NEW YORK — Half of men currently have gray hair (49%), and many of them are quite self-conscious about it (44%). That’s the conclusion from a survey of 2,000 adult men across all generations that looked into how they deal with natural changes to their appearance that come with aging.
Results show that most men who have gray hair worry that it makes them look older (70%). Another 42 percent are concerned about others’ opinions, specifically that other will see them as less attractive with gray hair.
While going gray can be something that some start to see as early as their 20s, Gen Xers and baby boomers shared that they weren’t comfortable being gray until they were nearly 50. Perhaps this is why 38 percent opt to cover up their gray hair.
Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with L’Oreal Paris, the survey also found that more than half of American men sometimes feel insecure about their overall looks (56%). Millennials feel the most self-conscious about their physical appearance (78%) versus 62 percent of Gen Zers and 55 percent of Gen Xers.
The data suggests that men, on average, feel insecure about their looks three times a week, worrying about several different things, including their weight (37%) and how their eyes look (22%). While nearly two-thirds of all respondents like their overall natural look (64%), 56 percent feel less confident when they’re not looking their best.
One of the top concerns for millennials (34%) and Gen X men (39%) is going gray, which can contribute to why 45 percent of men admit they sometimes feel pressure to look younger than they are. Millennials (88%) and the silent” generation born between 1928 and 1945 (79%) especially worry about looking as young as other men in their age range.
“The physical, outward signs of aging can be an emotional journey,” says Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, L’Oreal Paris international spokesperson, in a statement. “We are all on our own paths and embracing the process can mean many things – for example, some may feel confident and empowered by going completely gray, whereas others feel the same way about applying hair dye. Ultimately it’s important to be the best you can be, at any age, and only you can define that for yourself.”
Half of all men add they put more effort into maintaining their looks than others may think (51%). More than a third of respondents spend over half an hour a day trying to look their best (36%), with Gen Xers and millennials putting in the most time.
Compliments are the best reward
Looking and feeling their best varies across the generations, with Gen Zers prioritizing showering (48%) and picking out nice clothes (39%). Meanwhile, baby boomers shave (34%) and style their hair (33%) to get that extra boost of confidence.
It’s no surprise, then, that 61 percent of respondents believe receiving compliments helps them feel more confident.
“As a barber and colorist, I see first-hand the impact that appearance can have on one’s confidence,” says barber Rob McMillan. “Men are often overlooked in this aspect, but in reality, they can just as impacted by women. If my clients choose to cover their grays, I always encourage them to make sure it’s coming from within and not because they feel pressured by external factors.”