When most guys secretly, shamefully try to dye their hair and something goes wrong, they pull on a ball cap and hope no one will notice. In Carl Sandler’s case, a bad dyeing experience led him to launching his own company — after he’d had to take out the scissors.
Sandler is the founder of True Sons, which is billing itself as the first premium, at-home hair dye for men. Earlier this summer, the company began marketing itself with a video spot set in a funeral parlor to play off its tagline of “dyeing like a man,” that puts humor into an area of men’s grooming that is normally tinged with embarrassment.
According to Sandler, part of the problem is that most of the products available at drug stores and the like are cheaply produced and involve a process of mixing chemicals and hoping for the best. He knows because he tried it — and he says it was the worst.
“Later I realized the problems I had were shared by so many people. I started really thinking about what a consumer living in a place like New York City would want, which is an easy experience that really reflects who I am.”
True Sons took three years to design what Sandler describes as an oxidizing hair form which doesn’t require a developer (the chemical you normally have to mix with other products). Besides working more quickly, he said the dye avoids the strong smells and “shoe polish sheen” of drug-store dyes. He likens the line, which is available in six different shades, to shaving foam. “If you can shave, you can dye,” he said. “For men, the worse thing if you dye and all your friends notice. They’re afraid of being laughed at.”
Like Dollar Shave Club, Me Undies and similar services, True Sons is offering its products as quarterly or monthly subscription packages, which means avoiding going back repeatedly to a store to pick up more dye — because who want’s to go through that, right? Sandler said the company is also offering online tutorials, hair trends and styling tips to help men who might otherwise feel intimidating about dyeing their hair at home — and even their beards too.
“We make it so easy to use that you can’t mess it up,” he said. “Already we’re getting tons of questions about how to dye right. These are guys who have had issues with other products. It could be just choosing the right shade for them or getting more or less coverage. There is so much information that just isn’t out there, probably because there’s always been such shame and fear around it.”
“It’s going to be an ongoing education process,” Sandler said. “The thing is, we’ve designed this so you can start slowly — you can just begin by dyeing a little bit at a time.”
It’s that simple.