Because of stay-at-home orders and the closure of those businesses deemed nonessential, most, if not all of us, are unlikely to see the inside of a hair salon in the near future, which means taking matters into our own hands. But this period can be used to repair heat-damaged tresses, learn styling techniques and establish better habits for the future. Below, tips on how to handle haircuts (spoiler: don’t do it) and maintain color at home.
Don’t Get Scissors-Happy
Those with confidence in their hair cutting abilities can snip visible split ends, says the Australian-born hair stylist David Mallett, in “brutally clear light and trimming less than you think you have to — you have the time to reassess and retrim.” But, he cautions, “this is not the moment to try bangs for the first time, change the shape of your bangs or cut sharp geometric ones.” If this advice comes too late, check out the elevated hair accessories from the hairstylist turned jewelry designer Deborah Pagani, who makes elegant pins and cuffs in precious metals, or the New Mexico-based jewelry brand Winden, which offers playful acetate clips and combs.
Keep Up Color
Emerging roots or brassy blond strands can be treated with home kits, which are more comprehensive than ever. Maddison Cave, a colorist at Mallett’s namesake salon in New York, likes Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray because it’s easy to use and coats hair until the next shampooing. For a longer-lasting option that will cover grays, the Parisian hair stylist Christophe Robin created a Temporary Color Gel, an ultra-gentle treatment that is painted onto damp, shampooed hair and left to sit for 40 minutes. After rinsing, grays appear more blended into one’s base shade. The color begins to slowly fade after five washes, so it’s perfect for those reluctant to commit to a permanent color without the watchful eye of a stylist. For lighter hair in need of toning, or any shade that could use some extra vibrancy, the hairstylist Kristin Ess’s Signature Hair Gloss seals and smooths hair cuticles to boost shine and lock in color. It comes in a variety of shades, from light blond to dark brown, to add just the right amount of warmth.
Limit the Damage
When you’re overdue for a salon appointment, skipping a shampoo or two a week — which, if you’re working from home, you might already be doing — can help retain hair’s moisture and prevent color loss. To make fewer washes count, apply Playa’s Healing Hair Masque after shampooing, which contains scalp rebalancing kaolin clay, as well as amla oil to strengthen strands and prevent premature fading. Using hydrating treatments before and during styling can also protect heat-damaged hair that usually benefits from restorative professional treatments. For those with finely textured manes, look to the clean beauty brand Rahua, which ethically sources many of its ingredients from the Amazon rainforest. The line’s Leave-In Treatment Light cream made from quinoa and Rahua oil — a nourishing ingredient extracted from the ungurahua nut — is a practically weightless formula that can be reapplied throughout the day.
For coarse and textured hair, Nancy Twine, the founder of the New York-based beauty brand Briogeo, suggests massaging a mixture of castor oil and the line’s new Don’t Despair, Repair! Strengthening Treatment Oil onto areas that are experiencing breakage before bedtime. The strengthening oil is silicone-free and uses “fatty acid-packed oils to nourish and feed the hair with true, healthy hydration, instead of coating the hair with polymers to give the illusion of shine and hydration,” Twine says. Virtue, a North Carolina-based hair-care brand specializing in keratin-enriched products, also makes a Split End Serum that can be used before blow-drying to seal broken ends.
Know Your Styling Options
Though a professional blowout may not be in the cards, looking presentable for a video conference can still be accomplished in a few simple, time-efficient steps. To create soft waves without heat tools, sleep with hair in a low coiled bun (Mallett suggests securing it with a hair pin, like this delicate hammered brass pair or these vintage-inspired pastel versions, and not an elastic, which can break hair when twisted tightly). If you have shorter hair, or want a more defined wave, plait a crown braid before showering at night, so that hair absorbs the humidity. Either style can be brushed out in the morning, or simply left as is for an equally polished Zoom-ready look. Video conferencing is also being used as a tool to help with hair maintenance: For those who normally rely on salon visits for braiding, live, interactive tutorials are increasingly available online to guide you through the steps at home. And for when you want to do as little as possible, a slicked-back ponytail, smoothed using a wide boar-bristle brush, will help distribute natural oils through the hair and extend time between washes. Toward the end of the week, turning that ponytail into a low bun (using a touch of volume powder, if needed) can also help feign the composure you might not be feeling after weeks spent inside.