• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

How to keep luscious locks in lockdown:  Expert home hair guide

Apr 8, 2020

How to keep luscious locks in lockdown: Expert home hair guide including step-by-step DIY colour, tricks to banish split ends, fringe-trimming cheat – Plus should you ever cut your kids’ hair?

  • Sarah Vine shared hair care advice from leading British stylists amid lockdown
  • Lee Stafford recommends investing in sectioning clips for trimming your fringe
  • Charlotte Mensah advises deep conditioning weekly if hair is chemically relaxed 

At times like these, with the spectre of death hanging over every one of us, it seems almost churlish to focus on anything but life’s essentials.

Especially something as frivolous as hair. Or to put it another way: people are dying and you’re worried about your roots? What kind of deranged narcissist are you? And yet. One of the first memes to take the internet by storm at the start of lockdown was videos of people ineptly trimming their own locks.

This was quickly followed by homebound amateurs experimenting with colour and even home-perming: similarly catastrophic.

Meanwhile, in Spain, where lockdown has been far stricter and straying more than 50 metres from your front door can land you a 300-euro fine, hairdressers are nevertheless still operating, having been designated an ‘essential service’.

Experts shared their advice for maintaining hair at home, while salons are closed as part of lockdown (file image)

This is a notion many women would strongly endorse. Indeed, a regular theme of my nightly video-chats with girlfriends — after we’ve finished discussing how much we want to throttle our children/ husbands/dogs/general family, of course — is the deteriorating state of our barnets. We’re all aged 45-55, and a fortnight in, those roots are starting to show.

The truth is, hair is not just the stuff that grows on our heads (or, in some cases, doesn’t). It is our armour, our self-expression, our plumage. And in times of crisis these things matter. It’s why cancer patients often describe the experience of losing their hair as deeply traumatising.

Most people, of course, never give it that much thought, possibly because for most, good hair these days is just a given. In recent years the advent of the affordable, accessible salon — once a luxury available only to a few, now (or until three weeks ago) an option on every street — has meant we’ve all got used to dropping ten years in the time it takes to have half a head of highlights, a cut, cappuccino and blow dry.

The result is that we have become far more high maintenance than previous generations.

Sarah Vine who suffers from androgenic alopecia, fears she needs to renew the connections that hold her ‘intralace’ in place every six to eight weeks (file image)

Take my own case. As one of the many women (30 per cent of the female population) who suffers from androgenic alopecia — a gradual thinning and receding of the hair, progressive and irreversible over time — I now have access to a wide range of innovative ‘hair replacement systems’.

Whereas before it was a choice between a scratchy wig or an eccentric scarf/hat combo, now — thanks to my brilliantly clever hairdresser Lucinda Ellery — I can enjoy the benefits of a permanent ‘intralace’, a complex system which attaches treated human hair to what remains of my own, and in which I can sleep, exercise and generally live my life as though I had a normal, healthy head of hair. It has been life-changing, but I won’t even begin to pretend it’s low maintenance.

Yet it’s worth it to walk down the road or into a room without worrying about people staring at the bald lady or feeling exposed and ashamed. It does, however, require commitment. And because of Covid-19, I’m on borrowed time.

The heat-sealed connections that hold my ‘intralace’ in place need to be renewed every six to eight weeks. Without them, I will — like a kind of hair Cinderella — return to my ragged state.

Sarah Vine revealed one of her friends can’t remember the last time they washed and dried their own hair (file image) 

So however miserable you may be feeling about your own hair situation, it cannot be worse than mine. Still, I feel your pain. Especially since, in the age of Zoom and Houseparty, we are all still very much on show regardless of the fact we’re in lockdown.

We’re going to have to learn to do it ourselves — or at least try. I have one friend who can’t remember the last time she washed and dried her own hair, as she has it done twice a week at her local salon. Last time we spoke she was two weeks into her final professional blow dry, desperately clinging on to the last vestiges of civilisation.

The truth is, it’s not hard. Not with top stylists flooding the internet with how-to videos and tips for at-home styling. And, of course, Femail’s expert guide to help get you through these dry days…


Award-winning hairdresser Lee Stafford offers a quick fix for a fringe. 

