By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Currently, we find ourselves in a very unique situation. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused all of us to push the pause button on our lives. Aside from our weekly grocery store trip, we’re housebound. We have limited options for entertainment and are forced to refocus our lives on what truly matters. Staying healthy has become a prominent objective for many of us. We have begun to take extra time for self-care and exercise. However, the lack of salon services can limit our endeavors and complicate our beauty routines. What can we do during quarantine to keep ourselves well-groomed in the meantime?
Many of us may be tempted to rock our natural beauty—let our roots grow in and skip out on nail polish. However, we still have to look put together for our work Zoom meetings and happy hour calls. Here are some tips to help you create some awesome at-home salon services with accessible beauty products.
Ladies aren’t the only ones feeling a little shabby. Without access to salon services, men also have to keep up with their hair and grooming at home. For men, a buzzcut might be the easiest way to go.
If you’ve never cut your hair before, there are a few things you should know before you start.
You need to have clippers! You’ll have to use scissors and a comb as well, but only for specific detailing. Wahl cordless is a favorite for many stylists and should be perfect for all your needs. Since they’re cordless, they should be easier for you to use in navigating the hard to reach areas. In case you don’t know, the numbers on clippers represent how short you’re cutting your hair. The lower the number, the shorter your hair. If you don’t know how short you want to cut your hair, start with a five and go down from there. The five comb is equal to ⅝ “ and each guard goes down about an ⅛ from there.
Aside from the clippers, you also need two mirrors. One regular bathroom mirror and one hand mirror will do the trick. Both are important so you can see what you’re doing when you reach the back of your head. Or if you can afford it, try a three-way mirror.
Before you start, decide what hairstyle you want and check out some YouTube videos. YouTube is a great source for how-to videos and can give you a few different examples of how to get the look you want. Make sure you check out at least three different videos! This will help you find similarities between the methods and simplify your technique.
Now, you’re ready to start. Dampen your hair and take out your clippers! Remember to always hold the hand mirror so you can see how you’re cutting the back of your head and cleaning up your neck.
If your hair is already short and you know the length you need, you can run your clippers in every direction over your hair. This will save you a lot of time and help you get any strands of hair you may have missed. On the other hand, if you do have longer hair, that’s when you would start with the longest guard you have. Stylists generally recommend you start at the sides to check how short the clippers cut your hair and then trim the top. Usually, the back and sides are shorter on a buzz cut so if you’re not completely happy with the result, no need to worry!
If you’re too nervous to cut your hair, you might want to switch up your products. Using a heavier gel or blowing your hair dry may be just what you need to extend the life of your hairstyle between salon services.
Grooming your beard, on the other hand, is similar to buzzing your head. You need clippers and should start with the longest guard to see how short you want to cut it. To cut each part evenly, go with and against hair growth. When you reach the mustache, start at the center with the corner of your clipper and work your way out.
If you have a long beard, it’s best not to cut it too drastically. Trimming the edges and keeping it shampooed should be enough to get it through COVID-19.
Usually, women can get away with not cutting their hair for longer than men. However, it’s important that you wash and condition it regularly to keep it from looking ragged. Although it’s tempting to let your hair go when you don’t have to be anywhere, you should continue to wash it about every three days. This keeps it clean without drying it out excessively. If you’re exercising during the quarantine, regular shampoos will also control dandruff. A simple mixture combining four ounces of Braggs organic apple cider vinegar and ten drops of lavender essential oil, can clarify and condition hair after a workout.
Hair extensions will be a little harder to upkeep during the quarantine without salon services. If they’re less than a month old, you can help them last longer with a few simple maintenance tips. Combing your extensions, conditioning them, and only wearing them down occasionally, prevents damage and breakage. In fact, if you keep your hair up in a ponytail as often as possible, you can keep your extensions from growing out for a while.
If you’ve had your hair extensions in for longer than a month, you may want to consider taking them out. Hair extensions can create a strain on your natural hair if they grow out too long, causing irreversible damage. Some kinds of extensions, such as tape-ins, are fairly simple to remove and reapply. If you’re not comfortable living without your hair, you may want to consider switching to tape-ins. Although they can take a really long time to put in, they’re easy to do from home.
If you don’t already use box color, leave your hair alone! This is a harsh reality to face when your roots start growing in, but it’s not worth the risk of ruining your stylist’s work. Your color can be destroyed in an instant if you choose the wrong shade or leave it in too long. You might even severely break your hair.
