Friday, April 5, 2013

Dye-ing to Stay Young

I sympathize with anyone wanting to fight back the ravages of time. Many of us take steps to help preserve our appearance and sense of personal well-being from using moisturizers to exercise.

But some folks would be well advised to cease a certain practice. This statement is aimed squarely at men who make the wrong decision about coloring their gray hair. Most women have fooled around with their hair color at one time or another, so women are eliminated from this discussion.

Some men appear to make the decision to color their hair, even perform the actual coloring themselves, possibly out of embarrassment. Men who enter the world of hair color might want to seek the counsel of a third party -- a son/daughter, friend or co-worker -- regarding this decision.

Assuming that a man is fortunate enough to reach middle age with sufficient hair, he has several choices available. (By the way, celebrity names are being used for purposes of comparison. No doubt we each know a man or two who fits into each of the following categories.)

1. He can cut his hair very short (or shave it altogether) to disguise baldness and keep it short. Personally, I like this look. If a man is losing his hair, this is a much better option than a toupee (unless it is expensive and undetectable) or the dreaded comb-over. Some men can truly sparkle with this look -- Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Woody Harrelson to name a few. Maintenance may be an issue, but the result is great.

2. He can dye his hair dark to disguise the gray and convince everyone that he is still 35. This is a silly look and nothing ages a face -- male or female -- more than hair the color of polished brogans. Dark hair against a 65 year-old face looks dreadful. Plenty of celebrities fall for this ploy. If the audience liked me at 30, they might still think I'm 30 if my hair is still dark. Wrong. If we liked someone in the 1970s, Tom Selleck, for instance, it doesn't take long to do the math. I recently saw a photo of Selleck with dark hair and mustache and was shocked at his harsh appearance.

Now, these fine folks might have an agent or studio head demanding dark hair. It's perfectly logical that someone with an agenda might request hair that resembles patent leather. But it looks ridiculous, makes fans flinch at the results and is actually outdated in today's casually-attired world.

3. He can dye his hair red and look a different kind of ridiculous. Plenty of men appear to go red. Auburn-haired Paul McCartney has no gray hair and we know that he is old enough to have a few. Arnold Schwartzenegger has gone the red route, as has Italy's Silvio Berlusconi. They may think the result is less severe than black, but it's a bit silly.

4. He can allow his hair to go gray naturally. My personal preference, the result is often extremely flattering. Silver hair is gorgeous. George Clooney is dynamite with gray hair. Leslie Nielsen had wonderful hair, too. Steve Martin must have "grayed" at an early age because one of the first things that I noticed about him was his conservative suit-and-tie attire, dancing around with an arrow sticking through his gray hair. So incredibly cute.

The quandary about men's hair care seems to be only a few decades old. In the 1960s and most likely before, men either had hair or not, were either gray or not. Then hair became a focal point and products -- like Grecian Formula -- came into fashion.

While in college, I worked at a bank for a female manager. Her husband was a short man with gray hair and mustache, a rather dapper man who resembled photos of author William Faulkner. One day this gentleman came into the bank with jet black hair and mustache. We were astonished and some people didn't even recognize him. No doubt he thought he had turned back the hands of time. But those of us who knew him couldn't imagine why he had made such a dramatic change.

Men who are toying with trading stylish gray for inky follicles might want to try streaking, leaving the sides a little gray for impact. Mitt Romney and Bill Maher have pulled this off well. It shows a concern for appearance without shocking the audience.

No doubt there are other options available. Hair stylists and barbers understand hair far more than I do, but for a true read on how to proceed, the best answer might be: Please proceed with caution.










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