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CNN  — 

For centuries, hair dye has been pivotal in helping people portray a certain image – to either fit in with the beauty standards of the day or to dramatically subvert them.

Women in particular have long tried to conform with the notion that female beauty comes with a glossy mane – from blonde to black to dusted with gold or flour, depending on the time and place.

“Throughout history, the status of our hair has served as an instant visual cue for value judgment,” said Caterina Gentili, PhD candidate at the Centre for Appearance Research in England, in a phone interview. “One of the many ways for society to objectify female bodies, and deem them worthy, or not, of attention.”

In recent decades, Gentili said “hair color products have become a key tool for women to stay visible, and shield them from one of the biggest stigmas placed on them: aging.”