My First Lockdown Haircut

There’s been a joyous movement during Lockdown of people embracing their greys – showcasing their silvery and salt and pepper locks in all their glory over social media. We’ve seen music artists like Marina (and the Diamonds) showcasing oh so cool superhero-style stripes and chic flashes of grey. But for every one of those deciding to revel in their enforced break from dye, there’s been those that have despaired at the ‘demise’ of their usual or favoured hair looks.

Some people have felt they’ve lost their identity as their trademark look that relies upon professional skills, starts to fade, both literally and metaphorically. Other’s have suffered with self esteem issues, believing their lack of salon time has impacted their attractiveness and who aren’t had the confidence to attempt a DIY makeover at home.

Honestly, my hair hasn’t been looking it’s best, but realistically this aspect of lockdown hasn’t impacted me as much as some. I actually only tend to go to a salon once every 4 months anyway – so it hasn’t taken any level of adaption on my part. I intentionally opt for a low maintenance look most of the time just for that reason. I know some people find going to a salon restorative or relaxing – a welcome break from other life duties. Others enjoy it form a social aspect and enjoy the buzzy/chill environment of the salon. I’ve always found it a bit tricky to be honest. While I get excited about the impending refresh, there is a definite level of inconvenience for me.

Don’t get me wrong when it’s my friends governing the outcome of my hair I enjoy our catch ups and the putting the worlds to right, which our trivial natters always develop into. Due to our conflicting schedules as is the norm in adulthood, it’s often the only time I get to see the talented hair lovelies in my life. But sitting in one position for that length of time isn’t easy for me. On a good trip it’s mildly uncomfortable, on a bad day pretty painful, or at least I’m all too aware it will lead to a painful episode. I also feel a pressure to talk throughout rather than be someone that mindlessly scrolls on their phone the phone time. But that amount of conversation for me is very taxing on my energy levels too. There’s a reason I don’t socialise much or talk on the phone…it’s because I’ve found it to zap my resources more than anything else – and I need energy to be able to work and stay financially afloat. I always have to make a choice.

Previously my hair was pretty long. For over 2 decades it scaled my spine almost reaching the top of my bottom. Sure it would develop ratty ends (from getting it constantly tangled in bag shoulder straps), start to look lank, and the impact of layers would diminish as it grew out, but I could get away with it because you could just frame it as going through a ‘boho’ or ‘effortless’ phase. And now even with a shorter style, it’s passable after a few months because I don’t go for anything too specific or complex. I’ve been going for a bob, which just ends up being a slightly longer bob after a few weeks. It gradually becomes less cute, but it’s acceptable all the same. Dye-wise on the whole I go for a rooted look, so that however long I leave it, it’ll always look like the sort of hair cultivated by someone who once travelled and was blessed by sun and salty water bleaching, but who has been home for a while. The colour isn’t so dense that regrowth creates a defined band – my natural dark blonde just fades into the peroxide ends. I do feel brighter when the peroxide is a bit higher up though, so I do get that uplifting feeling that a fresh dye often delivers for people.

Frustratingly my hair had taken a noticeable downturn since my last dye job – a visit I took stealth and undercover in the role of a secret shopper. It looked great on the day, but a few days later it was apparent that he’d left the bleach on a bit too long on my virgin hair at the back. A large area had become frizzy, wiry and crispy. It felt weak too, and I panicked as I lots coming off in my brush, even when using a soft one intended for fragile wet hair. My fatigue issues have made the situation worse too. Most days I have a nap in the afternoon – I have to move a lot in bed too to try and prevent stiffness and often in an attempt to avoid EDS related injuries. The movements of my head on the pillow hasn’t done anything to improve the situation. The friction and matting on this vulnerable area of hair has got to a point where I haven’t often felt able to wear my hair down during Lockdown.

You probably wouldn’t know if you follow my Instagram. That’s the joy of the platform being absent from 360 degree technology – no one can see the crunchy nest on the back of my head. Another reminder that social media is never the whole truth!

Due to my hair’s condition which appears not dissimilar to vermicelli noodles I’ve actually been craving a remedy via one of my hair goddesses. But due to my parents falling in to the vulnerable age category (both well in to their 70’s) and having their own health battles, I have been teachers pet when it comes to lockdown rules. I haven’t wanted to deviate for fear of bringing the virus in to their environment – I’d just never forgive myself. I guess I should be thinking of how it would impact my own health too, but honestly they have been my primary consideration.

I’ve felt conflicted at times, because I really do want to support business, particularly those small/local businesses that have been hit so hard during this time. However I’m finding it hard to persuade myself to do any activities/trips that aren’t essential. And I guess, I personally don’t put hair in to that category, even though I understand it’s ability make people feel happier in themselves. I guess I’ve gotten used to being quite strict with myself and feel guilty about even the idea of putting myself in a potentially hazardous scenario I don’t really need to be in.

In the last week I’ve turned down a few social invites. It just feels too soon for me. I want to see whether this second wave is coming first, I think. But that’s just it. While there’s some non negotiable aspects of all this, there are some decisions you have to make based on common sense applied to your own unique situation, combined with your own innate response.