You will need sectioning clips, a comb and hairdressing scissors — ‘never kitchen scissors,’ says Lee. Expect to pay from £10 to £25 online for an entry-level pair. Before you start, make sure hair is clean and dried in its natural texture. ‘Curly girls beware,’ adds Lee. ‘If curls are straightened and cut, the length will jump up as soon as it is curly again, resulting in a micro-fringe.’ Although, instinctively, you will want to cut horizontally, Lee says don’t — ‘this will result in a blunt and uneven look’. Here are his step-by-step tips.

1. Section your hair in a triangle at the forehead but removing all hair that you don’t want in the fringe. Pin it back on both sides.

2. Comb your fringe down towards your brows so it is sitting flat. 3. Hold the middle of the fringe section horizontally between your second and third fingers, which you should rest on the bridge of your nose. Keep your fingers square throughout and make sure both feet are on the floor directly in front of the nose. Don’t cross your legs because it can throw you off centre.

4. Using sharp scissors, gently chip into your existing fringe just below your fingers at a 90-degree angle to the hair. Start in the middle, then follow the line of your fingers on each side always keeping your fingers square. Cut a couple of millimetres off at a time. You can always trim more but there’s no way to recover cut hair.


Colourist to the stars Josh Wood walks you through DIY hair dyeing.

Roots coming through? The technology for temporary fixes has improved hugely in recent years — try Color Wow Root Cover Up (£28.50, colorwowhair.com), a foolproof powder, or L’Oreal Paris Magic Retouch (£6.99, Superdrug) if you prefer a spray. If you want something more permanent, find a colour that matches your base shade (not your highlights).

Many salons are doing ‘damage limitation’ services. Josh Wood offers free video consultations using his own products from joshwoodcolour.com. Every time you colour your hair at home, complete a patch test. You can develop an allergy over time, even if you’ve been fine in the past. Here’s Josh’s step-by-step guide:

1. Use barrier cream around the hairline to avoid getting colour on the skin. I put a thin layer by the hairline, at the base of the neck, and on ears to avoid staining. You could try Vaseline as an alternative. 2. Use a good, wide-tooth comb to brush out your hair. Then split your hair into a ‘hot cross bun’ (four sections) and clip. When you begin to colour, keep these sections neat, so you can keep track of what parts have been coloured.

3. Work your way through each of the four ‘hot cross bun’ segments, using a comb or just the tip of the colour bottle to section off small slices of hair and apply colour to the roots. Always start at the greyest point of your hair.

4. Use the ‘dotting method’ to colour. Dot the colour on in a line along your section parting, then rub the dots in to your roots. Pack a lot on to the roots at the hairline. 5. Leave your colour on for the recommended time, then rinse and condition.


If you have extensions, what you should do depends on how they’re bonded to your hair.

‘A great way to encourage the bond or tapes to naturally soften and fall is to lightly rub some dry oil into the bond,’ says extensions expert Vicky Demetriou. ‘Nuxe [Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, £18.50, marksandspencer.com] is a favourite of mine — although any hair oil, even olive oil, will do. The oil encourages the extensions to fall away naturally, and if any tapes have fallen out, it will help remove the excess product.’

This approach might not be appropriate for all types of extensions. Louise Jenkins of Great Lengths extensions — which use strong keratin bonds, as opposed to glue or tape — says you should never try to remove your own Great Lengths extensions as this can cause serious damage. ‘Your hair shouldn’t be damaged by leaving them in longer than usual, as long as you use the aftercare tips.’

If in doubt, contact your salon.

If your extensions have come out and you feel naked without them, Easilocks (easilocks.com) do synthetic clip-in extensions starting from £14.99 for a fishtail braid to £99.99 for a set of extensions.


Charlotte Mensah who was three times Afro Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards, advises deep conditioning weekly if your hair is chemically relaxed (file image)

‘The biggest issue for women with afro hair is going to be for those who have it chemically relaxed,’ says Charlotte Mensah, three times Afro Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards. ‘You’ve got new growth at the roots, which is a different texture to the relaxed hair, and the junction where the two meet, the demarcation line, can be incredibly fragile.’ The most important thing is to condition your hair. She adds: ‘Oils, pomades, creams, leave-in conditioners — there’s so much choice. At the very least you should get in the habit of deep conditioning your hair weekly. My conditioner [Manketti Oil Conditioner, £24, charlottemensah.com] helps to nourish and hydrate hair so the two textures don’t feel different.’ 


