After hair salons closed due to COVID-19, people began panic-buying hair dye and clippers. Curious to see the results, the Cut put out a call on our Instagram page asking readers to show us what they’ve done to their hair while in lockdown.
Over 900 people submitted photos of their DIY hair changes. It turns out that our readers have spent their time at home boldly shaving, snipping, shearing, burning, and chemically processing their hair, and baring their scalps and fantasies in the process. As Roshini Kumar of Mumbai (above) put it, “I always love experimenting with my hair, and I didn’t want this quarantine and pandemic stopping me.”
Scroll down for some of our favorite lockdown hair transformations.
“I wanted to be able to say I had a buzz cut at my high-school graduation.”
I did this solely for the sake of the photo op. I wanted to be able to say I had buzz cut at my high-school graduation; it’s a pretty big flex. My hair was so long that I first put it in pigtails and my sister and I cut those off with scissors. After that, I had a bob with bangs, which I kept cutting shorter until my sister could easily buzz the rest of it off. It took us maybe 20 minutes.
I think the buzzcut has changed my understanding of my femininity in the best way. My hair is a part of my identity, but it certainly is not the most important thing about me! I thought it was really interesting that a lot of girls called me “inspiring” or “their hero”; I didn’t think I did anything brave. But as young women, we are used to equating our physical appearance with our worth, and hair is an enormous part of this. I think other girls were impressed by the fact that I shaved it all off and chose a look that goes against patriarchal beauty standards. —Gabriela J, Georgia
“I feel like I’ve taken on a slightly different identity.”
I went to Walgreens and found some L’Oreal hair dye. I haven’t dyed my hair before, so the application was a bit of a mess. I tried to apply the first coat by myself and ended up missing a few spots, so I had weird patches of dark orange all over my head. But then I got my sister to help me put on two more coats. I really enjoy being blonde! I feel like I’ve taken on a slightly different identity. It’s fun! —Asha Romeo, Colorado
“I was able to bring them a little joy.”
I tried bleaching my hair, but it made me look like Joe Exotic minus the mullet. So that’s where the pink came in. I work at my mom’s nursing home, and a lot of my colleagues were kind of shocked. But the residents loved it. They were all so supportive of my new look, and that made me very happy, of course. I was able to bring them a little joy during these uncertain and lonely times. —Alexo Gaorgievski, New York
“If cutting my hair could make me feel more grounded and calm, why not do it?”
The pandemic and the events surrounding it cause so much anxiety about both our future and present. If cutting my hair could make me feel more grounded and calm, why not do it? I also had to let go my mullet for a practical reason: The punishing summer heat in Manila.
So far, I’ve done three styles and five haircuts. The first was the Holli Smith-Eckaus Latta–inspired look, the second was inspired by a look Julien d’Ys did for Self Service S/S 2017 and an attempt at blunt bangs, and the most recent one was an attempt at asymmetric bangs like this look by Guido Palau. —Oliver Emocling, Philippines
“People really love seeing fun hair during a not-so-fun time.”
I knew I’d get the itch to change my hair at some point in quarantine, so before it started, I bought bleach, bowls, toner, purple shampoo and enough dye for me and my fiancé. It took four days before I decided to bleach my hair blonde and then dye it neon yellow/green. And it took five days to convince my fiancé to let me do her hair (she’s a dye virgin.) I love my new look and I already touched up my roots twice. A guy did call me Bozo the Clown the other day, but for the most part, people really love seeing fun hair during a not-so-fun time. —Crystal Anderson, New York
“I can’t stop flirting with myself.”
I have wanted to get a buzz cut for years. There has always been an urge inside of me to do it, despite people telling me that it was too risky, that I’d look funny, or that if I shaved my head they’d break up with me. It took a few years of me building my self-confidence and surrounding myself with supportive friends before I finally decided to go for it. I’ve never felt more confident and beautiful. I can’t stop flirting with myself every time I pass a mirror! I was worried about looking too “boyish” with a buzz cut, but I honestly feel more feminine now than I did with long hair. —Chloe Friesen, Manitoba, Canada
“You truly haven’t showered until you’ve showered with a bald head.”
My new hairstyle makes me feel empowered. For the first time ever, the clerk at the market by my apartment didn’t make a pass at me; he actually gave me the respect he would a man. And it’s amazing to be able to walk down the block and know that I am outwardly expressing my badass existence without even having to say a word. I’m also in love with taking showers now. You truly haven’t showered until you’ve showered with a bald head. It’s spa night, every night. —Darcie Shaye, New York
“I got nine votes to do it, but my mind was already made up.”
