How to cut your hair at home without ruining it

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It’s been weeks since hair salons and barbershops temporarily closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and people are feeling the effects.

Some people are dealing with “quarantine hair” by shaving their heads, while others are sharing their DIY flops, including bad cuts, wonky dye jobs and uneven bangs.

Stylists initially advised clients not to take measures into their own hands, but that was when they thought things would go back to “normal” sooner than later.

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“At first we were like, ‘Don’t worry, just let it be.’ We didn’t think it was going to be too long,” Winnipeg-based stylist Marcella Rizzuto recently told Global News.

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“Now I kind of get it. We’re getting into a month here. People still want to look good and feel good, even if we’re in quarantine.”

If you are in need of a cut or dye and want to do it yourself, here are some expert tips on at-home styling.

Keep it simple

If you need to cut your hair, keep your cut simple to reduce the likelihood of error. Now is not the time to attempt a Vidal Sassoon bob.

Raphael Azran, owner of Toronto-based salon Colour Lab, said that for long hair, trimming off dead ends with scissors is about as adventurous as you want to get.

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“Get a roommate or get a friend and just take off a little bit at a time,” Azran said.

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Brennen Demelo, a Toronto-based L’Oréal Paris Canada hair artist, suggests people cut their hair dry — not wet. When your hair is cut wet, you’re at risk for chopping off too much or changing your hair’s balance or shape.

Adrian Carew, owner of Hair91, a salon in Toronto, said that men should lightly cut their hair with clippers — and not go too short.

“You shouldn’t take it really, really short [with your clippers] where you see all the mistakes,” he said.

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“Do it gradually and just give it a light trim… where there’s not such a distinctive difference.”

Listen to the pros

Hairstylists are pivoting to our current reality. Many are offering free video tutorials or personal consultations for a fee.

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Virtual barbershop You Probably Need a Haircut lets people book an online appointment with a pro who walks them through their cut. You need to have your own equipment, and rates start at $18.

Azran, who specializes in colour, stresses that quality dye is key to at-home colouring. The salon owner is now offering virtual colour consultations and is selling professional colour kits to clients.

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“We started this service in mid-March, mainly for our clients, because I was getting requests for it,” Azran said.

“It’s really taken off to the point where I’m getting people from all over Canada emailing us.”

Azran chats with clients over Zoom or FaceTime and determines a colour formula suited for their hair. Based on their needs, people can buy either a root touch-up kit or an all-over colour kit.

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“I’ve seen their hair, I’ve given them exact instructions that are very easy to follow, so there’s no going wrong,” he said.

“If anything, people are having a blast. They’re nervous in the beginning… but it’s a fun at-home activity.”

Use the right equipment

Carew said that without the proper equipment or material, you’re at risk of a DIY disaster. If you only have dull kitchen shears, your cut won’t look good — period.

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The same goes for clippers: without them, you risk a potentially unflattering cut.

Carew said if you don’t have the right equipment, it’s better to let your hair rest and treat it with hydrating masks and leave-in conditioners, for example.

Carew posted a series of videos to his salon’s Instagram account on this topic, including a list of the best drugstore products for curly hair.

Be cautious around colour

When it comes to colour, both Carew and Azran advise against dying your entire hair with drugstore-brand box dye if you’ve never used it before. If not careful, box dye can destroy your existing colour or turn your locks another colour altogether, they said.

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Not only can this create an undesired look, it’s an expensive mistake to fix once salons reopen, Carew said.

If your roots are showing or greys are coming through, Carew said it’s best to address those issues — not your overall hair.

He said the best drugstore root-coverage options include Roux ’Tween Time Instant Root Concealer, L’Oréal Magic Root Cover Up spray, Clairol Root Touch-Up and Schwarzkopf Hair Mascara.

Demelo said at-home dye jobs can be done well, you just need to properly identify your needs, like root touch-up or grey coverage, and carefully follow instructions.

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“Sprays are great ways to go about first-time home colouring,” he said.

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“If you have a few greys and want to refresh your colour so that when you come out of this you’re feeling good, it’s always good to go with something like L’Oréal Casting Creme, which is a semi-permanent colour that gives you more of a natural look.”

If you need an all-over colour, Demelo said it’s important you allocate enough time and do a thorough job.

He recommends sectioning your hair into four sections, from down the middle and ear to ear. Then, prepare for the colour application by clipping all your hair up.

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“If you have grey hair that’s stubborn, maybe you apply there first to make sure you get that colour on right away,” he said.

“Then I suggest starting at the part and completely saturating your roots with the product. Then, you take another section, but not too thick of a section, maybe the size of the applicator bottle’s nozzle.”

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After you finish all four zones, Demelo said to let your hair down and make sure your hair is completely saturated. Let the dye sit for the allocated time, and rinse with water until it runs clear.

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Demelo said you do not need to shampoo your hair right after colouring it and should try to wait 24 to 48 hours before washing it.

“It’s always good to let the colouring settle,” he said.

“You want to let those hair follicles close off completely.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With a file from Global News’ Will Reimer

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