“The most important thing a woman can have- next to her talent, of course- is her hairdresser,” Joan Crawford, the American actress, once said. For many of us, male or female, this statement rings true; hair is important part of our identity. We invest a lot of money and time into maintaining it. A 2017 survey found that the average British woman will spend almost £50,000 on her hair in a lifetime.
However, the spread of Covid-19 has put all of our locks of hair into lockdown; social distancing measures mean that it is physically impossible to get an appointment with a hairdresser.
Many people under lockdown are therefore turning their hand to doing their own hair.
Celebrities have been sharing their attempts at carrying out at-home haircuts. Newsnight presenter Emily Maitliss attempted to cut her husband’s hair.
Yes, I did used to work in a hairdressers.
No, I didn’t learn to use clippers.
Yes, he did ask me to help with this against all my better instincts
No, we are not currently talking … pic.twitter.com/TibA2j6ON0
— emily m (@maitlis) April 14, 2020
Television personality Mark Wright also shared a picture of himself on social media, showing that he had shaven his own head.
However, people are not just seeking to maintain their current hairstyles in lockdown. Some people have seen the social distancing measures as an opportunity to try out a new look. Earlier this month it was reported that at-home hair dye kits were “flying off the shelves”. With bright colours such as pink and blue being sold out in online stores such as Boots and Superdrug.
I spoke to Marta Borrs Colomer, a professional hairdresser who normally works from Belfast city centre. Marta has been offering advice to her customers who want to maintain their hairstyles at home.
Getting into a hairy situation
A radical change to your hair, such as cutting it short or dyeing it a bright colour is sometimes linked to a need to do some different. The British Journal of Sociology published research stating that hair has historically symbolised change. People sometimes change their hair after a break-up or when they move away to university for the first time.
Most of us are currently staying at home to try and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Although important, staying in the house everyday can feel monotonous. It is perhaps little surprise that people in lockdown desire a change.
However, with the increased inspiration to change one’s hair, there is sure to be a few disasters with home haircuts gone wrong. I asked Marta if she was worried about having to fix her customer’s DIY ‘dos once we come out of lockdown. She said she is looking forward to the challenge, “Sometimes I think disasters are good because then you can experiment… and then you feel especially good when it’s fixed”
Hair and self-esteem
Hair is important for the way we look. It is one of the most noticeable physical features, as it frames the face. Hair helps to create a first impression and so it is no wonder that so many of us care so deeply about our tresses.
Most people will recognise that when we think we look bad; we often feel worse. Numerous studies have shown that our perceptions of how we look affect our self-esteem.
As one of the most important aspects of our appearance, a bad hair day will almost inevitably make us feel less confident.
The point of social distancing is to reduce our physical contact with other people. During lockdown less people will physically see our hair, which may be something of a relief to those feeling self-conscious about exposed roots or untidy trims. However, in this socially distanced time, video-chatting services such as Zoom now form a key pillar of most of our social and professional lives.
A US survey found 1 in 3 women avoided being in photos on a bad hair day
Talking to someone over a video-calling service can often make us feel self-conscious about our appearance. As well as seeing the other person’s face, you also see your own face. During the call, you might find yourself staring at the spot emerging on your face or thinking you should have put more makeup on; video-calls can often bring a microscopic focus onto your own appearance.
So, while people experiencing bad hair days during lockdown may not have to see others physically, the experience of video calling may make them hyperconscious of their hair.
Hair: it’s personal
With everything currently going on in the world, hair might seem like a fickle thing to be concerned about. But our relationship with our hair is deeply personal and even emotional. This is seen in the way people trust their hairdressers.
Marta says that some of customers treat her like a “therapist” when she is doing their hair and that she hears “a lot of very personal stories”. Many people are deeply attached to their hair, and so they implicitly trust the person who styles it for them.
“I think hairdressers are sometimes a bit like a therapist, you hear a lot of stories, a lot of personal stories” Marta, professional hairdresser
Hair affects your sense of self, and as already discussed, can affect your self-esteem. In these trying times, many of us are having to work harder on maintaining our mental health. Mental health and self-esteem are closely linked, and so although it sounds fickle, taking pride in aspects of appearance such as our hair is more important than ever.