Maybe it started out small, just a few gray hairs that you quickly plucked out. You probably thought that would take care of it, right?
Wrong. In fact, those suckers multiplied behind your back, and now you have an army of gray hairs that seem on the attack.
Sure, women may find a little sprinkle of gray in the beard sexy. And sure, gray is also a sign of experience and maturity, nothing to be ashamed of. Still, maybe you’d like to roll back the clock a little. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve been thinking “What would happen if I dyed my beard?”
Perhaps you thought about asking the woman in your life for her secret, but maybe she isn’t telling, or maybe you’ve thought better about asking. Besides, dying hair isn’t quite the same as dying a beard. So, just in case you do decide to take the plunge, here is all you ever wanted to know about coloring your beard.
What to Know Before Dying Your Beard
Going to a Professional Salon
Because dying your beard is a rather audacious undertaking, you might want to start by going to a salon for advice on colors and types of dye. A salon professional can also show you how to apply dye on your particular type of beard.
However, since most beards grow out so fast that they need a color touch-up every week or two, most men will want to eventually dye their beard on their own. Moreover, if you can take care of a beard, you should really have no problem learning to dye and maintain that color.
Be Prepared for Comments
Of course they guys will make comments, and hopefully the women too. Some people will like it, but you might want to be prepared for some razzing too.
Realize Dying Your Beard is a Commitment
If you shy away from making commitments, know that dying your beard isn’t a one time fling. While you can start with a temporary product that washes out, when you commit to a permanent product, you will have to keep it up.
Depending on how fast your beard grows, you may need to do touch-ups on the roots every week or so. Ever seen those “blondes” with dark roots? Yeah, that’s what you want to avoid on your face.
Be Careful to Follow Directions
This is your face, remember? So don’t just start slathering on the beard coloring without following the directions about testing for whether the product will cause an allergic reaction (think: great big welts all over your face), or protecting yourself from stains (imagine brown splotches all over your skin).
Temporary Beard Coloring
How do these work?
- Clean and comb your beard.
- Use the included brush applicator to apply the coloring on your beard all over, or just until you get the look you want.
- The coloring dries and you are set for the day.
- Wash out the color at night and apply again the next day.
- If you want to leave the color in and touch it up the next day, you probably can, but the dye rubs off on your pillow and sheets.
Of course, the disadvantage of these products is that they wash out, and you have to apply them every morning. Although that may only take 5 minutes, those are 5 minutes you could be spending getting a little extra shuteye.
Also, you do have to be careful about getting your beard wet and the coloring coming off.
Benefits of the temporary coloring?
- You don’t have to make a permanent commitment.
- You can use it just for a special occasion.
- Temporary coloring lets you try out different colors.
- Temporary colorings can help touch up roots in-between permanent dye jobs.
If moustache wax makes you think of an outlaw twirling the ends of his handlebar, think again. Moustache wax has made a trendy comeback.
Varieties with tints, like Clubman Brown Moustache Wax, allow you to both condition and color your moustache and beard. Waxes come in a variety of colors, including browns, red and black – so they can suit many kinds of beards.
The tint comes from henna, so the product slowly darkens hair over time, while the wax makes beards softer and thicker. This thickness can become a disadvantage if you don’t like the feel of the build-up over time. However, if you don’t like it, you can just use wax remover and conditioner.
Here is how to apply wax:
- Take a ball of wax and rub between your hands to heat it up.
- Rub the wax through your beard.
- Use a beard brush, toothbrush, or comb to distribute the wax evenly through your beard.
- Apply more wax for a deeper color.
- Remove wax with a wax remover and conditioner.
Permanent Beard Dyes
Ready to commit? Get one of the permanent dye kits.
While permanent doesn’t mean forever, most men can expect that they can go a week or two between dye jobs, sometimes more if your beard is longer or doesn’t grow too fast.
With a permanent dye, you can cover up the gray to match the rest of your beard, or completely change your beard color, letting you go darker, lighter, or even red and green for Christmas.
Some of the better permanent dyes for men are:
- RefectoCil: Generally better for sensitive skin, RefectoCil is used by most professional stylists for beards and eyebrows even though instructions in the package don’t always include men’s facial hair. RefectoCil comes in many colors. For more intense color or blonde beards, use RefectoCil Blonde Brow, which has a lightener to remove color. This product requires mixing the dye with an oxidant and removing stains from the skin with RefectoCil tint remover.
- Just for Men: While not as long lasting as RefectoCil, Just for Men is an easy-to-apply gel dye that is available in many drug or grocery stores. Some men report having sensitivity to the ingredients in this dye, but this dye remains one of the most popular and offers many color choices.
