As the coronavirus pandemic has confined people to their homes and shuttered businesses deemed nonessential, most of us are unlikely to see the inside of a hair salon any time soon.
While growing, graying hair may not be a cause for concern for some, the sight of it may lead others to some desperate DIY projects. We’re here to help. We talked to two local hair stylists to get their advice on how to look our best while nature is running its course on our tresses.
To box dye or not to box dye?
Shelby Neubauer, owner of Sparrow Hair Co., an eco-friendly hair salon in Santa Rosa, says that — as far as hair coloring is concerned — there are no easy solutions during this time. Box dyes usually introduce a color that has to be undone later, and she prefers not to offer her salon’s professional products for home use.
Regina Bernadini, co-owner of Dukes and Dolls in Petaluma, agrees about the limitations of DIY dyes. “Box color can’t have a consultation. It doesn’t know the level of your hair. It does everything — too much (color) lifting and depositing,” she says.
Think outside of the box
There are other ways to cover those grays. Neubauer recommends “out of the box” methods like using a mineral-based root cover powder from Color Wow that goes on like an eyeshadow (see her tutorial on Instagram on how to apply the powder). Neubauer is also offering professional glazes and gray root blending creams from dpHUE.
Bernadini and fellow stylists at Dukes and Dolls are offering pre-mixed, customized hair color kits their clients can apply themselves. Other salons like Cheveaux and CC Salon in Sonoma are doing the same.
Bernardini has posted a tutorial on the salon’s Instagram account that outlines the process for covering roots, but those seeking kits to highlight their hair will have to wait until the shelter-in-place order is lifted. “I’m drawing the line at bleach,” she says.
Neubauer also recommends minimal-impact products. “Toning shampoos and conditioners in shades of purple will help to brighten and tone yellowing blondes, while blues will help combat faded and brassy brunettes,” she says. While they won’t color your newly gray roots, they can help improve the overall look of your hair.
Put down those scissors
Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to hair. While you may be able to get away with a little bit of dye-DIY, trimming your own tresses can be risky business. This is not the time to try bangs for the first time.
Those who have trimmed their bangs before and have confidence in their hair cutting abilities may pick up the scissors, says Neubauer, but only if the scissors are sharp, the lighting is good, the hair is dry and this is your new mantra: less is more. Remember, you can always trim more later. Neubauer has posted a bang trim tutorial on Instagram to help guide you:
For any hair cutting projects that involve more than your bangs, Neubauer recommends you reach out to your hair stylist for advice on how to clean up your bespoke style. While you may find inspiration from celebrity stylists on Instagram, “no two haircuts are the same,” notes Neubauer, “your own stylist will know your hair the best.”
Pamper your hair and embrace a natural look
For a completely hands-off approach, our current state of social isolation may offer an opportunity to let your hair recover from treatments and styling methods that may be damaging to the hair.
The Moon Room, a holistic salon and barbershop in Petaluma, recommends trying to extend the time between hair washes. “Let that hair get dirty and just learn some fun ways to style it while you’re retraining your hair,” said the salon in an Instagram post.
And as far as helping improve the look of those poor dead ends until your next cut: “products, products, products,” says The Moon Room. The salon recommends products from the Holistic Hair Tribe made from organic ingredients and without toxins.
Cheveux in Sonoma recommends their Television Hair product line by R+Co. (here’s a video on how to use the products). Both Bernardini’s Dukes and Dolls salon and Neubauer’s Sparrow Hair Co. recommend products from the Italian haircare line Davines, featuring natural ingredients, and will deliver to your doorstep or arrange for curbside pickup.
Neubauer is interested in seeing how the pandemic will affect beauty trends, citing the ombré look which came from people letting their roots grow during the 2008 recession. She compares it to the use of red lipstick during World War II: lip color in Victory Red was affordable and wearing it was a show of feminism and patriotism.
“When times are good,” she adds, “everyone is looking like a Kardashian” with “big make-up, big hair and bronzer shadows.”
In contrast, Neubauer predicts more people will get in touch with their natural beauty now, and we’ll see more natural hair colors and hair textures.
“It’s time to tap into that experimental spirit,” says Neubauer, who embraced that in herself as a teen. “I was always getting in trouble for coloring my hair (bright reds and purple).”
But whichever DIY direction you choose for your hair, be it box, bangs or embracing the gray, her advice to everyone is the same, “First, contact your stylist.”
What’s next for hair salons?
While necessary to contain the coronavirus, the shelter-in-place order has delivered a blow to local businesses, including hair salons. As salons struggle to stay afloat financially, they are also preparing for an uncertain reality once they are allowed to reopen.
“How can you instill confidence in people to come back into such a personal space?” said Sandy Natman, manager of Elle Lui Hair Salon in Santa Rosa, in an interview with The Press Democrat.
Offering coloring kits and other hair products via delivery or curbside pickup is one way local salons like Dukes and Dolls and Sparrow Hair Co. are trying to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.
While a $65 sale of a coloring kit isn’t enough to sustain the business, “it’s worth something,” says Bernardini, who particularly enjoys seeing videos customers share of their color application attempts — one of her favorites shows a client’s fire-chief husband doing hair.
“We get to do what we love, and it does make you feel like you’re doing something,” adds Bernardini.