But while maintaining the hair color they had in 1965 may suit Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, most men today prefer to reduce gray, not eliminate it, spurred by marketers cultivating the attitude that a little gray may make a man look distinguished, but too much makes him look extinguished.Photo Mark Andreotta has his hair colored and highlighted by Kyle White, a colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon in Manhattan. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times
First sold in drug stores in 2008, Touch of Gray () was “designed to specifically meet the needs of boomer men who like the respect that their gray hair gives them, but want to reduce the amount of gray so that others can see their vitality,” according to information from the brand.
It is made by Combe Inc., also the company behind the Just for Men and Grecian Formula lines. Domestic revenues for Touch of Gray grew 15.5 percent in the 52 weeks that ended Nov. 28, to.3 million, according to Symphony/IRI Group, a market research firm (these figures do not include sales from Wal-Mart).
Consumer Reports sent 11 graying men on its staff home with Touch of Gray, and the majority thought it looked “quite natural” and would buy it, according to a 2010 article in the magazine, which also gave high ratings to another product, Clairol Natural Instincts for Men ().
For those seeking professional help, numerous men’s salon products have popped up that promise to remove some gray while stopping short of turning clients into Mr. Spock. In 2009, Redken for Men introduced an in-salon product, Color Camo, that blends away some gray, followed last year by similarly formulated men’s products by Paul Mitchell, Goldwell and American Crew. The treatments usually cost between and, well below the car-payment range many women pay for color treatments.
“I’m older, so people expect to see some gray, but you don’t want to give the impression that you’re so old that you’re over the hill,” said Gregory B. Wood, 65, a lawyer in Los Angeles who has been getting the Paul Mitchell treatment, Flashback, from Mr. Swaner every six weeks for about a year, leaving some streaks of gray in his hair.Photo A range of products from various companies, above and below, can be used to cover or brighten the gray at home. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Over the last year, Richard Limato, 59, of the Bronx, a school district administrator, has received Goldwell treatments, called ReShade, from his Manhattan stylist, Bradley Moreland, at Gemini 14.
“It enhanced my natural look and made the gray look secondary,” said Mr. Limato, whose brown hair retains flecks of gray after the treatment, particularly at his temples.
These new products tend to be demi-permanent, meaning that dyes cover gray only moderately and gradually fade away as hair grows, so they do not leave tell-tale demarcation lines near the scalp. (Darker roots can be particularly conspicuous with men’s shorter hairstyles.) The products also claim to minimize the yellowish or brassy tones that can crop up in dye jobs, since they contain little or no ammonia or peroxide.
The salon treatments are as short as five minutes and spare men the indignity of foils.
“You lean them back into the shampoo bowl, sit them back up and, voilà, you’re five years younger,” said Sue Arens, manager of operations and training director at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop, a chain of 51 barbershops.
Like many in the salon industry, Ms. Arens said that stylists who broach men’s gray do so delicately, avoiding the word “color.”Photo The new look is salt-and-pepper, not shoe polish. “We’re at a time when gray hair is considered stylish,” an editor at Esquire said. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
“We say, ‘We have a product that blends some of the gray out,’ ” Ms. Arens said. “Doesn’t it sound like less of a commitment than ‘color your hair’ — and aren’t guys commitment-phobes in general?”
Trevor Attenborough, the vice president for marketing at KPSS, the parent company of Goldwell, said: “You don’t say the word ‘color’ to men, ever. We say, ‘reduce gray,’ or ‘reshade.’ ”
At Supercuts, color services purchased by men (about 70 percent of the company’s customer base) have experienced double-digit growth in each of the last three years, with about three-quarters of men who color choosing to tone down but not eliminate gray, according to Melanie Ash, senior artistic director. “They don’t want their friends to run up to them and say, ‘Hey, what did you do?’ ” Ms. Ash said.
But Wendell Brown, senior fashion editor at Esquire, cautions men against any dyeing whatsoever.
“I’m not a big fan of men coloring their hair,” he said. “We’re at a time when gray hair is considered stylish and manly.”
Mr. Brown pointed to George Clooney, Anderson Cooper and David Gregory, the host of “Meet the Press,” as examples of “so many guys who are wearing gray well and who have a youthful attitude about it.”
Still, Kyle White, a colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon whose celebrity clients include Mariah Carey and Charlize Theron, said that in the last few years, his color appointments for men had grown from two or three a week to that many daily.
About 90 percent of the men retain at least some gray in their hair, which he recommends. As for the remainder, “those are guys who are maybe a little phobic about aging,” Mr. White said. “They would prefer to look artificial than to look old.”
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