Hair’s too long, barbershop’s closed? How to groom in quarantine

LA prides itself on beauty, but for many residents who are sheltering at home, gray roots are growing out, neat haircuts are becoming haystacks, and facial hair is taking over. 

It may seem superficial to be worried about beauty during this pandemic. But the anxiety is real for some people, including TV writer Brent Piaskoski, who calls his hair situation dire. 

He explains, “It means shaggy bangs that are not that manageable and gray — that's starting to show like a skunk stripe down the middle of my head.”

KCRW’s Frances Anderton says this is a gender neutral problem, and we’re becoming more self-conscious now (compared to when we physically showed up to our workplaces). That’s because we’re doing all these video meetings, where we can see ourselves on the screens.

It can be dispiriting to realize you’re becoming a little haggard. So what are people doing about that?

Anderton says some folks are hiring stylists to come to their houses on the down-low, and stylists are also sending care packages that include a brush, hair dye, and other tools. 

Stylist Janet Barajas has been sending packages with special instructions. She has many clients in the entertainment industry, and her salons are in Beverly Hills and Santa Clarita.

One of Barajas’ clients is Ellen Como, a fitness trainer with hair extensions.

“I am practicing ‘Safer-at-Home.’ I am recording fitness videos. And I record those videos every single day. And as this goes on and my extensions start to fall out of my head, my hair is going to start to look a little crazy. So that is a huge concern of mine,” Como says. 

Are stylists worried that we’ll get used to grooming at home — and saving money in the process — and thus keep doing it? 

“Hairdressers are going to have a field day when this is all over because so many people are going to come flooding back because they've tried to cut or color their own hair, and they've made such a hash of it,” says Anderton.

Barajas isn’t concerned because there’s something unique about having someone else cut your hair, manicure your nails, and wax your skin. 

“People like to get pampered, and go out, and have somebody else do these sort of things for them. I think that it makes them feel good to know that it's been done professionally, and that they themselves can never do it as well as a professional can. Besides, there’s [a] huge mess that you could possibly make in your bathroom,” Barajas says.

In the end, Anderton says self-care is attached to mental health. And beauty treatments aren’t officially deemed essential services, but some argue that they might be. 

Como tells her clients, “Even if no one's going to see you, you don't want to be stagnant because then depression can start. Make sure you get dressed every day, and try to look presentable just for yourself.”

— Written by Amy Ta, produced by Angie Perrin