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Shaggy Hair Blues During Lockdown


If you have hair, you probably have a lot more of it than you did a month ago. And in many states, it's unclear when salons and barbershops will reopen. Chloe Veltman of member station KQED tells us some other ways people in her part of the world have been trying to keep their locks under control.

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Kevin Stark was feeling shaggy.

KEVIN STARK, BYLINE: My hair has gotten into this kind of Wolverine phase. It's just very, very puffy.

VELTMAN: So Stark decided to attempt something he's never done before - a DIY haircut.


VELTMAN: He's a fellow reporter at KQED and obligingly recorded himself while undertaking the process.

STARK: So right now, I'm just trying to get around my ears. And just took a big slosh (ph) off.


VELTMAN: Stark is among the many Americans driven to take hair maintenance into their own hands while sheltering in place. Some are enlisting the help of family members...



VELTMAN: ...Like in this Instagram video featuring a woman named Brooke Ricciardi in Hermosa Beach taking electric shears to the side of her partner's head.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: When I did the curve, it really took a chunk.


VELTMAN: Others aren't so comfortable about having their boo do they do. Trisha McFadden normally goes to her stylist in Oakland every four weeks to get her hair done.

TRISHA MCFADDEN: Red is my color.

VELTMAN: When McFadden's longtime stylist obligingly sent her a batch of her signature bright red hair dye in the mail, he suggested she get her husband to help her touch up her roots. But she was having none of it.

MCFADDEN: Oh, no. He's OCD. No way. We were going to have a fight.

VELTMAN: So she did it herself. McFadden says it took more than two hours to get her first-ever selfie hair color done after covering her white-tiled bathroom with old sheets and adorning herself in a garbage bag cape.

MCFADDEN: It was pretty intense.

VELTMAN: McFadden works in public health in Monterey County. She's going into her office several times a week as part of the effort to combat the coronavirus. She says looking good has never felt more important.

MCFADDEN: So much change happening. I wanted something to be somewhat normal, which is my hair color.

VELTMAN: For some people, like Kent Buttercorn, and the stay-at-home orders are providing a good opportunity to escape normality.

KENT BUTTERCORN: I've never really experimented with shaped facial hair.

VELTMAN: The Sonoma County-based lighting designer decided to get creative with his mustache.

BUTTERCORN: So then I shaved the center.

VELTMAN: Meanwhile, popular brands of hair bleach and color are selling out on online retailers' websites as people proudly show off their new extravagantly rainbow-dyed locks on Instagram and Twitter. Some of these newbie home stylists are seeking out professionals' online video tutorials for guidance, like this one from San Francisco stylist Sylvia Reiss.


SYLVIA REIS: Just the same way as the sun would lighten your hair, you want to mimic that to create a bright yet soft look.

VELTMAN: Of course, there are some people who'd rather flout the rules than attempt an home haircuts or color job. San Francisco stylist Nicky Lynch says she's recently had to fend off eager customers.

NICKY LYNCH: One of my clients offered to come to my home, and I had to be like, no.

VELTMAN: Like many in her profession, Lynch does not recommend that people cut their own hair. Instead, she advises finding ways to get it out of your face until the salons reopen.

LYNCH: I would recommend buying bobby pins, getting creative and, like, learning how to braid. Or I'm super into headbands. Scrunchies are back in.

VELTMAN: But, Lynch says, if your bangs are really driving you crazy, go ahead and cut them yourself. She says they're easy for your stylist to fix. Or you could always wear a hat. For NPR News, I'm Chloe Veltman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.