By Linda Kelsey  

Linda Kelsey (pictured) coloured her hair following a one-to-one online tutorial from Amie Wilson, who is creative colourist at Urban Retreat in Knightsbridge

Although the growing badger-stripe down my parting makes me want to weep, I’m frankly terrified at the prospect of dyeing my own hair.

No 1 fear: getting colour in my eyes and having to dash off to hospital. No 2: getting stains all over my pale mushroom carpet. No 3: green hair.

But Amie Wilson, creative colourist at Urban Retreat in Knightsbridge, West London, and the only person I’ve trusted with my hair every three weeks for 14 years, responded to my plea to save me from looking an old hag at 67 — and teach me to DIY dye for the first time in my life. Like many stylists, she’s offering clients one-to-one tutorials online, via video chat.

Amie orders my kit, including gloves, from Amazon: the L’Oreal colour; the Oxydant Crème you mix it with to ‘develop’ the colour; hair-dye stain remover and a mixing bowl; applicator brushes; comb and hairclips.

I’ve called in Ron, my partner, as assis-tant. We have a practice run and he rinses my hair as I lean back over the bath. The odd drop of water trickles into my eyes and I screech: ‘That could have been hair dye, then what?’

I mix the colour and developer and get started. It quickly emerges I’m not good at the ‘dipping and dabbing’ technique Amie is demonstrating.

Blobs of dye keep landing on my face as I apply too much or not enough to the partings. She advises me to apply colour only as far down as the occipital bone at the back of my head.

Ronny’s eyes light up. An osteopath with no work thanks to Covid-19, he knows exactly what Amie means. The two are getting on brilliantly. He starts dipping and dabbing like a pro. Forty minutes later, with a pair of swimming goggles clamped to my face with one hand, I leave Ronny to rinse my hair. Once the gunk has been washed off, I shampoo under the shower. Our tutorial began at 4pm. By 6.30pm I am washed, blow-dried, done.

The results? A success. Well, apart from one rather brown ear, which the stain remover hasn’t managed to get off, and a couple of tiny grey patches. ‘That was a bit you did,’ I accuse Ronny. He retorts: ‘Didn’t touch that area, it was yours! By the way, you look nice.’

If you would like a consultation, contact [email protected]


Zoe Irwin, creative director at John Frieda salons, warns that there isn’t any point only snipping the ends of your hair because split ends travel up (file image) 

The general consensus from all the stylists I spoke to is, if you can help it, ‘Do NOT cut your own hair!’

The only exception to that rule, says Zoe Irwin, creative director at John Frieda salons, is a fringe trim and her technique for split ends. ‘There is no point just trimming the ends of your hair as that’s not where all split ends are — they travel up the hair,’ she says.

‘You need to make sure they’re cut off at the source. Take small sections of dry hair, gently twist them and only snip off the split ends that appear sticking clearly out of the sides of the twist of hair.

‘If you don’t want to risk it, try sealing split ends instead. I really like Virtue Healing Oil [£40, cultbeauty.co.uk] for keeping the ends in good condition. ‘If you’re worried about tufty bits in front of your ears, the hair probably needs more moisture. Use hair cream to smooth it down, then blow dry it.’

For cropped styles, use root-lift sprays and mousses to give more volume and shape. Even if you have never used tongs, try adding a wave. ‘It adds volume if layers have grown out and it’s amazing how forgiving it can be to long styles.’

Zoe suggests wrapping just the mid-lengths of a section of hair around a tong, and alternating the direction you wrap for each section, to give beachy waves.


By Jane Fryer

The last time I cut anyone’s hair was five years ago. My eldest son, Freddy, was just three and I felt his sweet, thin, flyaway fringe was out of control.

