Buzby and Blue’s Guide to Picking The Right Hair Colour For Men

Switching between hair colours for men is as common as choosing a shirt for the day. Ok, maybe switching colour requires a bit more work, but it’s right up there with fashion and accessories as a form of self-expression. For some guys, that means keeping a youthful look and dyeing their hair a colour closer to their own to conceal any greys, and for others, the more unique and wilder the colour, the better. Hair is just another avenue for someone to express themselves and let their personality shine, and we are loving seeing men embracing self expression through their hair colour more than ever. We love seeing men take risks with their hair colour/style and broadening the definition of masculinity. But no matter what your reasons are for wanting to change up your hair colour, there’s a lot to take into consideration before taking the plunge, from what kind of hair you’re walking in with to how much upkeep you’re willing to commit to. Getting the right hair colour for men is just as important as it is for women. We are here to help with a list of everything you should be taking into account before experimenting with your mane. 

What are the types of hair dyes?

There are three basic approaches to hair colours for men:

  • Semi-permanent hair colour sits on top of the hair and doesn’t penetrate the cortex, and as a result, it is less damaging than permanent colour. A potential downside is that it doesn’t last as long as permanent, fashion colours would be considered semi-permanent
  • Permanent hair colour penetrates the cortex and replaces your natural pigment. Over time the colour fades, but it never fully leaves the hair. Permanent hair colours for men last much longer than semi-permanent but can be more damaging. Permanent hair colour ranges from covering grey hairs to a full-on bleach job
  • Pigmented conditioners are newer to the scene, and unlike dyes, simply leave behind a touch of colour without the use of traditional dyeing chemicals. While the colour doesn’t last as long as permanent or even semi-permanent hair colours for men, they’re a great option for someone who doesn’t want to commit to a specific colour for more than a few washes to have a bit of fun with their hair for a festival or party

What to consider before dying your hair

There’s a lot to think about before delving into the world of hair colour, and if you are considering trying we are adamant about not skipping this part.
Hair health
The health of your hair can have a profound impact on the quality and integrity of the finished result, so if your hair is in bad condition and/or you’re not willing to step up in your haircare routine afterwards, you may want to reconsider dyeing it before it is in better health and can handle the potential damage dyeing it could cause.
Hair type
Since certain types of dyes can change the appearance of hair, the hair you start with may not be the hair you end up with. Anytime you colour or highlight hair, the cuticle is physically and permanently expanded, which is why, especially after highlighting, you will have more texture or volume to your hair. This means if you have thicker hair and go for bleach, you’ll end up with two to three times the density you had before.
Current colour
Depending on the look you want to achieve, it’s key that you remind yourself that the process may take one or more applications and might not be finished in one sitting. The process for someone with naturally blonde hair will be entirely different than someone with naturally dark brown hair. This is why it’s important to discuss your entire hair colour history with your colourist, even if you have virgin hair or have never colour treated it before. And don’t lie! Dyeing your hair at home with a box dye from Boots is much harder to remove or lighten than professional dye and can determine what colour can realistically be achieved.
Skin undertones
At the end of the day, you can dye your hair whatever colour you like, but if you’re going for a look that accentuates the rest of you, balancing your hair colour with your complexion’s undertones can give you a more complementary combo. To determine your undertones we recommend looking at the colour of your veins. Blue or purple is indicative of being cool-tones, while greenish veins indicate warm-toned skin. If you have a hard time discerning your undertone, it could be because you are neutral, meaning you have a mixture of the two. Cool-toned complexions are better suited to warmer hair colours, while warm-toned complexions are balanced by cooler hair colours for men. Neutral tones are most versatile because they generally allow you to have more shade ranges to choose from.
Budget and upkeep
We’ll get more into upkeep later, but as a general rule, the more complex the dye job, the more expensive it’s going to be and the more it’s going to cost to maintain in the long run. Always invest in good products to keep your hair healthy, and listen to your colourist’s professional opinion.

DIY or in-salon?

