As a young man, Elvis had sandy blond locks. He later dyed his hair jet black, possibly to conform to societal expectations or please his girlfriend, Priscilla. This black pompadour became iconic over time.
Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 film depicts Austin Butler as Elvis with an extravagant pompadour that rivals his bright yellow jumpsuits. However, in reality, Elvis was born a natural blonde.
Elvis fans may be surprised to learn that he was born a natural blonde. There is even a picture of young Elvis with blonde hair at Graceland estate. As he grew older, Elvis started dyeing his hair black using inexpensive shoe polish.
Elvis’ hair stylist, Larry Geller, introduced him to over-the-counter hair dyes like Miss Clairol 51D and Black Velvet/Mink Brown by Paramount. Geller also mixed harmless black shoe polish with other ingredients to give Elvis’ hair an intense shade of black. This became an obsession for Elvis and even influenced his wife Priscilla to dye her hair black.
Elvis decided to dye his natural blonde locks black during his teens to improve his camera presence. His mother noticed that it accentuated his ice-blue eyes, making him more appealing on camera.
Larry Geller revealed that he maintained Elvis’ signature look by mixing a base shampoo with vitamin capsules packed with aloe vera and other herbs. He also massaged Elvis’ scalp daily to keep his hair and scalp healthy. Elvis used hairspray regularly to prevent buildup and opted for regular trims to maintain his pompadour. He also experimented with different hair products and haircuts that suited his face shape.
Despite being known for his jet-black locks, Elvis’s natural hair color was dishwater blonde. Larry Geller shared his unconventional techniques for styling Elvis’ hair, using a custom blend of benign shampoo, vitamin capsules, and aloe vera.
Elvis was famous for his seductive ways with women, and his black hair played a significant role in his allure. It is worth noting that although Elvis was widely believed to have had ice-blue eyes, pictures show his eyes as brown. He dyed his hair black from an early age to create a more dramatic look on camera. According to Billy Smith, if Elvis were alive today, he would still be dyeing his hair black and wearing jumpsuits.
Shaggy Side Part
In his later years, Elvis popularized a shaggy side part hairstyle. This style required some styling, but it could easily be achieved by blow-drying and combing the hair back into a pompadour with a side part.
Elvis was initially known for his natural blonde locks, but in the 1950s, he started dyeing his hair black to make himself look older and enhance his blue eyes. He also teased his hair high into a beehive style.
This hairstyle eventually became known as the pompadour and was referred to as the “Elvis cut” and “gripper style.” It inspired many men in the rock music scene and Jamaican immigrants like Desmond Dekker, who popularized it among British 2 Tone ska bands in the 1970s.