The Esquire Guide to Coloring Your Gray Hair

Not everyone can rock the George Clooney 'do.
IMAGE Getty + D. Dipasupil

It’s generally accepted among those who deal with prematurely graying hair that very few of us can pull off a Richard Gere or a George Clooney without being asked for a senior citizen’s discount card.

However, contrary to popular belief, graying hair is not always a result of aging. Both men and women can have gray hair at different points in their lives. In men, the onset of gray hair can start as early as their pre-teens, to their mid-50s, or beyond.

The occurrence is fairly common. Graying happens when cells in hair follicles called melanocytes produce less pigment called melanin. The more melanin, the darker the shade. The less melanin, the grayer—or more transparent—the hair strand is.

Today, there are better options for those who prefer to project youth and vitality. According to Mike Llanto, senior stylist and expert colorist at Emphasis Salon, more and more men are down with the idea of going to the salon to have their hair colored. It doesn't have to be difficult. He breaks it down for us.

1| Pick colors that are within one or two shades outside your natural hair color. For black hair, choose black, dark gray, or even dark brown, and these would still look natural.

2| The key, as with a lot of things, is subtlety. What you want is for your hair to look as close to natural as possible. And equally important, your newly colored hair has to look healthy and alive—ideally not with streaks or highlights, but with a natural-looking shine.


3| There's a fine line between short, colored hair and a brand new paint brush. A professional like Mike would not only know the right techniques to use, but also how to properly take care of your scalp to ensure you still have hair to worry about many years from now.

4| Do it yourself. If you are still on the fence (or the kitchen or bathroom sink) about going to a salon, there are a number of do-it-yourself options that won’t hurt your budget, your looks, and your pride. There's Phyto, the Paris-based haircare company that advocates the use of plant-derived ingredients for hair health. Its Phytocolour line consists of permanent hair colors that use only botanical pigments, which are said to last longer than synthetic colors. These ingredients lock in pigments and leave hair glossy, supple, and, most important, strong.

5| If something is hard to pronounce then it’s probably not good for you. This is a general rule that applies to hair, too. Phytocolor is free of para-phenyenediamine, resorcinol, parabens, and oils that may be harmful to your hair and scalp.

6| How to do it at home? Start with a shampoo to clean the hair; then, an application of Huile de Ales, an intense hydrating oil treatment that hydrates, smoothens, and restores radiance; another round of shampoo; use Phytocolor, and then a final round of shampoo.

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No, you're not this guy, either.

It will probably be the most shampooing you’ll ever get in just under two hours, but it’s far from being complicated. And that spells the difference between trying too hard and just trying to be the best that you can be.

Emphasis is at Rustan’s Makati, Makati City. 

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