Hair, unlike a suit, watch or a pair of trainers, is the one style statement you can’t just slip off. Which means it’s worth ensuring yours – whether brown, salt and pepper or white-out blond – is sending all the right signals.
In an age of Brotox and brow sculptors for guys, the vanity of man dyeing his hair is old news. So why then, if we love doing it so much, are we still getting it wrong?
To help you get the best dye job possible, we consulted the colouring cognoscenti to get their advice on everything from hiding greys to a complete overhaul. Colour yourself informed.
For most men, it’s the tell-tale signs of ageing that gets them reaching for the dye dispenser. Greying hair is perfectly natural, and while a few more bits of salt in your pepper doesn’t necessarily mean you should be drafting your will, silver hairs can zap your confidence.
If you’re not ready to embrace your grey, then make it disappear. Using dye to conceal greys is a pretty straightforward process so, while a salon treatment is a safe bet, this one can be done easily at home by following a few simple steps.
First up, decide on the dye. Provided you’ve got short hair, and your top priority is covering up patches of grey, then look for a colourant that is two shades lighter than the depth of your natural colour and which features an ash tone, e.g. light ash brown. “This will counteract any warmth [the richness of colour] that may develop in the hair during the processing of the colour,” says Scott Cornwall, colouring expert and founder of the Scott Cornwall range.
It’s also worth sticking with semi- or demi-permanent (over permanent) dyes unless you’re 100 per cent confident you know what you’re doing.
Next up, deployment. Tempting as it is to get this over and done with ASAP, refrain from tipping the entire contents of the bottle onto your head in one go. “If you have shorter hair, you may only need a third of the mixed bottle to cover it,” says Cornwall. “Using too much colourant can cause over-depositing, which leaves the hair looking too dark and saturated.”
Instead, he advises squeezing small amounts of the colourant onto the teeth of a small Denman brush and applying to any grey areas using gentle, circular motions. This method not only blends out grey hair, it also keeps the overall cool tone and natural variance of shades. Which means you won’t emerge looking like Tom Hanks.
Above all, though, follow the instructions on the package. If that fails, concede a hit to your wallet and let a trained professional tackle your tresses.
If you’re still sprightly enough to get away with bleaching your hair, then pulling a Lucky Blue (as in phenomenally successful platinum-haired male model Lucky Blue Smith) will have your head turning others.
With backers including Jared Leto, Zayn Malik and GQ US’ Jake Woolf, platinum hair’s definitely a ‘thing’. But tread carefully, because a) it doesn’t suit every skin tone (sorry, redheads), and b) it’s anything but a Friday afternoon job. “Pre-lightening, or bleaching, is not a straightforward process as you’re actually stripping the hair of its pigment,” says Joe Mills, founder of The Lounge Soho and Joe & Coe.
Indeed, if your hair’s especially dark, the process can require two lightening treatments. “It’s a real art, and getting the right shade of blond isn’t as straightforward as they make it look on the pack!”
For best results – and to avoid looking like a canary just died on your head – enlist the experts. “There are so many things to consider, like your skin tone, lifestyle and your desired end tone – all of which is pretty hard to pin down without the guidance of a hairdresser,” says Mills.
Want to step it up a notch? Try a bolder colour like green or blue. (Just don’t cite us when your boss gives you your marching orders for trying the ‘merman‘.)
Bright colours take best to pre-lightened hair, so going bold is another job best left to the professionals if you’re not keen on channelling Krusty the Clown. “The simplest and most effective way to achieve this is by using Crazy Colour, a water-based toner, which gets brighter the longer you leave it on,” says Mills. “Because it’s water-based and doesn’t have any harmful chemicals, it won’t damage the condition of your hair.”
Making It Last
While men with shorter hair that’s still growing won’t need to worry much about colour-retention (your grey will start to show again in a matter of weeks – which isn’t long enough for artificial colour to completely lose its lustre), guys with longer locks, as well as regular swimmers, can take steps to slow the fade.
“Use a colour preservation conditioner after each wash,” says Cornwall. “And if you have bleached platinum hair or a light ‘fashion’ colour like an artificial silver, grey or a pastel, then try using a blue or violet shampoo.” Without this, hair can very quickly start to acquire a yellow or green tinge as keratin, the fibrous protein that forms hair’s structure, starts to show through.
If you do see some yellowing, Cornwall suggests breaking out some anti-yellow toner, like Colour Restore Ice Platinum, and continuing to wash with a blue shampoo daily to restore that icy white shade.
Joe Mills also recommends some weekly TLC. “Use a deep conditioning treatment mask once a week to replenish your hair’s moisture. Colouring is a chemical process so you need to keep the hair in the best condition possible to keep it looking fresh,” he says.
Tips For DIY Dyeing
- Always apply hair colour in daylight hours, advises Cornwall. Artificial colour doesn’t show up well in development under artificial light.
- Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, and patch test your chosen dye on an inconspicuous area (such as behind your ear or on your wrist) 48 hours prior to application to ensure you’re not allergic to it.
- Keep an old (preferably black) towel handy. No matter how well you rinse your hair, your sideburns might still retain some of the dye, so Cornwall suggests using an old towel to dry your hair once rinsed.
Do you colour your hair? Are you a DIY guy or is dyeing your hair a task you’ll entrust only to the experts?
Let us know below.