So, armed with the bacon scissors and a tea towel, I snipped and tidied until, well, after quite a bit of adjusting, he ended up with a Herman Munster fringe and I was banned from haircutting for ever.

Until now. Because desperate times call for desperate measures. Months from their last haircut, my boys, now eight and six, have great dark shaggy topknots.

So here I am again, armed and dangerous. This time, however, I am taking no chances. I have persuaded my brilliant hairdresser, Hugo Mansfield, to talk me through every snip by video link.

Jane Fryer cut her children’s hair with the help of a Hugo Mansfield video link. Pictured: Jane trimming son Sandy’s hair 

‘I would never, ever suggest anyone cut their own hair,’ he says, deeply alarmed. ‘But these are unique times.’

My sons have mixed feelings. Freddy, the optimist, says: ‘At least if it’s as bad as last time, Mummy, it won’t matter, because no one can see me.’

Sandy, six, is less sure. ‘It’ll be rubbish. You know it will be. Because you aren’t a hairdresser, are you?’

True. I get Hugo on my phone and give him a video tour of Freddy’s mop. ‘Ooh, nice hair. Lots of weight in the top — you’ll need to lighten that up,’ he says. ‘Dampen it down, comb it and focus on isolating the top section. Imagine a horseshoe on top of the head with the curve running through the back of the crown.’

Er, OK. Using one of my hair clips, I secure the top chunk of Freddy’s not very clean hair.

‘Ooww!’ he yelps.

Hugo, 39, who has won endless prizes, now cuts hair in his private salon in Kensington, West London, three days a week and on the other two he teaches. But never by video link to a total amateur.

It turns out that hair scissors are not only more expensive than normal scissors but they’re made differently, weighted differently and used differently. The only bit of the cutter’s hand that moves is the thumb — and they are so incredibly sharp they must be kept closed when not in use.

We start with the sides. ‘In small diagonal segments, like an orange,’ says Hugo. ‘Only take a centimetre. Use that as your guideline. No more. Clear sections, Jane. Clean sections. You’re grabbing loads of hair.

‘Look for your guidelines,’ he says firmly. ‘And don’t forget. A guideline is like love — if you can’t see it, don’t pursue it.’

Jane struggled to comb through Sandy’s knots without him screaming and abandoned texturising his hair. Pictured: Jane styling Sandy’s hair

I remember why I’ve been going to Hugo for a haircut for 15 years. Not only does he have good chat but he’s a perfectionist. He continually urges caution. ‘Whatever you’re doing should only be preservation, not restoration. You’re trying to maintain, not cut a new style,’ he says.

As I press on with my cut, he talks me through: texturising, lifting up the hair with the comb and snipping into the end to soften the line; how to feather around the ears; and the importance of symmetry.

I take a chunk out of my forefinger with the scissors, swear a lot and bleed all over the towel. In all, I cut my fingers three times, twice badly enough to need plasters, nearly take a chunk out of Freddy’s ear and, I’m told, several times, am not very gentle. But somehow, despite all that, I do a pretty good job on Freddy’s hair.

‘It’s good. Surprisingly good,’ says Hugo.

Sadly, my talent must be fleeting. For Sandy’s hair does not go as well. While he is just six, he is particular about his hair. When he goes to the barber, he sits very still, concentrating, as he puts it ‘to make sure I get a good cut’. Not this time.

I can’t comb through the knots without him screaming, so I chop them out instead. The sides donww’t blend. The top doesn’t look quite right. And as blood leaks out from beneath my plaster and my mouth fills up with his hair, he looks pale and tense.

By halfway through, he’s weeping so uncontrollably, I abandon texturising, try not to notice the clump sticking out beneath his right ear and run upstairs to my computer to order him a gigantic Ninjago Lego set on Amazon Prime.

I won’t be cutting my kids’ hair again, ever — they made me promise on our guinea pigs’ lives. It’s just not worth the recriminations, tears and bloody fingers.

My advice, while we wait for the end of lockdown, is to let your hairdresser know you care — even it if it’s just a text to assure them that, the minute we’re all allowed out again, you’ll rush back to their salon looking like a member of the Hair Bear Bunch.

Need help taming your hair? Send your questions to [email protected]

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