As anyone who’s ever impulsively cut their own bangs can tell you, it’s risky business to color or cut your own hair. Normally, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. But these are not normal circumstances. In an effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, cities and states across the country are ordering nonessential workers to stay home, including hairstylists. Suddenly, coloring or cutting your own hair isn’t such an extreme decision.
Before we get into it, I first want to acknowledge that these public health measures, while necessary, can be financially devastating for workers in the beauty industry. As you stress about increasingly visible roots or unruly split ends, recognize how valuable beauty industry workers are to helping you feel like your best self. If you have the means, here are a few ways to support your local go-to salon right now. (And some of these tips don’t involve any money at all, for what it’s worth.)
Now back to you, standing in front of a mirror, wondering if you should color or cut your own hair. While nothing you can do for yourself at home will feel or look the same as what a professional can do, there are some basic do’s and don’ts if you’re looking for a hair tune-up to tide you over until your favorite hairstylist is back in business.
I talked to several stylists about ways to make your hair more manageable during this necessary pause. Here’s what they had to say.
How to Color Your Hair at Home:
If you regularly get your hair colored in a salon, you should probably avoid box dyes.
If you plan to get back in with your stylist pronto following quarantine, there’s little upside to box-dyeing your hair now. “Don’t do it, unless your colorist makes you an at-home kit with your usual hair color,” says Amanda Lee, a hairstylist and owner of Amanda Lee Hair in Los Angeles. “Otherwise, try to wait it out to avoid having different-colored bands in your hair. If you’re not used to coloring with box dye, it’ll be hard to match your color perfectly.”
But call your stylist, especially if you go to a local salon, says Amber Han, a master colorist and owner of Park Avenue Salon in Dexter, Michigan. “Some stylists are delivering products, even offering to deliver clients their actual color formula for anyone who’s getting desperate enough,” she says. “Some stylists are really trying to help out.”
Opt for gloss instead.
If you miss the vibrancy of your color, Jenni Huse, hairstylist and owner of The Blossom Salon in Sebastopol, California, suggests opting for in-shower glossing instead. “It’s demi-permanent, so you are not penetrating the hair shaft; the color will sit on top,” she says.
She really likes Kristen Ess’s line of glosses, which are widely available at Target. “She formulated it for toning, so you can leave it for 30 seconds or 5 minutes, depending on how brassy your hair is feeling,” says Huse. “I love these rinses for maintaining healthy shine.” There’s a wide range of color, whether you’re looking for jet black, ashy, rich red, balayage blonde, or anything in between.
Lee also loves gloss, but favors Rita Hazan’s line.
Care for your color with the appropriate shampoos.
Especially if you are formerly brunette blonde, make sure you are using the right shampoo to maintain your color as well. “They should already be using purple-toning shampoo at-home, but now it’s even more critical, because their stylist can’t refresh their color,” Han says. Use a purple shampoo, like Davines Alchemic Silver Shampoo and Conditioner, as often as needed to balance brassy tones.
Of course, toning shampoos are great for other hair colors too. “There are also ones for brunettes, redheads, pink tones, and more that will deposit the tone into hair,” says Han. “It will just refresh and revive the tone. The only thing you cannot really fix doing is your roots.”
Use root sprays and powders.
Han recommends root sprays to a lot of her clients to get them all the way through to their next appointments. “If your hair grows quickly or it’s a very different color naturally, I will have you use a root spray,” Han says. “Some of my clients get really gray in between, so I already have them spraying the part line when it gets to that point, after about a couple of weeks post-coloring.”
Root sprays are very easy to use; just spritz along the hairline to blend color. Han says they wash out easily, and you can repeat after your next wash. R+Co.’s Bright Shadows make great root sprays, ranging in color from black to light blonde.
Want an alternative, which you may have in your makeup drawer already? Eyebrow powder. “You can apply it with a small fluffy makeup brush, and that’ll help conceal the regrowth,” says Lee.
