Dyeing hair like a man: Everything you need to know

Unlike a suit, a watch or a pair of sneakers, men’s haircuts are the one style statement you can’t just pass up. That’s why it’s worth making sure that your hair – whether it’s brown, salt and pepper or white blonde – sends out the right signals.

In an age of ‘Brotox’ and eyebrow sculptures for men, the vanity of the man who dyes his hair is old news. Then why do we still do it wrong, if we love to do it so much?

To help you dye your hair as a man, it is useful to read this first!


5 things you should know before dyeing your hair as a man

SKIN TONES

The right hair color can make a big difference to how you look, which is why finding the right shade for your skin tone is so important. In general, you want a hair color that is the opposite of your skin’s undertones. To find out which camp you fall into, look at the underside of your arm. Cool-skinned people have blue or purple veins and go with warmer colors, while warm-skinned people have more greenish veins and go with cooler colors.

HAIR TYPE AND COLOR

Unfortunately for some, changing your hair isn’t a level playing field. In general, the darker, thicker or curlier your hair, the more difficult it is to bleach. That is not to say that a new haircut is not possible. However, it may take several treatments to get the desired effect, which can cause damage to your hair. If you don’t own fine, light natural hair, consider leaving this to the experts.

AGE

For most men, it is the recognizable signs of aging that make them turn to hair dye. But even if you want to make the change earlier in life, the number of candles on your cake remains important. It’s not for us to set a limit on what men should do, but some looks are better left to the youth. If you’re in your late 30s, skip neon pink and opt for something more classic.

PERSONAL STYLE

You can take all the “what color should I dye my hair” quizzes the internet has to offer, but whatever your zodiac/spirit animal/favorite Disney princess leads you to an answer, it won’t be the right one if it doesn’t fit with your personal style. Before grabbing a color swatch, consider factors like your job (and the dress code that comes with it) and anything already in your wardrobe.

MAINTENANCE

As with all parts of your grooming routine, the biggest barrier to effectiveness is complication. If it takes up too much time on your morning routine, just don’t do it. When it comes to maintaining a dyed hair or beard, that can be seriously bad news for your barnet. The chemicals used in bleach remove essential natural oils, which means your hair can become extremely dry and brittle. If you’re not committed to maintenance, step away from the bottle.


Hair dye colors for men

GREY HAIR

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Gray hair is a completely natural part of the aging process, and while a few bits of salt in your pepper doesn’t necessarily mean you have to set your will, silver hair, like male pattern baldness, can take a toll on your self-confidence.

If you’re not ready to embrace the gray just yet, let it go. Dyeing to hide gray is a fairly simple process, so while a salon treatment is the safest, you can easily do it at home by following a few simple steps.

If you have short hair and your first priority is to hide gray areas, look for a dye that is two shades lighter than the depth of your natural color and that is an ash color, such as a light ash brown. This counteracts any heat (the richness of the color) that may arise during the processing of the color.

As tempting as it is to do this as soon as possible, don’t let the entire contents of the bottle fall on your head at once. If you have shorter hair, you may only need a third of the mixed bottle to cover it. Using too much dye can lead to overcasting, making hair look too dark and saturated.

Instead, squeeze small amounts of the dye onto the teeth of a small brush and apply it to the gray areas in gentle, circular motions. This method not only fades the gray hair, but also maintains the overall cool tone and natural variation of shades, so you don’t look like Tom Hanks.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. Failing that, slap your wallet and let a trained professional handle your hair.

BLEACHED HAIR

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If you’re still spry enough to bleach your hair, do a Lucky Blue (as in the phenomenally successful platinum haired male model Lucky Blue Smith) and your head will turn others.

You only have to scroll through the hair trends of the past few seasons to see that platinum hair is indeed a “thing”. But be careful, because a) it doesn’t suit every skin tone (sorry, redheads), and b) it’s anything but a Friday afternoon chore.

Pre-lightening, or bleaching, is not a simple process, because you strip the hair of its pigment.

