What's in a mane?
Do blondes have more fun? Fiona McIlwaine Biggins takes a look at what your hair colour says about your personality
Are you a bubbly blonde bombshell or a brilliant brunette or perhaps a feisty red head?
Do you make a statement with a vivacious shade as your crowning glory or do you prefer to turn heads with seductively luscious locks?
Whether natural or coloured, hair shades affect how the world views you and how you see yourself.
So what does your hair colour really say about you?
According to the latest hair trends survey the colour of our hair can say a lot about our personality and reveal the subtle or flamboyant tones in our character.
One of Northern Ireland's most prestigious hairdressers, Shane Bennett of the Shane Bennett Salon in Hillsborough, has recently completed a hair trends analysis for international hair company Goldwell, which he has been working with since first scooping Northern Ireland Hairdresser of the Year in 1999.
And he shared some of the interesting insights he gleaned from the study about what hair colour says about our personality.
He explained: "I was asked by Goldwell to develop a campaign that highlighted three of the most popular hair colours - blonde, brunette and red - and what statements they made about people's persona.
"The end results are fascinating."
The 'what does your hair say about you?' survey found that there are two types of blondes.
There is the sexy Sharon Stone type blonde who has a huge character - she loves to have her hair ash blonde. She can't get enough blonde.
This blonde normally has some length in the hair and has quite a strong personality, however, she relies on her hair to give her that extra boost of confidence in certain situations.
Then there is the investment blonde typified by stylish celebrities like Jennifer Aniston.
These ladies have lots of sophistication and class and are likely to turn heads when they walk down the street.
They have a more natural blonde look which is created with lots of soft warm honey tones breaking up the blonder ones. These blondes are quite dominant and know what they want in life - both personal and business - and feel completely in control of their own destiny.
Meanwhile, brunettes like glamorous Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones are quite often in a class of their own.
Ladies with this colour of hair exude elegance, class and erudition and literally ooze all of these three accolades. Their hair always has a fabulous shine, just like their personality. And last, but not least, come the intriguing red heads like film icon Nicole Kidman.
According to the survey, women with red hair can quite often have the most interesting characters. They usually have a fiery temperament and are very seductive yet they can convince people that they have an air of innocence. Again, they always have very shiny hair and similarly to their bubbly personality, natural reds often have big curls in their hair.
Shane Bennett concluded: "Evidently the characteristics defined are very broad generalisations and to be honest are a little bit of fun! I would imagine people can relate to quite a few of the findings with their own personalities and hairstyles.
"The great thing is that people can experiment with colours in their hair and while they are at it, try out developing the characteristics associated with that hair colour!"
International hair company Goldwell's motto is 'Intelligent care for hair' and it develops hair products and services and exclusively supplies these world-wide to hairdressing professionals.
My blonde ambition's set in stone
We talked to some of Ulster's best known blonde, brunette and red headed women to find out what they think their hair really says about them.
Ulster GMTV presenter Emma-Louise Johnston (29) has always been blonde and plans to stay that way. She says:
I was born blonde and have never been anything else, so I'm definitely attached to my hair colour. I just don't think I could be a brunette or a red head, nor would I suit either.
"I've dressed up a few times at Halloween and worn a dark wig and I've felt like a different person. On one hand I felt less conspicuous, which can be good (especially if you're walking past a bunch of builders!), but I don't think I felt as outgoing or confident; but maybe that's just because you get used to looking a certain way and if you're taken out of your comfort zone it's uncomfortable.
"In my professional life I've witnessed occasions where blondes are maybe taken less seriously, but that's par for the course.
"In fact, when I was away filming in sunnier climates my bosses asked me to cover up my hair between shoots because they didn't want it going any lighter in the sun.
"Maybe having witnessed this has made me want to strive more to prove people wrong about blondes - although I myself am guilty of using the 'I'm being so blonde today' phrase when I do something stupid which just reinforces the stigma! I'd say I'm a fairly confident blonde and I suppose I have quite a strong personality, so maybe the first description is fairly apt - and I can so handle being compared to Sharon Stone! She's stunning. Mind you so's Jennifer Aniston, but Sharon Stone seems a stronger person who seems more comfortable in her own skin."
Northern Ireland-born TV presenter Shauna Lowry (37), who has just finished filming a new series of Top Dog for Animal Planet and is expecting her first baby in mid-November, loves her red hair. She says:
I am proud to be a fiery red head and god forbid if you call me ginger! I think my hair colour is wild and untamed like myself, very Celtic. I break all the rules and wear pink, orange, red etc, but my favourite colour is purple and everyone says it looks great with my hair.
I also wear different colours of make-up, it's always best to look at skin tone and eyes.
I also wear fake tan to add colour to my skin.
" My hair colour is natural and is thanks to my grandmother - it skipped a generation. It changes colour and is quite auburn/chestnut in winter and more strawberry blonde in summer."
Iris Robinson (58), DUP MP for Strangford and an MLA, hopes to grow grey gracefully - but not just yet! She says:
I have to say I don't accept the findings of people with different hair colourings and the way in which blondes, brunettes and red heads are catagorised.
Every human being has their own very unique characteristics and I think it's a disservice to try and lump people with similar hair colourings as clones, more or less.
"At 58 years of age I am sadly one of these people who are not going grey gracefully. I am delighted that so many hair colour products are on the market to allow for someone of my age to camouflage the grey hair while neither looking ridiculous nor having people whispering that 'I look like mutton dressed as lamb'. "I would have the opinion that a woman's hair is scripturally her crown and glory, and I think as we get older it is good for morale to make the best of all our features but particularly our hair. Mostly all females feel as good as their hair looks and while that might be a rather exaggerated comment, underneath it all most women I talk to feel good when their hair looks well.
"I feel there is no shame in holding back the grey as there is plenty of time when we are older to accept the inevitable and then grow grey gracefully.
I am definitely not at that stage and hope not to be for many years to come. I have to say, however, I find an older woman with pure white hair as stunning in her appearance as younger women who colour their hair."
Naomi Long (35), the deputy leader of the Alliance Party and an MLA for East Belfast, believes the survey findings are close to the mark where she is concerned. She says:
I have heard it said by others that I'm feisty, but maybe that's more to do with my job than my hair colour! I've always been pretty outgoing and I would admit to having a bit of a fiery temper. As I have naturally curly red hair, the research seemed pretty close to the mark on that score.
"However, I don't really think that the colour of your hair dictates your personality, but the stereotypes that people attach to it probably condition you as you are growing up.
"I suppose if someone is feisty, they might choose to go red to give people an early warning! And if you are outgoing, you certainly won't fade into the background as a redhead.
"When I'm abroad, it definitely says to people that I'm not a local. I was in South America in the summer and mine was the only red hair I saw until I got on the Belfast flight in Manchester on the way home! "I'm a natural red head. It's one of the things I inherited from my dad's side of the family and I wouldn't want to change it - it's part of who I am."