When Governor Jared Polis declared hair salons non-essential, some people panicked: What to do with our ’do when nobody’s there to help? Should we take the future of our hair into our own hands?
Lauren Zwicky, aka L.A. Zwicky, a DJ and hairstylist with Revolver who specializes in asymmetrical, queer futurist designs — stuff that makes Ziggy Stardust look tame — offers a few words of caution: “Put the kitchen scissors down, especially if you've had a couple glasses of wine. Or have fun with it, and your stylist will ‘refine’ your trim job when you’re back in the salon.”
Admittedly, your haircut is probably not your most pressing worry during a global pandemic. It's certainly not your stylist's.
Like all other stylists, Zwicky has lost work because of the closures.
“From the moment our salon owner, Kitty Vincent at Revolver, understood the details of COVID-19, she did a great job of preparing us for what was to come,” says Zwicky.
Stylists knew they would be facing tough choices: risk getting sick and spreading the coronavirus to customers, or shut down business and lose their livelihood? At Revolver, stylists worked with as many as ten clients a day. No matter how many times they washed their hands, coughed into the crook of their arms or requested that people showing symptoms stay home, they were bound for trouble.
“Even with the most perfect disinfection and sanitation regimen, this was going to affect our work,” Zwicky says. “We collectively decided it would be best to start closing our books down about the second week of March, and had planned to close completely for the third week of March. I was just wrapping my head around being out of work for two weeks when we got the news that salons were to be included in the 'non-essential' business category of city-mandated closures until April 30. That was on March 19.”
Five years into her career as a hair stylist, Zwicky has never taken more than two weeks off in a year.
“I was facing, at the very least, up to six weeks of no work,” she says. “It was then that the gravity of this situation truly landed.”
She has already self-isolated for more than three weeks, and during that time, she’s gone through a range of emotions.
“I take the COVID-19 situation very seriously, and understand that closures and isolation are the responsible thing to do,” she explains. “That said, I miss the hell out of my clients and friends. I love my work dearly, and this time away has made me grateful for it that much more.”
Like so many, she and Vincent are taking it one day at a time, unsure of when Revolver will open again. They are trying to keep up with whatever relief efforts are made available to small-business owners, because most stylists are working as independent contractors, not employees.
“The long-term impact of this virus is unknown,” Zwicky says. “We may face ongoing closures as things develop, and we will have to ride the wave. Fortunately, we are a team of driven and creative individuals who can use this time to sharpen our skills and focus on developing our business in a way that is not often available to folks in our industry, so that in the hopefully not-too-distant future, we can return to work fired up and ready to provide the absolute best for our clients.”
Zwicky is not doing house calls, nor has she offered any online consultations. But she is willing to meet with clients virtually and provide recommendations for products, at-home hair care and styling tips. Many of her customers have been helping out by pre-purchasing services and buying gift cards.
“The best thing customers can do for their stylists right now is to not request an in-home service,” she notes, “as that completely defeats the purpose of the no-contact orders."
In the meantime, she has some tips for customers looking to experiment with their own hair.
“For longer-haired folk, look up some YouTube or Instagram tutorials, and see if there are any cool new ways to braid or clip your hair up. Learn some creative ways to tie your hair up in a scarf or head wrap,” she says. “For the shorter-haired peeps who are used to getting their high-and-tight fade every three to four weeks, invest in a pair of decent trimmers and learn how to trim the perimeter of your hair: the neckline, around the ears, beard, sideburns, etc."
Or, she says, just wear a hat.
“Explore some new products or dig out the ones that have been collecting dust on the shelf and learn how to finally use them," she says. “Embrace your natural texture. Nurture and nourish your hair by creating a self-care hair ritual for the morning and/or nighttime. Use a boar-bristle brush or wide-tooth comb and brush scalp to ends. Not only is this relaxing as hell, but it helps distribute natural oils through the hair and creates circulation in the scalp. Your hair will be shiny and soft, and you won't have as many split ends.
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“I know we're all bored, but now is not the time to try a new color at home, especially one that comes in a box on the shelf at the grocery store,” she warns. “Please leave it to the professionals. Embrace your roots. No one is as bothered by them as you are, I promise. Lest I remind you, my pretties, color corrections at the salon start at $300. It ain't worth it.”
Zwicky wants everyone to embrace comfy fashion and to avoid wearing pants unless they have to. She encourages people to pretend they’re on Project Runway and make outfits out of items found around their kitchens, to give their pets a funky fashion show, and to bedazzle face masks.
“Wear whatever the heck makes you feel your best right now,” she concludes. “There are no rules.”