I hosted The Career Summit, last month. I am really proud to be associated with awesome people who produced such amazing career advice & content. It was a very rewarding experience and the feedback has been great.
There was one moment during the summit, though, that caught my ear. One of our advisors suggested that baby boomers need to seem youthful and stylish. Hm. Okay. Yeah. Age works against all of us. As a piece of advice, she suggested that older people should consider dying their hair.
And I was like, “Hold the phone. No.”
Dying your hair is pretty risky advice. I’m the granddaughter of a beautician and a woman who hasn’t seen her natural hair color since 1988. Most hair dye in a box — which is what unemployed people can afford — is not meant to be applied to 50+ year old women (or men).
The colors look drab and dark. Hair dye won’t cover gray hair in a uniform way. And listen up — I’ve never been featured in a fashion magazine as an expert, but nothing is worse than when you have gray eyebrows and black hair.
Instead of dying your hair to seem younger, here are the top things you can do to freshen up your appearance.
- Get a good haircut. It’s the holiday season. Ask your family and friends to buy you a gift card to a really great spa or salon. Get a consultation before a cut. And if you’re a dude, stop getting your hair cut at Sports Champs USA and find a real salon in your area.
- If you want to dye your hair, get highlights. Most salons will charge you $7/foil if you just want a little blonde to lighten up your look.
- Drop the turtleneck. Listen, I am thirty-five years old and have the beginnings of an awesome turkey neck. I rock my waddle, but I understand that you want to camouflage those wrinkles. Unfortunately, the turtleneck ages you 20 years. Donate anything that makes you look like an ‘empty nester’ who has given up on fashion. Get thee to Walmart and get a good anti-wrinkle cream from Oil of Olay and stop worrying about your neck.
- Spruce up old wardrobe pieces by visiting a tailor. Ill-fitting pieces will age everyone.
- Wear nicer shoes. I know those orthopedic shoes are awesome. In any other situation, they would work fine with those black pants. For your interview or a networking event? Not so much. Payless or DSW can offer you nice, sensible, and more stylish alternatives. This applies to dudes, too.
- Get a new tie. Seriously, buddy.
- Limit accessories. Accessories can be tricky for the most stylish among us. For boomers? It can be a curse.
- Crest is your friend. Brighten your smile on the cheap. Skip the expensive dental whitening from the dentist and invest in good toothpaste and maybe a round of whitestrips.
- Have some confidence. I’m not kidding you. There’s nothing worse than a deferential older person. You’re not dead. You’re not weak. You have experience. You know the answers to these ridiculous behavior-based questions. Rock that interview or don’t waste my time.
I can’t stress enough that dying your hair — especially if you’ve never done it before — is a bad idea. If you are considering a dye job, consult with a colorist who knows what she’s doing. The wrong color from a box can end up costing you hundreds of dollars to fix.
Trust me on that. The last color correction I had was in 2008 and I’m still paying for it.
I am on vacation. This post originally appeared on this blog on December 9th, 2010.