5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sporadic Mid-Pandemic Salon Visits

Getting your hair done less frequently these days? Philly stylists weigh in on managing and maintaining your look.

pandemic haircuts

Social distancing during your pandemic haircuts is a cinch at Headhouse Salon in Queen Village. Photograph by Saeed Ferguson

Philly’s top stylists are working double-time to help you manage your pandemic hair. Here, five ways to make the most of those sporadic salon visits.

1. Get the right cut for right now.

You ventured back into the salon and felt good about the experience but aren’t interested in returning every month. That means super-short cuts aren’t the best choice just yet. “Short hair is great, but it grows out quickly,” says Dana Nast, a stylist at Rizzieri Salon in South Jersey. But that doesn’t mean you have to go full Rapunzel. Long bobs — whether layered or blunt-edged — are ideal options. “If a bob grows out, it still has a great shape,” says Carla Clarkson, a stylist at Unique Appeal Hair Salon in West Philly. What’s more, it can be thrown up in a scrunchie and works with every hair texture. If you’ve got waves or curls, try long layers, suggests Meighan Murphy, owner of Queen Village’s Headhouse Salon.

2. Go for subtle, lived-in color.

Expect to see a lot of reds and browns this winter — hues that are closer to people’s natural hair colors, says Clarkson. (Read: This is not the time to go platinum or teal.) Instead of highlights, ask for balayage (color that gets painted onto hair) and techniques that blend your natural root color into lighter ends. (That way, “You can go months — even a year! — before needing highlights,” says Murphy.) Gray hair is particularly tricky. Consider that now is a great time to finally grow it out. Not there yet? Pick up a touch-up spray, which, Nast says, “works wonders” between appointments. Her go-to’s: Color Wow and Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray.

3. While you’re at the salon, double down on treatments.

Smoothing, long-lasting treatments like Keratin and Brazilian Blowouts can make deep roots and shaggy ends less noticeable. If you’re getting color, add on bond-building products like Olaplex and Wellaplex to keep hair healthy. (You can extend the time between visits for full-on color by popping in for a 10-minute gloss, a quick way to refresh and revive.) And Syreeta Scott, owner of West Philly’s Duafe Holistic Hair Care salon, recommends steaming hair so that conditioners really penetrate.

4. Go natural.

Scott has seen more and more Black women embrace their natural texture during the pandemic. (She had more than 250 consultations with clients interested in going natural over the summer.) “It’s easier to handle, and you don’t have to worry about your hair — which is especially important now,” says Scott. She and her team have been cutting off what’s left of clients’ straight, processed hair, applying conditioning treatments to enhance texture, and giving diva cuts, twist-outs and braids.

5. Level up your home products.

Conditioning masks aren’t a marketing ploy; they really keep hair shiny and strong, which is especially important if you’re going longer between salon visits. Olaplex, Oiudad and Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Masque are expert favorites. For women with Afro hair, it’s all about keeping the scalp healthy, says Scott, who sells her own line of products made with natural ingredients like chamomile, turmeric, coconut, and activated charcoal. Washing as little as possible is also ideal. Clarkson’s Honey Blowout co-wash cleanses and conditions hair with one super-gentle product. (Get it at Marsh + Mane in Society Hill.) For blondes, it’s worth investing in violet shampoos that keep brassiness at bay. Nast recommends R+Co’s Sunset Blvd and Pulp Riot lines.

Published as “Salon Smarts” in the October 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.