“You look so good with blonde hair and black roots it’s, like, not even funny.”
Every morning when I wake up, I recite this quote from cult classic, “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” to myself in the mirror.
A few weeks ago, I listed some dos and don’ts of quarantine beauty. While one of the top suggestions was to not mess with your hair, I know we’re all starting to get a little desperate.
I really, truly just don’t want your $8 box of hair color to turn into a $150 (or more) fix for you, which is way easier than you may think.
If you’re struggling with your hair, the best thing you can do right now is to reach out to your stylist directly and ask for advice. (I’ve heard of some salons mixing custom color and placing it outside for curbside pickup.) They know your hair best and will be there for you.
In the meantime, I spoke to professional stylists who offered advice on how to (safely) get your hair through quarantine from hair color to hair extensions and everything in between.
Can I color my hair at home?
To answer that question, we need to know a little more about at-home hair color.
Home hair color, aka hair dye or box color, is one of the most controversial and polarizing beauty products. Available at drug stores, beauty supply, and discount stores, it usually costs anywhere from $5 to $20, which makes it accessible and affordable, especially during a pandemic.
However, according to Marina Diakatos, hairstylist and makeup artist at The Salon at Lavish, 600 Linden St., Scranton, (who’s also been my hairstylist for the past 8 years), there’s a few reasons why box color should be approached with caution.
“Box color is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of thing in a world filled with diverse people with all different hair types and colors — which makes them totally unpredictable,” she said. “What came out a beautiful blonde on your friend could end up looking brassy and orange on you.”
Diakatos explained these drugstore formulas can’t take into consideration all of the things a professional colorist will account for to create the right shade for each individual person. This includes your natural level (or how dark or light your hair is) and underlying pigment (hues that range from blue/violet to pale yellow that your hair gives off when you color it); percentage of gray; level of porosity (or your hair’s ability to absorb moisture); previous artificial color used and more.
“(Boxed formulas also) come with harsher developers to ensure it can work on most hair types which can end up being really damaging, especially on someone with fine or already compromised hair,” she said.
Going darker than your hair color can result in a muddy, greenish hue; going lighter requires the use of a lightener or bleach (more on that later), which is even riskier, Diakatos said.
While there are some exceptions, simply, hair color is chemistry and, sometimes, even if you’re really, really careful with box color, your hair just might not turn out the way you envisioned it. You also could mess it up big time.
According to the experts, there’s plenty of other ways to disguise your roots at home without a trip to the drugstore.
For simple root touch-ups and grays
There are lots of temporary sprays, powders and even color sticks on the market specifically for simple root touch-ups and covering grays.
Alicia Mecca, hairstylist at The Color Bar Salon, 134 Franklin Ave., Scranton, recommended Style Edit Root Touch-Up Powder, which comes in four shades (light brown, medium brown, dark brown and black) and binds to hair to instantly to blend gray and dark roots.
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One of our favorite products for in between colors! If you need a little coverage during this time, this is perfect! We have a few available. Just a reminder we will be taking payments over the phone and doing curbside pickup for anyone who would like to still purchase products or gift cards! Call us! 570.800.5894
“It’s a powder and will absolutely help blend in the sparkles coming in,” she said.
For existing clients who need mainly gray coverage, Diakatos said the Salon at Lavish is offering dpHUE Root Touch-Up Kits for $34 with free shipping. Clients should reach out to their stylist for shade recommendation. To order, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For blondes with dark roots
First and foremost, box color is out for blondes with darker roots. Diakatos explained that color can’t lift color, which means if your hair is naturally dark or there’s any artificial color on your hair (professional or otherwise) and you want to switch it up and go lighter, you will need to use lightener (aka bleach).
The pros were pretty unanimous that bottle blondes just have to embrace the Madonna look, as neither recommended using any type of at-home lightening or blonding kits.
In addition to the hot orange color your hair may turn thanks to a non-professional bleaching, there’s also the possibility of completely ruining your hair.
For someone who get highlights or any double-process blondes, that hair is more fragile, Diakatos explained, and if you overlap lightener onto previously lightened hair, it can cause damage or breakage.
“Leave it to us professionals as we love to take care of your hair properly and safely,” Mecca said.
Both Diakatos and Mecca advised blondes to maintain tone with professional purple shampoos (such as Unite’s Blonda line) as well as hair masks to keep hair healthy and incorporating Olaplex products, which help to relink broken bonds caused by chemical, thermal or manual damage to the hair.
For vivids and fashion colors
Those with vivid or fashion colors are a totally different story than their blonde counterparts as it’s safe to liven up color with demi permanent options.
The Color Bar Salon is selling “Colorbombs,” or a custom mixture of semi-permanent direct dye and a deep conditioning mask, that will refresh vivid tones and condition the hair at the same time, Mecca said.
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Diakatos also suggested pigmented shampoo or conditioner such as those by Celeb Luxury Viral Colorwash or Overtone. Both are great options that offer tons of different colorful shades.
