Some men are giving up their never-say-dye attitudes
US actor Richard Gere poses for photographers a few hours before receiving the San Sebastian Film Festival''s "Donostia" award in September.
CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper arrives at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's sixth annual benefit "An Enduring Vision" at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in September.
George Clooney's gray hasn't hurt his acting career.
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When it comes to gray hair on men and women, life is definitely not fair.
In the movie "Indiscreet," a 50-something Cary Grant looked "distinguished" in salt-and-pepper hair, while a 40-something Ingrid Bergman probably had to dye hers to please the studio.
Today, it isn't much different. A white-haired Richard Gere grins from the cover of the New York Times men's fashion magazine, while Jamie Lee Curtis, with her all-natural salt and pepper hair, has yet to make the cover of Vogue.
And CNN's anchorman Anderson Cooper notwithstanding, how many white-haired anchorwomen are on television?
Nonetheless, as baby boomer men confront aging, many of them are dyeing their hair rather than opting for the statesmanlike, silver-headed Bill Clinton look.
In some fields, gray hair on men is considered just as much of a no-no as it is on women, says Anne Kreamer, author of "Going Gray," who cited some friends who work in Hollywood as screenwriters.
"They've told me that if they didn't dye their hair they'd be perceived as too old to get hired," she said.
While the numbers are still relatively small -- it is estimated that only about 12 percent of men color their hair -- they are the next big target of hair dye companies faced with stagnant sales, Ms. Kreamer says.
Still, those companies face real challenges. For one, convincing men that purchasing hair dye doesn't require the same cloak-and-dagger moves as carrying something out of an adult bookstore. Nonetheless, one such product for men, Youthair, promises home delivery "right to your door -- without embarrassment."
Some companies are simply trying to make men feel as if they're really not dyeing their hair.
"Just For Men is made by men for men. It is not a women's hair color hiding behind a man's name. It's quicker and easier," says a pitch on a Web site for Just for Men, owned by Combe Inc., which doesn't make hair dye for women. "Women's hair color is designed to be dramatic, to help a woman get noticed. Just For Men is exactly the opposite."
It continues: "Women's products change the color of every hair on your head -- whether it is gray or not -- providing a less natural look. They also come in a variety of fashion colors, which are not appropriate for men who don't want obvious color changes."
For at least some baby boomer men -- at least for those who still have hair -- it's never say dye.
First Published October 8, 2007 12:00 am