Lockdown hair stories: Are you rushing back to the salon or embracing a new look?

— by Helen Johnson

Anne Hartnett pre-pandemic. Photography: Liz McAulay

After months of DIY cuts, root re-growth and dodgy at-home dyeing, when hairdressers reopened last month there was a huge sense of relief and unadulterated joy. I loved seeing all the before and after photos shared online  – people emerging from hibernation and, after a much-needed tidy up, feeling like themselves again. In spite of all restrictions, there was an impression of life slowly returning to normal. ‘I savoured every second when my hairdresser washed my hair and gave me a scalp massage,’ a friend told me, after her appointment, ‘My hair is once again swinging around my shoulders, and I feel lighter and brighter than I have for months.’

Even in the face of a pandemic, the power of a good haircut shouldn’t be underestimated or seen as a shallow concern. Having a signature hairstyle is part of our identity and how we choose to present ourselves to the world. And given that many people have had to regularly appear in work-related video meetings and Zoom chats, the importance of hair as a defining feature has been keenly felt. For many having a good haircut boosts confidence, particularly after six feral months in and out of lockdown. Another friend, understandably, felt quite emotional when she realised her post-lockdown haircut was the first physical contact she’d had since before Christmas.

Beyond this, a trip to the salon helps to support small businesses and workers, often within the local community – not to mention, the beauty industry with its female-dominated workforce as a whole, unfairly overlooked throughout the pandemic. (In the UK, hair and beauty salons generate more than £7.5 billion in revenue for the economy, according to the National Hair and Beauty Federation).

Here three women over-50 tell their lockdown hair stories:


Anne Hartnett now; waiting for her post-lockdown-haircut…


Fashion stylist Anne Hartnett, pictured above, is counting down the days to her appointment at the Aveda salon on the 17th May, ‘My last haircut and colour (half a head of highlights) was early September. The hairdresser recommended not going too blonde, just in case there was another lockdown and it looked awful growing out. Great foresight  – but it still looked awful!’ Anne laughs. During lockdown, unable to have her regular bi-monthly haircut and with the colour grown out, she says her barnet has regressed to a not particularly stylish ‘school girl mode’. After hearing lots of horror stories, Anne decided to go with the flow and leave it to the professionals. ‘I have found it very depressing seeing dull mousey hair and dirty grey streaks,’ she continues, ‘I wore a beanie when I went out so that no one could see the flat, darker roots. When the weather warmed up and I decided to ditch it, my friend looked visibly aghast when she saw me. I can’t wait to have the split ends cut off and my lighter, brighter colour back!’


Founder of White Hot Hair Jayne Mayled – before lockdown (left) and now (right)


For many the chance to have several inches chopped off couldn’t come sooner but for some the extra length acquired during the pandemic is here to stay.  Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair (listen to the TNMA podcast with Jayne HERE) is holding on to her longer locks. ‘I feel like Rapunzel!’ she exclaims, ‘That might sound ridiculous but I’ve had short hair all my life. I’m 63 now and I’d got into a routine of having it cut every four weeks, I just assumed that it would never grow very much.’ Surprised by the overall difference her new looser look makes to her appearance, she’s enjoying the transformation, ‘ Like everyone else, I just let my hair grow,’ says Jayne, ‘It’s been quite a revelation to experience longer hair and it has changed my whole silhouette. When I did get back to my hairdresser recently she encouraged me to keep growing it. A lot of my White Hot Hair customers have been going through the same thing, and it’s challenging their perceptions that once you’re past ‘a certain age’ you shouldn’t let your hair grow. This new look feels freer, more relaxed and undone, which I like – plus, I can finally wear it up which is infinitely useful!’


Jayne Mayled’s longer locks


Many women have found lockdown has a silver lining, providing the opportunity and space they needed to grow in the grey. Search #embracethegrey and #growingoutgrey on Instagram to see swathes of women showing off their gorgeous platinum, grey, or silver hair, with comment boxes full of supportive encouragement. Actor Andie MacDowell ditched the dye during quarantine and shows off her new salt-and-pepper look in the latest Coach advertisement. While retail expert, author and broadcaster Mary Portas has swapped her signature, sharp red bob, for a softer blonde ‘do’. She explained her new look to Saturday Live, I had to do an interview for the BBC, and I just looked at my head – grown out, grey hair had come through – and I just thought, “No, this is me now.” And I think it is that journey of softness; I think it is that journey of me feeling connected deeply to where I am now in my life.’

Initially worried that grey hair would make her look older, during lockdown Alyson’s friend, textiles teacher Lynne Morrow let her silver strands shine through. Eventually realising this was a chance to experiment and be more creative, she welcomed the new look together with the newfound self-assurance grey hair can bring,  ‘It’s the best gift I could’ve given myself in my sixtieth year! ‘I’m surprised how much of my dark hair I still have – and how much I enjoy the blend of different colours. Lockdown has given me the confidence to grow my hair long again, which I haven’t done since my teenage years.’


textiles teacher Lynne Morrow is growing in the grey


One product I discovered during lockdown and really rate is the new Aveda Botanical Repair range. The condition of my hair is fantastic but still, I couldn’t wait to lose the extra three inches and return to my usual style. How about you? Did you rush back to the hairdresser’s salon or are sticking with a new, lockdown look?

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