What Hair Colors Are Appropriate for the Work Place?

By Lindsay Haskell

Your hair color could be influencing the way your boss and colleagues perceive you at the workplace, according to "Elle" magazine. Generally, only natural hair colors -- blond, brown, black, natural red and gray -- are acceptable at the workplace. Office dress code is conservative, which means no pink or blue hair, but that doesn't mean you can't dye your hair to a different natural color. First impressions are everything in the workplace, says New York colorist Erin Bogart, and your hair color can either help or hurt you in a job interview, or when a promotion comes up at your current job.

Large Group of Business People Standing and Looking up at Camera
credit: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Any natural hair color is considered appropriate at the workplace.


Natural blond colors are perfectly appropriate for any job. However, anything dramatic, like bleach blond, shocking highlights or contrasting low-lights can look immature, overly "artsy," or even ditsy. According to "Elle" magazine, experts say blond women are seen as more fun and loose than women with brown hair. However, this bias has faded in recent years and blondes have been earning more credibility, possibly as a result of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.


Brunettes are perceived as grounded and stable, according to Philip Pelusi, creator of Tela Beauty Organics. Any hue of natural brown looks professional and serious at the workplace. Brown is a very natural, conservative color, which fits in well at conservative office settings, hair colorist Erin Bogart told "Elle." Also, blonde jokes still come up at the workplace, and brunettes don't have to worry about offhand or unfair comments.


Redheads at the workplace tend to stand out, which can cause people to view them as bold, fanatical, passionate, or sweet. According to "Elle," red is a trending hair color in the fashion world. Bogart recommends it in the workplace, as it makes you appear strong and goal-oriented.


Black is another natural and common hair color that's work-appropriate. If your hair is naturally black because of your ethnic ancestry, it will fit perfectly at a conservative workplace. However, if you're a light-complected blond and you dye your hair black, it may look bolder, edgier, and less conservative than expected in the typical office setting.


According to StyleList, women with gray hair can be perceived as being independent thinkers comfortable in their own skin. Although gray is a perfectly acceptable hair color in the work place, especially if it's naturally gray, the workplace has a history of age discrimination, according to "The Huffington Post." Civil rights attorney David Scher claims women in the workplace still feel pressured to appear young and attractive. People tend to perceive men with gray hair as more wise and experienced, while graying women are perceived as old. This workplace prejudice is now starting to change, as gray has become a more popular fashion trend among young celebrities, and many of today's most powerful women have gray hair.

Inappropriate Colors & Their Exceptions

Since the workplace dress code is conservative and moderate, employers prefer to hire applicants with natural hair colors, according to Career Realism. That means that in general, dying your hair pink, purple, blue, or green before an interview isn't a good idea. That said, some types of jobs will hire you regardless of "weird" hair colors, according to CNN. If you want to be a cosmetologist, barista, server, or an artist, you should be able to get away with it.