Shear Madness

What the Hell Should You Do About Your Quarantine Hair?

With barbershops and salons closed, many of us are now facing quite the conundrum.

By Benjamin Cassidy April 3, 2020

Should you risk it?

About one week into self-quarantine, Erin Fried tied her hair back in a ponytail and grasped a pair of small silver scissors in her boyfriend's home music studio. As he played Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" on synths for an Instagram Live audience of friends egging her on, Fried proceeded to lop off four inches of her blonde locks. A glass salad bowl was there to catch them. "It was really liberating,” she says. “I think I would never have entertained the idea of cutting my own hair.”

Never would have, that is, unless she hadn't been so bored and had so little at stake. With barbershops and beauty salons closed in Seattle since mid-March, everyone from fuckbois with an affinity for fades to grandmas partial to covering their grays have asked themselves the same question: What do I do about my hair? Some have opted for bangs and other experiments, reveling in the lack of social encounters (aside from the Zoom call here or there) to psych themselves out during isolation. Others shiver at the thought of a DIY 'do.

Fried had never cut her own hair before, but she wanted to try something novel, something that would entertain her friends and foster that sense of connection again. After some quick googling, she realized she could probably pull off a bob. All she had to do was tie her hair back in a ponytail, the internet explained, and snip. It would be a radical change—it had been about four months since she’d visited one of Bang’s Capitol Hill outposts—but not an unprecedented one. Her last cut had, in fact, been a bob. Even though she didn’t attempt any of the suggested subsequent “editing” to refine her cut, Fried was pleased with how the simple chop naturally left her hair a bit longer in the front and shorter in the back. “My look is kind of a shaggy bob," she says.

Even in our current socially distanced state, it takes a certain kind of person—and a certain amount of monotony—to hazard a self-haircut, according to Jennifer Oato, the manager of education for Seattle-based chain Rudy’s Barbershop. Simply put, few of us can muster Fried’s creative courage. As I type this, my traditionally tapered neck is creeping toward unironic mullet territory, and I have enough hair over my ears to make a young Bieber jealous. I’m not the only one. Washington’s attorney general longs for the return of HairMasters almost as much as a different president these days.

The ban on barbershop and salon visits might not be quite as much of an issue for women, many of whom go months between cuts, as it is for men, who pretty consistently stop by every four weeks, according to Oato. But she doesn’t encourage any of us to resort to drastic measures; she would be surprised if anybody could pull off an intricate cut. She especially recommends resisting the urge to slice too much off at once. “You can always cut more,” she says, “That’s something that we say all the time to clients.”

She does anticipate an increase in buzz cuts as the weather gets warmer, and razor sales may in fact be on the rise. But before people considering applying number fours to their scalps, they would be wise to check out their mirror situation first, Oato notes, unless you want to end up with an unintended business in the front, party in the back aesthetic. And for those who normally add hues to their hair, she advises against picking up box colors from the grocery store, calling them “risky.” Gray coverage can wait, though bleach-and-toners who normally get their roots touched up at least every six weeks may need to weather a corrective color eventually.

If you do decide to cut your hair, you may want to reach out to your stylist. Many barbers and salon workers are currently out of work and willing to conduct remote consultations via video for small donations. Venmo campaigns to support staffers have already popped up, including one for Bang employees.

But if you're just feeling inspired by Tiger King and want to grow that mane out, that's OK too.

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