Dyeing with dignity

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.

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?