An alternative to coloring your hair yourself is to use a spray-in hair color. Oribe Airbrush Root Touch Up or Bumble & Bumble Hair Powder can enhance your color and save you in between appointments. If your roots are really driving you crazy, this is the way to go! It’s much safer than trying to learn how to color hair yourself.
Your nail salon services were probably one of the first things you lost in quarantine. They can be one of the easiest to keep intact with the proper knowledge, though.
If you have acrylics, the best way to maintain your current manicure is to avoid any harsh cleaning chemicals, like bleach. If chemicals get under your acrylics, they damage your real nails, popping off the acrylic. If worst comes to worst, you can reattach any nails if you have a little nail glue at home.
Gel polish can also be used to save your acrylics! To do this, buff off the topcoat, apply some alcohol to your nail, and apply a gel topcoat. Even though your acrylic nail has grown out, make sure to extend the gel all the way up to your cuticle. Apply enough layers so that your nail reaches the height of the acrylic. This will keep it for another two weeks at least.
If you just want to use your gel polish to give yourself a regular gel manicure, you can also do that in-home! To create the ultimate “spa” experience, feel free to invest in cuticle removers, nail scrapers, and other tools found in your salon. However, you don’t have to buy all of this equipment if you don’t want to. Gel manicures can be done with just a UV lamp, top coat and base coat, and gel nail polish with the following steps:
If you already have gel polish on your nails, buff the top of your nails and cover them with acetone cotton pads. After fifteen minutes, you can remove the pads and scrape away some of the polish. If some nails are still hard to remove, soak them in acetone again.
Trim your nails to the length you want them and buff the tops of your nails. Then wash your hands to remove any dead skin and nail trimmings.
Apply a thin layer of base coat to your nails and then put them under the UV light for two minutes. To protect yourself from sun damage, you may want to apply sunscreen. Non-toxic sunscreens with an SPF of at least thirty should do the trick.
After you’ve applied the base coat, apply one coat of your gel nail polish. Each time you add a layer, whether base coat, polish, or topcoat, make it as thin as you can! You also need to cure each layer under the UV lamp as you go.
Depending on how light your polish color is, apply two to three layers before applying the topcoat. When you’re ready, apply the top coat, cure it, and rub each nail with rubbing alcohol.
If all of this seems like too much work to you, you may want to consider giving your nails a break. Long nails tend to hold germs, and gel weakens your nails over time. Allowing the gel to come off naturally may be an attractive choice if you want to reduce bacteria in your home during the pandemic. Of course, if you can’t live without a manicure but don’t want to put in all the work, another option is press-on nails such as Kiss imPRESS. You can easily press these nails on top of your own, and they will last for over a week.
Most of us are also used to relying on waxing salon services offered by our estheticians. During the quarantine, you can easily maintain yourself by shaving or trimming any unwanted hairs. Waxing yourself doesn’t have to be difficult, but can be scary if you’re nervous about burning yourself.
One product that works equally as well as hot wax is Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit. This kit is the top-selling at-home wax kit in the United States. It’s simple to use, cheap, and can be used anywhere on your body. The wax comes in pre-cut strips that you simply apply to your hair and pull off in the opposite direction of growth. Since you don’t have to heat the formula, you can even use it on sensitive skin like your face.
Facials are another significant part of most people’s routines. Facials increase circulation, soften fine lines, and neutralize excessively dry or oily skin. Over time, they can also reduce blemishes and brighten your skin.
Face masks are a great alternative to professional skin services. They’re inexpensive and easy to use. To get the best results, switch up the kind of face masks you use. Some face masks can be used to hydrate your skin while others boost collagen. You can get a similar result to your salon facials if you rotate through a few different masks to meet the needs of your skin at that moment.
If you want to, you can also open your pores before you apply your mask by using steam. Simply take a hot shower or place a wet washcloth in the microwave for thirty seconds. Place over your face and let the warmth do its work.
Since we rely on specialized salon services to keep us groomed, it’s scary to take matters into our own hands. Now with the quarantine period extending, though, it’s actually necessary for us to learn how to be self-sufficient. We’re learning that you don’t need intensive beauty procedures, like lip augmentation, to feel put together. At-home beauty routines don’t have to be difficult. If you’re not up for giving yourself a full at-home spa treatment yet, they try products like Athia Retinol that you can apply before you go to bed. Any little bit of self care can raise your selfie-esteem as you get ready for your next social media post or Zoom meeting.
Gel manicures and waxing are easy to do with the right supplies. So is protecting your hair. I mean, remembering to wear your hair back more often is not that complicated. If you can give yourself a break and let your natural self go, do it! But if you have work video calls like so many of us, try these tips out before you throw in the towel.