halifax, he said superstar Taylor Swift and her iconic blond tresses have led to “shaping their (the public’s) mentality, which means they’ll just follow.” 

“More natural tones are coming in — warmer, prettier tones highlighting the gold hues,” said van Der Meulen, adding that these tones are not only considered workplace appropriate but are also great on multiple skin tones.  

“Most females have their hair coloured,” he added. “Either to cover grey or to blend grey hair. About 70 per cent of people who have their hair coloured like to go lighter.” There has been an increasing demand for blond hair colour among women of all ages, he said. 

Johnson said being blond gives him a fresh look.

About his decision to change from his natural brunette, he said being blond “reminds me of just like kind of like alternative style.”  

Share this

About the author

Warren D'Silva

Warren D'Silva, a fashion and lifestyle content creator turned journalist. He believes that all you need to do is find your inner confidence...

Have a story idea?