Hair Color and Creative Expression

Everywhere we look, people are trying new ways to express creativity through their hair. And, why not? There are so many ways to change it up, and if you decide you want to try something new, you can always cut it and start again! Now more than ever, men are embracing the idea of trying new hair colors. We spoke to Alyssa, Senior Barber at our Williamsburg location, about this exciting trend. 

What are the top reasons a guy might want to dye his hair/change his hair color? 

In the past, a top reason for men to change their hair color would be to cover their grey hair. Men used to want to hide signs of aging. Now that there has been a welcome shift in beauty standards, and people are more accepting of the changes our bodies go through as we age, men are more comfortable with a salt and pepper look. I see more men embracing self-expression and experimenting with fashion colors and unique designs than ever before. Also, the pandemic has forced a lot of people to work from home, allowing men to ease up on their professional appearance and experiment with their hair. 


What are the most popular types of hair dye available today?

Semi-Permanent - Semi-permanent hair dye sits on top of the hair and doesn’t penetrate the cortex of the hair. Because of this, semi-permanent is less damaging than permanent color, but doesn’t last as long. Fashion colors would be considered semi-permanent.

Permanent - Unlike semi-permanent, permanent hair color penetrates the cortex of the hair and replaces your natural pigment. Permanent color never really leaves, just fades over time, so it lasts much longer than semi-permanent, but can be more damaging. Permanent hair color is what you would need for grey coverage. Bleach would be considered permanent as well.

Pigmented Conditioners - This is a newer product that has gained popularity recently. It is not a hair dye, but a highly pigmented conditioner. They do not contain any chemicals like traditional hair color. Pigmented conditioners do not last nearly as long as semi or permanent, but are a great option for someone who doesn’t want to commit to any specific color for more than a few washes.

 What are some key factors to consider before dyeing your hair?

Undertone of your skin - Does your skin have cool or warm undertones? The easiest way to figure this out is by looking at the color of your veins. If they are blue/purple, then you are cool toned. If they are green, then you are warm toned. No matter what your undertone is, you should aim for a hair color that is opposite and compliments your complexion. For instance, if you have a cool complexion and have more redness in your face, you should go for a warmer hair color that will help achieve a more balanced and complimentary appearance.

Your current hair color - This is important. If you have dyed your hair before, be prepared to give your entire color history to your stylist and don’t lie! Also, who dyed it is very important. Dyeing your hair at home with a box dye from CVS is much harder to remove or lighten than professional dye and can determine what color can realistically be achieved. Even if your hair is virgin, you need to do some research on what it would entail to get your hair to the desired color, and decide if it’s something you are comfortable with. For instance, if you have black hair and want to lighten it to a shade of blonde, bleaching your hair would be necessary in order to lighten it to an appropriate level and then hair color would be applied. So, while the hair color might be semi permanent or demi permanent, the bleaching is permanent and will not fade.

The health of your hair - If you are someone who doesn't take great care of your hair or is not willing to change up your hair care regimen, maybe reconsider dyeing your hair. Colored hair requires special products such as color safe shampoo/conditioner, leave-in treatments to help with color damage or dryness and more trips to the salon than you might be used to. If your hair is thinning, hair color is not necessarily off the table, but try to avoid bleaching. Bleaching your hair can weaken the integrity of your hair and cause breakage, which enhances the appearance of thinning hair.

These are just a few of the initial factors to consider. I can’t stress enough how important it is to consult with a stylist who will take all necessary factors into consideration and guide you. 

 Are certain colors easier/more difficult to maintain?

Yes. Highlights or colors closer to your natural hair color are easier to maintain, since the grow-out will look more natural and less stark. Also, as the color fades it won’t be as apparent. Anything more than two levels above your natural hair color will not grow out as natural looking, so it’s important to get your color retouched when it’s time (don’t wait or put it off). Fashion colors fade rather quickly, especially pastels, so be prepared to retouch your color frequently.

What are the pros/cons of getting your hair dyed in a salon?

Pros - From deciding on a hair color to determining your best home care regimen, a professional stylist who is highly trained will help you every step of the way. The most important part is that they will be performing the service instead of you, who most likely didn’t get professional training in cosmetology. You will have access to salon grade products that only professionals can purchase and use. The convenience of being able to walk into a salon and walk out a few hours later looking amazing and with no mess in your bathroom and no color stained hands is worth it, trust me! 

