ReShonda Tate Billingsley still can’t believe she shaved off one of her eyebrows while social distancing at home.
“I have no lashes, half a brow, my nails are a hot mess and my hair looks crazy,” said Billingsley, an acclaimed author who has written more than 50 novels.
With salons closed due to the coronavirus, Billingsley said she tried to microblade her own brows. It didn’t work. Then she tried to use dental floss — instead of acetone, which she didn’t have — to remove her gel nails. It was another massive fail.
Doing her own hair proved to be the most frustrating beauty experience of all. That was also the case for her daughters, Mya, 19, and Morgan, 17.
While the city is huddling at home, many people are resorting to doing their own hair, nails and other grooming practices they typically hire professionals to do. Some are getting pointers from social-media bloggers, others are pleading with their stylists for help via videos or Zoom meetings.
Billingsley, a regular at Serenity Hair Studio with stylist Davion Anderson, said she wears extensions, but she took them out when she couldn’t get in to the salon. She tried to let her hair go natural, then tried braiding it, then tried crochet braids, a technique she learned and halfway mastered on YouTube.
Eric Vaughn, owner of Rev Salon on Westcott, says cutting too much off is one of the biggest mistakes. Here are his tips:
- Cut your hair while dry, not wet
- Do not cut straight across with scissors.
- Turn the scissors vertically and make small cuts into the hair. This creates a softer, more natural look.
- Take your time.
Houston stylist Kim Aitch, owner of Kim Aitch’s Camera Ready, said she gets more requests from clients about how to dye their own hair than anything else. Here are her tips on how to do it at home.
- Contact your stylist for recommended brands and colors.
- Shampoo your hair. Do not add a conditioner.
- Towel dry your hair by squeezing, not rubbing. It’s gentler.
- Use a semi-permanent dye, which will wash out in about six weeks. Do not use permanent or demi-permanent.
- Follow product instructions, particularly on how to section the hair.
- Apply the dye at the roots and work toward the ends.
- Do not apply heat to the dye because it will make the color more permanent.
- Rinse thoroughly.
“I thought I’d just let my hair breathe, and it went downhill from there,” Billingsley said.
Then a gray patch grew in. That was her breaking point.
“I never wear headbands, ever,” said Billingsley, standing on her front lawn in Missouri City wearing a black headband to cover her hair. “I had to do something with this gray. It’s a hot mess.”
Beauty in the time of the coronavirus requires desperate measures.
Ask Roseann Rogers, a sales director for Stewart Title and former TV personality who never missed her appointment at Vita Mutari Salon in Rice Village — until now. She recently colored her own roots and posted about her #TouchUpTuesday on Facebook and Instagram.
“I have such an appreciation for my stylist. My hair has nice lowlights and highlights. There’s no way I can replicate that,” she said.
With three to four Zoom calls a day, Rogers said she’s using L’Oreal Magic Root Cover Up spray on her gray before it “gets too bad.” Then she’ll have to dye it herself.
“Forget toilet paper, we need hair color,” said Rogers, who worries that she won’t find her color if the social-distancing continues. “My hair grows so fast that I have to stay on top of it. Being at home, you start to evaluate what’s important. I’d rather have my hair done over anything.”
Eric Vaughn, owner of Rev Salon on Westcott, said he and his team of stylists are offering touch-up kits for their clients. The $60 kit includes developer, color, gloves and other products, along with how-to guide.
He warns clients not to do their own hair without some professional consultation.
“I’ve scared my clients enough not to touch their hair without guidance,” he said. “I just did a video on what can go wrong when you cut your own bangs. If you don’t trust yourself, don’t do it.”
DIY hair coloring is trending on social media. Houston stylist Kim Aitch, owner of Kim Aitch’s Camera Ready, said she gets more requests from clients about how to dye their own hair.
“It’s universally the biggest hair issue right now, and it’s been hard to get products because of the demand of so many people trying to dye their hair at home,” she said.
Aitch is now doing online consultations with her clients on how to take care of their hair. Some, she said, didn’t know how much gray they actually had until now.
“There are many women who can’t afford to go gray because of the feeling of ageism in their companies,” Aitch said. “We are trying to teach our clients how to get through this.”
Aitch recommends using mascara, in a pinch, to cover gray along the hair line. She also suggests Visible Change’s Kamo Hair Fibers, a powder that makes the hair look thicker and can cover gray. If all else fails, she advises having a wig for bad hair days.
“Now is also a good time to try something new. Hopefully, this will all be over before too long,” she said.
Billingsley — whose latest novel, “The Stolen Daughter,” comes out next month — is now shopping online for hair extensions. But she’ll continue to wear headbands for a while.
And her nails? Well, that’s another issue.
“I’m just glad I don’t have a book signing anytime soon,” she said.