Everybody is familiar with progressive hair dyes for men -- products that build up to the desired color upon repeated use. There has been some question about the use of lead acetate as the developer in these products. (Some researchers worry about the danger of lead contamination to users and their children through hair and hands.) Professional colorists say they never use products containing leads because heads colored with these dyes can experience scalp burn when a conventional hair dye is used later. They say a special product must be used to remove all lead from the hair before traditional coloring.
On the other hand, manufacturers of Grecian Formula, GreyRemover and other progressive dyes say their products are safe because they contain small amounts of lead acetate (about 0.6 percent) -- amounts so small they can't be absorbed by the body if applied to a healthy scalp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the use of lead acetate in these small concentrations. So, educate yourself. Read the box carefully and if you have a question, call the company and/or a professional colorist. Or, you can do what many men are already doing: switch to women's hair color, which contains no lead acetate and comes in a much wider selection of products.
One of the newest trends among (mostly young) men is tipping, in which just the tops of their short, spiky hair strands are bleached or dyed (a la George Clooney and Ricky Martin) while the roots are left long and uncolored. L'oreal's new Feria for Men offers colors ranging from "goth black" to the most popular shade, "platinum blond." (Many colorists say they prefer working on guys because, if the color isn't quite right, the guys will often just tell them to shave it all off! Not likely with women!) Hair professionals are reporting that older men are getting that gray "erased" more and more often, citing the desire to remain viable in the ever-younger job market.