12 Black Women Share How They're Caring For Their Hair During Quarantine
In many cases, taking care of your hair often relies on the assistance of other people — especially if you're a Black woman, as regular trips to the salon for anything from cuts and trims to protective style installations have been the norm for us for years. But one look at the news or even social media lately will remind you that the last two months have been anything but normal. With the recent shutdown across most of the country due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) came the temporary closures of many hair salons across the US, leaving Black women to rely on themselves for their everyday hair needs.
"When the quarantine first began, I had fresh knotless braids installed that lasted all of three weeks before my hair was screaming to come out. I extended the braids for six weeks in quarantine and it was the easiest maintenance for me. I have short natural hair that I usually wear in a buzz cut, and once I took my braids out, I saw more growth than I've seen in a while. I can't go to my barber right now, so my natural hair is in sort of an awkward stage. I tried finger coils for the first time last week, and after-three and-a-half hours, I completed them. It's not perfect, but it'll do.
My plan is to rock finger coils for the week, wash my hair, and do it again. Can I sit for three hours coiling my hair every Saturday? I guess I'll just have to find out." — Helena Joseph, associate managing editor at Wiley Publishing
"Within the first few weeks of social distancing and self-isolation, I wore my hair natural. It felt amazing to just let it be without a lot of manipulation. But I get bored very easily, so I recently decided to straighten my hair and experiment with different ways to healthily apply heat. Honestly, I haven't made any groundbreaking discoveries, and I already miss my curls. I'm just insatiable when it comes to my hair, but we love each other anyway." — Brea Cubit, assistant celebrity and entertainment editor at POPSUGAR
"Although I can't wait until I can get box braids again, quarantine is allowing me to give my hair some much needed TLC. My coworkers are on full alert that I will not be using my camera, so my hair stays twisted in a scarf throughout most days. I use my weekends to take the time to deep condition, oil my scalp, and twist my hair back up. I'm excited to see how long I can grow my hair throughout this period of low-to-no-manipulation." — Mariah Scott, technology and strategy advisor at Accenture
"Like most women who rely on assistance when it comes to hair maintenance, the pandemic put a kink in my hair plans. To be 100 percent honest, I do the bare minimum when it comes to my hair outside of regularly getting it cut at the salon and keeping it cute under braids, so I've kept to that while staying at home. I had braids going into quarantine and recently had to take them out. I've been keeping the curls moisturized with my essential mish-mash of the Coco Crème collection from Carol's Daughter and Mielle Organic's Pomegranate & Honey collection.
After reading this article on braiding hair at home, I've decided to take a chance and do my box braids! The Way salon in New York City came through for all the girls and began an amazing online beauty supply shop where I can get a kit with everything I need to give myself some braids. So stay tuned for that drama!" — Mekishana Pierre, assistant entertainment editor at POPSUGAR
"During the last week of February, I got passion twists installed after having curly crochet braids. I'll admit that I have low patience for my natural hair so I use protective styles a lot and I had a feeling the state of our nation would worsen in the near future so I couldn't make the appointment fast enough. I knew I needed a style that would last a good amount of time and that I could easily uninstall myself. Passion twists are pretty low maintenance; the style keeps well and I haven't had any problems with the twists unraveling. I apply tea tree oil diluted with a little water to my scalp in between the parts every two days to help with itching and dryness.
No matter what protective style you have, it's important to not keep it in too long so your natural hair can receive attention and care. This has been my major concern with not having access to salon services. I've tried multiple times to do my own protective styles but the results I get shouldn't be seen by human eyes. After I took out the passion twists and washed my natural hair, I stuck to my usual afro puff — mostly because I don't have the gift of being able to flat twist or cornrow (I'll get it down one day!)." — Kristen Adaway, editorial assistant, travel at Thrillist
"Since I work at a university, my self-isolation started earlier than what was mandated by my governor. Because of this, I wasn't as prepared at the beginning because I still had a sense of normalcy with the stores being open. I just had to work from home. I did go and buy a new shampoo and conditioner so I could do my own hair at home, as I wanted to take advantage of this time to take a break from so much wig wearing. Without my hour and a half one-way commute, I found that I had more time in the morning to try out natural hair styles — I actually managed my first successful twist out! I had more patience with myself, and staying home gave me the space to actually attempt new things without being concerned about what my boss or others might think, particularly on those first couple of attempts that were not very good.
