A time to dye?

To dye or not to dye has long been a question for men touched by a tinge of the grey. Some, like the debonair Anderson Cooper from CNN, embrace their early silver locks with pride while others head straight to the dye bottle - many with disastrous results.

John Travolta has clearly been colouring his head with the blackest crayons if his hairline is anything to go by. A crayon is still a marked improvement on the black dye used in Imperial Rome, when leeches and vinegar were left to ferment for two months and then applied to a man's hair.

Thank god for the Babylonians who understood the power of gold dust sprinkled in dyed dark hair to distract from the greys, or the bad dye job - nothing like a bit of sparkle to deter the eyes.

But who am I, or any other woman, to judge a man's desire to highlight when I spend thousands of dollars a year on my own. Women, and men, love a natural man who hugs his grey, but the irony is we rarely embrace that natural look for ourselves.

Truth is, we all go grey eventually, and how soon or late that happens is determined by our genes, hormones, age, toxins and stress. So what leads a 59-year-old man like Travolta to reach for the home dye in aisle six at the supermarket? Vanity is one, ego another, fear of ageing a genuine concern.

“Whatever you do, don't do a home dye job,” cautions Marc Armstrong, director of Anthony Nader's RAW Salon in Darlinghurst, Sydney. “I have been working for 16 years and even I could not comfortably go and pick out a colour on a hair dye box and be secure that the end result will even be that same colour. There is a reason hairdressers are in a job.”

Travolta is not the only one who has clearly been dipping into the home paint bottle. Bruce Jenner has tresses more suited to Liz Taylor in her Fortensky years than a grown man of sixty-three. But then, he takes styling tips from his Kardashian step-daughters.

“The worst thing you can do is try to cover everything up,” Armstrong says. “If you dye 100 per cent of your hair then you have to deal with regrowth at the roots, but there are products that camouflage and make your grey a gun metal grey rather than a starch white. Get your stylist to use a toner as it stains the outer hair and slowly washes out.”

While Paul McCartney now looks like my dyed-brunette mother there are other men out there prepared to rock their grey locks and look better for it. Surely being fired by the lead-coloured tresses of Mark Bouris on Australia's Celebrity Apprentice is far easier to take than being dismissed by his American counterpart, Donald Trump, sporting a bouffant in all shades of dyed brown fading to orange?


Richard Gere has been wooing the ladies with his ash grey hue for decades and it didn't stop him winning People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 1999. Aussie director Baz Luhrmann went grey while filming Moulin Rouge and wears his silver fox mane with pride.

“The key is acceptance,” advises Armstrong. “If you're going bald then at some stage you have to either cut it short or shave it off. Andre Agassi and Bruce Willis both look fantastic without hair. The same can be said for grey. Accept it or work with it.

"If you do tone the grey down then make sure you look after the finer things too. No ear hair, trim your eyebrows, these can both age you greatly and by grooming it will freshen your look.”

When Alec Baldwin married his yoga instructor wife, 26 years his junior, it wasn't the idea of him being off the market that had women crying into their coffee, it was the bad auburn brown dye job. But alas he's a Baldwin, and we'll forgive him anything.

Even US President Barack Obama has been rocking the grey in office and loving it, despite early claims by detractors that the President was deliberately dying his hair grey to achieve a more senior look in his first months in office. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Welcome to our world, gentlemen.

Clearly we have saved the best for last. Who better than George Clooney and his salt-and-pepper coiffure to fly the flag for greying sex appeal? Granted, the man has been blessed with what we homosapiens deem a perfect cheekbone and an asymmetrical face which gets him half way there; the grey does the rest.

So next time you find a grey hair what's it going to be - Clooney, or Travolta?