Men’s Hair Coloring Alternatives
Men and women have been experimenting with hair coloring for thousands of years. Early cultures considered colors to be symbols of power and mysticism. This belief led to body painting and men’s hair coloring agents derived from vegetable and mineral dyes, as evidenced by chemicals and tools found in Egyptian tombs.
In the 1880’s, American men had their beards and mustaches dyed in barbershops with hair coloring products that left the hair with strange iridescent tones or purple hues. These early formulations were made of silver nitrate, gold chloride, gum, and distilled water. Since the first synthetic dyes were developed in 1883, hair coloring technology and men’s hair coloring processes have steadily improved in performance and safety.
Hair coloring is the science and art of changing the color of the hair. Hair lightening is the partial or total removal of natural pigment or artificial color from the hair. Most men will show an interest in hair coloring at some point in their aging process. Men who enjoy fashion changes, are prematurely gray, or wish to maintain a youthful appearance are usually among those who venture into some form of hair coloring.
Color is a characteristic of visible light energy. Although the human eye sees only six basic colors, the brain is capable of visualizing the combinations of different wavelengths relevant to these three primary and three secondary colors. The light rays that are absorbed or reflected by natural hair pigment or artificial pigment added to the hair create the colors we see.
The laws of color regulate the mixing of dyes and pigment to make other colors. Based in science and adapted to art, the laws of color serve as guidelines for harmonious color mixing. For example, equal parts of red and blue mixed together always make violet.
The primary colors are basic or true colors that cannot be created by combining other colors. The three primary colors are yellow, red, and blue. All other colors are created by some combination of red, yellow, or blue. Colors with a predominance of blue are cool-toned colors and colors that are predominantly red are warm-toned colors.
A man’s hair structure will affect the quality and ultimate success of the haircolor service. The strength of the cuticle and the amount of elasticity and natural pigment in the cortex are important considerations in determining haircoloring options and product selection. Other hair structure factors relevant to a haircoloring or lightening service are texture, density, porosity, and natural color.
Gray hair is normally associated with aging, although heredity is also a contributing factor. In most cases, the loss of pigment increases as a person ages, resulting in a range of gray tones from blended to solid. The amount of gray in an individual’s hair is usually measured in percentages.
Haircoloring products are categorized as non-oxidative and oxidative and generally fall into four classifications: temporary, semipermanent, demipermanent and permanent. These classifications indicate a product’s colorfastness, or its ability to remain on the hair, and are determined by the chemical composition and molecular weight of the pigments and dyes within the products.
The permanent classification is of most interest to men because permanent haircoloring products are generally regarded as the best products for covering gray hair. This is because they simultaneously remove natural pigment through the action of lifting and add artificial color to both the gray and pigmented hair.
Permanent hair colors fall into four classifications: oxidation tints, vegetable tints, metallic or mineral dyes, and compound dyes. Metallic or mineral dyes are advertised as color restorers or progressive colors. The metalic ingredients, such as lead acetate or silver nitrate, react with the keratin in the hair, turning it brown. This reaction creates a colored film coating that produces a dull metallic appearance. Repeated treatments damage the hair and can react adversely with many professional chemical services. Metallic dyes are not professional hair coloring products.
Men should be aware that the products which can be bought at the grocery store or pharmacies are usually metallic dyes and ongoing use will have a strong propensity to damage your hair. You should always try and find professional products….which are often available at about the same price as the metallic dye products.
Permanent hair coloring does not wash out during the shampoo process. Eventually the color will fade and may require refreshing. When new growth occurs, a line of demarcation will develop between the old and new growth and will require a retouch. A virgin application is the application of hair coloring to hair that has not been previously colored. Hair that is in a “virgin” state is usually healthy hair that has not suffered any chemical damage.
Gray, white and salt-and-pepper hair with a yellowish cast can be treated with violet-based colors that range from highlighting shampoos and temporary rinses to lightening agents. The longevity of the product used will depend on the man’s desired result. It is highly recommended that, at a minimum, highlighting shampoos or temporary rinses with violet bases be available for use. Professional treatment is also a viable option.
In most cases the domain of hair coloring on a professional level is found in the women’s hair salon. Since the services of doing perms and hair coloring is one of the main functions of the salon and since the depth of knowledge required is confusing to most men, a viable option is to seek a professional in this area.
One of the things I really like about men’s hair coloring today is that it can be done in such a subtle manner that few people are able to detect that anything has been done. In the old days a man could go from white to dark black in one treatment–thus looking like a fool. Today someone who has a lot of gray in his hair can have less gray after a treatment–but still has some gray. It is so gradual and subtle that it virtually can’t be detected.
So if you have been thinking about doing some men’s hair coloring, now is a great time to give it a try. You will probably enjoy taking years off your appearance.