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There are two reasons a man will color his hair: to work with what he has or for the sake of fashion.

If you're in the former camp: Less is more. Add a little pepper to the salt, but don't try to return to the solid chestnut of your youth. Color enhances color, so an unnaturally dark head of hair will only exacerbate your age spots, defeating the original goal.

When you visit the salon, have your hair trimmed first, dyed second. Use only semi- or demipermanent color, and keep in mind: The salt-and-pepper look requires commitment. It takes only five to ten minutes for men's dye to blend in with the grey, but chemically -- because it's not being allowed to fully form -- the shade will eventually turn into an unsavory golden-green or gray color. Figure on going in every two to three weeks.

When it comes to rocking more adventurous color, the platinums and pinks, it's a question of skin tone and commitment -- and whether you can pull it off. Fair-skinned guys tend to look better with blonder hair, as do former towheads. Ask your stylist for their advice. Then, prior to your appointment, lay off the heavy pomades and don't shampoo for a day to allow your natural oils to build up, which will soften the bleach's sting. The process will take several hours. Plan on getting touch-ups every three to four weeks to maintain a blond look and four to six weeks for other colors.


Skip shampooing for about 24 hours. After that, use a color-treated shampoo, like She Uemura Color Lustre Sulfate-Free Brilliant Glaze shampoo ($48), and tepid water, as hot water fades color. Moisturize with Aveda Men Pure-formance conditioner ($21), which will sooth any scalp irritation caused by coloring. If you're going platinum, use Redken Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Violet conditioner ($32) at least once a week to fight off brassiness. Since bleaching weakens individual strands, you'll need a strengthening leave-in like Nioxin System 4 scalp treatment ($25) with SPF 15, which will condition while saving you from sunburn. Platinum hair will pick up the color of any product, so find a clear pomade like Baxter of California Soft Water pomade ($20) for light-hold styling.

- Rodney Cutler, with thanks to salon colorist David Stanko
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