Hair of a different color

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There it is, right after the ad for Saturn and before the one for Reebok: "The end of boring color," it says. "Finally, dyes for guys." A young, very blond male in a gray suit peers out vulnerably, over the words, "Jakob's shade: Bleach Blonding."

Feria hair dye for men came out more than a year ago, but ads are now turning up in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Spin. They seem to be sending a reassuring message: "Hey guys, it's OK to dye your hair."

Punk rockers and style-setters of the male persuasion have been dying their hair for decades. But men coloring their hair is now mainstream - as in, "available at the supermarket."

"Men are seeing a lot of celebrities that are doing it," says L'Oreal spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens. "Everyone from Ricky Martin to Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath to Jason Priestly to George Clooney. A lot of sports figures have done it, and not just Dennis Rodman."

The only difference between the male and female products is a slight variation in quantity: The male Feria is 2 ounces versus 2.4 for the women.

"It's the same thing as Feria for women; we're not trying to hide that fact," Ms. Stephens says. "It's in the women's hair color section. You'll find the men's interspersed there. But it does tacitly say that it's OK for you to do this and you're looking in the right place."

Where does that leave the rebels? Johnny Hawkins, singer for the Dallas band Novachrome, has been coloring his hair since he was a Mid-Cities kid experimenting with Kool-Aid.

"One of the appealing things about buying Nice 'N Easy at Tom Thumb was that it had girls on the front," he says. "When you're a teenage boy and you're grabbing a product with some middle-aged woman on it, you feel like you're stepping out of line. It wouldn't be as much fun if there were a picture of some boy on it."