Everyone who has seen a box dye colour job can agree that when it comes to changing men’s hair colour, a salon is always the safer bet because so much can go wrong at home. But if you need convincing why you should ditch that box dye you just picked up, here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each.
Salon pros
  • Professional consultation: A professional stylist who is highly trained will help you every step of the way, from deciding on a hair colour to what your at-home care regimen should look like.
  • Professional results: Going down the salon route will lead to more even results, better tonality, healthier hair afterward, and incase something goes wrong, access to more products to prevent potential disaster.
  • Convenience: 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 colour-stained hands, it definitely worth it.
Salon cons
  • Cost: The only real con of getting your hair dyed in a salon is cost, as both the initial outlay and upkeep can add up, depending on the look you’re after.
DIY pros
  • It’s cheaper: The only real pro of dyeing your hair with box dye is that it is cheaper than visiting the salon. However, the results usually represent this and you may just end up wishing you had instead treated yourself to a better experience with better results with an experienced stylist.
DIY cons
  • Less-effective products: Hair dye that is available to the general public is obviously not as high-quality as what your stylist would use at the salon. It’s also usually full of dangerous chemicals and is just terrible for your hair. Your hair will take on a new texture and feel stiff or straw-like due to all of the chemicals it now has imbedded in the cortex. You will need to use some serious conditioning treatments to get your hair feeling soft again, and it probably won’t ever feel as soft as it once did.
  • One size does not fit all hair colours: Hair colour is not nearly as simple as most people believe it is. There are many considerations that need to be accounted for before developing the formula for any hair colour. Things such as the hair type, condition, colour, is it virgin or coloured, medications taken, allergies, and more are all factors that determine what should be used on the hair to get to the desired outcome. If you want a medium brown, you cannot just grab a box that says medium brown, slap it all over your hair and expect great results. (We know, it would be nice if it were that easy!). If you are currently blonde and want brown hair, the hair needs to be filled before the brown is applied. This means a warmer, copper, gold, or red colour needs to be applied first. Otherwise, the hair will turn a muddy/green/ash colour and fade extremely quickly. If you currently have black hair, the black needs to be lifted enough to take on the lighter colour. This is typically a corrective colour service and is a huge process that no one should be doing themselves at home. If you have a previous colour on your hair with roots growing in, you need to mix a different formula for the new-growth or else you will have two-toned hair. Even when using professional salon colour, we very rarely mix up one colour straight out of the box. Typically each formula is customised specifically for what we are creating. Trust us, there is a reason we hairstylists are required to have a license to practice hair; it’s because creating your dream hair is more difficult than you think and takes both time and a lot of care.
  • It’s risky: When dealing with hair dyeing products, which can often be caustic, you’re putting both your health and your hair’s health at risk. Not all colour results are fixable, and all it takes is one time to create irreversible changes.
  • Box dyes are progressive dyes: What is a progressive hair colour you ask? This means that each time you use it; the pigment will build onto itsself and get darker each time you apply the colour. Have you ever noticed when someone’s hair is lighter at their root, and their ends appear very dark or almost black? This is because of the metallic salts and henna additives, each time the hair is coloured; the ends pick up more and more colour while the new growth only has one layer. Causing a reverse-ombre, coloured your hair yourself at home, dye job gone wrong sort of look. This does not happen when you visit us because our hair colour does not contain henna or metallic salts that bind to the keratin in the hair (keratin is the protein that your hair is made up of). So in the salon while the colour is not always needed to pull through the ends each time, it will only get as dark as the level used even if it is. This is another reason why box dyes make for a much more difficult corrective colour service. If we need to lift and break through years of box dye, the ends may not ever lift as light as the rest of the hair because it has so many layers of progressive dye on it. Chances are the hair will break off before it will ever be a pretty light blonde tone.
  • You just shouldn’t be colouring hair yourself: As we mentioned earlier, there is a reason we spend multiple years training how to do all of this. Too many times have we received emergency calls because someone attempted to colour their hair themselves at home. Either the hair turned bright orange, green, or is falling out in chunks. When we do your hair in the salon, we have access to much higher quality products than you can pick up from the drugstore. We use additives that avoid breakage and contain heavy duty maximum strength conditioning treatments that are not available to the general public. On top of all the chemistry involved, we also learn the techniques needed to colour hair. As much as you would like to, you cannot use hair colour like you use shampoo. You will have tiger stripes and leopard print spots where you missed, especially in the back. Which will make it even more difficult for us to fix in the salon. Since box colour never turns out the way it looks on the box, 9 times out of 10 you are going to need to come into the salon for a colour correction. Corrective colour pieces are significantly higher than a typical colour because there is significantly more work and product required to keep your hair healthy and to get it looking pretty again. You just need to take our work and trust us when we say its worth waiting and saving the money to go to a professional salon than to attempt to colour your hair yourself at home with box dye.

What sort of upkeep can you expect?

To put it plain and simply: the more drastic the change, the more maintenance. Using colour-safe shampoo and conditioner is a must, and obviously making sure to avoid products that contain parabens and sulphates. We also recommend washing you hair less frequently to reduce fading, no more than twice a week, and using cold water, where you can, to keep the cuticle closed and colour intact. As far as colour upkeep goes, overall colour changes are the most difficult to maintain, such as from black to copper, and require monthly touch-ups in order to keep the colour looking fresh. Bold and bright colours also require a good deal of home maintenance, which can be boosted using a colour-depositing shampoo between salon visits. Blondes, in addition to frequent touch-ups, should use a purple-tinged shampoo to prevent hair from going brassy, and if you’ve had a toner treatment, you’ll need frequent touch-ups to keep your colour fresh.
The final Takeaway

Dyeing your hair can be the ultimate form of self-expression and freedom. Whether it’s a subtle change or an explosion of colour that becomes your personal style, make sure you approach it with intelligence and remember that sometimes spending a little more on the process will only mean that you will love the result more.