Once the stores were locked down, I decided to braid my own hair, something I hadn't done in two years! I wanted to take a break from daily maintenance, and as the quarantine was starting to emotionally wear on me, I found it harder to get up earlier enough before my daily Zoom meetings to do much of anything to it.
As of now, I've found a good balance with my hair. I've learned so many things about the way it acts and I've witnessed the versatility in the styles that I can do. In general, I've spent a lot of this time being kinder to myself and learning to be present and work with the things that I have." — Ashley Gibbs, clinical research coordinator
"When the quarantine first started, I really wanted to be able to do protective styles, so I wanted to make sure my hair was healthier. For the first month I did my own box braids that I installed using the rubber band method. I watched this tutorial, and it helped me out a lot. But after a while I forgot that, when you have braids, your edges suffer because of the weight, so I figured that since I'm not going anywhere, I should just braid my own hair in singles. It's definitely my favorite hairstyle and I'm not taking it out until the quarantine is over. Every Sunday I just wash the hair and apply SheaMoisture Red Palm Oil & Cocoa Butter Rinse Out or Leave In Conditioner. Also, since I work out a lot, I do the LOC method during the middle of the week so my hair doesn't get dry or smell." — Gam Dhliwayo, graphic designer at Group Nine Media
"Right when this all began, I knew that salons would close soon and I started to panic. I was able to squeeze in a last-minute appointment for box braids, but that only gave me about 6-8 weeks to figure out what I was going to do next. At 25 years old, I'm attempting to do my hair by myself for the first time in my life. I've switched from one protective style to the next after a bad experience with a relaxer in the 6th grade. My husband graciously helped me remove my braids at home and I've been rocking a fro for about 3 weeks now.
I'm enjoying learning more about my hair — the upkeep, the products, the self-love, everything! It was also my husband's first time seeing my natural hair in person so it was a new experience for both of us. Don't get me wrong — I'll definitely be excited to add a new wig or two into the rotation soon, but for now I'm enjoying just letting my hair breathe for the first time in over a decade." — Tomi Obebe, social media strategist and blogger at GoodTomicha.com
"I've been using social isolation as a time to learn about my hair in all of it's different stages, from freshly washed and conditioned, juicy coils to it's drier, day 3, 4, 5+ texture. Like many, I've taken a break from heat and more trendy protective styles and have been using the time I'd spend at the salon getting a press or braids to experiment with and perfect a wash day routine, including products to use the day before a wash.
As a person who loves having her edges laid, and who takes out any protective style the moment it begins to 'grow out,' this quarantine period has also allowed me to worry less about what my hair looks like and simply focus on it's health in a way I've never taken the time to do before. The extra time I've found by not having a daily commute is now used to research and diagnose my hair type as well as finding oils and potions that I can DIY now that beauty supply stores are all closed. As for how my hair's been styled, it's wrapped up under layers of silk and satin head scarves." — Brittni Rhoden, senior workplace specialist at Group Nine Media
"I'm used to covering my natural hair up and wearing it in protective styles, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I was also letting my hair's health slip through the cracks. Wash days can often take up a whole day for me, and they're quite the workout, so I would also go way too long without re-conditioning my hair before all of this happened.
I spent the first few weeks of my time in the house creating an actual wash day routine for myself, washing and deep conditioning once a week and just letting my hair do what it wants to give my scalp time to breathe. A few weeks ago, I decided to give myself box braids for the first time (with help from some life-saving YouTube tutorials), and even though it was pretty difficult, it was well worth the six-hour journey." — Danielle Jackson, assistant beauty editor at POPSUGAR
"Since being on lockdown, I've been forced to re-familiarize with routines like deep conditioning every two weeks and detangling weekly. While I miss the convenience of a steamer and a professional's touch, it's been fun to explore new products and techniques for detangling like finger combing and using a conditioner to pre-shampoo. Not to mention, conditioning my hair all day since working from home, has been a huge benefit!" — Rachael Edwards, social media coordinator at POPSUGAR
"Since we began social distancing, I've been sticking with the basics. I'm not the best at doing hair so the looks I've been turning to are braid outs, a slicked-back pony with a braided bun, and every now and then a wash-and-go. Last week, I wanted to straighten my hair so that I wouldn't have to do it for a while, and taught myself how to do a silk press thanks to Black YouTube! It was a superexciting moment for me." — Tamara Pridgett, assistant fitness editor at POPSUGAR