I pinched this image off the web because not only did it make me laugh, there was a central truth to it — and a truth very much of our times.
Because of lockdown, and because a number of my dark-haired friends have been getting tired of having to pay to keep restoring their natural hair color, several of them have decided that while they're not going out and not socializing, they're going to just let it happen and see what they think about their new shade of pale. And thus, CoronaLisa.
Of course, people have always dyed their hair and tried to stave off the aging process. It's generally the dark haired ones who battle with the grey most. We fairer types are lucky in that the grey hairs are fairly easily absorbed and don't stand out as much.
The Egyptians made lavish use of henna and other products — such as the blood of black animals — to try to stave off the grey. The richer ladies simply wore wigs made from the hair of slaves. The Romans, too, experimented with dyes made from various plants, though they were often toxic and damaged not only the hair, but the person growing it. Eventually they came up with a formula made of fermented leeches — yes, delightful I know.
And unless you were a prostitute, up to this time the color choices were mostly reddish (henna) or black. Prostitutes? you ask. Yes, in Ancient Rome they were required to dye their hair yellow as a sign of their profession and while the more prosperous wore wigs made from hair taken from conquered and enslaved fair-haired Germanic people, some tried various concoctions of herbs and ash and nuts to create the effect. (And no, the image on the right is neither Roman nor Egyptian. You'll discover the connection at the end of this post.)