British Columbia

Back away from the clippers: Why you should leave haircuts to the professionals

"They say the number one thing not to do in a pandemic is your own hair and I will say, believe them," says Dr. Bonnie Henry.

If Dr. Bonnie Henry tried it and it didn't work out, consider yourself warned

"Doing your hair at home can be a really difficult thing," says stylist Alexa Davis. "Nowadays, with hairdressers, our cuts and colours are so precise, trying to recreate that at home, you don't even really know the reason why we would go in and do certain things." (Yakobchuk Viacheslav/Shutterstock)

One of the charms — and conceits — of the popular reality television show Survivor, where contestants are dumped onto a deserted island and cut off from the world for a few weeks, was seeing the physical transformations of the contestants. 

At the end of the season, the group, subsisting on whatever the producers had deemed appropriate, would be skinnier. Their bodies were often bug-bitten and deeply tanned, their one change of clothes sweat-stained and faded after days of repeated wear. 

And their hair! Curled, matted and shaggy. Grey streaks, patchy stubble and sun-bleached tips. 

Yet now, for those of us in self-isolating on the island that is our home, the pandemic has turned into our own very special season of Survivor.

While our wardrobes and diets may not suffer as those contestants' did, it's our hair that will betray us in the season finale (whenever that may eventually be).

And we're just at the beginning of our pandemic metamorphosis. It was only on March 21 that B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered salons and barber shops to shut their doors in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

But some have already felt the alluring pull of a DIY-trim. 

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry apologize to her stylist:

"My apologies to Lindsay, my hairdresser": Dr. Henry admits she cut her own hair

CBC News BC

1 year ago
0:32
B.C.'s provincial health officer says now is not the time to go for haircuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 0:32

At a press conference Tuesday, Henry herself offered an apology to her stylist, saying that yes, she had tried to tinker with her own hair.

"They say the number one thing not to do in a pandemic is your own hair and I will say, believe them," said Henry, with chagrin.

The doctor, who is on her 12th straight week doing public-facing updates on COVID-19 and probably the most well-known face in the province, can be forgiven for wanting to take some care about her appearance.

But what of the rest of us trapped on the island? Should vanity go the way of any gathering over 50 people?   

"Hair is such a big part of people's lives … [so] it's a hard time to go through," says Alexa Davis, a Vancouver-based hairstylist at Axis in Coal Harbour.

Davis' own strategy has been to radically embrace the situation. She decided to give herself a buzz cut. 

"I went straight down the middle of my head and there was no going back."

Watch stylist Alexa Davis get a pandemic buzz cut:

Davis had been considering going short — "a lot of people once in their lifetime have this weird urge where they would like to take it super short" — but the prospect of being at home until summer made her decision easier. 

Vancouver-based stylist Alexa Davis, post buzz cut. (Submitted by Alexa Davis)

For her clients, however, she's advocating a relaxed, less-is-more strategy, one that's been endorsed by many other stylists across the country.

"Doing your hair at home can be a really difficult thing," she said. "Nowadays, with hairdressers, our cuts and colours are so precise, trying to recreate that at home, you don't even really know the reason why we would go in and do certain things." 

Instead, she says, it's a great time to embrace your natural hair style and take the down time to reflect on what you want. 

And even if you have to do a little trim here and there, or a dye-job ("semi-permanent is best," she says), keep it to a minimum so it can be fixed upon your eventual return to the salon. 

Davis says the stylists will be ready to transform us back to our pre-pandemic selves when the time comes. 

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