When the pandemic first sent everyone into stay-at-home mode and salons were forced to close for the sake of safety, the future of hair-color maintenance was unsure. At first, it seemed a lot of folks who normally visited colorists to cover their grays decided to grow them out for a bit. But when salons continued to stay shut — and even when they opened (but to a smaller group of clients willing to brave being in public and in close proximity to other people) — many decided to take their roots into their own hands.
It wasn't long before it became apparent that grays weren't the only hair-color undertaking that people were handling at home. Suddenly, it seemed people wanted to experiment with new shades more than ever — pink had (and is still having) a major moment — and they were willing to ruin a couple of old T-shirts to make it happen.
Like us, Garnier — which makes Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme and Olia Brilliant Color — noticed how much at-home hair-color habits shifted in 2020, so the brand conducted a survey to get down to specifics. The results are both fascinating and not terribly surprising.
Thirty percent of the 2,000 women surveyed dyed their hair themselves while isolating at home. Of those respondents, 85 percent said they colored their hair to cover up grays; meanwhile, more than half of the women polled said they dyed their hair a bold color because it seemed like a good opportunity while home.
That aligns with what several people Allure spoke to said. "Everything was closed, and my grays were getting wild and out of control," says Keely Heyman, deputy director of a 9-1-1 center in New Jersey, who had always preferred going to the salon over coloring her hair at home. "I tried to wait it out, but there were no signs of reopening."
Grays weren't author Alexandra Tweten's concern so much as boredom was. Like one in five women surveyed, she just wanted to try something new. "I started getting antsy after two months in lockdown. I felt like I needed to do something crazy to break the monotony, so I decided to bleach my entire head and attempt to dye it light purple," she tells Allure. "I figured if I botched it, it wouldn't really matter because no one would see me. I'm normally pretty lazy with my hair and like minimal effort, but lockdown was the perfect opportunity to experiment."
Caitlin Van Horn, a marketing manager in Brooklyn, was already a frequent at-home self-colorist, and continuing to do her monthly refresh helped her feel a little more grounded and confident during such a weird year. "I felt really unmoored and shook up during the early pandemic," she tells Allure. "Dyeing my hair was a great way to keep a routine, feel normal, and still feel good about myself."
Unlike Van Horn, only 16 percent of those surveyed said they had colored their hair at home prior to the pandemic, and many of the newcomers said they looked to digital media platforms like YouTube and Instagram for guidance. New York City colorist Nikki Ferrara, however, figuratively held some of her clients' hands when they were attempting to dye their own hair. "I've done virtual appointments and coached them on sectioning their hair on FaceTime," she tells Allure.
She also helped steer clients in the right direction shade-wise. "Most have consulted me before putting anything in their hair," Ferrara says, making a point of telling them to keep it as close as possible to the color they'd been doing in the salon — especially if they plan on returning to the chair eventually. "Don't go too dark or stray too far from the original tone. It's easier to hide a lighter single process than it is to remove the color altogether."
But not everyone is planning to head back to the salon. Nearly 67 percent of those surveyed plan to continue coloring their hair at home, with 32 percent planning to stick exclusively to at-home color.
"It's so much easier and cheaper," says Seattle-based writer Colleen Williams. "Plus, I'm a real spontaneous hair person. I don't like to plan — I just like to wake up and change it."
Whether you pick a Garnier shade or another at-home hair-color product, the options are endless if you decide coloring your hair yourself is something you want to try. And if you're ready to return to the salon, just remember to do so safely — with a mask and without symptoms. And if you don't feel safe, you can still support your favorite salon by purchasing products from that specific business.
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