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 for their advice on everything from hiding greys to a complete overhaul. Colour yourself informed.
Should I Dye My Hair?
Having the right hair colour can make a big difference to how you look, which makes finding the right shade for your skin tone so important. As a general rule, you want a hair colour that’s the opposite of your skin’s undertones. To find out which camp you fall into, check the underside of your arm. Those with cool skin tones have blue or purple veins and suit warmer colours, while warm skin tones have more greenish-looking veins and suit cooler colours.
Hair Type & Colour
Unfortunately for some, switching up your hair isn’t a level dyeing field. Generally, the darker, thicker or curlier your hair, the harder it will be to bleach. That’s not to say a new ‘do is off the table. However, it may take several treatments to get the desired effect, which can cause damage to your hair. If you aren’t the owner of fine, light natural hair, consider leaving this one to the experts.
For most men, it’s the tell-tale signs of ageing that gets them reaching for the dye dispenser. However, even if you’re looking to make the change earlier in life, the number of candles on your cake still matter. Far from us to put a limit on what guys should do, some looks are better left to the youth. Past your late 30s, sidestep neon pink in favour of something a little more classic.
You can take all the ‘what colour should I dye my hair’ quizzes the internet can muster, but no matter what your star sign/spirit animal/favourite Disney princess leads you to an answer, it won’t be the right one if it doesn’t suit your personal style. Consider factors such as your job (and the dress code it requires) as well as everything already hanging in your wardrobe before even picking up a colour swatch.
Like with all parts of your grooming routine, the biggest barrier to effectiveness is complication. If it adds too long to your morning routine, you simply won’t do it. When it comes to maintaining dyed hair, that can be seriously bad news for your barnet. The chemicals used in bleach strip away essential natural oils, meaning that, without a little TLC, your hair can become extremely dry and brittle. If you aren’t committed to the upkeep, step away from the bottle.
Hair Dye For Men
Grey Hair Dye
Greying hair is a perfectly natural part of the ageing process, and while a few more bits of salt in your pepper doesn’t necessarily mean you should be drafting your will, silver hairs, like male pattern baldness, can zap your confidence.
If you’re not ready to embrace the grey, then make it disappear. Using dye to conceal greys is a pretty straightforward process so, while a salon treatment is the safest bet, this one can be done easily at home by following a few simple steps.
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 the colour) that may develop during the processing of the colour,” says Scott Cornwall, colouring expert and founder of the Scott Cornwall range.
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, squeeze small amounts of the colourant onto the teeth of a small brush and apply 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, follow the instructions on the package. If that fails, concede a hit to your wallet and let a trained professional tackle your tresses.
Bleached Hair Dye
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.
You only need to leaf through the hair trends of recent seasons to see that platinum hair is most certainly 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 London barbers Joe & Co.
Indeed, if your hair is 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.
Coloured Hair Dye
Want to step your hair dye game up a notch? Consider trying a bolder colour like pink, green or blue. (Just don’t cite us when your boss gives you your marching orders for trying the ‘merman’.)
With recent backers including Jared Leto, Zayn Malik and Jaden Smith, spinning the colour wheel is a surefire way to grab some attention, but you don’t need a degree in colour theory to know this is a risky move.
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 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.”
Finally, unless you have an impressive selection of hats (or a side gig as a children’s entertainer), this is a look that’s best carried out using semi-permanent dyes.
Hair Dye Maintenance
While men with shorter locks that are still growing won’t need to worry much about colour-retention (your grey will start to show again in a matter of weeks), guys with long hair, as well as regular swimmers, can take steps to slow the fade.
“Use a colour-preserving 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, 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, break out some anti-yellow toner, 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.
Hair Dye Q&A
What Colour Should I Dye My Hair?
You wouldn’t eat the same thing for breakfast every day, so why should you settle for having the same hair colour day in day out? Of course, pouring hot sauce on your Cornflakes might be ‘different’, but it doesn’t mean it’s better. Which is a long-winded way of saying whatever colour you pick should still be right for you, and that involves taking into account all the variables above, including your skin tone, age and hair type.
How Often Should I Dye My Hair?
Whether you opt for a professional treatment or an at-home bottle job, there’s a fine line between maintaining your roots and overdoing it on the dye. How often you can colour your hair depends on factors such as your hair type, natural colour, and what shade you are changing to. However, you are still dolloping chemicals on your ‘do, so most professionals suggest leaving at least two weeks between each treatment to minimise damage.
What Should I Do Before Dyeing My Hair?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a hair dye virgin, or it went horrifically wrong the last time. To avoid the latter happening again, there are several things to swerve before cracking open a bottle: chiefly styling products such as hair gel, straighteners and hair dryers, and chemically relaxers. All of these either add to the damage caused by bleaching chemicals or slow the rate at which the bleach takes effect on hair.
How To Get Hair Dye Off Skin & Hands
Hair dye has come a long way since the Elizabethan era when women used urine to give their locks a yellowy tinge (gross). In fact, today’s bottle jobs are so effective that the skin on your face, neck and hands can suffer the same consequences as your strands. To avoid this, always wear gloves, and try putting a thin layer of Vaseline or baby oil along your hairline before dyeing. To remove stains, apply a small amount of laundry detergent, dish soap or olive oil on a damp washcloth and gently rub the skin until it has disappeared.
Can You Dye Wet Hair?
When it comes to hair dye, whether you should apply it to wet or dry hair depends on a number of different factors, such as hair type, and there is plenty of contradictory information floating around. While some say wet locks are better protected from damage, others believe it could block the dye from working. If in doubt, stick to what’s recommended in the instructions list – the advice is usually there for a reason.
Does Hair Dye Expire?
Before you think “what’s the worst that could happen?” and slather on a bottle that’s been at the back of the cupboard for six months – stop. Unopened dye doesn’t always have a set expiration date (if it does, it will be printed on the bottle), but if the consistency is off or the product looks separated, get it in the bin and buy a new one.
How Long Does Hair Dye Last?
It’s worth sticking with semi- or demi-permanent dyes unless you’re 100 per cent confident you know what you’re doing. These usually last around 28 shampoos, but to save your scalp from drying out, it’s wise to skip a wash every now and then so this can be between four and six weeks.
How To Dye Your Hair With Kool-Aid?
Wait, people do that? No. Just no. What’s next, Cheeto dust fake tan?