Men Get Into the Game of Shades

By Christina O’connor | Photography By Nathalie Walker

FOR YEARS, WOMEN HAVE FUSSED over their hair-teasing, straightening, curling or adding color. But times have changed, and these days, you’ll likely find a more even mix of men and women at any salon. Men are increasingly receptive to the idea of being pampered, and according to three top stylists in the Islands, hair color is a big part of that.

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“Nowadays, men love to do color,” says Thi Nguyen, the artistic director at W Salon.

But if you’re considering a dye job, the trends have changed. Gone are the days of chunky highlights on unkempt cuts. In this year are clean, natural and subtle looks.

“Looks today are more understated,” explains Nguyen. “Less is more for men.”

Rather than going for a complete color change, many men are opting to add color in a way that complements their natural tones, even if those natural tones are starting to include some gray. One popular trend is called blending, which involves mixing the gray with a darker or lighter hues rather than covering it up.

“This actually creates a little bit more dimension,” explains Jentry Petzold, the founder of Black Cat Hair Studio.

The blending technique is popular with working professionals, says Alan Vuong, owner of Salon Blanc, as it allows them to achieve a clean appearance that works well for the office.

Demi-permanent coloring is another popular technique that creates a natural effect. “Demi- permanent gives you a little more tone and shine,” Nguyen says. “It looks nice without changing too much.”

Dark solid colors, especially medium or wooden solid browns, are also in this year, Voung says. “We’re doing more darker tones, which bring out a man’s features a lot more and keep them looking refined.”

Nguyen notes that red, mahogany and auburn blends are also popular.

These clean and subtle looks are a vast departure from the days of faux hawks and highlighted spikes, which were popular up until last year. Petzold muses that the economy likely had a large role in the shift.

“I think with the job market the way it is … everybody is trying to exude a lot more professionalism,” he says. “If you are to really look at men’s trends right now, I think it’s going to be erring a little more on the conservative side.”

And for the busy professional, it isn’t only about the look, being able to style quickly and simply is integral. Gray blending and demi-permanent are both quick processes, meaning you can get the look without spending all day in the salon.

Besides achieving a neat, professional effect, different hair colors and subtle tones can really bring out a man’s natural eye color and skin tones. Stylists recommend colors that neutralize skin tones.

“If the skin tone is warm … we recommend something with ash or cooler. If a person has fair, or cooler, skin tones, we recommend something a little warmer,” Nguyen explains. “And we also really pay attention to eye color. We want to bring out the eyes. If a gentleman comes in with blue eyes, a nice golden touch of copper would bring out his eyes. And for brown eyes, a lighter chestnut brown hair color would make his eyes a little lighter looking.”

If you’d like to change your color but aren’t sure what to do, Petzold, Nguyen and Vuong all stress the importance of getting a thorough consultation with your stylist.

“Before we recommend something, we want to know guidelines of what they like, what they don’t like, where they work and lifestyle,” Nguyen says. “Then we can design the color and cut that is based on that.”

But above all, if you’re thinking about color, the best thing could be just to go for it.

“The first thing I would say is ‘don’t be afraid,'” Petzold adds.