Dyeing or cutting your hair in quarantine: What to know

Young woman with dyed hair

To Color or Not to Color, that is the Question.

At some point during this quarantine, admit it, you’ve thought about changing up your hair.

If you’re like most people on the internet, you’re probably so bored in quarantine that you’re willing to do just about anything to keep you entertained. Whether it’s fixing up your outgrown roots, retouching your highlights, adding some color for fun, or, *gasp,* cutting bangs, there are safe ways to go about it!

Because I’m no hair coloring expert, I turned to the professionals. Nicole Berger — @stylemeuppretty — is a recent graduate of Arrojo Cosmetology (the beauty school located in SoHo, New York, founded by Nick Arojo, the hairstylist on the hit TV show What Not to Wear).

After speaking with Nicole, here’s the information I gathered that will help you make the decision- to color or not to color:

Using Bleach

First and for most, it’s important to understand that you can’t lighten your hair too much without using bleach. That makes self-coloring a slippery slope because if used the wrong way, bleach can cause irreversible damage to your hair, which is the last thing anyone needs at times like these. Using bleach in a brand new and unfamiliar setting will wind up giving you a chemical haircut; that means that strands of your hair will continuously break from the damage of the bleach- no thank you! Also, using bleach incorrectly will end up giving you an ugly shade that you won’t be able to escape from. So, to sum up, bleach, if you’ve never used it before — don’t do it!

There are lots of tutorials going around now teaching people how to color hair on their own at home, but they fail to mention an important point. If you already have a hair treatment, such as keratin, you could literally risk melting your hair by doing the wrong thing. I don’t know about you, but that’s a risk I’m NOT willing to take. Just because you see someone doing it on TikTok and making it look cool and easy, doesn’t mean it will be cool and easy for you. Unfortunately, all hair is not created equal.

Now that we know what not to do, the question still remains — how do we color our hair in a safe, undamaging way?

Shades Lighter

Because you probably want to steer clear of making any drastic changes with your hair, Nicole advises on going one shade different or just toning your highlights if you’re really ‘dying’ for a new color. And the best part is, there are ways to do this totally safe!

Instead of going to CVS, Target, or any generic store which has products with really damaging chemicals, head to a beauty store or website (such as Ulta, Sally’s, or Salon Centric) to get your supplies. It could also be helpful to reach out to your regular hairstylist who is already familiar with your hair. From there, they can advise you on which colors will suit you and the best products to go along with that.

A Toner Compromise

In terms of the actual color you want to use in your hair, really put some thought into it before going all out and buying purple and blue (which by the way won’t work without bleach — check out the first few paragraphs if you’re still debating on using that). A toner is a perfect compromise here. It will eventually fade away, giving you a commitment-free option, and it won’t permanently damage your hair. There are different levels of toner so you can match your preexisting hair color and add a level or two to that. And if you’re still set on having a funky color, try a blue undertone or purple undertone. That’s the safest way to go about it.

However, it’s worth noting that people with blonder hair will show up with stronger results than someone with darker hair. So keep that in mind, my fellow brunettes!

A Streaky Alternative

Still scared to commit to even a toner? Don’t sweat about it! There is a fun alternative that will surely keep you entertained and will allow you to live out your wildest colorful dream. Nicole says that if you put concealer on strands of your hair and then cover that with an eyeshadow color of your choice, you’ll get a clear, fun streak of color. This is for sure a fun afternoon activity that will keep you busy and allow you to try out different colors before taking the plunge and actually dying your hair.

The most important advice I can leave you with it this – Do. Not. Cut. Bangs.

Seriously though, we don’t need any regrets. If you really have been having the itch to try something new with your hair, try color. You now know the safest and easiest ways to go about it!

Rina Jacobs is a recent graduate of Yeshiva University with a degree in Media Studies. She is currently working as a fashion closet freelancer for the Hearst Women’s Fashion Group. During her free time, Rina enjoys exploring the city and spending time with friends.