Play with accessories to minimize the appearance of roots.
Sleek ponytails tend to show off thick roots, so opt for looser, messier styles instead. “Half-up styles with pieces down in the front are great ways to hide grown-out roots, so try and stick to messier, undone looks,” says Lee.
You can also play with hair accessories. Hair scarves and headbands tend to be an easy way to cover your roots. Han is a fan of scarves. “Put your hair in a loose topknot, bun, or whatever updo works for you,” she says. “Make sure your scarf runs along the hairline. I like to cover the top of the ears a little bit, which feels more modern.” She says to tie a bow at the front of your head, creating a twist or a knot so the scarf doesn’t fall in your eyes. “Headbands are also great,” Han says. “They make ones that look like scarves, which are even easier.”
How to Cut Your Hair at Home:
Don’t give yourself a full haircut if you can avoid it.
You should probably avoid a full-fledged haircut at home if you can help it, because it’s very hard to get the back of your hair, appropriately trim your layers, blend a face-frame, and generally do a skill you’re not trained for. “I would try to avoid at-home haircuts as much as possible,” says Lee.
If you have bangs that are falling in your eyes, you can start growing them out or test a longer look. “Test out a new style that works for long bangs, like curtain bangs, or side swept, and don’t be afraid of hairspray to manage your grown-out mane,” says Lee.
Learn to properly trim your hair if you absolutely cannot just let it grow.
If you must trim, make sure you have the right tools. Amazon sells basic cutting shears if you don’t have any at home. Also, you will want a wide-tooth comb.
Use the point-cutting technique, which means you are angling the scissors vertically to make your snips, making small diagonal cuts instead of cutting straight across.
To trim long hair, split hair down the middle into two equal sections, pulling the strands over each shoulder. “You will want to take maybe an inch off,” says Han. “Do a point cut inward and upward at the bottom of the hair, and repeat on both sides; that would just remove a little perimeter split-end length.” Just follow your stylist’s line, a little bit at a time, and do a point-cutting motion.
To trim shorter hair, you can use a razor for an uneven, messy cut; this video shows the right technique for maneuvering your razor. Or you can simply do a point cut all around your head. If you can’t easily see the back, it might be easiest to have someone help you out with the cut, says Han.
And to trim your bangs, know that side-swept bangs are typically cut in triangle-like sections at the front of your head. “From there, you want to take a little triangle section from the middle and twist the hair. At the bottom of the twist, you want to point cut in an upward direction, which gives the bangs a softer shape. You don’t want to cut straight across for a hard line,” says Han. For bangs that fall across your forehead, do the same thing, but don’t twist your hair; just point cut.
Need a visual? Watch Han demo how to trim your own hair and bangs at home in this video.
Manage split ends with treatments and masks.
This is a wonderful time for hair self-care. If you can swing it, and you want to avoid a haircut until you see your stylist, prevent damage with treatments. “I love any deep-conditioning masks, especially to help with split ends,” says Huse. “Olaplex is huge; a lot of people can’t get their hands on it enough. It is probably one of the best deep-conditioning products on the market.”
Han loves a good overnight mask to banish split ends and keep hair soft, like Bumble and Bumble While You Sleep Damage Repair Masque, and says you can wrap your hair in plastic wrap to keep it out of your face. Lee suggests using your extra time wisely by leaving any hair treatment on for a couple of hours instead of the standard 10 minutes to really hydrate, replenish, and repair.
Don’t use heat-styling tools if you don’t have to.
Give your hair a break: Put down your hair dryer. Turn off your curling iron. Han says this is a great time to play around with your natural texture. “You can even test an air-dry product, like Ouai Air Dry Foam, for a little management and definition,” she suggests.
But keep your routine. Try something new every day, or every other day, if it makes you feel better to do so. “I think self-care during this time can just be as simple as still getting yourself ready for the day,” says Huse. “Doing that in a routine really changes your mental perspective.”
Originally Appeared on SELF