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Dyeing with dignity

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George Clooney's salt-and-pepper coiffure flies the flag for greying sex appeal. Click for more photos

To dye or not to dye?

When the first signs of grey arrive, do you own it or use a bottle to hide it? A selection of famous faces - and in some cases, even more famous tresses - shed light on the cult allure of the "silver fox". Photo: Getty Images

Grey looks really attractive on men. What isn’t attractive is when the grey’s flat and dull. Or ‘‘marsupial grey’’, as a colleague put it.

‘‘You want to let the shine and light in, otherwise it looks really dull.’’

If your hair doesn’t all fall out - or you don't shave it off to avoid looking like a baldie - you will probably, eventually, all things considered, end up with grey hair. It’s not as distinguished (I’m told) as pure white but, with the right cut and the right attitude, it can be a winner.

Salt beginning to outweigh the pepper?

Salt beginning to outweigh the pepper? Photo: iStock

I’m greying, though not yet grey all over, but every time I get a haircut and look at the trimmings on the floor there’s just a little bit more salt, a little less pepper. I’m fairly relaxed about it - but what if you don’t want to go grey just yet, what if all the haircuts in the world don’t make you look good with old man’s grey?

What if it’s denting your self-esteem, hurting your relationships or damaging your chances at work. What can you do?

Cut it off! Cut it all off! Maybe. Or you could dye it.

According to Esquire magazine’s Handbook of Style (a recent birthday gift and one that’s going to keep on giving, I’m sure), lots and lots of men are getting their hair dyed - and nobody’s noticed. Though it’s not something they would talk about. Most women who colour their hair are happy to spill the beans. I suspect that some men have dyed hair, but very few come clean. With men, the point is to conceal fading virility - something few men would boast of.

And hair technology - those scientists who lurk in the background of a certain type of TV ad - have made dyes that are quicker to use and, more importantly, subtler too. So no one will ever guess your little secret.

Jo Smith of Toni&Guy Georges in Melbourne’s CBD is seeing a lot of men come in for a quick dye job. ‘‘It’s only five minutes’ service time and it’s done at the basin so you’re not looking like you’re having it done,’’ Jo says. ‘‘It’s like your just having your hair washed.’’

Jo confirms the Esquire line about how today’s subtle treatments make it hard to work out who’s taken the plunge. ‘‘The modern dyes that camouflage the greys rather than cover it make it hard to spot who’s had it dyed and who hasn’t,’’ she says.

‘‘We’re not covering the grey completely. It’s not blanket coverage. Otherwise it looks like a wig or toupee. If it goes too dark it always looks fake. We use a toning solution to blend in greys. The tone’s ashy. Women like a bit of warmth. These dyes still leave a bit of grey, they just tone it down so people aren’t asking who coloured your hair.’’

If you feel like losing the greys it’s easy to get it done by the professionals. ‘‘Most men have it done each time they have a cut. It just fades away,’’ Jo says.

But you can do it at home. Most supermarkets feature a huge selection of dyes. Aisle 5, between the toothbrushes and the Mortein. They seem, the instructions say, simplicity itself to use. The Esquire guide recommends picking one shade lighter than you think your hair colour is - most people think their hair is darker than it really is.

Smith urges caution with DIY colouring, however easy the ads claim it to be. ‘‘It’s hit and miss,’’ she says. ‘‘Very hit and miss.’’

I’m getting a haircut next week, and I’m thinking of letting the professionals get to work with some dye. You’ll never know. I hope.

What about you - are you dyeing your hair - and what made you do it?

25 comments

  • Of course my hairdresser is dyeing my hair. What made me do it? I look much older with grey hair - and it's thinning - so I need all the help I can get.

    Commenter
    Ian
    Location
    Adelaide
    Date and time
    June 18, 2013, 2:19PM
    • I didn't think men were that vain.
      When I get to the 40's I'll be wearing my grey with pride!

      Commenter
      worried33
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 2:26PM
      • Are you inferring then, that women are more vain than men? As they dye their hair more? What a rubbish comment. I guess you also like wearing cheap, crappy looking clothing - you wouldn't want people to think you are vain... What's the difference with wearing nice clothes to look good and dying your hair? It's all smoke and mirrors.

        I use my hairdryer about 8 times a year. My husband uses it everyday!

        Commenter
        Gem
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        June 18, 2013, 4:40PM
    • I am 44 and have been dying my hair since for 13 years. No one can tell and it looks great. I use Clairol nice and easy dark brown colour. Dying takes years off your life. As I done have many wrinkles and have not had any work done people still say I look about 35.

      Commenter
      Brad
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 2:27PM
      • @Brad
        I hate to tell you mate but most people can pick it when a man dyes his hair. You may not think so, but I can spot a dye job and a wig from a mile away

        Commenter
        Bobbyboy
        Location
        CBD
        Date and time
        June 18, 2013, 4:02PM
      • Bobbyboy
        I really doubt that most people would'nt have a clue i can vouch for that unless one goes for the raven look

        Commenter
        con
        Date and time
        June 19, 2013, 10:54AM
    • Silver foxes are hot! Better than a bad dye job like Geoffrey Edelstein.

      Commenter
      Alldara
      Date and time
      June 18, 2013, 2:41PM
      • I don't mind the hair on my head going slowly grey (only patches thankfully) and I've been spared the thinning balding that my father and grandfathers had, but the grey hairs in my beard are a dead give away. A nice neat shave every day seems to fix that one. I'm always sporting a much shorter haircut owing to riding a motorcycle and diving as its much easier to maintain and I'm very mindful that it keeps the grey to a minimum.

        I have died my hair in the past more as a slave to fashion rather than an practical reason. I'm not sure if I'll take the plunge again or embrace my inner-Clooney; he certainly rocks that silver fox look remarkably well.

        Commenter
        SKay
        Date and time
        June 18, 2013, 2:49PM
        • I love my grey hair now, did dye it but what the heck just go with the flow .

          Commenter
          ultra
          Location
          Mel
          Date and time
          June 18, 2013, 2:52PM
          • Ha to men who do a home dying job! Yes we can tell its hair dye and who one earth said you look good before you left the house? Because you don't!

            Commenter
            Think Again
            Date and time
            June 18, 2013, 2:57PM

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