I woke up one day with the idea to shave my head and I posted it on my Close Friends story with a poll. I got nine votes to do it, but my mind was already made up. I bought the shaving equipment on Amazon, but it took me days. I said was trying to find a good one for a good price, but really I was delaying it because I was nervous. I’ve mostly gotten positive reactions about it. The only (TWO) negative reactions were from my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather, who both said I was crazy. —Elena Heuzé, Los Angeles
“By 5 a.m., I was fully shaved.”
I moved to Spain just before the quarantine. I had just broken up with my girlfriend and I was in need of a change, both in life and appearance. It was an impulsive decision at 4 a.m. and I had been drinking. I was like Fuck it, it’s time. So I took my razor machine and took off the first curls. The problem was that the machine wasn’t fully charged so it died. So there I was, in the middle of the night, with a piece of my hair missing. I couldn’t just leave it so I put some music on, put the machine on charge. I took a scissor and started cutting while waiting. By 5 a.m., I was fully shaved and I could finally go to sleep.
The next day I went to buy pink color at the supermarket. But I had to bleach it first. Luckily my friend had a cream for that so I went to my place and put all the color on. I loved the pink hair and will definitely do it again. I felt more creative with it. Next time, I think I will make it blue. —Axel Valberg, Mallorca
“My husband was unsure about it for a few days, since he’s only ever known me as a blonde.”
During quarantine, I decided not to keep bleaching my hair every four weeks. I chose to buy a box color from Target closest to my root natural color, a light golden brown. I like my hair, though it did take some time to get used to. I actually had to buy foundation one shade darker so that my hair color doesn’t wash out my complexion. My husband was unsure about it for a few days, since he’s only ever known me as a blonde. But now he says it’s beautiful. —Emily Williams
“I just went for it with a pair of scissors.”
I do a big cut every few years after letting my curls grow out. This was the longest my hair had been in a while, and I was ready to chop it all off and start over again. I’m not very sentimental about my hair. I consulted my Pinterest board for inspiration and watched a few YouTube videos on cutting naturally curly hair at home. Then I just went for it with a pair of scissors. (I had to do a trim or two over the next couple of days before I was satisfied with the shape.) Cutting my hair short actually made me want to keep going and give myself a buzz cut or a TWA (teeny weeny Afro). I plan to keep my hair super short for a while. I forgot how much I liked this length. —Jessica Harumi, California
“Jude is really into ‘rock star’ stuff.”
Jude is really into “rock star” stuff and also his hair was getting so long! I took my husband’s clippers and asked if it had the right comb on and he said “Yes.” It turns out I had the “For Body” ones instead. —Julia, mother of Jude Zelman, London
“I like how my roots are like a clock.”
A week and a half into isolation, already three days past a scheduled haircut that had been canceled, I impulsively declared to my wife that this would be a good time to bleach my hair. The process was itchy and burny and pretty uncomfortable. I had no idea. But I like how my roots are like a clock. A clock that keeps track of time in the pandemic. —Khara Gilve, New York
“I’ve named her Lola.”
I ordered a shade of magenta from Overtone because the Rose Gold was on back order and I was impatient. While the dye was setting in, I danced around the house to “Pynk: by Janelle Monáe. I’m obsessed with my new hair. I feel like my edgy alter ego has been born. I’ve named her Lola. I’m already feeling bolder. Sassier. Lola isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And might I add, I became Lola right before breaking up with a piece of sh*t guy. Coincidence? I think not.
Everyone is very supportive and excited that I finally went pink since I’ve been wanting to do this forever. Some old flings have slid into my DMs, which is always fun. —MaryKathyrn Kopp, New York
“Buzzing was the only option.”
My housemate offered to give me a trim, and though she’s a midwife and not a hairstylist, she assured me that she could give me a fade. Some time later, the fade was nowhere to be seen but a choppy line was inching its way up the side of my head. By the time we agreed to call it quits, buzzing it was the only option! I bleached it the next day. That took 45 minutes, plus another 20 minutes to tone it. —Michael Miller, London
“It only took about five minutes.”
I’ve cut bangs in the past. The last time was when my son was a newborn and had a particularly long cry that day. I guess it’s my form of stress relief when exercise, meditation, and journaling for stress relief aren’t working! I had been thinking of cutting bangs for a couple weeks. One early morning while lying in bed it was on my mind, so I got out of bed, grabbed my office scissors, and did it. It only took about five minutes. I feel like Jane Birkin. —Liz Carlile, Georgia
“It seemed like the perfect time for a crisis bleaching.”
