How to Keep Your Hair from Looking Like a Hot Mess During Quarantine

It's hard to keep up with hair appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, so things are undoubtedly getting shaggy. But have no fear — these tips will help you care for your quarantine hair until life gets back to normal.

Woman with long red hair smiling
Photo: Westend61/Getty

Due to social distancing and the sporadic closures of salons, your hair is longer and possibly more damaged than you're used to — all the brushing, heat styling, and at-home dye jobs can take their toll. But you can make your quarantine hair look like it hasn't gone months without a haircut by trimming, smoothing, or hiding your split ends. Here's how to get the job done.

Give Yourself a Tiny Trim

The first step in resolving messy quarantine hair? "Cutting off dry split ends will bring life back to your strands," says hairstylist Nunzio Saviano, a Shape Brain Trust member and the owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as those DIY quarantine cuts gone wrong. In fact, it shouldn't be. In this case, a trim means taking just about a quarter of an inch to an inch off the ends.

How to Give Yourself a Trim

"The key is to use proper, professional haircutting scissors," says Saviano. "These are extra sharp and will give you the most precise cut." Try Equinox International Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors (Buy It, $26, Trim when your hair is completely dry so you can get a true sense of its length (remember, wet hair is longer than dry hair). Again, only aim to take off a small amount at the bottom.

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Equinox International Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors

Equinox International Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors

How to Trim Bangs

"Gather bangs in the shape of a triangle, and hold them away from your face so you can see how short they will be. Cut horizontally, then add a few vertical slices to soften any blunt edges," says celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen.

Or, you can let your bangs grow out instead. "Sweep them to the side with a pretty adorned bobby pin," says Saviano. Stephen also loves headbands and scarves to hold bangs and layers back. They make great decoys, distracting everyone from the rest of your wild quarantine hair (which, FTR, you can totally embrace if you want).

Dial Up the Nourishment

If your hair is curly, cut down on the number of times you shampoo each week to avoid stripping your quarantine hair of moisture. When you do shampoo, opt for a sulfate-free formula that boosts hydration, like Dove Amplified Textures Hydrating Cleanse Shampoo (Buy It, $7,

"Hydrating hair is always a good idea, but it's even more important if you're going longer between cuts," says Stephen. Saviano recommends weekly deep-conditioning treatments for all hair types.

If you have fine, straight hair: Try a lightweight formula like Kérastase Paris Nutritive Masquintense for Dry Fine Hair (Buy It, $56,

If you're curly and coily: You need a rich, creamy treatment like Bread Hair-Mask (Buy It, $28,

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Bread Beauty Supply Hair Mask

Bread Beauty Supply Hair Mask

It's also a good idea to skip hot tools in favor of air-drying to keep your strands as healthy as possible. Most will find that their air-dried hair looks best if they apply a cocktail of stylers to it when it's still damp, typically a leave-in conditioner mixed with a curl cream, a gel, or a foam. Try L'Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave-In Conditioner (Buy It, $6, and Göt2b Be Twisted Air Dry Curl Foam (Buy It, $5,

Camouflage the Damage You Do Have

If you want to hold out for a proper cut, you can temporarily hide dry, frayed ends by applying products formulated with coconut oil or macadamia oil to your quarantine hair, like Macadamia Professional Weightless Repair Leave-In Conditioning Mist (Buy It, $22, "These natural ingredients seal each strand and hold the lifted cuticle down, making your hair appear smooth and polished," says Saviano.

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Macadamia Professional Weightless Repair Leave-In Conditioning Mist

Macadamia Professional Weightless Repair Leave-In Conditioning Mist

You can also use a curling iron to add a few waves or curls to your quarantine hair. "Curling the ends inward blends split ends into the rest of your hair's texture," he says. Be sure to apply a heat protectant, like Nuele Hair Serum (Buy It, $34,, to your strands before you reach for the iron. Or try tucking your ends into a top knot: Secure it with a hair tie, then use a few bobby pins to hide the ends. No one will blame you: After all, the topknot is like the unofficial style of 2020, anyway.

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