Caring for and styling post-pandemic hair

Jenessa Williams 29 June 2021

Here are some vital haircare tips that might save your post-lockdown mane

Whether an active choice or one of simple necessity, the pandemic has changed a lot of our relationships with our hair. In the absence of hairdressers, some of us shaved it off in despair, while others embraced the inevitability of visible greys and creeping lengths, doing away with our straighteners and dyes and balayage.

While the very nature of preening and styling our hair can be an immensely important part of feeling ‘ready’ for the day, there is also something quite freeing about a stripped-back beauty approach. During lockdown, searches for the ‘Curly Girl Method’ soared as people tried to recover their GHD-damaged locks, while many of us embraced working from home as a great opportunity to train our hair into less frequent washes. Society frequently conditions older women in particular, to feel as if their hair should be kept short and in a certain style, but as the country begins to slowly prepare for re-opening, many of us will find that we’re actually quite happy to keep up with our new haircare-normal.  If you’re looking to ease yourself out of the pandemic without abandoning your low-key ways, here are our top haircare tips.

EMBRACE THE GREYS

 

Grey hair will come for us all, and the process of fighting it can often be pretty laborious and expensive. The part that puts many of us off is the transitional process; ease yourself into it by asking for a ‘colour correction’ at the hairdressers instead of a dye, introducing subtle highlights so that the grey has something to blend into. Keep any brassiness at bay with a colour-correcting shampoo, and invest in thickeners; grey hair can naturally be thinner or sparser in terms of growth, so an extra boost of keratin or biotin via supplements (as approved by your doctor) might help to improve the overall look and feel of the hair. 

Hero Products:

Redken Color Extend Graydiant Shampoo, £10

Simone Thomas Wellness Biotin Brilliance Supplements, £24

Davines Alchemic Conditioner in Silver Grey, £24

LOVE YOUR LENGTH

Many of us refer to long or ‘grown-out hair as if it is a bad thing, but it can be fun to have more to play with when it comes to styling. If your hair has grown long during the pandemic, consider strengthening it rather than cutting it. Alchemy Oils have long been a Readers Digest favourite due to their natural blend of fortifying ingredients, with delicious fruit smells that linger long in the hair. 

Even if just for the summer, a longer hairstyle can be great for shielding your neck from sun damage, braided or elegantly clipped up for more formal occasions.  It doesn’t have to be as high-maintenance as you think either; just invest in a good natural-fibred brush, and tie loosely with silk hairbands at night to avoid tangles or elastic damage.  

Hero Products:

Invisibobble Hairhalo Headband, £7.99

Alchemy Oils Grapefruit Hair Remedy Oil, £35

Silkworks Scrunchies, 6 for £30

GROWING BACK A BAD TRIM

Got a little too enthusiastic with the scissors on a boring lockdown evening? An awkward fringe or haphazard layers might be causing some embarrassment now it’s time to get back out in the world, but good accessories can work workers. Over-sized clips or bandana scarfs are highly on-trend for this season; use them to sweep hair to one side or hide shorter lengths under longer parts in a braid or twist.  The key to quick regrowth is good moisture; deep-conditioning masks should be used every other week for damaged or processed hair (every other week for natural), and styling products should be ones with a thick textural weight, such as a clay or gel, to keep wayward hairs in place. 

Hero Products:

Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask, £12

Liberty London Hair Clip, £27

Seven Potions Hair Styling Clay, £14.97

REDISCOVERING YOUR CURLS

Join the masses of those who are embracing their natural hair texture with the curly girl method. Exact instructions and effects will differ depending on your hair type, but the general aim is to encourage your hair to grow healthier, fuller and with more definition, doing away with the damage of excessive heat-based styling. 

Start with a ‘resetting’ sulphate-heavy shampoo to remove any silicone build-up from your hair, and then condition until your locks feel fully saturated, detangling with fingers or a wide-toothed comb. While hair is still wet, you can then applying styling gel and ‘scrunch’ hair into shape, allowing it to air dry. This process can then be repeated whenever you wash your hair, swapping the original ‘stripping’ shampoo for a more natural sulphate-free alternative.

Teasing out your curls can take time and patience, but if you’re looking to get the look without all the effort, a good-quality salt spray ( used judiciously) might help to create or define waves, particularly for those whose hair is on the straighter end of the spectrum. Identifying your hair pattern through a hairdresser or online tutorials might also help to streamline the process, allowing you to tailor your product purchases before you dive into a committed routine.

Hero Products:

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, £9.65

Herbivore Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray, £19

Kogu Beauty Acetate Comb, £9

SOAK UP THE SUN SAFELY

With nice weather finally upon us, it’s incredibly tempting to make up for all that indoors time by rushing out to soak up the rays. As well as sunscreen, it’s important to remember that your hair and scalp needs protection too. Prevention is always the best cure, so stock up on hair SPF’s in either mist or leave-in conditioner form, remembering to apply regularly.

For those with blonde or dyed hair, chlorine can also be something of a summer nemesis. Originally designed for Olympic Swimmers, Phillip Kingsley’s Swimcap hair mask does a great job of warding off any chemical interferants and can be easily shampooed out once you get home. When in doubt, go all-out on an actual swim cap; you’d be surprised just how many high-end fashion retailers have adopted the retro look.

Hero Products:

Phillip Kingsley Swimcap Water Resistant Mask, £19.50

Sun Bum 3-in-1 leave-in conditioner, £15.99

R+Co Sun Catcher Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner, £30

Read more: A guide to fashion's colourwashing problem

Read more: Post-lockdown socialising tips

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