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How to dye your beard or facial hair at home

Dyeing facial hair is quick, painless, and easy.
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Men, let's face it: Gray hair isn't fun. Sure, there may have been a time when a touch of gray made a man look distinguished but, in this age of manicured fingernails and Botox-injected foreheads, who cares about looking "distinguished"? Most men encounter the first gray hairs in the beard and mustache. Plucking these hairs out with tweezers may work for a while but, sooner or later. you will have to take more drastic measures, such as using hair dye.

Since most men are clueless when it comes to coloring hair, here's a brief primer on dyes and how they work. Dyes generally come in three varieties: temporary, permanent and semi-permanent. Temporary dyes are the weakest; they merely coat the hairshaft with color. These dyes usually wash out in a few days. Permanent dyes, on the other hand, work by depositing color molecules into the cortex (or middle layer) of the hair, thereby allowing the color to last longer. Only permanent dye has the ability to completely cover gray hair. Semi-permanent dyes last longer than a temporary dye, but aren't as long-lasting as a permanent dye. While semi-permanent dyes cannot completely cover gray hair, they do have the ability to "blend" gray hair, which makes it a popular choice for those looking to remove some, but not all, of the gray.

Depending on the type of product, it may be necessary to mix the dye with an activator of some sort; usually a hydrogen peroxide solution. This solution (often called a developer) is used with most permanent hair color. Some dyes may require mixing, others may not. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's directions when it comes to mixing the product and the processing time. Some types of dyes may get too dark if they are left on the hair too long.

Once you have selected and mixed your hair dye, it is time for the application. This is where the talent comes in, and this is the reason why hair salons are in business. A sloppy application will make or break your appearance, and this is especially true when applying dye to your face. Hair dye can and will stain the skin, so don't think you can shave off your facial hair if you make a mistake. It is a good idea to apply petroleum jelly with a cotton swab to the surrounding skin to prevent it from being stained by the dye.

When applying dye to short facial hair, the best tool a disposable mascara wand. These wands are dirt cheap and you can usually buy a bagful of them in the beauty aisle at your local dollar store. If you don't know what mascara wands look like, ask a woman to show you. Unlike a brush, mascara wands allow you to place the dye directly to the hair without staining the skin. If you decide to use a brush, an old toothbrush works very well for short facial hair.

Finally, the dye must be allowed to process. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour, depending on the type of dye being used. Always follow the directions. Some people believe that the dye will cover the hair better if it is left on longer, but this is not always the case.

There you have it, gentlemen; everything you need to know about dyeing your beard and mustache at home. Armed with this knowledge, you now have the ability to keep the ravages of time at bay. All you have to do now is go to the store and pick out a color.