A change in hair color can be emblematic of a shift in someone’s personal life, a fresh start or an attempt to hit pause on the aging process. Depending on the person, it may be a significant change that lasts for a while — or just till the next haircut.
For many men, it can feel like a chance to strut out a new look, or to signify that they are back on the market. That may have been a consideration for Bill de Blasio, the former New York City mayor: After 30 years of marriage, he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, revealed this week that they were separating. (The couple said they did not intend to divorce and would continue to live together for the time being.)
One of the major takeaways for readers who remembered his grayer days in Gracie Mansion, however, was Mr. de Blasio’s considerably darker hair. “I never anticipated ever doing anything with hair color,” he said in the interview. “But I like feeling what I feel.”
We spoke with hairstylists and colorists about what men should know before trying to banish the gray.
First, be sure you want to ditch the gray.
Garrett Bryant, founder of the Hawthorne hair salon in Manhattan, said he typically tried to talk his clients out of coloring their gray hair.
“I will admit that I am a big opponent of gray coverage,” he said. “It’s not that I have a daddy complex or anything, I just think that gray hair can be beautiful.”
Hair color for men can be tricky because their hair is often shorter than women’s, meaning less length in which a colorist can blend colors for a more natural look. You want to avoid any abrupt shifts in color.
“If you go too dark to try to completely cover the gray, you’re going to get very flat results; it’s going look all completely one color,” Mr. Bryant said. “That’s when it’s going to not look natural on you.”
Add a little pepper to your salt.
For first timers, it’s best to start small by camouflaging gray hair, rather than completely covering it. Blending allows for a more subtle and natural look.
Hannah Parsley, a men’s cut and color specialist at Takamichi Hair in Lower Manhattan, said she preferred to start off as minimal as possible when coloring her clients’ hair to avoid that “line of demarcation when their hair grows out.”
“You won’t get 100 percent coverage with blending,” she added, “but it’s a great way to kind of baby step into starting to color your hair and having it naturally get a little darker every time.”
Don’t just Google, consult a professional.
In the age of D.I.Y., it may seem simple to do a quick Google search or open up TikTok for references. Resist the temptation: It’s usually worthwhile to seek out a professional.
Garren, a hairstylist and co-founder of the hair-product line R+Co., recommends getting into specifics with your hair colorist before a single drop of dye is applied.
“It’s about figuring out the hairstyle you’re going to wear with it,” he said. “Like, if you’re going to color your hair, what’s your haircut going to look like? What’s your style? You have to have a conversation with your hair cutter, your colorist, and come to some agreement on what you’re going to feel comfortable with in your own skin.”
Mr. Bryant estimated the cost of professional men’s hair coloring in Manhattan to be $50 to $100. For Mr. de Blasio, it was almost certainly a good deal less.
Alberto Amore of Astor Place Hairstylists has been the former mayor’s barber since Mr. de Blasio was a freshman at N.Y.U., according to his bio. Although he declined to speak specifically about the Mr. de Blasio as a customer, Mr. Amore said on Thursday that he typically charged $20 for a dye job.
Be careful not to go too dark with box dye.
Neutral and ash colors tend to be the best route when coloring your own hair. You should also not go strictly based on the shades advertised on the box.
“The rule of thumb is that those colors tend to be one to two shades darker,” said Rita Hazan, the owner of a namesake salon on the Upper East Side. “So if you think your hair is dark brown, I would go with, like, medium brown. If you think your hair is medium brown, go to light brown.”
Going too dark can give you a regrettable shoe-polish look.
“I find that a lot of guys start doing it over the counter, and all of a sudden, they get themselves where it starts looking inky or too brassy,” Ms. Hazan said. “It overlays and absorbs and then it overlays and overlays to where it gets way too dark, and all of a sudden you see the roots growing out really quickly.”
Keep up the upkeep.
Maintenance is what will ultimately determine how long your hair color lasts. Mr. Bryant advises going to the salon every four to six weeks, but coloring can have a longer life if it’s well taken care of. Several hairstylists recommended Redken and Paul Mitchell products, adding that sulfate-free products could help avoid damaging hair color.