How to Get a Haircut While Social Distancing

Posted On: May 14, 2020
haircut while social distancing
Who knew haircuts would become the flashpoint of the apocalypse? In a world where staying safe involves less running for our lives and more sitting around our houses, the priorities are a little different than we expected from zombie fiction. At this point, we all wish everything could just go back to normal, including our regularly scheduled salon treatment. But how good an idea is that? How safe can it be? And what is the alternative?

Is it Safe to Get a Haircut at a Salon?

Let's face it: it's hard to get a haircut from six feet away. That's the biggest risk that salons present in a post-COVID world. Masks reduce risk, but they work much better when combined with appropriate distancing. There's some good news:
  • Coronavirus probably can't survive on your hair itself for very long.
  • Hair salons are already trained and practiced at sanitation and disinfection of surfaces that DO allow extended coronavirus survival.
But it's outweighed by the bad news:
  • COVID-19 carriers with no symptoms seem to be very good at transmitting the virus – even if salons screen employees and clients for symptoms, infectious people will get through.
  • Direct transmission is very likely during the extended close contact required for any salon treatment.
  • Masks reduce the risk, but up close, they're far from foolproof, even when everyone wears them correctly.
  • On top of the danger close contact presents, even distancing doesn't eliminate coronavirus risk when you're indoors with others over extended periods. If another customer is shedding virus on the opposite side of the room, you could still catch it.
It's also important to consider the seriousness of the consequences. The question of surviving the acute effects of COVID-19 is scary enough, but now we're seeing potential long-term effects as well. This disease could permanently damage your health. Unfortunately, all of that put together means getting a haircut at a salon is unlikely to be "safe" until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available.

What Are Hair Salons Doing to Protect Customers?

That said, some salons are trying to reduce risk as much as possible for everyone involved. If you must get a professional haircut or treatment, you should look for precautions like:
  • Mask requirements for hairdressers and clients
  • Required handwashing for clients upon entry and frequent handwashing for hairdressers
  • Strict screening for hairdressers and clients (for coronavirus symptoms and recent contact with the infected)
  • Limits on the number of people in the salon at once
  • Thorough and frequent surface sanitation
  • Hairdressers putting on fresh gloves while handling each client

How to Cut Your Own Hair During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The safer alternative to the salon is to cut your own hair at home. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to avoid being a #CoronaCut cautionary tale:

COVID Home Haircut Tip #1: Have a Haircut Battle Plan

You should know what, exactly, you're trying to accomplish before you start hacking away at your own hair. Do you just want to stop feeling so shaggy? Do you need your bangs to stop falling over your eyes? Are you tired of finding split ends? Professional stylists agree that you should keep it simple and have modest goals. Focus on cleanup and maintenance. You also have to consider your hair type. If you have fine, straight hair, you should be especially cautious, because mistakes will show. If you have thick or curly hair, you have a little more leeway.

COVID Home Haircut Tip #2: Gather Your Tools

The best bet for men is probably a clipper with guards. For thick hair, try a number 2 guard. If your hair is thinning, try a 4. You'll want to use the lowest number guard you have while trimming the hair at your neck. If you have longer hair – male or female – you'll need scissors, instead. The most important thing is that they're very, very sharp. Test the scissors on thin tissue. You want scissors that can make a clean cut easily, without snagging, folding, or tearing. Lastly, consider enlisting a professional to help through a video call, especially if you have "problem hair." Your regular stylist is best because they already know you and how your hair behaves. Otherwise, there is an increasing number of services you can use to find a "virtual haircut."

COVID Home Haircut Tip #3: Steady as You Go

Whatever your goal is, you should work slowly and with patience, cutting gradually. Honestly, what else do you have to do right now? The idea is to take no more than a quarter-inch at a time and assess. This is also why it's important to start with clean, dry hair – you'll be able to see the results in real-time. You should also avoid making horizontal cuts. Instead, use "point cutting," where you angle the scissors parallel (or nearly parallel) to the hair. This will disguise the worst eyesores you might inflict during your home haircut.

COVID Home Haircut Tip #4: An Ounce of Haircut Prevention

What you don't do at home may be more important than any of the above. Give your hair a break from high-maintenance styling – if there were ever a time it's unnecessary, it's now. You want to keep your hair healthy and delay the need for professional maintenance. If you color your hair, choose the right shampoo and don't wash it too often. Skip the tools that cause heat damage – don't blow-dry, don't straighten. You'll end up with fewer split ends and avoid dry, brittle hair. You should also avoid hairstyles that introduce tension or friction, like a bun. Keep your hair back with braids or twists, instead.

Stay Safe and Stay Healthy

As learning advocates, we believe accurate information is the foundation for protecting yourself. That's why we're offering a FREE COVID-19 Awareness course to anyone who's interested. The transmission of COVID-19 will change all our routines for some time to come – understanding how it spreads and effective prevention will help you stay healthy as we all find a new normal.

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