What to do when you can’t get to the hairdresser

Hair Isolation Guide

Your self-isolation hair guide

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / April 16 2020

Is anyone else’s hair looking sad and gross right now? Don’t worry, we feel you. While we’d happily let our hair take a backseat until we see this whole COVID-19 pandemic out, thanks to the age of Zoom, our co-workers (and even our dates) now have a close-up view of our faces and apartments (hey, unwashed dishes). So, yeah, it’s normal to feel the same amount of pressure to look presentable even though you’re cooped up at home.

If you haven’t already box-dyed your hair or just shaved it all off in a panic, we’ve got some tips to help you get through this mess with a head of good hair.

Problem #1 / Your roots are starting to show

Whether your greys are just starting to come through, or you’ve got some serious regrowth going on, there are some easy (and low-maintenance) ways to touch-up your hair colour at home. But before you go buying a box dye kit in a shade that is ‘close enough’ to your existing colour, know that there’s a better option.

“Colours develop differently on different hair types and only a professional can determine which product you should choose to deliver your desired results, as well as how much dye to use and how long to let it process,” says Sydney colourist and founder of Edwards and Co, Jaye Edwards, who warns that box dye kits are not for everyone.

“I have seen plenty of horror stories involving clients not applying enough colour to saturate the hair, resulting in uneven, patchy colour, as well as clients who have used too much and end up looking way too dark and dull. Not to mention when clients experiment with boxed bleach and come in to see us with canary yellow, dry and damaged hair.”

In these trying times, hair salons like Edwards and Co are now producing professional take-home hair colour kits (purchased online) which are a great option for touching up roots and regrowth. “We are in the business of transformations and want to keep our clients feeling good, even if that means applying their own colour at home for now,” says Edwards. “As such, we have launched at-home colour kits and an online IGTV series, The Lockdown with EdwardsAndCo’, to not only equip viewers with tips and tricks for taking care of their hair at home, but to provide some entertainment.” 

If you’re confused about where to start, check out Edwards’ step-by-step at-home colour guide below:

For those who aren’t confident touching up their colour with an at-home hair colour kit, celebrity hair and makeup artist Jade Kisnorbo says there are plenty of other quick-fix options. “There are some fantastic wash-out products to help cover grey [hair], too. I highly recommend the John Frieda Root Blur and L’Oréal Paris Magic Retouch.” 

John Frieda Root Blur

L’Oréal Paris Magic Retouch

Kisnorbo says another easy way to make your colour last is to try and spread out your hair washing schedule. “I would try to avoid washing your hair daily. There are many great products that can keep our hair feeling fresh – for this, I love using a dry shampoo. The Sebastian Drynamic Dry Shampoo is a favourite of mine, as is Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk for a more cost-effective option.”

Sebastian Drynamic Dry Shampoo

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Problem #2 / Split ends

If you’re anything like us, split ends are the bane of your existence. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s basically when your hair splinters at the oldest part of your hair shaft. This can lead to breakage, making some strands shorter than the rest of your hair. It’s not ideal. Usually split ends (and damage) is caused by heat, chemical treatments or just general wear and tear. Which brings us to…prevention.

Did you know something as simple as not tying up your hair post-wash can help prevent split ends? Well, now you do. “Our hair is most fragile when it is wet. This is the time where you need to be most gentle with it,” explains Revlon Professional’s Blonde Ambassador Rhiannon Dimaria. Instead of throwing it up in a wet bun, Dimaria suggests applying a leave-in conditioner and waiting five minutes for it to detangle and soften, before gently combing it out with a wide-tooth comb. “Your hair stretches when it’s wet and shrinks as it dries; combine that with a tight elastic band over and over again, it creates friction underneath the band which can wear the hair down. Use a soft scrunchie if you absolutely have to put it up.”  

If you’ve been consistently rocking the ol’ topknot since the whole WFH thing (guilty), Dimaria says it may be time to give your hair a break. “Regular brushing instead of leaving your hair up in a messy bun while working from home will make a huge difference to your hair health,” she says. Dimaria also notes that “Keeping your hair hydrated and maintaining the bonds is the best way to strengthen hair and prevent split ends. A silk pillowcase goes a very long way!” 

If your split ends are WAY past the prevention stage, you may be tempted to pick at them (please refrain) or just grab a pair of scissors and freshen things up (again, please don’t). Edwards explains that there is a better way to go about treating damaged hair at home. “I would recommend Redken pH-Bonder to help repair damage and prevent against breakage. My all-time favourite restorative mask is by Virtue Labs [Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask], and their Split End Serum is AMAZING!”

Redken pH-Bonder

Virtue Labs Split End Serum

Problem #3 / Dull hair colour

“Blonde hair colour or highlights will turn grey or yellow over time, and natural blonde hair can also look dull and lack shine,” says Edwards. Reach for at-home toning products to keep your colour looking healthy and vibrant while you wait it out for your next appointment. “Products such as Christophe Robin Shade Variation masks are tailored for either brunettes, blondes or copper shades to help neutralise tones and restore pure, radiant and defined highlights,” he explains. You could also try using a pre-shampoo treatment like Color Wow’s Dream Filter Pre-Shampoo Mineral Remover.

Another simple way to help repair dull hair? Cut down on the heat damage. “I think it’s really important during this time to give your hair a break from your heat tools – straighteners, curling wands etc.,” says Kisnorbo. “These tools really dry out the hair, and this is the time we should be bringing back moisture to the hair. To do this, I highly recommend using hair masks. When you are looking for masks, look for ones that include pear seed or avocado oil as these products penetrate deep into the hair,” adds Kisnorbo. Try Garnier Hair Food Fructis Treat Avocado.

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask Baby Blonde

Color Wow Dream Filter Pre-Shampoo Mineral Remover

Garnier Hair Food Fructis Treat Avocado

Problem #4 / Dry, itchy scalp

If your scalp feels itchy and irritated, it’s time for a scalp detox. “Healthy, shiny hair starts with a healthy scalp,” says Dimaria. “Sebum (scalp oils) and dandruff can build up on the scalp causing irritation and if not taken care of, can lead to your hair follicles being filled with dead skin and oil which affects the quality of your hair growth. If the hair is unable to push its way through the follicle due to this build-up, it can lead to hair loss and stunted growth.”

Just like your skin, your scalp needs regular exfoliation and protection. “Start with regular brushing with a soft brush to stimulate blood flow and loosen any build-up,” Dimaria says. “Using good quality hair products will prevent build-up from accumulating in the first place. I highly recommend the Eksperience range by Revlon Professional.”

Confused about which kind of scalp treatment is right for you? “Ask your hairdresser for an online or FaceTime consultation to find out which plan and accompanying haircare range is right for you,” suggests Dimaria. Noted.

Revlon Professional UniqOne Hair Treatment

Problem #5 / Your hair extensions have grown out

For those of you with hair extensions, this is going to be a tough time. If you’re not able to get your hair extensions adjusted by a hairstylist, they can end up twisting, turning and poking out of your hair. “If your extensions have grown out it’s important they get removed so they don’t matte your hair up,” says Edwards. “We have been inundated with requests for a ‘Lockdown with EdwardsAndCo’ IGTV episode on this and are working on getting one out ASAP. In the meantime, you can keep your extensions in the best possible condition by never brushing your hair at the roots. Instead, run your fingers through the roots to keep them from tangling and then hold your hair in a fist just under your ear and brush the ends. By holding your hair, you are taking pressure off the bonds and helping them last for longer.”

Want more tips on how to up your beauty routine in self-isolation? Hit up our article on how to give yourself a rejuvenating DIY facial.

Main image credit: @taylor_hill

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.