If your hair is particularly dark, the process may even require two lightening treatments. It’s a real art, and getting the right shade of blonde isn’t as easy as they make it out to be on the packaging.

For best results – and to avoid looking like a canary just died on your head – call in the experts. There are so many things to consider, such as your skin tone, your lifestyle and your desired final shade – all of which are quite difficult to determine without the guidance of a hairdresser.

DYED HAIR

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Do you want to step up the dyeing of your hair? Consider trying a bolder color like pink, green, or blue.

The easiest and most effective way to achieve this is with a water-based toner, which gets clearer the longer you let it sit. Since it is water-based and contains no harmful chemicals, it does not damage the condition of your hair.

Finally, unless you have an impressive selection of hats (or a side job as a kid animator), this is a look best done with semi-permanent dyes.


Maintain colored hair

Men with shorter locks that are still growing needn’t worry too much about color retention (your gray will reappear in a few weeks), but men with long hair and regular swimmers can take steps to slow down fading.

Use a color preserving conditioner after every wash. And if you have bleached platinum hair or a light “fashion” color such as artificial silver, gray or a pastel, try using a blue or violet shampoo. Without it, the hair can turn a yellow or green hue very quickly as the keratin (the fibrous protein that makes up the hair’s structure) shows through.

If you see some yellowing, whip out some anti-yellow toner, and keep washing daily with a blue shampoo to restore that icy white hue.

Use a deep conditioning mask once a week to replenish your hair’s moisture. Coloring is a chemical process, so you need to keep the hair in the best possible condition to keep it looking fresh.


Questions about dyeing your hair

WHAT COLOR SHOULD I DYE MY HAIR?

You wouldn’t eat the same thing for breakfast every day, so why settle for the same hair color day after day? Sure, pouring hot sauce over your cornflakes might be “different,” but that doesn’t mean it’s better. That’s a long-winded way of saying that whatever color you choose should still suit you, and that means taking into account all of the above variables, 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 treatment, there’s a fine line between maintaining your roots and overdoing the paint. How often you can color your hair depends on factors such as your hair type, natural color, and what shade you’re switching to. You’re still spraying chemicals on your ‘do, though, so most professionals recommend leaving at least two weeks between each treatment to minimize damage.

WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE DYEING MY HAIR?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a hair dye virgin, or things went horribly wrong last time. To prevent the latter, you should avoid a few things before opening a bottle: especially styling products such as hair gel, hair straighteners and hair dryers, and chemical relaxers. All of these things increase the damage the bleach chemicals cause or slow down the rate at which the bleach acts on the hair.

HOW TO GET HAIR DYE FROM SKIN AND HANDS

Hair dye has come a long way since Elizabethan times, when women used urine to give their locks a yellow tint (dirty). In fact, today’s bottles are so effective that the skin on your face, neck and hands can suffer the same effects as your locks. To avoid this, always wear gloves and try to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or baby oil along your hairline before dyeing. To remove stains, apply a small amount of laundry detergent, dish soap or olive oil to a damp washcloth and gently rub the skin until the stain is gone.

CAN YOU DYE WET HAIR?

Whether you should apply hair dye to wet or dry hair depends on a number of different factors, such as hair type, and there is plenty of conflicting information floating around. While some say wet strands are better protected against damage, others believe it can block the effect of the dye. When in doubt, stick to what is recommended in the manual – the advice is usually there for a reason.

DOES HAIRDYE EXPIRE?

Before you think “what’s the worst that could happen?” and slathers on a bottle that’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard for six months – stop. Unopened paint doesn’t always have a set expiration date (if it has one, it’s printed on the bottle), but if the consistency isn’t right or the product looks separated, throw it in the bin and buy a new one.

HOW LONG DOES HAIRDYE LAST?

It’s worth using semi- or demi-permanent paint unless you’re 100 percent sure what you’re doing. These usually last about 28 washes, but to prevent your scalp from drying out it is wise to skip a wash now and then, so that could be between four and six weeks.

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