Louise Frost's career went through a seismic shift when shelter-in-place happened. In order to maintain social distance and slow the spread of coronavirus, she had to stop her day-to-day work of styling clients at SoMa's Code Salon.
As with many of SF's beauty professionals — hair stylists, manicurists, waxers, makeup artists, and facialists — the drastic change in human interaction led to a drop in revenue. But a couple of weeks into the stay-at-home order, Frost has seen a shift.
"We started hearing from clients about their husbands, partners, and their children," Frost said. "'How do I cut their hair?' they'd ask."
"The folks that wear short hair — whether they be female, male, or non-binary— the situation is driving them crazy," she noted. "They're not the kind of people that want their hair to shag out."
So Frost and others have jumped into action, counseling clients via video chat and hosting live-streamed online tutorials. They're also delivering retail hair-care goods directly to clients, and launching specialty kits for maintaining color treatments.
"They refuse to let a single grey hair see the light of day," he said. JungleRed has been delivering custom grey coverage kits to clients, while Hlawatschek himself has taken a few video calls to help people cut and color their hair at home.
"It's generated enough income to feed me," he said. "And I'm very grateful to those I've done it with."
He's also pointed clients to online resources, like Maksim Nikitochkin's YouTube videos on cutting hair. "They're short, to the point, and have diagrams." For styling longer hair, he's suggested that customers pick up a Dyson Airwrap to curl or straighten their locks.
What about a Flowbee?
"It's kind of a buzz-cut scenario, from what I understand," Hlawatschek said. "I just don't like suggesting tools I've never used myself."
Meanwhile, Frost and other stylists are giving their clients very different advice: don't cut your hair at all.
"I do recommend that, but by the time I get the text messages, it’s a bit too late," said Hector Ortiz of Hair by Hector (2275 Market St.) "Clients have been sending me pictures of what they did. All I can do is cringe and say it’ll grow back."
Ortiz has been hearing similar pleas for help with hair coloring, and while he doesn't like the products sold at grocery stores or drugstores, he admits that they'll ultimately be good for business.
"At the end of the day, it’s going to make us money, because we'll have to do a lot of color correction for our clients," he said.
In the meantime, he suggests that desperate shoppers stay away from metallic dyes, which could have bad chemical reactions on the scalp.
Another no-no: colors darker than one's own hair. "Most likely, you’re gonna not like the dark color," Ortiz said.
If clients can't skip a haircut during shelter-in-place, Ortiz and Hlawatschek suggested using clippers and trimmers with caution.
"I've seen clients do very harsh buzzes, and then just leave the back," Ortiz said. "The backs of their heads look like a mullet."
Beyond DIY scalp maneuvers, clients are tackling other hair — eyebrows, legs, and nether-regions — that even aestheticians would not remove themselves, said Frost's Code Salon colleague Kelly Higgins.
"I’m not advising anyone to wax themselves at home — I don’t even wax myself," she said. "Brows, especially, can be so easily messed up, and they just don’t grow back the same."
For long eyebrow hairs, Higgins suggests using a dry mascara wand, brushing the brows upward, and then cutting the overgrown strands with small scissors. If you must tweeze, take a step back from the mirror so you can monitor the shape your plucks are creating.
As for legs and other below-the-waist regions, Higgins said she "really recommends shaving right now."
"Buy a quality razor, though," she said. "Don’t get the cheap dollar ones."
For those looking to handle their nether regions, Higgins recommended the Wahl Peanut Clipper & Trimmer.
"It's meant for the sensitive, smaller nooks and crannies," she said. "You could get your hair just short enough — almost like you had shaved it."
To support these local stylists and aestheticians, send a tip on their Venmo accounts.
Kelly Higgins: @kellyhiggins95
Trevor Hlawatschek: @sweeneytrev
Louise Frost: @codeweez
Hector Ortiz: @hector-ortiz-78