To cut or not to cut?: As quarantine drags on, students turn to at-home hair solutions

Jacob Fulton, Assistant City Editor

Almost six weeks ago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a state-wide stay-at-home order, similar to measures introduced in other states and countries. Since then, the Illinois economy has slowed to a crawl: all nonessential businesses are closed, travel is minimized and social contact is supposedly nonexistent. But at least one thing has stayed consistent. Amid all the chaos surrounding COVID-19, hair continues to grow.

As a result, Northwestern students spread across the globe are all facing the same dilemma.

While protesters have called for reopenings, hair salons and barber shops in many places remain closed. In the meantime, some students simply want a trim, and others are ready to transform their looks. It leaves them with the question: To cut or not to cut?

For Medill freshman Jenny Huh, the decision was clear. Her mother had some experience trimming her dogs’ fur, and, after watching her father receive a successful haircut, Huh decided to take a leap of faith. Her mother cut off three inches of split ends — a trim Huh said was long overdue.

Huh was apprehensive at first, but ended up satisfied with the final results. She said her mother’s previous experience as her dogs’ groomer, combined with an artistic touch, made the trim look better than expected.

“I was extremely nervous, because I didn’t want my hair to look like a mess, and I didn’t want to regret trusting my mom with the haircut,” Huh said. “But looking at the haircut afterward, I actually thought to myself, ‘Maybe I don’t need to waste money going to a hair salon.’”

However, not all home haircuts are created equal. Erin Prince Haggis, the owner of Fawn Studio in Evanston, said there are many dangers to at-home cuts or dye jobs. While she understands the need for an occasional trim, Haggis said she advises against any drastic changes outside the salon.

Haggis said some salons, including Fawn, are offering at-home advice for regular clients looking to touch up their roots. She said many people may feel the urge to undergo a large transformation while isolating because, similar to the so-called “breakup haircut” phenomenon, they feel a need for change. But those changes are best done with a consultation and assistance from a professionally trained stylist, she said.

“If you don’t have bangs, don’t try and get bangs, and if you’re a man with really long hair, a buzz cut might not be the answer,” Haggis said. “Anything that’s going to be a huge change for you is probably something you’ll regret the next morning, and then you’re stuck living with that until we can get out of quarantine, which is sort of indefinite. For everybody’s emotional well-being, less is more.”

Permanent damage was also a major concern for recent Northwestern alum Hannah Solmor (Communication ‘20), who consulted with her hairdresser before making any changes. Eventually, Solmor and her stylist settled on a temporary hair color in a shade of rose gold, which would reduce damage to her existing dye job but also allow her to experiment with a new look.

Solmor said she has experimented with her hair for years, and has always seen it as a way to express herself. As a result of COVID-19 and limited social interactions, she said now is the perfect time to try a new look.

“It’s exciting in a moment of feeling helpless,” Solmor said. “I can’t go do anything, I can’t go get my nails done, I can’t go to the spa, I can’t go do any of those things that would be a luxury and an experience to escape the real world. Being able to bring it into your home brings some sense of normalcy.”

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Twitter: @jacobnfulton1

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