Some matters of personal grooming – manicures, leg waxes – can easily be done from home. Others are best left in the hands of the professionals.
For many of us, hair falls firmly into the latter category – especially when it comes to dye. “With haircuts, unless you do something really, really, really dire, by the six week mark it will have grown out to a degree that’s fixable,” says Jeremy Graham of Sydney salon Moo Hair. “But hair colour is the stuff that gets really tricky.”
Unfortunately, ongoing stage 4 restrictions mean Melburnians can’t dart out to the hairdresser right now. In lockdown, your options are either to embrace the split ends and grey roots or take matters into your own hands.
If you choose option B, the good news is that you’re not necessarily doomed.
The mistake: dyeing your way to multi-coloured hair
If you normally get your hair coloured at the salon, it might be tempting to make do in lockdown with dye from the supermarket shelf. But tread lightly, warns Graham.
He says that layering box dye on box dye can quickly leave you with patches of different coloured hair – especially if you’re picking slightly different shades each time, but also because dye on dye darkens. Colour correction is a slow process so by the time you get to the salon, it’ll be multiple appointments before your hair is back to being a unified shade.
“I’ve just had someone come in for the third time since lockdown on the weekend and I feel like their hair is finally where we want it to be,” Graham says. “When you get so much build up of different types of box dyes, it’s a really tricky thing for a hairdresser to work with.”
How to avoid it: the right dye, and a pair of helping hands
“Every hairdresser is going to tell you to avoid box dyes, but of course people aren’t going to if they don’t have an alternative,” Graham admits.
He recommends calling your hairdresser before you resort to the cheap stuff – many salons are happy to put together dye packs for clients to use at home, which will mean you can be sure of the colour and quality of the product you’re using. It’s also a way to support your stylist while they’re unable to work.
If that’s not an option? Graham advises looking out for ‘demi-permanent’ dyes, which have very little peroxide in them and “just gives the hairdresser a lot less to think about on the other end”.
But, he says, most dye disasters are the result of people overlapping dyes. So if you’re lucky enough to be isolating with a partner or housemate, task them with touching up just your roots and leave the rest of your hair alone.
The mistake: cutting yourself a fringe that’s very, very bad
Trimming your own fringe can be a quick way to induce a total meltdown. (I speak from personal experience.)
Nina Ratsaphong of Sydney’s Extra Silky says horror DIY fringes happen all the time. When her salon reopened, she had “a lot of good fringe trims that people had done themselves” come through. “But there was definitely some where people took just way too much hair and ended up with a really intense bowl-ish type fringe,” she says. Think: Clare from Fleabag but… wider.
How to avoid it: cut less, cut lower, cut dry
The biggest fringe-cutting mistake, Ratsaphong says, is “taking too much hair”.
“Realistically, a fringe isn’t actually a huge amount of hair. You don’t want to go too far back and you don’t want to go too wide,” she says. “Also, we’ve all seen all those videos where someone cuts their fringe at the eyebrows and then it springs up to the hairline. So that’s a common mistake – pulling at the hair.” To ensure your fringe comes out the length you want it to be, she says, let it sit level when you’re cutting it.
If you’re cutting a fringe from scratch, Ratsaphong recommends starting small and then adding more hair if you need it. Cut below your fingers, not above them. And only attempt it when your hair is dry – if you reach for the scissors while it’s wet, the fringe will spring up later and turn out shorter than you intended. Godspeed.
The mistake: turning greys “blorange”
If you only colour your hair to disguise the greys, dye might not be the answer in lockdown.
Dawn Allmark, owner of Melbourne salon Madame Frou, says she has one client who has medium brown hair and sprinkling of greys. Normally, Allmark puts some blonde or balayage through the ends after touching up her regrowth. In lockdown, the client attempted to do a similar thing at home – with less successful results.
“She bought one of those kits that has highlighter in it as well, so you can cover the root colour and highlight the hair,” Allmark says. “So when she put the blonde onto her hair, it bled into the roots and then ended up with a nice patch of blorange. And that happens so often.”
How to avoid it: use a temporary fix
There are risk-free alternatives to dye and most of them are under the $10 mark.
Your first weapon: dry shampoo. Allmark says that by shooshing a bit of dry shampoo in your hair every morning for a few days you can give it enough volume that those barely-there grey roots won’t actually be visible. Combine that with temporary coloured sprays or powder, which wash out after every application, and you’re really in business.
Blondes can, as the adage goes, have more fun by opting for a coloured shampoo with a hint of pink or rose gold in it – they’ll cover your greys without the peroxide and, again, wash straight out. As Allmark says: “Try colours you wouldn’t normally, but not in a permanent way.”
Bonus tip: go easy when you get back to the salon
Dawn Allmark has one final piece of advice: save the big makeovers for 2021.
When lockdown’s over, you might be in the mood for reinvention – but hairdressers are going to be rushed as they try to fit in months worth of clients, she says, so asking them for something radical is probably not the best idea.
“It’s probably the worst time to ask for something like that, because hairdressers are going to be working like 12 hours every single day for about a month when salons reopen. I don’t think people are going to get exactly what they want.”
And to that point, Allmark says: “Be kind to your hairdresser!” Timeless advice, that.