Dye Right

19 October 2012
Author   J.W. ASHEEKE

If you are going to dye; then do it right.

WHEN I see our distinguished 50+ year-old men at work in a sharp suit and colour coordinated ties and their wing-tipped shoes and briefcases, but with hair far too black to be anything close to natural, I cringe. You know from previous articles that I like seeing a sharp dressed man (remember that old rock song from the band, ZZ Top?); for me, a good lookin’ mature man is eye candy.
But, my brothas and uncles out there, please go easy on the black hair dye.
Grey hair is like a platinum crown of victory. You earned that grey hair with hard work, taking care of your business, loving and respecting your family, being responsible, and dealing with cultural/community obligations. Each grey hair on your head is a sign of the love, strength, smarts, power, care, inner tears, worry, concern and commitment. So, what is there to hide?
If you won a trophy, you’d want that on the front page of the newspaper and you’d put that statue or medal in the most prominent place in your house. You’d welcome a party in your honour and you definitely would include that award on your CV and why not? You have earned that honour and earned the right. Your grey hair is a trophy. You won it – so flaunt it!
The basic rule of balance has to be this: If your jowls are drooping, your teeth and the whites of your eyes have yellowed, your finger disappears in the folds of your neck, your forehead has more than three lines, and your hair is jet black like someone from Asia or an American Indian, you look funny.
You are not Asian and you are not 25 anymore, so accept it, and make the best with what you have. Don’t fool yourself. The people around you see that you are out of balance and that you look funny. This subject is hard to bring up, even among good friends, so they notice how funny you look, but usually say nothing (at least, not to your face.)
Guys, if your eyebrows, beard and moustache are grey or salt-and-pepper and your hair is jet black, you look funny. So, if you do decide to hide your trophy of life (your grey hair), then at least take the time to do it right – make it balance. It is not so sexy to see a sharp dressed, good-lookin’ mature man of dignity with his hair and scalp blackened like soot.
My girlfriends and I were talking about this subject and it was suggested that some of the middle-aged men who do these horrific tar-black dye-jobs are going through a Mid-Life Crisis. They are afraid of getting older and they notice they have less energy all around.
They have aches and pains just getting out of bed each morning. Inside their minds, they believe the best years of their lives are behind them. So, they go to the dye bottle because they have wives or girlfriends who are much younger or, they want to attract a younger woman so they can prove to themselves that they are still virile. A few get misdirected and become sugar daddies just to be used and tossed away.
Still others buy a fast sports car that is for a much younger man. Other middle-aged guys start dressing like they did 30 years before, or they begin hanging out at night. And then there is hair dye. They dye their hair black as if that rolls back the age clock and the 20 kilos extra they have around their beer bellies won’t be so noticeable.
You mid-life crisis guys take note: after your fling on the wild side, and you wake up with the stiff legs and arms that come from over-exertion, headaches from hangovers and blurry eyes from Viagra withdrawal, you must realize that mature and experienced is far better (and safer!) than young and stupid.
Women out there, this hair dye thing includes US.
I plead guilty of taking some of my grey hair away before I have my soft dread extensions put in. I always leave some grey in, because that fits my face. A crown in one thing, a hat is another.
The rule is this: if hair dye is what you WANT (don’t ever do it for someone else’s sake!). If it fits your middle age physique and facial situation (wrinkle quotient) and skin colouring, if it improves your job/career prospects, go for it.
The key is to get it in balance. If you’ve got the 65 year old neckline, age spots, bulging veins in your hands, forehead wrinkles and greying complexion, then have hair that matches! Blonde flowing hair on a 60 year old, doesn’t work – you look funny. Salt-and-pepper coloured braids on a 60 year old might fit better. Watch those henna rinses. They do cover some grey, but the reddish/auburn tint may not fit your skin tone. Blue-grey rinses for older women are always a mistake – leave that for 20-year-old punk-rockers.
Grey hair is a gene thing. My mother’s sister turned full grey before she was 30. She was embarrassed when her daughter’s friends called her a grandmother rather than a mother. In her case, I understood her decision to dye her hair until she was actually a grandmother.
I know grey hair is somewhere on my DNA and that of my children and I accept that just like I accept that a younger looking face into old age is also a genetic trait in my family. My grand Aunt Miriam used to say: “Black don’t crack” to explain why at 75, she could pass for 50.
Hair dye does make sense in some cases. But, if you are doing to do it, then do it right. Go to the experts at salons who know what they are doing. They can even take some grey out and leave some in – they can make shades of grey also.
They will match the grey to your face and facial hair and give it a more natural look. The people who know how to dye hair will not dye your SKIN on the scalp! They will dye the hair. This is important. So many men I see with the jet-black hair have dyed the skin on their scalps as well! That is a dead give-away that the dye-job is unnatural.
Please stop buying that boot-black nonsense out of the stores and making a mess at home in your bathroom sink. I once saw a guy with the soot black hair and 70 year-old wizened, wrinkled face but with his hands and fingernails black from the dye job he did at home. He looked silly and that was a shame because for such a salt-of-the-earth, mature man, he deserved better.
Then there is the competitive job market. It is true that experience is sought after in the higher management positions. Ageism and sexism reigns in this world.
A grey-haired woman has less of a chance at a higher paying executive job than a grey haired man. A man with grey at his temples tends to be largely perceived as experienced and someone who evokes confidence – a woman with a grey crown is a Granny who needs help to get to her chair.
Sometimes to get that new job or that promotion, you may need to look vigorous. A neat, appropriate hair dye-job may be in order along with a healthy physique, alert eyes, strong voice, and a command-and-control persona. No one will hire, promote or give a new long-term project to a team leader that looks like Santa Claus.
So, people out there – dye right.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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