Health & Beauty

Pandemic Hair Help

April 9, 2020

Salons are closed, and our tresses are, well, suffering. First-world problems, we know, but we tapped Vancouver stylist Roberto Sousa for all the dos and don’ts of at-home hair care during the COVID-19 crisis. —Vita Daily

roberto sousa

Hi Roberto! Please tell us a bit about your hair-stylin’ self to start!

Hi! My name is Roberto Sousa, senior stylist at Nadia Albano Style Inc. in Vancouver.

Say we’re itching for a cut—maybe we just got bangs, or we’re seeing some serious split ends. Is there ever a good reason to wield the scissors ourselves (or have our quarantine buddy do it)? If yes, any basic dos/don’ts for at-home trim jobs?

Look, we’ve all been there. With quarantine/self-isolation, we’re all there now. It’s usually late at night, after a glass of wine or two, when the streaming platform asks, "Are you still watching?" You see yourself in the screen’s reflection and think, my hair is out of control! I’m bored. I need to do something! I need to control something? And then you get the thought: "Should I cut my own hair?" I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and, unless you feel really confident, I would just say: don’t. Even a tiny fringe-trim can go horribly wrong. I do have hairstylist friends who do cut their own hair and it looks great, but they’ve been doing it for years and have the knowledge and training. And I can absolutely tell you, it sometimes does go a bit wrong, but they don’t care, which is why they are comfortable cutting their own hair. Most of us don’t have that skill and it’s why we leave it to the professional stylists.

What about the guys? How can they maintain their short haircut without a barber to buzz them?

This might be the moment for them to unleash their inner Wolverine. But if you’re absolutely desperate and find yourself wanting a tidy up, don’t reach for the kitchen or nail scissors—that’s when you’re going to run into problems. It’s strictly about sharp hairdressing tools. If your hair is short and you’re using clippers, start with a larger guard and work your way to something shorter. The challenge with clippers is blending the hair at the top of the head. You have to slowly pull away as you move up, the motion of the clipper against the head should look like this an opening bracket, which isn’t easy to do on yourself, so it may be better to have a quarantine buddy do it for you. Also, using thinning shears could really help blend the hair and break up that line.

We’re definitely starting to see the greys. Should we wait it out (until we can see our stylist and have pro colour again) or are drugstore dyes OK?

Now’s the time to give yourself a break. Everyone is in the same boat; think of our greys as the great equalizer. Give your hair a rest. Your hair will survive. Let it grow out a bit, and use this time to experiment with some styling; maybe you can finally master the fishtail braid you saw on YouTube, or learn that French braid from Frozen your daughter has been pestering you to do for her. No one is going to see you and, if you’re working from home, abandon the notion of daily hair styles. If you need to do a Zoom meeting, don’t stress; just put your hair up. You don’t have the same social pressures as you normally do, so why not enjoy it? And remember, we are all showing our grey roots right now!

If we’re set on going the dye-from-a-box route, any tips so that our stylist doesn’t have a major mess on their hands once the quarantine is lifted?

So, if you’re going to self dye-solate, the first step is to choose the right colour: a shade that is similar to your natural colour. Now is not the time to attempt DIY balayage, pastel ombre or Madonna blonde ambition. This is just to cover your greys to your natural colour as a way to bridge the gap. Look for a dye that guarantees 100 per cent grey coverage—and get two boxes if your hair is really thick or the grey coverage is longer than one or two inches. First, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the skin around your hairline and the tops of your ears to prevent staining (avoid getting any on your hair as it will prevent the dye from colouring your greys). Part your hair in the middle, and then again from the tops of your ears so your hair is divided into four quadrants: two at the back and two at the front between your ears. Then, using a tail comb, move from back to front and move down that quadrant in half-inch sections, applying the dye and making sure the greys are truly saturated—more is better here. Only start the timer when you are finished. If you have ever heard your stylist say you have stubborn greys, let it process for an additional five to 10 minutes, then rinse until the water runs clear and shampoo and condition as normal. I might sleep with a towel on my pillowcase for a few nights just in case!

Full disclosure: we haven’t washed our locks (let alone showered) in days. Good or bad, from a hair-health perspective?

It may sound crazy when it comes to your hair, but sometimes doing less is more. A break from over-washing, drying and heat styling may do wonders to prevent breakage and brittle ends, but remember: healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp. Once a week, use a scalp scrub treatment like Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt, and try to keep the moisture in your hair by washing with a gentle "cleansing cream," (also known as "co-washing") using something like Oribe’s Cleansing Creme for Moisture & Control—this is a way to mildly cleanse your hair and replenish strands. To be clear, co-washing doesn’t mean you should skip shampoo; rather, look for a shampoo free of sulphates and silicones, as the former will dry out your hair and the later will cause buildup resulting in breakage.

We’ve all got some extra time on our hands these days. Any favourite DIY hair-pampering treatments you can recommend?

It’s almost impossible to find a face mask right now, but I definitely know where you can find a hair masque! Support your favourite local salon by ordering online or by phone/Insta DM; many, like the salon I work at, are even offering curbside pickup for your orders if you can’t wait to for your products to arrive. Hair in need of a deep and restorative treatment? My fave is Oribe’s Gold Lust Transformative Masque: its strengthening protein blend reverses existing damage and reduces split ends. And, for all hair types, use Christophe Robin’s Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Oil, which is perfect for all hair types and for keeping in overnight.

Truth time: how many days has it been since you last showered … er, we mean, washed your hair?!

Who can even tell time anymore!?! I have naturally thick, curly hair, with a coarse texture, which tends to be naturally dryer than most hair types. So, while I shower daily, I wash my hair every three to four days. Full disclosure: being at home so much lately, pants have happened every three to four days as well!


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