Much like women’s colour, the most requested look for men right now is natural. Gone are the days of chunky blonde highlights, in favour of simple shades, mostly designed to blend away grey. Michelle Pargee, owner of Milica SalonSpa in Langley, B.C., estimates that 15 to 18 per cent of her male clients get colour, while 90 per cent of female clients have it done. “It’s still an untapped market,” she says, although it has strengthened over the years. “When I worked in the ’80s, maybe one man in 100 had something done colour-wise.” Here are four tips for approaching colour with male clients.
1. Keep it cool.
For grey blending, a key to keeping it looking natural is to focus on cool, ashy tones. “Most men who get their hair coloured don’t want to look like it,” says Pargee. Phillip Elliott, of Chrome Hair Design in Calgary, agrees. “The biggest thing I’m doing is grey blending; nothing too bright or in-your-face,” he says. “The moment you introduce any kind of red tones, it starts looking a little artificial.”
2. (Natural) Ombre is for men, too.
When a client wants something natural, but a little different, Elliott resorts to something he likens to shoe shining. “Instead of highlights, I get the hair standing up and then just dust the ends with colour. It’s a kind of ombre,” he says. The key is keeping the service short. “Anything that takes longer than 15 minutes [to apply] gets to be too flashy and too much. I just take them a little lighter on those ends—a max of three shades—to get that bit of sun feeling,” he explains.
3. Make them comfortable.
Think about the words you use when approaching your clients about colour. “We ask them, ‘Would you like to try a little bit of grey reduction?’ Then, we tell them it’s something we put in at the sink to take out some of the grey. If they like it, we tell them we can do it each time they come in,” says Pargee. “Men are looking to give themselves an edge. This gives them a younger, fresher feel, and they’re looking for that.”
4. The future of men’s colour.
Elliott—who says about 20 per cent of his male clientele get colour—sees no increase in colour services right now, with highlights for men having been phased out in popularity. Pargee agrees, although she is interested to see what happens in the next 10 years. “Right now, the six- to 12-year-old boys are really adventurous; they’re just awesome!” she says, referring to the shaving, colourful hair tattoos, faux hawks, mohawks and bright colours they’re asking for. “Everything they’re doing is so socially acceptable and cool in elementary school. That makes me wonder what men’s hair is going to look like when they grow up. There are no rules for them. I think 10 years from now, men’s hairdressing is going to be spectacular.”
Photo: Hair Didema, Milan, Italy; Photos: Steffano Bidini