After food and toilet paper, hair dye and hairdressing tools are fast becoming hot products during the lockdown. Sales of home hair coloring kits are up by 117% 1 and retailers are reporting that sales of hair clippers and hairdressing tools have increased by over 200% 2 on this time last year. With hairdressers and barbershops closed as a non-essential service, several weeks into isolation people overdue their normal cut and color, are seemingly taking their hair into their own hands.
Although looking our best isn’t a top priority right now, let’s be honest, we’ve all been wearing our comfy pants almost exclusively for weeks, the importance of making ourselves feel good is still up there. We’ve all had that sensation of feeling physically lighter after a trip to the hairdressers and that feeling is one that we’re craving right now. So, while some are finding a pick me up in snack foods or exercise equipment, others have been reaching for the dye and scissors to lift their mood. Home hair care is helping to make us feel better, even if no one except those on the other side of our zoom calls is there to see us.
People tackle anxiety in different ways, deciding to make a change can give us a sense of control that we are distinctly lacking right now. The impulse to change your look in a time of crisis is nothing new; think breakups, coming out, midlife crises, being a teenager. The fact that we’re all in that moment of crisis together has resulted in this boom on hairdressing and coloring items. In a situation where anxiety about what we can’t control is running high, it’s no wonder that we are focusing on the things we can control, like having pink hair.
Dying your hair an outrageous color or shaving your head is no longer a scary social faux pas. You don’t need confidence, you’re in quarantine. People all over the world are letting loose with their hairstyles and it’s proving to be a way to alleviate boredom and have fun for both adults and kids. Some are treating it as a homeschooling adventure handing the hairdressing scissors over to children and even Director and Actor Taika Waititi letting his kids loose with clippers.
Those who aren’t able to go wild with their hair in normal work or school settings are now able to experiment judgment and punishment free. Quite simply put, messing with your hair is something fun to do during a time when the days all seem to blend into one. When the days seem to blend together, doing something fun with your hair gives you something to differentiate between time periods; the time before, and after you had a mohawk.
There is also bonding; an intimate element of trusting your partner, a parent, or even yourself to cut or color your hair. Whether they make a good job of it or not it’s a unique shared experience that can even provide a sense of achievement in a new skill learned (or at least attempted).
In the last few weeks, I have given both my husband and daughter a trim. Initially, I was surprised that my partner trusted me with a sharp implement so close to his head, but his gratitude for the half-decent job I achieved made all the pressure I’d felt worthwhile. My daughter was less impressed with her hair trim, but when I used a supermarket box dye to color her hair tips purple I was sure that this particular memory of life in lockdown was going to stay with her forever.
Even the wider community is having a bonding experience as the shaved head is fast becoming a symbol of the pandemic for both men and women. Going for a buzz-cut removes the problem of needing a professional haircut and is a low-maintenance, but high-impact look. The shaved head is further unifying people as it has become a fun way to raise money for charity. Campaigns like Shave Donate Nominate and the hashtag #CovHead_19Challenge are bringing people together with clippers at the ready.
What Happens Next?
Covid-19 has given home hair color and cutting brands the perfect opportunity to access people who would never normally color or cut their hair at home. Given the length of lockdown in some markets, customers have had an extended period of trialing these products, and providing the results haven’t been disastrous, introducing them into their habit cycle. So how do the brands keep their products in their’ bathroom cabinets once lockdown is lifted?
The Sound Advice
Social is already providing a platform for home hairdressers, barbers, and colorists to share their triumphs and disasters. Creating an online relationship and community with consumers now will ensure that your relationship with them won’t end with the box going in the bin.
Show them how it’s done with social media tutorials led by experts demonstrating how to get almost-salon-perfect hair at home and leading them to other products in the range.
Host live Q&A sessions for people to ask all the questions that never appear on the box.
Whatever happens to our hair during lockdown the photo evidence is sure to haunt us forever when we emerge dyed, shorn, wonky, or untouched.
The ’80s called – they want their hair back.
1. www.stackline.com – Top 100 Fastest-Growing & Declining Categories in E-commerce
2. www.dailymail.co.uk – REVEALED: The surprising grooming tool that has seen a 234 percent increase in sales over the past week
Cover image by @jordvdz via Twenty20