My husband and I separated at the beginning of March. Between COVID-19 and being newly single, it seemed like the perfect time for a crisis bleaching. I ordered Manic Panic Flash Lightening, Alien Grey, and L’Oréal Colorist pink. My downstairs neighbors, who are my besties and my COVID pod, helped me apply. The word to describe the process is “ouch.” Note to new bleachers: if you have a sensitive scalp, maybe try coconut oil a few days before. —Neil Marshall, New York
“I took the clippers from my dad’s room and asked my brother to shave my head.”
It was the second week of quarantine at home with my family. I would spend hours watching YouTubes of other black girls and their “big chops.” It was so exhilarating, and I kept hyping myself up to do it. Finally, I took the clippers from my dad’s room and asked my brother to shave my head. He was nervous, as he’d never cut someone else’s hair before, but he did a good job. Me, my brother, and my sister all sat in my brother’s room with “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness playing in the background. I would say it took about two hours. —Amaka Okpalugo, U.K.
“I decided to do mine too.”
I was bleaching my husband’s hair, and we always joke about wanting to match, so I decided to do mine, too! —Olivia VanDerMillen, Los Angeles
“I’ve never felt cuter and I’ve never felt more effortlessly menacing.”
For years, I’d been curious about shaving my head, but was stuck on this idea (created by me) that I was too fat for it to look good. Eventually I realized that was a shitty way to think about my body and weight in general. But it turns out, I was also just baseline afraid of getting a bad haircut that couldn’t be disguised with a hair tie.
The clippers arrived on a Tuesday — I got the cheapest ones that seemed like they wouldn’t set my apartment on fire. There was some discussion about finding the right soundtrack, but as soon as one of us suggested Lorde’s “Melodrama,” we (my wife and sister) knew we had it. We didn’t want to waste the opportunity to try out a few weird hairstyles as we did this. All somehow made me look like a nouveau riche European lesbian TERF. But now I’ve never felt cuter and I’ve never felt more effortlessly menacing. —Rachel Lang, Los Angeles
“It took me about five days.”
“It took me about five days to do this look. First, on clean shampooed hair, I used Manic Panic 30 Vol. lightning bleaching kit (ordered off Amazon) and an ombré comb (available at CVS) and did the first bleach session for the maximum time. I gave it about two days of deep conditioner and rest before washing it and carefully doing a second round of the same. Next I mixed Arctic Fox Virgin Pink semi-permanent hair color with white conditioner to get a bubblegum pink. During the same session, I applied Manic Panic Creamtone Dreamsicle semi-permanent dye to the ends for a peach tone.” —Sarah Fairbank, New York
“I bleached my hair twice.”
The process took about four hours. I woke up, headed to the nearest Harmons (which fortunately was only a block away) and grabbed what I could, which was only two L’Oréal Colorista Bleach Kits, a mixing bowl, and a brush. I bleached my hair twice and ended up with great results and minimal hair damage, thankfully. My new look makes me want to play with makeup so much more now. —Shylissa Delago, New Jersey
“I just used the scissors in my room.”
I was feeling pretty dull in the midst of lockdown. Like many others, I felt hopeless and alone. I didn’t need to buy anything, really; I just used the scissors in my room and went to town on my hair. —Tamar Novik, New Jersey
“An hour later, I was bald.”
“I went through three hair changes in the span of three-ish weeks. First, I ordered two big bottles of the most neon orange I could find in hopes that it would show up on my reddish brown locks. But all I saw were deeply red coils. I still needed a change and every day, I landed on a different decision, though the fully shaved head nagged at me the most.
The whole time I agonized over how small my head would look in comparison to my broad (and beautiful) shoulders. I enlisted my boyfriend’s help with set of clippers and we went for it. We cut two big ponytails of reddish curls and then went at it with the clippers. An hour later, I was bald. I couldn’t stop rubbing my hands on my head; the sensation felt so strange. My dad burst out into (loving) laughter and kept saying how much I look like him now (he’s bald). I couldn’t stop looking in the mirror, y’all, I looked so good. —Stacy Fernández, Texas
“Random hair accounts follow me now.”
I have worked a seasonal position at Ulta since I was in high school. I got the idea probably in 2013 when my manager did a twist on Cruella De Vil’s hair. Since we’re all in quarantine, I decided to finally take the plunge.
I purchased highlight kits that contained bleach, developer, and toner in them. Once everything got to my house, I decided I needed my sister’s help for the back of my head. So many people have DMed me about my hair. They all love it. Random hair accounts follow me now. —Tiffany Ryan, New Jersey