The Guy's Guide to Colouring Your Hair

From covering greys to experimenting with different hues, here's what to do.

BY Rebecca Dolan | Aug 11, 2017 | Grooming

Men like colour too. Whether it's maintaining their youthful tones or experimenting with crazy shades, guys are increasingly growing their presence at the colorist. Zayn Malik has experimented with everything from platinum to rose, Wiz Khalifa is known to dabble in purple, and Steve Carell went back and forth on his grey hair before landing in full silver fox territory.

"There's no reason not to try it out and experiment with your look. It's not 'girly' to look your best, and colouring your hair can really do wonders for a guy," says Bumble and Bumble colorist Mai (just Mai). That's not to say that getting coloured isn't a weighty decision. It's an investment that takes time, effort, and attention. So don't show up to the salon empty handed—read on for the tips you need to make the right decisions.


Know Your Colour

To a degree, you should hand the reins over to your stylist. You are their calling card, so they definitely won't want you to leave the salon until you're happy. But some sort of idea about what colour direction you'd like to go in is helpful. "Find reference images of the hair colour that you like, ideally a few of them and bring them in for your initial consultation with your colorist," says Kara Hoskins, also of Bumble and Bumble. "If we know what specific shade and tone you're looking to achieve, we can figure out the best way for you to get as close to it as possible. And we'll give recommendations based on this, too."

Don't Try This at Home

You wouldn't cut your own hair (right?), so follow the same rules for colouring. Colorists are professionals and know a good deal about getting the shade right. "It is more expensive to go to a salon for your colour, but it's so important to see a colourist to make sure you get the right colour and without damaging your hair," says Mai. "Box colour always looks fake and flat, and it's nearly impossible to know what it will look like on your hair until it's too late."

Create a Cohesive Look

The best way to go about choosing a hair colour is to consider what fits your overall style. Skin tone and colouring are clues, but a good colorist can help you pull off a variety of shades. Thoughts about your personal style and aesthetic—for example, how you like to dress—should inform your colour choice. "If you are a bit more edgy with your style, you can be a bit more edgy with your hair colour," Hoskins explains. "But if you've got a suit-and-tie, white-collar type of job, colourful hair isn't something I'd recommend. Stick to natural colours and err on the side of caution with going blonde, unless you're blonde to begin with. Style and hair should meld together."

Don't Be Afraid of the Grey

Colouring isn't and shouldn't be just about covering up grey hair. "Men look great with grey hair. It's distinguished and elegant and earned… embrace it!" Mai says. But if your greys are something that you do want to downplay, it's better to approach as camouflage than as a total cover-up. "Less is more and it should look effortless, not intentional. Gray roots on dark hair looks terrible and ages you even more than grey hair would on its own."

Stay Dry

Before even arriving at your hairdresser, you should plan ahead for your bleach or dye. For three or four days prior to your appointment, stay out of the shower. This allows natural oils to build up on the hair and scalp, which serves as a natural barrier against chemicals used during the bleaching and dying processes.

Protect Your Mane

Coloring can come at the cost of some extra damage and dryness. If you have thinning hair, you're going to want to stay away from a heavy colouring job. "I definitely wouldn't recommend double processing (bleaching and toning to very light blonde) to guys with concerns about hair loss—bleach is a harsh chemical that can cause breakage," says Hoskins. And for guys of any hair type, it's good to follow up your salon visit with a regular conditioning treatment, at least once a week.

SHOP: Bb. Mending Masque, $18 (*SGD24.54),

Take Your Colour on the Road

Once you've got a perfectly coloured mane, you're going to want it to last as long as possible. A good colour requires proper at-home care to maintain its hue. You'll need to use a shampoo that's specifically designed for color-treated hair—one that will maintain the vibrancy of your colour and protect against dulling and fading. And make sure it's sulphate free.

For a bleach, purple toning shampoo is necessary to fight brassiness (i.e. yellow/orange tones). As its natural opposite on the colour wheel, purple works against potential yellowy pitfalls.

SHOP: Color Minded shampoo, $31 (*SGD42.27),

From: Esquire US