So with the knowledge that I wanted to sort out the thatch that had developed on my head, knowing I didn’t want to commute in to London and go on the underground I had to weigh up my other options. Unfortunately I wasn’t confident that my most local salon would be as cautious as I’d like. So I decided to message my friends who I’ve previously visited at salons, who prior to lockdown were equipped to do home visits. Luckily my friend Tor said she could come to my house and was happy to wear a mask and a protective visor. I also knew that like me, Tor had been on the cautious side over lockdown.

We had a remote consultation via Instagram DM. Knowing that she would likely only have a suitcase of products/equipment with her (rather than the full options in a salon backroom), I though I should let her know about my specific issue. She asked for pictures of the buggered up area of my hair and upon opening them told me it probably wouldn’t be safe to dye that area of my hair – and in fact we should consider chopping the damaged bits off. This wasn’t exactly music to my ears considering my plan was to grown my hair and go lighter, but considering what helped to get me in this place I appreciated her honest and cautious advice.

So we decided that we’d go for a halo look – meaning the we’d just lighten the front sections that frame my face – we agreed that would achieve that freshened up feeling I was after considering it would always be visible front on. Initially we were going to go for a subtle blended look, but once she viewed how my grown out dye currently looked we decided a better/cooler option might be to go for more of a statement block. Not quite as punk and thick as sexy young thing Dua Lipa, but a slightly more tentative version for this thirty something Surrey girl.

When Tori arrived at the bottom of my stairs it felt a bit surreal actually. Apart from the boiler man and we hadn’t seen anyone pass our threshold for many months. It reminded me of that Notting Hill moment where Hugh say’s ‘surreal but nice’ upon randomly meeting Julia. But it really was a weirdly and wonderful change from our ‘new norm’.

We set up in the kitchen and I gotta say I quickly thought – I think this is how I want to do it from now on. There’s something very easy and comforting about being in your own home. Every day and every hour is a working day for me, and knowing that I could access anything needed for any kind of work emergency served as a relaxant. Hearing Si’s work recruitment chat coming from the office didn’t create the zen soothing vibes that some salons achieve though – and unfortunately I had to serve myself and Tor refreshments.

I guess the only difficult bit was when it came to rinsing, which we had to do over the bath. This might be tricky on days where my neck is sore but I guess i’d schedule my appointments around that where possible. It was fine on this occasion and Tor was very speedy. I noted that it made my POTS go a bit mad though, my FIT BIT was telling me my heart was having a bit of a manic time.

Although I was reticent about a trim I’m so glad I accepted its rightful fate. Tor did a great job at neatening the ends and doing what she called secret cutting to remove lots of the dead hair at the back.

The overall process was much quicker than it usually is, I guess because we were doing a much smaller area of my hair than usual. But I imagine you cut a bit of time off because there’s less distractions too. Often in a salon, the stylist might disappear to chat to a client at the reception or finish another that’s crossed over in to your slot. Or like the last guy who did my hair, they might be having a good gossip in the mixing cupboard while your hair starts it’s process of turning to dust.

When I saw the finished look I had that, ‘I’m a new woman’ high. I finally had a definite style again and I felt lifted – not just form my new look, but from having a good ol’ catch up with a pal, somewhere that felt safe.

I’ve been fuming on behalf of the beauty industry during the process of lockdown ease. I think it’s been nothing short of scandalous, and very obvious proof that sexism is still rife in politics. So I urge anyone that feels comfortable in doing so (or who feels that it’s safe) to book in with their salons. We need to revive these industries who been unfairly treated, who would have had a difficult time even if it had all be handled well.

But that goes for freelance, independent, and mobile beauty technicians and stylist’s too. The rules would have brought their businesses to halt too, so if we feel we are in a position to support, we must try to do so….with safety at the heart of course. Their service is so vital not just for the convenience factor, but for those that would otherwise not be able to have these treatments. For those that suffer with physical/mental health issues, transport issues, or that find being around other people stressful – they provide so much more than superficial changes. For many this might provide the only interaction outside of their own company/household. It might be that much needed moment of self care that helps them maintain their wellbeing for the rest of the month. It might be that their particular treatment offers pain relief or ease symptoms of a chronic illness that provides constant challenges and discomfort .

I feel very lucky that I was able to have a few hours with Tor last week, and have a new look created. While not eradicating any of my other ongoing stresses, it has given me a lovely temporary high, that does kick-in momentarily but regularly whenever I look in the mirror and remember that my dulled and frazzled locks are looking much better. That face to face, or should I say mask to visor contact also served as a heady reminder of the importance of connection.

It’s brilliant that we have so many tools to chat/listen remotely and there are occasions where it suits me far better, but there’s nothing quite like being in someone’s presence is there – there’s something about being in the same space or environment that binds you in one way or another. I guess it’s something that’s shared and in common isn’t it?

While I think my level of connection is hindered slightly but my inability to be tactile – I’m someone that uses my hands to talk and will often touch an arms when chatting with people I’m close too (it’s not creepy , promise) I feel nourished by my first lockdown social meeting and look forward to when I feel comfortable/safe to do more.

Till then I will make the most of the fact that most brands I work with are happy to Zoom rather than make me commit to commuting all the way to london for half hour meetings, and create as  Instagram content as I can before my hair surpasses best-before status again (see below).

Whether you’re still weighing up the pro’s and cons of getting a Lockdown haircut or swishing the days away with your first lockdown hair makeover, I wish you and your hair well.

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