by Patrick McIvor
With the start of June and Father’s Day just on the horizon, I was thinking a lot about men’s haircolor and how much it has not only changed but how it has also become acceptable and - even the norm - for many men. Not long ago, men’s color was just plain old bad. From "shoe polish" black, to weird orange and green undertones, what was supposed to look natural instead resulted in men with dyed hair receiving unwanted attention in the form of people whispering behind their backs, “You know he colors his hair.” But a lot has changed in the last decade and a lot more is changing every day. There are 3 things happening simultaneously that are creating a revolution for men’s color and style:
Many Men Today Grew Up With Haircolor
Unlike men of the past, who tended not to color their hair as a means of personal expression, Millennials are more comfortable with a different culture of individuality. If you were of the Millenial generation and a skateboarder, BMX biker, snowboarder, surfer or any extreme sport enthusiast, you probably colored your hair at some point when you were younger. If you were in a band, or even on a sports team, you may have colored your hair too. In our town of Nazareth, PA, the entire boy’s swim team decolorizes their hair and colors it blue for regionals every year. Haircolor may have been something you have done to fit in - never mind expressing yourself. For Millennials, haircolor for men is a natural thing to do. Millenials were born beginning from 1981/82 - right when MTV started (August 1st, 1981) - and they grew up seeing lots of men who had dyed hair that were idolized by many girls and boys. Now, as many Millennials are hitting their early to mid-thirties, color again is a natural thing to do.
Technology Has Changed
Remember the old SNL routine with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the diner where no matter what the customer wanted, it was “cheeseburgers?” Historically, haircolor for men was much the same way. There were limited options - black or dark brown covered the gray; most other colors turned orange or oxidized with a green undertone, and the out-growth could be as bad as the color itself. Once they had started, men had few options to stop coloring their hair - death, a very short haircut, or a very awkward grow-out. Now, however, the options for men are vastly more varied thanks in large part to advances in technology. From 5-minute colors that wash so gently away that even medium brown colors leave little to no lines of demarkation, to demi-permanent colors that can blend or cover gray, men have many more options today than they did before. Men also have permanent color options for lightening or darkening their color, as well as the ability to control unwanted undertones, meaning men can opt for a natural look, or go bold as an expression of their individuality.
Style Has Changed
Remember when trends meant everyone had basically the same look? Well that is as past as the past, and like the past I don’t ever see that coming back. You don’t get the same tattoos your friends have, you don’t drive the same car, so why would you have the same look? Techniques today offer so many options for haircolor, creating different looks for hair that is short, long, straight, wavy or curly. Hand-painting highlights with small brushes or wands can add a subtle highlight or some more pepper to a man's salt, while all-over color can be light, dark, natural or unnatural in tone, and foils create even more options.
Today, men and stylists alike have nearly infinite options for color and style, resulting in one-of-a-kind, on-trend looks. But my favorite part of men’s looks today, as a dad myself, is that my look can evolve - and it can also change radically. From clothes, to facial hair, to the shoes on my feet, to the hair on the head, today more then ever is a time in which dads can be cool and guys in general have more freedom with their look - no matter where they work or live, or what number their age. The more options they have, the more options we as barbers and stylists have in making right now a great time to be a guy.
Image courtesy of Patrick McIvor