- Henna Beard Dye: If your sensitivity tests show that you can’t use the chemical dyes, you might want to try one of the henna-based products. Henna is more difficult and time-consuming to use, especially at first, but people who use henna swear by it and claim that it lasts longer than other dyes. Moreover, because it is less intense, henna black can be the best color for African American beards. Be aware that this dye requires a much longer time commitment. You have to mix the dye and leave it on for an hour or two, or for some colors even overnight, rather than just a few minutes. In addition, you have to be careful to use gloves and to avoid getting the henna on your skin because it can cause hard-to-remove stains.
Choosing a Beard Dye Color
O.K. unless you are going for a trendy “Esquire style” pink beard, you probably hope your beard dye makes you look better without attracting too much attention to the change.
So, how do you choose a color to get that “natural” look?
There are two ways to do this:
- Go Lighter: If your first inclination is to try to match your own beard color, be careful. Often our natural hairs are actually several different colors. It can be easy to pick a color that will look too dark when you put it on all over your beard. Most of the time, professional stylists suggest choosing a color a couple of shades lighter than your beard. However, choosing a lighter color may mean you have to do a couple of applications before you get the gray covered.
- Go Darker: If you are a gambling man, you might want to try a darker shade and hedge your bets by leaving the dye on for a shorter amount of time. The advantage of this method is that you should be able to color the gray to match the rest of the beard better, and the process can be easier to maintain and last longer. Just be careful to test the color every few minutes as you do the dying process.
How to Dye Your Beard
1. Gather all the materials you will need:
- Beard dye (make sure you have an oxidant if the product requires it).
- Rubber gloves (to protect hands from dye).
- Applicator (toothbrush, mascara type brush, small comb or beard brush).
- Paper towels or cloth towels you don’t mind getting stained.
- Vaseline or mineral oil to protect skin from the dye.
- Tint remover, if the product requires it (or try a homemade tint remover made from 50% bleach and 50% water, but test your skin for sensitivity first).
2. Prepare for Dying Beard:
- 24-hour ahead sensitivity test: Mix up some of the dye and put a dot behind your ear or forearm and let it dry. If using a tint remover, put a dot of that on also. After 24 hours, wash the area off with soap and water. If you don’t see any redness or inflammation, you are probably not sensitive.
- Wash beard: Your beard should be recently washed and dried with shampoo but no conditioner. Conditioners make it harder for dyes to penetrate.
- Shave and trim: Not only will this get rid of another weekly task, but it will also let you focus on whether you’ve got the right color or not on the hairs you want to keep. Shaving will also make it easier to keep the dye off the skin around your beard.
- Apply barrier: Put a thin layer of Vaseline or mineral oil around your beard to prevent the dye from staining your skin.
- Put on gloves: Protect your hands with latex or plastic gloves.
3. Beard Dying Procedure:
- Prepare the dye: Depending on the dye you use, you may just need to take off the cap, or you may need to mix the dye with water or an oxidant. Follow the package directions for amounts. Mix just enough to cover your beard once. Most dye packages can be used for several applications.
- Apply dye to beard: Use the brush in your kit, a toothbrush, or mascara brush to apply the dye on your beard. Be careful to cover all the hairs but try to avoid getting dye on the skin.
- Wait and Test: Look at the instructions on the dye package to see how long you should wait. Test the color after the minimum suggested time by using a paper towel or Q-tip to wipe off one section of your beard. If it isn’t dark enough, brush dye back on that section and wait another few minutes. Continue checking until your beard reaches a color you like. Keep track of the time so you’ll know how many minutes to wait when you dye again. Remember that the dye will probably fade a bit after the first couple of washings, so it is all right to have it a bit darker than you’d like at first.
- Rinse: Pour water on your beard until it runs clear. Dry with towels.
- Check Color: Not enough color? Reapply the beard dye and wait a bit longer. Too much color? Wash the beard a few times with a clarifying shampoo to strip some of the color off.
- Stains: Hopefully the barrier will mean you don’t have any stains on your face, but if you do, use a Q-tip soaked with tint remover to take it off.
Maintaining Your Dyed Beard
Sound like dying your beard is a lot of work? Luckily, keeping your colored beard in good condition isn’t too hard.
Since dyed beards tend to keep the color better when they aren’t washed too often, you may just want to rinse your beard. If you do want to wash, use a shampoo for color treated hair.
What happens when those dastardly gray roots appear? Time to apply dye again, but this time you don’t have to do the whole beard unless you think you need it. Follow the same steps as above but just put the dye on the areas that are gray. Rinse that off and you are ready to go.
After a few months, you’ll probably fall into a routine of dying that you can roll into your regular beard grooming.
And those comments you got at the beginning? After a while, everyone will get used to the new you. Better yet, if you keep it up, no one will even know when more of those gray suckers sneak up on you.