Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde

“I think if beauty products allow people to feel more confident and to operate at a higher frequency in their life, I’m all for it. I hate the idea of beauty as an oppressive force that makes people feel terrible about themselves—this desire to look like someone else, to feel pressure, or to feel like one isn’t enough on their own. I’m all for recognizing one’s own natural beauty and harnessing that confidence and being a badass. I don’t agree with this perception that beauty products are inherently negative, that they’re a 'mask,' that you are covering up who you are or escaping something. I really think that people can become more in touch with themselves by expressing themselves through hair color, makeup, or fashion. My attitude toward that stuff is all about confidence, it’s about having fun with your look, as long as it makes you feel great.

Frankly, I’ve always had fun with products, since I was a kid. When I was 12 in D.C.—I grew up in Georgetown—I would walk to the CVS on Wisconsin Avenue and look at the Revlon displays—at that time I think Cindy Crawford was the major Revlon model—and I would buy all the different products, you know, as slowly as you could afford them, $1.99, $2.99! And I’d go home and just experiment. Growing up, I was into all kinds of self-expression. I went through a real punk phase. Once, I shaved the back of my head into a really hideous under-shave look, which my mom said made me look like I got hit by a tractor. I dyed my hair every single color. But I’m a big proponent of that type of experimentation for women, at all ages. It shouldn’t just be for adolescents, and it doesn’t mean when you’re older you can’t continue to experiment.

Changing hair colors does make you feel completely different, doesn’t it? I mean, when I was really young—this adolescent phase—I went for everything. Remember Manic Panic colors? I was purple, green, red, sometimes a mixture of all three, and not always on purpose: I had this tiny little sink in our house and I remember crouching over and just staining it with green hair dye! After that I was blonde for a long time; I’ve been bleached platinum blonde, I’ve been dark blonde, I’ve had black hair, I’ve had dark red hair…. I feel like I’ve actually done every single color, and somehow my hair hasn’t fallen out. Now, I only change it for work. I try to give it a rest, otherwise, but it still changes a lot. It’s been, like, five colors in 2012.

I spent the first couple years of my career as a very blonde blonde. And then I went brunette for a role, and suddenly all my offers changed—the types of roles people approached me with totally changed. When I was really blonde, it was always like, ‘The really pretty girl,’ or ‘The sexy hot chick.’ At that point in my career, it was all lame pilots—those were the types of roles I was going for. And then, when I was on The O.C., it was like, ‘she’s punk-y!’ I had a purple streak in my hair, and I was the ‘punky girl.’ And then when I went brunette, the roles went to more, ‘She’s a waitress with a heart of gold, and a tough life,’ or ‘She’s a doctor.’ And I always wondered—would I have been offered those roles had I still been blonde? I don’t think so. I think the perception of brunettes being more intellectual persists. Even though it makes no sense! I mean, Hillary Clinton is very, very blonde! And when I went from being blonde for a long time to brunette, I felt like I was invisible, because you’d walk into a room, and nobody immediately looks at you. When you’re blonde, it’s like you have a giant highlighter on your head; people can’t help but stare. So, it definitely changes how people think of you. And red is a very different reaction. I feel like redheads are perceived immediately to be kind of sassy and sultry, or at least uniquely… I don’t know, just a little more sassy.

The color I have now feels most like me, which is really just a combination of everything it’s been: brown, with some blonder ends. It’s probably the closest thing to my natural [color]. I think when you get to be around thirty, you stop trying to transform into someone else, and you start really understanding what your natural look is, and then you start trying to achieve what you had—when it comes to hair—as a four year-old. You look at your four year-old pictures, and you’re like, “Whoa! Look at that ombré!” It’s funny, you come to a level of self-acceptance, at that age. But then again, why not shake it up?”

—as told to ITG

Olivia Wilde photographed by Emily Weiss at the New York launch of Revlon's new Luxurious ColorSilk Buttercream hair color range on February 7, 2013.


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  • http://twitter.com/JennySueMakeup JennySueMakeup

    Massive girl crush on Olivia. I'm sure even she pulled off the under shaved head look!
    Jennifer | http://www.jennysuemakeup.com

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I totally remember Manic Panic! I think that stuff is still around, too. Thanks to Olivia for giving an honest assessment of how beauty products SHOULD be seen to women! I love experimenting with different looks (though, as a teacher now, I have to tone it down a bit), but it's fun to still sit in front of the mirror and play. While makeup for me is sometimes a cover up (adult acne sucks sometimes), it does also give me a chance to try on a different hat...without wearing a hat...because I look terrible in them. ;-)

  • http://glitterandgapske.blogspot.com/ Alyssa Gapske

    She is so right about coming into your look. I used to dye my hair all sorts of colors. Recently took a picture of me as a 10 year old self to my stylist and said "give me back what I had"! Now I think I have this awesome shade that looks natural. Love it.

  • claire

    She's simply the best!

  • Alison

    I totally agree with her about trying to achieve the hair you had as a kid! I just stopped dyeing my hair so it can grow out and get back to my natural color. Love her!

  • Jessica

    What designer is Olivia wearing? Her top is gorgeous!

  • k80

    Haha I'm doing the exact same thing, trying to go back to the hair I had in my school pictures when I was 7!

  • Cay

    She was noting her observations of how people perceived her when she changed her hair color. That's not stereotyping. That's her personal experience with her changing appearance. Hollywood and general American culture itself is, in the instance, the one that is perpetuating the stereotypes. She's just noting them.

  • Azrakun Blue

    i absolutely love her top!


  • Guest

    The blown highlights in the photo made me look twice! So glad to see that she isn't really wearing a barely-there dress.

    I love the hair color she has in the current Revlon ads.

  • Gemma

    Olivia Wilde!!! Love love love her. And she's right on about the blondes/brunettes thing- I've noticed how much the attention and people's perceptions change every time I switch between the two! When I want more attention, I go back to blonde! Olivia's very insightful... Would love to see her top shelf!

  • http://twitter.com/MeghanVK Meghan Kaminski

    I love her point about Mrs. Clinton, but I think you mean Hillary with two Ls.

  • Fatima

    Totally agree with Janine! C' mon when Angelina Jolie/Beyonce/Halle Berry/ Mila Kunis walks into a room she doesnt go unnoticed.

  • Bells

    What about an Olivia Palermo top shelf? Pretty please? :)

    • Miss Y.

      Yes, I've been waiting on that one forever as well! Olivia always looks like a million dollars. Never a hair out of place, never dark circles, never dull skin, never (god forbid) a pimple :-D I somehow can't imagine that she's low-key and I am sure that she has the most awesome and exotic stuff in her bathroom.

  • Eliza91088

    It is actually a dress- Talbot Runhof.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.l.weaver.73 Karen Weaver

    I couldn't agree more. It's hard to imagine, but I once went brunette and I felt completely invisible! I have always wanted to try red, and now that I have a blog called http://www.ginger-snap.com I guess I am obliged to try. Olivia is really lucky to be able to pull of so many coors-- I certainly canNOT.

  • http://www.citizensofbeauty.com/ Kendra Stanton

    I was just looking at my 2.5 year old daughters natural ombre thinking, "I pay big money for mine to look that way." Not fair!

  • CFH

    I went to high school with Liv, she is so talented and so SMART. happy to see her on my favorite blog!