Mane-Taining my Sanity

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Going virtual is tough enough for shops and restaurants, but a good number have made a  pandemic pivot, taking orders online and delivering right to homebound customers’ doorsteps.

For local businesses offering personal services, however, the situation is dire. Hairstyling in a hazmat suit? Robotic eyebrow threading? Video dental exams?

Meanwhile, our hair keeps on growing (and reverting to its natural color). For a stopgap, we can take matters into our own hands, as some of us have done with cooking and, especially, baking. But if we want our favorite neighborhood salons, dentists and other personal care providers to still be around post-quarantine, we — and they — need to get creative.

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My mother often did it in the afternoon. There she would be, in shorts and just her bra, with an old towel wrapped around her shoulders, clipped in the middle by a wooden clothespin.

I should have remembered that part earlier. Madison Reed knew what she was doing, placing that Facebook ad in front of me just when I had occasionally started seeing my grays reflecting on the screen.

The day before I was to have my hair colored by my wonderful hairdresser, the salon owner called to say they we were closing for two weeks. Evidently a patron had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. When I asked him for a recommendation elsewhere, he said the local salons met and they were all closing for safety.

I started calculating hair growing rates. Did I hear once that it grew faster in summer?  Whew, it is March, maybe keep the heat in the house down. Then I thought, “Okay, calm down, only your husband will see for the next two weeks, you can wait.” But did I want him to know how gray his wife had become? He had seen glimmers when I waited one week too many to stretch out things, but what he was about to witness was a full-on Rip Van Winkle situation.

Did I even want to find out I am old and gray in the middle of a scary time — or, worse yet, end up in the hospital with a half-and-half, letting-myself-go look? There, I said it. Yep, vanity thy name be mine. (Please don’t judge me, I am an optimist, so hope springs eternal that this will be over before everyone is infected. I am praying everyone can stay put and stave this off.)

Madison and her clever come-ons about “ease and nontoxic perfect color” wore me down. Three more ads and I ordered it online, but not before having to determine: “Am I golden brown, light brown or medium brown?” Don’t ask me why I don’t know what color my hair is; it is just the color Erika puts on my head. Geez, it was harder than I thought. Desperate times … so I chose light brown.

The box arrived four days later. Now nine days out, I had to take measures into my own hands. I had run out of combing camouflage strategies. Come on, if my mother could color her own hair — in the ’60s, in her kitchen, from a box purchased at the Pic ’n Save — I could do this! After all, I have an MBA and Madison Reed has promised me it will be so easy. How tough can this be? Also, I had watched someone else do it to my head for 20 years. Piece of cake.

The box had many tools I have never owned. A brush with a rat comb end, four large clips, a plastic bowl with weird measurements, a tube of stuff, a squirt bottle with more stuff, something frightening called “barrier cream” and an instruction card with large print.

Hiding from my husband in the bathroom, I took a deep breath and followed the instructions. “This is easy,” I said, clipping my hair in sections and then putting on the included gloves. The mixing part got tougher, and by the time I dropped the container onto our fancy, very large bathroom rug, I realized Mom knew the kitchen floor was a very scrubbable surface.

Then, I guess while bending down, I flicked some color on my favorite workout top. (Which I, of course, chose to wear to do this, learning nothing from Mom, who is now even more of a saint to me. And don’t get me started about how easy it was for her to throw her head down in the kitchen sink, using the spray arm with one hand and massaging her head with the other.) In the shower, I was convinced color would be blinding me as I chose the head-back method — and, again, being shallow in times of trouble, hoping our expensive travertine would not be hair-colored after this exercise.

Finally, out of the shower, towel removed from head (to my relief, no color on the “good” towel I chose), I moussed, I started to blow out … wow, it actually looked normal. No, really, it looked like my hair!

Yeah, I saw a few grays that I had missed, trying to be conservative, but, overall, not bad — although one ear was a little brown and required major scrubbing. “I can live with this,” I said, admiring my work, albeit almost an hour later (followed by an attempt to OxiClean and soak the workout top and rug).

Erika should not worry about my loyalty. When this is over, her tips will be huge.

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