There also are some who truly hit the hair color jackpot during all of this.
“Fortunately for balayage clients, now is your time to thrive,” Mecca said. “That lived in look will go far during this time.”
For shorter and pixie cuts
“Short cuts will definitely be grown into more of a lived in style until they can get to their stylist,” Mecca said,
Now is a good time for those with shorter cuts to try out different styling techniques or incorporate accessories such as clips and headbands.
While Mecca doesn’t recommend picking up scissors at home, if a client felt they could manage it and wanted to trim their bangs, that’s OK with her.
For regular hair cuts
While also Diakatos doesn’t recommend giving yourself a full-blown haircut, if someone is really adamant about it, she said to follow these tips:
- Don’t use kitchen scissors, as they can bend and pull the hair and actually cause more split ends. Use shears intended for hair cutting or the thinnest scissors you have.
- Parting your hair into sections will make it easier to have a little more control, instead of cutting a big chunk of hair, she said.
- Cut into the hair vertically to avoid harsh lines.
- For bangs, style them how you normally would beforehand and don’t use to much tension while holding them to avoid cutting too much.
For I-tip extensions:
For those who wear I-tip extensions (hair attached strand-by-strand with a tiny metal cylinder, without any heat or glue) maintenance is suggested every six weeks, Mecca said. Brushing your hair every day and never going to bed with wet hair both are simple ways to keep extensions in good shape.
Mecca, (who feels I-tips to be the safest hair extensions option), said one of the only things clients have to worry about during quarantine is if the extensions start to slide out. Depending on hair texture or other factors, however, knotting or matting my occur.
Clients can take the extensions out themselves using a pair of small pliers or any jewelry-making clamp, as Mecca demonstrated on a video on Instagram (also embedded below). Slightly clamp cylinder in the opposite direction of the way that it’s flattened out and the cylinder should pop right off, releasing your hair. Hair shedding is normal, she added, so don’t be alarmed if you see strands falling out — that’s six or more weeks of built-up hair your body would naturally shed. Mecca warned against using anything like baby oil to remove them, which will not work and only pull hair out.
If someone doesn’t feel comfortable removing the extensions themselves, Mecca said she will she will remove as soon as the salon re-opens.
For tape-in extensions:
If you have tape-in extensions, removal is a little different.
If they are ready to come out, Diakatos suggested spraying rubbing alcohol onto the tape and letting it sit for a few minutes before *gently* trying to pull them apart. For stubborn ones, use any hair oil or even baby oil to loosen them.
“Just make sure to wash them really well afterward so the tape doesn’t slip off when you get them redone,” Diakatos said.
If there’s any residue left in the hair, apply oil and comb through.
The best thing to do right now is just to give your hair a break from processing and be extra nice to it with masks and treatments.
Diakatos also suggested looking up braiding tutorials or investing in some cute hair accessories such as headbands, hair clips and scarves, which are very trendy right now.
Mecca said the Color Bar has been posting different styling tutorials on the salon’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
“Lots of talented stylists are sharing their tips and tricks on social media, so there is a lot of content out there to reference and try out,” Mecca said.
Support each other
Under the orders from Gov. Tom Wolf, all non-essential businesses must remain closed indefinitely, which means your stylist or barber will be out of work during this time.
There’s still some ways to show your love. If you’re going to buy products, get them from the salon, not the drugstore, Diakatos said. (Lavish Body & Home is shipping items directly to customers.) This is a difficult time for everyone finically and there’s also ways to show support without spending any money. You can leave a review, like and comment on their posts on social media, or tag or refer friends.
In the end, it’s a very weird time and people need to make the decisions based on their own lives.
While Diakatos said she’d rather her clients not color their hair or cut their bangs at home, it’s OK if they do.
“If you freak out and stress cut your bangs or reach for that box color because you want to feel like you’re in control of something, I will not shame you,” she said. “Your health, sanity and safety come first. Hair will grow and I’ll know how to fix it when the time comes.”
Mecca understands her clients may be considered essential employees and must report to work right now, which means they may be tempted to cover their grays at home. No matter what, your stylist will be there to support you.
“We will make sure all of our clients are looking their best when this is all over,” Mecca said. “And any questions anyone has can absolutely reach out. That is what we are here for.”
Meet the pros
Alicia Mecca is a hairstylist at The Color Bar Salon, 134 Franklin Ave., Scranton, which is owned by Alycia James. Find Mecca on Instagram, @alicia.paintshair.Contact the salon on Instagram, @thecbsalon or The Color Bar Salon on Facebook.
Marina Diakatos is hairstylist/MUA at the Salon at Lavish, 600 Linden St., Scranton, which is owned by Lauren and Micah Woodard. Find Diakatos on Instagram, @marinaandthesummerday. Contact the salon through direct message on Instagram, @lavisbodyhome, Lavish Body & Home :: The Salon at Lavish on Facebook or by emailing info@lavishbodyhome
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT