PHILADELPHIA — Social isolation hasn’t just upended our work and personal lives. It’s also disrupted a lot of our self-care and beauty routines. No more hairstylists, manicurists and aestheticians, no more brow waxings or faux lashes. And Botox? Forget about it.
Some might say, “so what?” Beauty regimens hardly matter when we are in the middle of a pandemic. After all, we’re worried about the health of our loved ones and whether we actually still have a job after this, not necessarily our graying roots, even if they’re staring us in the face with every video call we make to work colleagues and distanced loved ones.
But there is truth in the old adage: When you look good, you feel good. Keeping up with these little — and what some might call insignificant — details may help us emerge whole when we get to the other side of this. So we’ve answered a few of your pressing beauty questions to help you keep it together, so you can feel good and keep going.
What should I do about my graying roots?
Local hair stylists were pretty clear when it came to answering this question. Leave your hair color to the professionals. If you already use box color, that’s fine says Drea Richard, owner of Andre Richard Salon in Old City. But if you keep a standing appointment with your colorist, don’t take a chance on messing up your stylist’s hard work, says Frank Rizzieri of Rizzieri Salons and Spas. “You might pick the wrong color, you might leave it in too long or get distracted, then you are in danger of your hair breaking. And that will take a lot of time and money to fix it.”
If your roots are driving you nuts, both Rizzieri and Richard suggest spray-in hair color. Trusted brands include Oribe, L’Oreal, R + Co, and Bumble and Bumble. “It’s the safest thing to do and you won’t damage your hair,” Richard said.
You can also reach out to your stylist, says Giovanni Mele, owner of Center City’s Giovanni & Pileggi Salon. Mele is offering already existing customers a root touch-up kit that includes the customers’ hair color, developer, a pair of gloves, a mixing bowl and a brush to mix and apply color, and a set of instructions. “Everything is pre-measured, you just have to take the products and stir them together,” Mele said. “This way we are hoping our customers get a little bit of excitement in their lives.”
Should I take out my weave?
If your weave is less than a month old, try to keep the hair pulled back in a ponytail or wrapped under a silk scarf, advises Philadelphia-based hair stylist Carla Clarkson. “You can also keep it in pin-curls, flex rods. The idea is not to wear it down constantly.” If it’s dirty from exercise and excess oils on the skin and hair, then condition it before washing with a sulfate-free shampoo. “What that does is that it helps give an extra layer of protection and moisture on the hair. You can very lightly blow out the hair, taking special care with any of your hair that is exposed. “
If your weave is older than a month, it may be time to take it out so you can let your natural hair breathe. This takes a steady hand and a lot of care. If you have a sew-in, make sure you are cutting the thread and not your hair. Take the time to detangle. This is a good time to wash your hair, apply a hair mask, or use an overnight conditioning treatment. “Your hair hasn’t been touched in four to six weeks,” Clarkson said. “This is a good time to let it breathe.”
Clarkson also suggests that you reach out to your stylist, as many are putting together kits complete with products for DIY maintenance. Clarkson partnered with another local company, Unique Organix, to offer An Essential Home Hair Kit that includes a scarf, comb, shampoo and conditioner, a preconditioning treatment, a gloss, plastic cap, gloves, mask, gloves, and Sanek strips to tie down the edges.
How do I care for my natural hair?
It’s important that you keep your natural hair washed and conditioned, says Syreeta Scott, owner of Duafe Salon & Spa in North Philly. Make sure to sleep with a satin cap or scarf to keep your style longer, Scott says. And if you have braids or locks that you want to freshen up in between visits to the salon, Scott suggests pouring this conditioning rinse onto the hair: 1 4-ounce cup of apple cider vinegar with 10 drops of lavender essential oil (to mask the scent of the apple cider vinegar) “It will remove the mildew odor that can creep up after exercise and it will also control dandruff.”
Can I cut my own bangs?
Why not, Richard said. But you definitely want to err on the side of leaving them too long than snipping off too much. Richard suggests that you face yourself in a mirror and squeeze your hair between your middle and forefinger at the desired length. Then take a pair of sharp scissors — not the one you cut chicken with — and cut as straight across as you can.
My gel and my acrylics are growing out. Help.
To take off your gel, first you will need to lightly buff the top coat, explains Michele René, a manicurist with Rizzieri. Then you will need to dip cotton balls in pure acetone and wrap them around each nail, securing them with aluminum foil. Let them sit for 20 minutes. “They will slide right off.” Once you get the color off, apply cuticle oil and a little nail protein. Buff them. File them and René suggests keeping them short. “Any enhancements like gels or acrylics damage the nail. So this is a good time to let them rest. File them down and keep them short.”
My lash extensions are looking spacey, what to do?
Deneen Marcel, owner of Deneen Marcel Lashes, suggests dipping a small lash brush in brow powder and lightly brushing the base of the lash line as if you were putting on eyeliner. “That will give you the illusion that your lashes are full,” Marcel said. After about three weeks, your lashes will start to fall out. “Let them just fall,” Marcel says. “Don’t yank them.” As your lashes fall out, keep your natural lashes moisturized with castor oil. Or, says Candice Reid, an aesthetic registered nurse, try I Beauty Brow Lash Enhancement Serum. “It will help to make brows and lashes stronger and help with the growth that was inhibited by the fake lashes,” she says.
How do I tame unruly brows?
This is a good time to let those brows grow out, said Onisha Claire, a licensed aesthetician and owner of Bossy Brows. “Thick brows are in, but they can be hard to achieve without looking wonky,” Claire said. But if you are desperate and feel out of control — perhaps you have a unibrow that needs separation — gather a pair tweezers and a straight razor. Put your pinky perfectly in between your eyes, mark the width and remove hair on either side of that width. If the extra brow hairs are driving you crazy, clean them up in natural light. And, says Ursula Augustine of Ursula’s About Phace, do not use a magnifying mirror, but a standard handheld one. “The less you see, the less you take.”
Any do-it-yourself skin care tips?
Take this time to perfect your skin care routine, said Kelly Hughes, of Parlour Beauty in Fishtown. And try these masks made from kitchen ingredients.
For sensitive skin: Mix yogurt, honey, and oats to calm and soothe stressed out, sensitive skin.
If you’re suffering from a breakout: Mix egg whites, lemon, and honey to balance the oils.
A mask for all skin types: Combine fresh aloe, lavender, and honey to calm, balance the PH, and remove oils.
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