'Where's my sideburn?' Hair stylists warn against haircuts at home during COVID-19

Hamilton hairdressers offer tips to people trying to cut their own hair.

As people grow their hair during COVID-19, local hairdressers think it could lead to botched hair cuts

Ross Lombardo, 19, said cutting his hair during the COVID-19 pandemic was a mistake and he'll never try it without a professional again. (Submitted by Andrea Lombardo)

Ross Lombardo was overdue for a haircut. The 19-year-old from Smithville, Ont., was starting to get annoyed by the hair draping over his eyes and sticking to the back of his neck.

With COVID-19 closing down barber shops and salons, he had few options, so his mother offered to cut it for him.

Moments later he screamed. He couldn't feel his sideburns.

"Where did my sideburn go?" he said, seconds after his mother shaved it off.

"She said 'Oh, did you want those?' ... I don't know what was going through her head at that point."

He banished his mother from trying anymore and proceeded to trim it alone, using a compact mirror to cut the hair he couldn't see.

"I've got short spots and long spots, the lines are sideways, they're like windy roads ... I'm not making that mistake again, I'm leaving it to the professionals."

Zeko Yaqo, owner of Zeko's Barbershop, has been receiving messages from panic-stricken clients covered in hair and full of regret.

"I've been getting pictures of what they've done, saying, 'Help me, help me,' " he said.

"We've been offering video chats and I walk them through some steps and help them with what they can do for now."

Yaqo is one of a handful of local hairdressers, stylists and barbers who are warning people to be careful when trying to cut their hair by themselves.

Yaqo isn't even trimming his own hair.

"When I get back to work, I'm going to have to invest in a lawnmower," he joked.

Dealing with longer hair and bangs

Cameron Elder, from Cameron Hair Studio, said he is also growing his hair out "in solidarity with everyone having to deal with long hair."

He says people should avoid giving themselves a full haircut if they can, to avoid resembling a character in a "horror story."

It didn't stop Christina Carr from cutting her husband's hair with whatever she had at home — a beard trimmer and her daughter's crafting scissors.

"When he went into the shower, I hid," she said. "When he got out he said, 'Can you get me a hat?'"

Elder said trimming bangs may help people make it through the pandemic without needing a full haircut, but putting a bowl over your head and snipping away certainly won't help.

"The trick with cutting your own bangs is to cut into the hair vertically instead of across ... and don't use kitchen scissors."

He also recommends not cutting long hair, even if it is tempting to save some money and do it alone.

"Your best bet instead of cutting would be to use a deep conditioner treatment on your ends to keep them in better shape," Elder said.

Rowaid Hanna, from King Kutz, said if someone does want to cut their ends, they shouldn't get rid of more than half an inch of hair.

"Women will have an easier time [during the pandemic] than men because longer hair grows slower," he said.

Colouring mistakes could be costly

Elder added anyone trying to colour their hair also needs to be careful about what they buy.

"There's a lot of professional products you can use to disguise your roots like hair powders and colour sprays that aren't permanent," he said. 

"Box hair colour mistakes can be very costly to correct."

Strut Salon has also issued warnings on Instagram to followers, advising clients to only do minimal root touch ups and use demi-permanent colours if using box colours.

"If you normally get highlights or an all-over bleach, please do NOT attempt this at home," read the social media post.

"Colour corrections aren't cheap and we probably won't have time until 2021 ... let those roots grow, trust us for the greater good."

Don't cut it alone

Yaqo, form Zeko's, said anyone attempting a fade or shorter hair should always use clippers or trimmers with a higher guard and lower the guard with each pass over the hair.

"You always start with Number 4, then Number 3, then go around until you make your fade all the way around. That's a mistake people always do, they start with a lower guard."

"It's always good to ask one of your family members to help you with the back of the head because you won't be able to reach," he said.

Rob Potter tried to cut his hair on his own — it became a bleached mohawk, with what he describes as "layers."

"In the back it's longer because no one wanted to help me and it is clean shaven on the side," he said.

Hanna, from King Kutz, added that anyone trying to adjust their eyebrows should use a a higher guard, like a Number 2, and line the edges. As for beards, Yaquo said they should be lined from the bottom and then the top.

Chelsea Cassandra Riddell tried to cut her husband's hair. It led to two bald patches in the back of his head. (Submitted by Chelsea Cassandra Riddell )

But Yaqo thinks long hair may become a trend because of the pandemic.

"A lot of people have a phobia of growing their hair but I'm pretty sure a lot of people will say 'I'm realizing I like this look,'" he said.

"I have a feeling the majority of clients are going to start enjoying their hair being a different look."

But for those who don't like their hair, Yaqo said they shouldn't try to sneak a barber or hairdresser into their home.

"That's the scariest thing because we are too close, we're not even a foot apart from the customer. It's very risky."


Bobby Hristova


Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca