Ah, breakups. We all have different ways of dealing with them – eating your bodyweight in ice cream, making your way through every romcom on Netflix and of course, the infamous post-breakup haircut. From Lizzo to Little Mix, countless songs have been written about this very subject and it’s something that’s become an almost customary part of the healing process.
But why is it that when a relationship goes south, so many of us get such a strong and sudden urge to transform our hair? This was a question we needed answering.
All Things Hair conducted a survey of 716 women aged 18-54+ in the UK and 70% admitted to having changed their hair after a breakup. Of these, 66% dyed or bleached their hair and 60% cut it shorter, while 22% got a fringe.
We spoke to three women who have gone through their own heartbreak hair changes to ask them what prompted them to do it and how they feel about it now.
I’ve changed my hair after every break up I’ve ever had.
“I think I’ve changed my hair after literally every break up I’ve ever had, so about 4 or 5 times.” says 30-year-old Gala, whose post-breakup makeovers include cutting her long blonde hair into a bob and dyeing it neon red on another occasion. “I think part of it is a very strong wish to make a decision that’s solely mine to make. It’s a way to reassert identity. When you’re with someone for a long time you can get a bit stuck in a rut with hairstyle choices.” Our research showed that 64% of women who changed their hair after a breakup did it to try something new, 48% said they did it to help them move on and 38% did it to claim back their identity.
The idea of embracing this freedom is something that isn’t only felt internally, but also expressed outwardly to the world as a sign of this newfound independence. “It’s fun and empowering to mix up your look, especially when you want to get a bit flirty with new people!”, Gala says.
I cut all of my hair off and ended up becoming a hair model.
For Jade, 35, trying a new hairstyle wasn’t unfamiliar territory. “I’ve always been pretty chilled about my hair. It’s been literally every colour and I’ve had loads of different styles, it’s been waist-length to boyish short over the years.” However, it was a particularly bad breakup that led her to a haircut that would prove transformative. “I had just come out of a very toxic and emotionally abusive relationship and was very low when I was approached on the street about doing some hair modelling. I was sceptical and dismissed it at first but my friends convinced me to arrange to meet the guy as they thought it would help to build my confidence back up. I ended up going and a decade later, the hairdresser is my unofficial brother and the photographer and I are still friends.”
For Jade, the haircut itself was just the start of a domino effect that led to welcome changes in other areas of her life, too. “It felt like freeing myself a little from the person I associated with ahead of the cut” she explains. “I met lifelong friends, got out of a toxic workplace, decided to study and got a professional qualification to help with my career. It was the tipping point that helped me to take positive steps towards my future.”
I dyed my hair platinum because my ex said it wouldn’t look good.
“My ex told me that I wouldn’t look good with blonde hair, (he told me a lot of awful things), so it was part proving him wrong, but also just part of wanting to break away and completely reinvent myself.” explains Kate, 35. “I felt like I’d gotten lost in the relationship and done everything for him and nothing for me. I guess I was reclaiming myself.” She continues: “I loved my platinum hair. It felt like a bit of a rebirth at the time, and gave me a lot of confidence. And it was just exciting to be experimenting with colour, the platinum base allowed me to change up toners every few weeks. So I always had different colours going on.”
Naturally, making any kind of decisions too hastily (especially about something as emotionally-charged as our hair) comes with its risks. But encouragingly our research found that 86% of the women surveyed would do it again, with 74% saying their hair made them feel more confident and 68% saying it made them happy. Kate agrees; “If anything, I regret not maintaining it as well as I could have, my hair got pretty damaged after a few months so I started to go back to natural shades but I would 100% do it again.”
Editor’s tip: If you love to change your hair colour as much as these ladies, then make sure you have the right products to care for it. We suggest trying a duo like the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Shampoo and Conditioner to help keep your hue looking vibrant!
And if your hair is feeling particularly dry and damaged from the dyeing, try a weekly hair mask for extra nourishment, like the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Mask.