If you've been working from home for the past year+, going back to the office post-pandemic might have a bit of a back-to-school vibe. But instead of returning to class with new shoes and freshly sharpened pencils, you're reentering a world of water cooler gossip, sad desk lunches, and sweaty subway (or stressful car) commutes.
Granted, returning to office life shouldn't be all scary news: Your big comeback is the perfect time to make a major public statement with your look, says NYC-based hair stylist and Redken ambassador Rodney Cutler. "I have noticed that my clients are way more open [to trying out new styles]," he explains. "We have definitely seen several clients who want to reinvent themselves."
Ready to show up at the office with a fresh style and healthy, voluminous strands? Here's your guide to a post-WFH hair transformation. (Related: These Hair Growth Treatments Are All Over TikTok - Are They Worth Trying?)
Start by Perfecting Your Regular Hair Care Routine
Switched up your hair routine during the course of the pandemic? That definitely impacted the health of your hair, for better or for worse, says Cutler. While he notes that many folks embraced their natural texture and stayed away from damaging hot tools over the past several months, many others colored their hair with box dyes and wore frequent ponytails and tight buns (all which can contribute to breakage), says Cutler.
If you made a drastic color swap to your strands at home (say, moving from blonde to dark brunette or vice versa), you could pay a price, Cutler warns. "It's not that the color is necessarily going to destroy your hair. It's the process of getting you back to where you were that can sometimes be the challenge."
For damage control, Cutler suggests switching to products with reparative benefits. And that doesn't necessarily mean a leave-in weekly treatment. He says that your best bet is finding a shampoo and conditioner pair that will bring intense moisture to your hair in your regular cleansing routine.
Cutler recommends Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo and Conditioner (Buy It, $60, amazon.com), both which have an acidic pH. He notes that many styling products, hair color products, and even water can throw your hair's pH out of balance, often leading to dull, frizzy hair. So using a product with an acidic pH can provide strands can leave you with healthier-looking hair. (Related: The Glass Hair Trend Keeps Coming Back - Here's How to Do It)
As for Cutler's other suggestions for minimizing damage, try limiting how often you pull your hair back, and opting for a hair tie made with a gentle material (e.g. silk) when you do. He also recommends avoiding washing your hair every day and instead waiting a few days between washes or even longer if you have curly hair, since shampooing can be stripping and drying.
5 Summer 2021 Hair Trends to Try Your First Day Back
Now for the fun part: choosing a style that'll make your coworkers' heads turn in their cubicles. Here's some style inspo to bring to your next cut appointment prior to your first day back in the office.
Curtain bangs, which can work on long layers or more choppy layers, are having a moment, says Cutler. They're cut, and parted, to frame your face and are typically on the longer side, which can make them easier to style than shorter bangs. You can blow dry them with a big round brush if you're going for a sleek, voluminous look.
Not willing to commit to a cut more than a few inches, but desperate for something different? A tousled, messy shag should be your go-to, says Cutler. "You can create an interesting look without having to cut all your hair off. Or, you can go all the way with an [above-the-ear] seventies-eighties shag that works on multiple textures."
Cutler notes that the bob is always trending in one form or another, and right now, the box version is having its moment. But instead of an A-line cut that leaves the front section of hair longer than the back, this bob is the same length all around. "[A box bob] is effortless and the movement is created in the texture," says Cutler. "So we're not actually layering it, but we're sort of texturizing it, removing some of the weight."
Looking to sport a funky hue, like hot pink or neon green, but hesitant about coloring your head entirely? Money pieces, which are pieces of dyed hair meant to frame the face, allow you to experiment with color without too much commitment, says Cutler. You can also ask your stylist for a non-wild shade, like a pop of blonde. (Related: How to Make Your Hair Color Last and Keep It Looking ~Fresh to Death~)
Used to fairly long (or even medium-length) tresses? Getting a pixie cut would a pretty drastic change, TBH. But if you've been toying with the idea trying one for a few months or years (not just weeks!), coinciding a dramatic cut with a return to the office could be a good time. Cutler notes that, of all the 2021 styling trends, the pixie is one of his personal faves: "It's very gamine and cropped where it really exposes and liberates your whole face."