3 Mistakes Hairstylists Are Begging You Not To Make At Home

If you’re standing at your bathroom counter during the coronavirus pandemic, scissors in one hand and bangs in the other, put everything down and back away slowly.

While you may have watched a YouTube tutorial or two on how to trim your fringe or get the perfect rainbow hair at home, do you really want to upset your hairstylist (and your bank account) later when you need to fix your quarantine look? With some parts of the country beginning to open salons, can’t you wait a bit longer?

HuffPost spoke with three experienced stylists in Florida, where clients are reaching out again to book appointments (and fix all the hair sins they committed at home). These pros agree it’s A-OK to try some beauty routines at home. On the other hand, there are maintenance steps you should probably not attempt yourself.

Don’t try box dye.

Melody Choate, hairstylist and salon educator, told HuffPost that many of her clients have called about covering their grays while her salon is closed.

“They’re asking what kind of box color is best, which … there is no box color that’s best,” she said. “With box dye, you don’t know the volume of the developer. The higher the developer, the more damaging it is to your hair, and box dye is often high-volume. You’re potentially damaging all your hair just to cover your roots.”

If you just can’t wait to see your stylist, Choate said, apply box dye as sparingly as possible.

“If you do have to use box color, I’m not going to shame you for that, but something to keep in mind is to only do your roots,” she warned. “Don’t pull it through the ends. When you do that, you can lose other dimensional color you had previously. And your ends can be more fragile than fresh hair at the top of your head so that harmful box color can cause damage.”

Don’t bleach your hair (or use other harsh chemicals).

Sami Skinner, a stylist, color correction specialist and Redken artist, said at-home bleach is her number one no-no for those trying to change their look during this time of social distancing.

Bleach will do more harm than good if you don't know how to handle it. Wait for your hairstylist to reopen to lighten your hair.

Bleach will do more harm than good if you don’t know how to handle it. Wait for your hairstylist to reopen to lighten your hair.

“If you bleach your hair and it’s been lightened before, if you overlap that lightener at all, you’re risking your hair falling out or extreme damage. That’s a nightmare to fix,” she explained. “The other thing is, if you’re not a natural blond and you’re bleaching your hair at home, you’re not going to get the pigment you’re looking for — it’ll be that orange tone. The amount of money and time needed to fix that is a lot worse than people imagine.”

Sarajane Maples, a colorist and bridal stylist, noted that keratin is another chemical to leave to salon appointments only.

“An at-home keratin treatment is almost a reverse perm; it’s breaking down the composition of your hair and reforming it into something different,” she told HuffPost. “That’s something you’re not going to want to mess with: the composition of your hair. Keratin now is very mild, but you want someone who does those treatments all the time to be doing them.”

Don’t trim your layers.

All three experts agreed that if you’re giving a men’s cut to someone, it’s fairly foolproof as long as you have clippers with a guard. But leave long hair alone.

“Please don’t cut your long hair,” Maples said. “It’d probably be better for it if it had the chance to grow anyway. Color can usually be fixed, but hair has to grow back.”

Do experiment with nonpermanent color.

Are you seeing Instagram ads for color-depositing conditioners? Brands like Overtone are all over social media, and Choate said products like theirs are a solid option for exploring color without damaging hair.

“They generally wash out really quickly,” she said, “and if they don’t wash out quickly, it’s easy for us to get out.”

Skinner added that if you use a color-depositing conditioner, be sure to read the directions well. Otherwise, your new hue may last longer than you intended.

“If you put it on dry hair, it’s a nightmare to get that stuff out,” she said.

It also makes a difference how deep the color is. “If they specify they’re a pastel, it’s like a whisper of color that’ll fade within four to five washes. Some are very inky, saturated tones and those are the ones that are not fun to take out. That’s a color correction,” Skinner said.

And if you have blond or balayage hair, she advised reaching out to your stylist. “It’s not hard for us to make a colorful conditioner and drop it on your doorstep. Then I could control the pigment and help in that way.”

Do try clip-in extensions.

If you can’t get a cut, you can pop in some halo extensions and you can’t tell you haven’t had a haircut in a while,” Maples said. “Some people have been in quarantine for three months and that’s a long time without a change.”

She noted that “the brand I work with has halos in 17 to 20 inches that I can color for clients, and they can pick it up outside the house and have something fun for a couple weeks.”

Do trim your bangs (just don’t create new ones).

Skinner said she’s OK with clients trimming their bangs and has offered to FaceTime with them while they’re at it.

Choate added that it’s ideal to wait for your stylist, but if you’re reaching for the scissors, try this: “If your bangs are driving you crazy, it’s best to cut up into them in vertical sections. It creates a softer look and is less committal. Hold your shears vertically and cut up into them to get some of that weight out instead of having a blunt line with a horizontal chop.”

In addition, Choate said that when trimming your fringe, “it’s always best to start longer because your hair springs up so much. Cut it a lot longer than you think and go from there.”

Do call your stylist for pointers and products.

If your salon is closed, then your stylist is probably at home just like you, Maples pointed out. Chances are they’d love to offer tips or drop off products to help you change up your hair safely.

“Your stylist wants you to contact them so their job isn’t so hard later,” she said. “Always go to your stylist first.”

Maples noted that she’s been playing around, too. “I’ve done rainbow hair on myself while I’ve been at home and extension clip-ins, but they’ve all been things that can come out over the period of a month.”

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