During stressful times in life, people turn to many different rituals as a way to cope. When it comes to our hair in times of crisis, however, it almost always results in a drastic hair change (i.e., those bangs you tried after a big breakup). If you’re anything like us, you’ve considered making a big change to your mane at least once during quarantine, whether it’s a bold new hue or a daring haircut.
Since the beginning of the stay-at-home order, we’ve reminded our Hair.com readers of a few very important at-home hair rules: Don’t cut your own bangs and avoid bleaching your hair at all costs. While many salons remain closed, however, there’s one major hair transformation that’s taken the internet by storm: Shaving your head. Women around the world have decided to buzz their hair during the stay-at-home order, and the videos and how-tos have gone viral across social media. But what exactly inspired this edgy trend and, more importantly, how do you do it the right way?
To learn more, we tapped Janine Whitman, Kérastase lead national educator and Amber Alster, Shu Uemura Art Of Hair artist, to get the low down on everything you need to know about shaving your head and how to do it right.
Photo Credit: @cajsawessberg.
Why is everyone buzzing their hair in quarantine?
To fully understand the growing popularity of shaving your head, Whitman says that we have to look back to the beginning of the buzz cut’s appeal.
“I think to answer that we have to go all the way back to the 15th-century woman who, in my eyes, began the female short hair revolution,” the stylist says. “In 1909 French hairdresser Monsieur Antoine took Joan of Arc as the inspiration for the ‘bob’ haircut. Then, the flappers of the 1920s also rebelled against, of many things, the necessity to have long locks...That is where this moment in hair’s history begins.”
Fast forward to 2020, and women are still shaving their heads—perhaps now more than ever. But why exactly has the buzz cut trend spiked while women are stuck inside due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
“During this time of quarantine, we are all spending a lot of time with ourselves...Through my own experience, I believe in the buzz cut’s power to transform...Whatever each individual woman's story may be, I believe it is a symbol of identity, power, and re-birth,” Whitman says. “Right now, we all have that same space to reinvent ourselves for ourselves alone. If you think of yourself with a buzz cut and smile at the thought, or are even a little scared but still excited about it, then you are ready!’
In fact, Whitman is joining in on the trend and is about to shave her head for the first time completely. While she’s had three-fourths of her head shaved for over 10 years now, she’s never fully committed to shaving the entire thing. After dealing with hair loss as a result of an allergic reaction to hair color and lack of style inspiration in quarantine, however, she feels inspired to give her hair a clean slate.
“Living with a mostly shaved head the majority of my adult life, I know it has profound effects, and to me, I became my most authentic self. I began watching videos of these amazing women with so many beautiful stories of courage, self-love, self-acceptance, vulnerability, power, and liberation. A renewal of self if you will,” Whitman says.
On the other hand, Shu artist Alster suggests that the desire to shave your head in quarantine can come from a few different factors.
“For some, I think it’s boredom...For other women, I believe they are doing things that they’ve always wanted to do but never found the right time for it until this unprecedented situation,” she explains.
Whether your buzz cut inspiration comes from boredom, a few bad hair days, or the desire for a big change, it’s safe to say that the trend is only growing more popular.
Photo Credit: @renjworld.
What is the proper way to give yourself a buzz cut at home?
First things first: While you might have the urge to stress-buzz your entire mane while you’re stuck inside, we always recommend leaving any major hair changes to the salon pros. But, let’s say you don’t want to wait for your stylist to try a buzz cut—what’s the proper way to do so without majorly regretting it? While your first instinct might be to go to town with a pair of clippers, there’s actually a right and wrong way to do so. Luckily, both Whitman and Alster share their top tips on how to achieve the best results.
Think before you cut.
When you’re thinking of trying any new haircut, there are plenty of things to consider. Does this cut flatter your face shape? Are you ready to deal with the maintenance? When it comes to shaving your head, however, Alster suggests that trying to picture yourself with a shaved head is particularly important.
“My advice would be to try to imagine how you would look without hair,” Alster says. “Slick your hair back and as tight to your head as possible. Look at the shape of your head from the back, sides, and front. Are you happy with what you see?”
If you’re going from long hair to short, Alster also says to consider the grow-out period before you opt for such a dramatic change.
“The average hair grows half an inch per month, so, for example, it would take about a year and a half to grow a buzz cut into a bob haircut,” Alster says.
Begin with clean, dry hair.
Just like hitting the shampoo bowl before a haircut at the salon, make sure your strands are squeaky clean before a buzz cut. This is because excess oil or product build-up on the hair can lead to pulling and can affect the result of your cut.
Get a good pair of clippers.
Before you get to buzzing, be sure to have the proper hair tools on hand. Both artists recommend finding a high-quality set of clippers with a secure clipper guard to avoid any cutting mishaps.
“I definitely recommend starting with a longer guard because you can always take more hair off, but you can’t put it back on,” Alster says.
Cut off excess length before you begin.
Beginning with super long hair? Be sure to chop off any excess length before you begin using your clipper. This step is important so that the clippers don’t get stuck in your hair.
Shave in the right direction.
Before you buzz, be aware that your hair grows out of your head in many different directions. You’ll need to make sure your clipper is moving in the opposite direction of hair growth in order not to miss any strands.
“Imagine your head as a clock, using the clippers at every number on the clock going towards the middle. Now starting in the middle, do the same thing but counterclockwise,” Alster explains. “All of your hair grows in different directions, so make sure you are going in all directions with the clippers.”
Photo Credit: @kaya_azalea.
How do you care for your scalp after getting a buzz cut?
There’s been a ton of buzz (no pun intended) about scalp care over the past few years, and caring for your scalp the right way is even more essential after shaving your head. According to Whitman, exfoliation and SPF are key to keeping your scalp healthy and protected.
“The Scrub Energisant formula is purifying for oil-prone scalps, and the Scrub Apaisant formula is soothing for dry and sensitive scalps...You massage both of these into your scalp, forming a rich lather in the shower for three to five minutes and then rinse,” Whitman explains.
“This product has a whipped gel texture that is immediately soothing and calming...Massage it into the scalp for three to five minutes as a conditioner and rinse...Your scalp will appreciate its healing and moisturizing abilities,” Whitman says.
What about the grow-out process?
Anyone whose gone super short with their cut can attest to this: After buzzing all your hair, the waiting game to get back to longer locks can be tough. That being said, your stylist will be there every step of the way to help you with the grow-out process and find the perfect short haircut to try as your strands begin to grow.
As your hair starts to grow in, you’ll start to notice a round shape, which Whitman likes to call the “tennis ball effect.” If you don’t want to shave it again, she suggests letting your buzz cut be until you’re able to see your stylist again.
“I would recommend clipping your sides and back short while leaving the length on top...This will shift the round grow out shape into a more flattering oval shape,” Whitman says. “Maintain this ratio as you and your stylist have fun working with pixies, crops, undercuts, and bobs on your journey back to length.”
With these tips, tricks, and expert advice, you can decide for yourself if shaving your head is right for you.