Cons - Depending on what look you are trying to achieve, as well as the length of your hair, prices for color services can get up there, but if you want it done right, it really is worth the investment.

What are the pros/cons of DIY dyeing your hair at home?

Pros - Dyeing your hair at home will save you money, since you will only need to buy the products and tools, and will not have to pay someone for their time and expertise.

Cons - The quality of the hair dye that is available to the general public is not as high as what your stylist would use at the salon. With that said, outcomes of the color service could vary tremendously and you are prone to more hair damage. By doing your hair yourself at home, you are going to realize that professionals at the salon make it look much easier than it actually is. Dyeing your hair at home can be extremely messy and difficult to do on yourself. Just think about how you will do the back of your head… Dyeing your hair at home can also end in disaster if you're not professionally trained, since you could potentially over process your hair and damage it. 

Here are some tips and tricks for dyeing your hair at home and at-home maintenance of your salon dyed hair:

*Avoid buying any hair color from a drugstore or big box store. Instead, go to a beauty supply store that is open to the public (not just professionals). While the products aren’t  the same high grade you would find at a salon, they are much better than what you would get at the drugstore. Sally Beauty Supply is one great option for all your color needs.

*Wear gloves and a cape. Hair dye can get messy and it can be a real pain to get off your hands. It will also ruin your clothes. 

*Read the directions. This should be obvious, but trust me, many people don’t bother to, and wind up with a result they did not want. Each product line is different, so it’s not one size fits all. Read the directions on how the manufacturer wants you to mix and apply the product. Ratios are very important for hair color, so be sure to measure out color, bleach or developer. Eyeballing is not sufficient. 

*Do your research. Watch some YouTube video tutorials from stylists, giving you step by step directions on how to color your hair at home.

*Blondes and fantasy colors require the most upkeep and at home maintenance. Highlights or dyeing your hair to a level closer to your natural hair color will grow out more seamlessly and will allow you to wait longer in between appointments. Blonde tones over time will naturally get brassy, so you will need to introduce a purple shampoo into your hair care routine to help balance it out. If you are getting a toner applied, you will need to go in for touch ups more frequently to refresh the toner.  If you are going a much lighter shade than your natural color, your roots are going to be more apparent. Fantasy colors tend to fade quicker than natural colors, so you will need a color depositing shampoo or conditioner to help refresh the color at home in between visits to the salon. 

*No matter what color you decide on, you need to invest in color safe products. It makes a world of difference in the longevity of your color and the health of your hair. Color safe shampoo and conditioner is a great place to start. Make sure there are no parabens or sulfates in the products. For after care, a leave-in conditioner is great for adding moisture back into the hair. For styling, Fellow Styling Cream is a great option. It is extremely hydrating, but has a light, natural hold. 

*The way you wash your hair and the frequency of washes should also change. The more you wash your hair, the quicker the color will fade. I suggest shampooing no more than twice a week. Also, make sure you are using cold water when washing your hair. Warm water opens the hair cuticles, allowing the color to wash out easier. When the water is cold, the cuticle closes and the color will not wash out as easily. You can always condition your hair, even when you aren’t shampooing it, just to get some added moisture.

  Any final thoughts on hair color? 

When I started dyeing my hair, I felt like the truest form of myself. It was like the missing puzzle piece I was looking for in regards to self expression. Being able to dye my hair different colors allowed me to change up my look without actually having to change up my hairstyle. The possibilities are endless with hair color and you can have so much fun with it. Even if it is a subtle change, it could really pull together your personal style and take it up a notch. I love seeing men take risks with their hair more than ever before and broadening the definition of masculinity. 

Keep in mind, dyeing your hair might look easy, but it really isn't and the possibility of damaging your hair always exists. It is best to seek out a professional and do your research. Find a stylist who does color and has experience with the color you are looking to achieve. There are stylists who specialize in certain colors like blondes or fantasy colors. Lots of stylists use Instagram as a public portfolio, so always check out their work to make sure they are a good fit for you.

*all photos provided by Alyssa Bachowski