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A Guy's Guide to Hair Health

Guys, is that head full of gray hair making you look older than you feel? Then dye something about it. But first read our healthy hair advice.

You hear the name Dick Clark. What's the first thing that you guys think of? Americanhow men can treat gray thinning hair Bandstand? Dropping the New Year's ball in Times Square? Please, that's once a year.

It's the hair. Specifically, it's the hair dye. Which, incidentally, isn't so funny anymore is it? Hey, there's no shame in going the route of the "World's Oldest Teenager" and getting rid of that gray.

For many of us, maintaining that youthful glow means dying those gray hairs. We long to return to the sleek black Elvis look or bleach those hairs a southern California blond. But what will all this dying do to our hair?

Hair Loss
Don't worry about the dye causing a loss of hair or reduced growth. Leave that to nature or heredity. Dye won't knock the hair of your head. It will only cause it to break, which can be more detrimental to people with long hair than those with a short do.

"It breaks the cuticle and does damage hair," says Kathy Fields, a dermatologist at the University of California, San Francisco. "Part of the process uses bleaching agents, peroxides specifically, and ammonia. These are the agents that break the [hair] shaft."

Although the dye won't directly cause hair loss, it may injure the scalp. "It can burn the skin, or cause an allergic reaction, which may cause a welt which could lead to hair loss," says Fields. This is why home-dyers should always first test the dye on a patch of hair before dying the whole head.

Seek Professional Help
A good hair stylist can determine how strong your hair is, how much time the dye should stay on, and how often you will need a touch-up. "They can often tell just by looking at your hair or touching it whether it can handle [the dye]," says Eric Flick from the San Francisco-based Michael Roberts Haircutters.

If you have already tried coloring your own hair, and you are now unhappy with the results, go to someone who knows what they're doing. "The worst thing that you can do is overlap your hair," says Flick. Overlapping is applying dye to hair that has already been colored.

Less is More
The good news is that those of you with thinning hair might actually benefit from a dye job, says Flick. "Sometimes coloring the hair can make it look thicker, by making the hair shaft thicker."

If you have some gray going in the beard area, either embrace your gray or shave it. "I don't recommend using hair color on the face," says Flick. This is because the skin on your scalp is tighter and more durable than sensitive facial skin.

Blondes Have More Fun
When it comes to hair dying, they do. Those with dark hair need to have the color bleached out before they can go a light hue. "And that's very damaging," notes Fields. When blondes choose to go darker they also have an easier time of it. "If you have light hair and you're trying to go darker, that's less damaging because you're not adding the bleach and peroxide which will irritate the shaft."

Are All Dyes Created Equal?
If you don't want to dump a truckload of chemicals into your hair, then try some of the simple stains such as henna (a reddish-orange dye prepared from the dried and ground leaves of a henna tree). It rinses out over time, but offers highlights, tones and shine. It's also easier on the hair.

If you have some gray going in the beard area, either embrace your gray or shave it. "I don't recommend using hair color on the face," says Flick. This is because the skin on your scalp is tighter and more durable than sensitive facial skin.

Blondes Have More Fun
When it comes to hair dying, they do. Those with dark hair need to have the color bleached out before they can go a light hue. "And that's very damaging," notes Fields. When blondes choose to go darker they also have an easier time of it. "If you have light hair and you're trying to go darker, that's less damaging because you're not adding the bleach and peroxide which will irritate the shaft."

Are All Dyes Created Equal?
If you don't want to dump a truckload of chemicals into your hair, then try semi-permanent dyes. They're less harmful but you have to use them more often to conceal the gray. Here's one odd tip too. According to Health magazine, you can actually make your dye last longer (if you have dark hair) by putting two cups of cold coffee on your hair and leaving it in for 10 minutes. 

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