Q&A: About to cut your hair in quarantine? Here’s advice from a professional hairdresser

Step one: put down the scissors.

Illustration by Eva Berezovsky

Eva Berezovsky

Illustration by Eva Berezovsky

Alex Strangman

Quarantine has everyone looking a little worse for wear, especially in the hair department. Some people have taken it upon themselves to make cosmetic changes — sometimes for the worse.

A&E spoke with Jen Cortez, owner, director of education and hairdresser at The Hive Salon in Northeast Minneapolis, to cover the do’s and don’ts of quarantine haircuts.

What are your thoughts on quarantine cuts?

If people want to trim their bangs [or] if people want to maybe edit some of the pieces in the front of their hair — that I think can be done with pretty minimal experience.

I think the expectations from a lot of hairdressers are like, if you need to clean up something a little bit just to make you feel better, cool. But fight the urge to give yourself a change because that will be really hard no matter what.

What are some things people should avoid doing at all costs?

The biggest ones I think should be off the table are coloring — especially with bleaches. I think that’s too unpredictable. I think bobs are not a good idea. I think fades are not a good idea. I don’t think it’s the time to give yourself new bangs, because you won’t have guides to follow.

Yeah, don’t do those really blunt looks. Don’t put something in that doesn’t already exist, and don’t do it if you’ve had a couple glasses of wine.

It’s super helpful if you have someone who’s quarantined with you to either talk you down off the ledge or offer a little insight if you need help looking at the back of something.

What are some must-have tools for any quarantine hairdresser?

Obviously, first and foremost: a pair of scissors. They should be small and fit comfortably in your palm. In my own experience, a really nice pair of sewing scissors is very helpful.

[You’ll want] two clips, so that — especially if you’re trimming your bangs — you can put the hair that you don’t want to cut out of the way, and a comb.

You don’t have to have a cape. You don’t need a spray bottle. You don’t need styling products. You just need something sharp, something to hold your hair in and a comb.

What if I want to cut my bangs?

I would use your eyebrows as a measuring tool. Look straight on in the mirror, and you kind of want to just grab the hair that starts from the inner corners of your eyebrows, the hairs that are above the bridge of your nose. Start with those in the middle, then work your way out in a rainbow shape.

You want a really loose grip. You kind of want to pinch the hair between your first finger and your middle finger.

You want to point the tip of the scissors into the edge of the hair so that you’re just nipping out little triangles. By starting with that you’re going to avoid sort of that kindergarten bangs kind of look.

I also think it’s incredibly helpful to not wait until they’re too long. Like, dust them up every two weeks so you don’t have an overwhelming amount of hair to cut off in the first place.

What if I want to dye my hair?

[You should] maintain something that’s already existing because if you try to make a change and things don’t work, it can be really expensive to get corrective coloring done.

No bleaching. I think if someone already has blonde highlights in their hair and they’re feeling kind of antsy, go dye your hair pink. Pink is so harmless. It comes out really easily.

I don’t recommend dying your hair blue. That’s a hard one to get out. I don’t recommend anyone color their hair black. Make your hair pink, orange or yellow. I think that’s all well and good.

I would just stay away from drastic changes, and for sure stay away from the bleach. I haven’t seen anyone successfully nail a DIY bleach.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for style and clarity.