NORTH ADAMS — A meme that appeared on Facebook when businesses first closed and we were told to stay home, proclaimed: "In six weeks, we'll know what everyone's real hair color is!" We're now on Week 7 in Massachusetts, and not only do we know everyone's true hair color, we're also starting to look a bit shaggy when we log onto our video conferences calls.
Jodie Botto, owner of Partings in Clarksburg, who has been in the hair business "a long time," offered some survival tips for quarantine hair.
When trimming your hair or a family member's hair at home, Botto suggested just focusing on the fringe areas (bangs, nape of the neck and around the ears) and not attempting an all-over haircut, adding hair normally only grows a 1/2-inch a month.
"Take a 1/4-inch off at a time until you feel like yourself again — like you can go to your Zoom meeting," she said. "Maybe it's time to change things up and grow out your hair? No one can see what we look like."
Men's and boys' hair is more forgiving, according to Botto. If you can, just clean — with clippers or a beard trimmer — in front of the ears, nape of the neck and trim up some of the neck hairs.
"Leave the front alone," Botto said. "The last thing you want to do is go back to work looking like Jim Carrey in 'Dumb and Dumber.'"
When it comes to doing kids' hair, Botto suggests giving little boys a buzz cut or "maybe it's time to try an at-home mohawk or a design on the side — now that they're out of school, it's the perfect time." Cutting little girls' hair can bring an added level of stress, Botto said, suggesting that instead of cutting their hair, look on YouTube for videos on braiding.
"It could be fun learning how to do it together and learning how to do new braids," she said.
Barbara Alibozek, manager of The Clip Shop, with salons in Pittsfield, Williamstown and Bennington, Vt., asked staff members what they would recommend for quarantine hair issues.
"Start off by doing less. If you can wait, then wait," she advised. "If it can't wait, then do less. Don't worry, we'll be there to fix your hair mistakes when it's over." She added, "Be creative. Put some rollers in if you don't have a curling iron — and there's always the ponytail."
Or you can try a dry set for curly hair. Take a section of dry hair, spray with some brushable hair spray and put the section on a roller. Repeat until all your hair is on rollers. Direct some heat on your hair with a blow dryer and leave the rollers in for awhile. The cooling will set your hair. Take the rollers out and "have fun with it," Alibozek said.
If you do decide to leave it alone, this is the perfect time to grow it out and then try something new, according to one of Alibozek's staff members. Leaving it alone will also let your hair get healthier. And while you're letting it go au naturel, think about what you want for your new look and look at photos for ideas. If having longer hair is driving you crazy, all of the hairdressers suggested using clips, barrettes or buns to keep it off of your face. And when all else fails, there's always hats.
When it comes to hair coloring, Botto recommended talking to your hairdresser for do-it-yourself root touch-ups.
"They know your color and know your hair, and the levels you're looking to maintain," she said. "Some hairdressers are offering DIY kits for their current clientele." She also said there are great temporary hair color sprays for your hair, "like spray paint for your hair."
For brunettes looking to temporarily touch up their roots, Botto suggested using brown eye shadow or eyebrow powder. "Tap it in for a quick fix, as it will wash out. Make sure it's not glitter; well, maybe glitter for a Zoom cocktail party," she joked.
Like Botto, Alibozek recommended reaching out to your stylist regarding hair coloring. "Some people have great luck doing it at home, for others, it's a disaster. It's best to hold off," she said. But if you're determined to add some color, Alibozek advised going for a neutral shade or going lighter than normal. "Lighter is easier to fix," she said.
Anne DelGrande, owner of the Terrace Hair Studio in Lee, agreed that perhaps the best thing to do, is nothing. Or, if you have to, just trim your bangs.
"I don't recommend cutting a full head of hair," DelGrande said. "Don't get carried away. However, if you do, your hairdresser can fix anything you do wrong," she said.
When it comes to cutting bangs, DelGrande said it was best done with dry hair. "Wet hair stretches and shrinks when it's dry. By cutting your bangs when they're dry, they won't end up shorter than you wanted. Less is more when you're cutting bangs."
DelGrande said when she cuts bangs, she pulls all of the bangs together in a bunch and twists the bunch once, going from the front to the back. "The sides are already longer. Twisting makes them even longer. Trim off a quarter inch of hair. Let the bunch go and see what you have. Do it again if necessary." She said that technique gives you longer bangs on the sides and shorter in the center.
"Don't overdo it," she advised. "But if something makes you feel better, do it. We can fix it when we get back to business." She added that was also applicable to any hair color touch-ups or changes.
DelGrande asked customers to have patience one the salons are allowed to open.
"I'm personally going to start with two hairdressers out of the five who work for me," she said. "I'm going to ease into it, so we can maintain social distancing or whatever else is necessary."
Botto said she and her staff are looking forward to getting back to the business of making their clients feel good.
"As professionals it's painful and financially taxing to have our businesses closed and our chairs empty," Botto concluded. "We went into this career because we have a passion for helping people see the beauty within themselves. As difficult as it is to have lost so much, I feel strongly that we need help our clients in any way we feel comfortable as professionals. Our clients are family. We are a part of so many of their life's moments and memories. ... They trust us with so much more than just their hair; they trust us with their hearts. Yes, there will be bangs that need to be fixed and colors that didn't turn out like the picture on the box, but mistakes can be corrected. One day soon, our chairs will be full and we will laugh together, realizing with a new appreciation just how much we need each other."