COVID-19 SPECIAL

How to cut your hair at home and other DIY grooming tips to survive circuit breaker in style

Hair director at Maison Hair, Ken Chong, gives a quick tutorial on how to cut your own fringe at home.

SINGAPORE - It is what many have been dreading: the curtailment of beauty, grooming and other non-essential services during the circuit breaker, which has been extended to June 1.

With even basic haircutting services suspended at least until May 4, Singaporeans may have to get their grooming fix at home.

The Straits Times speaks to beauty experts for tips on surviving this period - or until your next appointment.

HAIR

While hair experts recommend waiting until you can physically see your hairdresser for a chop, trimming the fringe is still manageable if you want to look presentable for conference calls.

Try to use hair scissors; stationery scissors and kitchen scissors should be a last resort.

Always cut hair with the scissors held vertically, a technique called point-cutting, says Ms Tien Goh, 39, education manager at Shiseido Professional.

When pulling your fringe forward to your nose to cut, the trick is not to tug too hard or hold it flat against the forehead.

"Most people hold the hair vertically down at a 0-degree angle, and cut a straight line across but that is very blunt and will look heavy.

"Instead, pull the hair out in front of you and hold it elevated at around a 30-degree angle, then cut a straight line. This will create a slightly layered effect with the inner hair being longer," she says.

You can, other hairdressers suggest, also cut in a zig-zag manner.

 
 

For a side-swept fringe, pull and cut in the opposite direction of where your fringe falls.

The hairs furthest away from the eyebrow will be the shortest, after which you can sweep it back into place neatly. To touch up, cut a straight line across the ends towards the ear, she advises.

The rule of thumb is: "Don't cut to the length you want immediately - it's easier to keep taking away than to add on."

Should you insist on tackling more than a simple trim, proceed with caution.

For the men, hair grows out quickest on the sides, says Ms Georgina Quek, a hairstylist at DuSol Beauty Korean Hair Salon.

If the thickness starts to bother you, try going in with a razor, not scissors, adds Ms Quek, who taught her son how to cut his own hair when he enlisted for National Service.

"The most important thing is to have two mirrors," she says, one in front and the second, a vanity-sized one to see the back of your head.

Clip or tie up hair on the crown of your head so you can focus on the sides.


Singaporeans may have to get their grooming fix at home. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Using the razor set on '3' or a higher-numbered clipper guard, shave from the ears upwards and outwards at a 45-degree angle, she says. It is not as close a shave, but reduces the risk of accidentally shaving a hole.

For further safety, shave against a comb. You can always bring the shaver down to a '2' or '1' for a tighter shave after.

To tackle hair behind, do the same and go from the nape of the neck up, moving gradually across the head. After, go in with scissors to tidy.

Hair on top of the head is a little trickier. Ms Quek suggests pushing and holding the hair up, before cutting cleanly across.

Wives wanting to help their husbands can use scissors to cut the top hair in sections, each time adding more hair to the previous section as a guide to even out length. This creates more varied layers as opposed to a blunt cut.

Dyeing your hair

If your grown-out roots are bothering you, you may want to experiment with home hair-dye kits. Always err on the side of going lighter than dark when choosing a colour, says Ms Goh.

 
 

It is harder for hairstylists to "fix" dark dyed hair at your next appointment as that will require bleaching. Steer away from buying the darkest colours on the hair colour chart. Most hairdressers will use shades like Light Brown, Dark Blonde, or Light Blonde, she adds.

"In any case, consumer hair dye won't be that strong as it's not from a professional range."

To darken your hair, start from the crown of your head and work to the back (and ends, if you are attempting a full-head dye). Hair on the surface of our head is naturally lighter due to ultraviolet exposure, she explains, and this will give the hair dye time to process and deposit colour. This also works when covering up grey roots.

If you are lightening your hair, or "lifting", do the opposite. Start from the back where the hair is denser, coarser and needs more time to process the dye.

Fake it till you make it

If courage fails you, you can always wait it out. Ms Goh recommends using hair products to cheat and manipulate hair shape: hair masks or leave-in conditioner to hydrate and flatten puffy hair, and gel products for the men to reduce volume on the sides.

Ultimately, maintaining scalp care is the most important thing in the interim. Even if you are home all day, shampooing your hair daily is a must, she says.

"Our weather is humid and hot and bacteria can breed on the scalp, which can cause pimples and dandruff." Hardened sebum on the scalp can clog hair follicles and even lead to hair loss.

Choose your shampoo according to your scalp condition, and conditioner according to hair. Women below 30 have oilier scalps and should pick a shampoo with a clear or translucent gel texture for more thorough cleansing, she says.

For those above 40, expect to have drier scalps as there is less sebum secretion; a milky shampoo will hence be more nourishing.

"It's natural (for your hair) to have a little oil," Ms Goh assures.

BROWS

Are your overgrown brows getting you down? Well-maintained eyebrows can frame the face in place of make-up, especially for those quintessential conference calls.

 
 
 

Tweezers and a pair of small scissors are all the tools you need to clean up unruly brow hairs.

Eyebrow specialist and make-up director Cecilia Chng recommends tweezing and trimming brows every two weeks to keep them tamed.

Using an eyebrow comb or spare spoolie, comb your brow hair downwards. Then, with the small scissors, trim the excess hair off. Should there be any stray hairs, tweeze off gently in the direction of hair growth.

"You can outline your desired brow shape with a brow pencil first, before trimming and tweezing," adds the industry veteran, who runs a boutique in Ngee Ann City. Like with all DIY grooming, work slowly and "never overpluck".

NAILS

Take matters into your own hands, quite literally, by fixing your nails at home. Use this time to moisturise cuticles and nails with cuticle oil or coconut oil, says Ms Germaine Monteiro, co-founder of socially conscious nail salon The Nail Social.

"This will help keep them healthy and ready for when it's time to go back to your manicurist."

For ladies wanting to remove grown-out gel nails, you need cotton pads, a nail file, aluminum foil cut into rectangles big enough to wrap around each finger, and acetone.


Use this time to moisturise cuticles and nails with cuticle oil or coconut oil. PHOTO: THE NAIL SOCIAL/FACEBOOK

Step 1: Buff your fingernails with a nail file to remove the shiny coating of the gel polish.

Step 2: Tear a cotton pad in half and fold it so it is big enough to cover your nail. Soak the cotton in acetone fully.

Step 3: Place the soaked cotton on top of your nail, and wrap your finger in aluminium foil to keep it in place. "Start with your non-dominant hand to makes things easier," she advises.

Step 4: After 15 minutes, remove the foil on the finger you started with first. The gel polish should look as if it is falling off the nail and "lifted", and should be easily removable with little to no pressure. If not, soak for another five minutes and try again.

Step 5: Once all the gel nail polish has loosened, pull the foil off and use pressure to wipe off the gel. Any remaining gel can be gently lifted off the nail bed with a nail stick. If the polish is not lifting easily, you need more soaking. Rewrap with a new cotton pad and try again.

No acetone on hand? You can use regular nail polish remover with the same steps although the process will take longer, says Ms Monteiro.

"Instead of waiting 15 minutes with acetone, you probably have to check your progress after 20 minutes. It depends on the type of gel as well, so if it is still intact after 20 minutes, try re- soaking until the gel falls off."

If you are itching for a splash of nail art, do it yourself with fuss-free nail wraps from local brands like Nailed It Wraps, Em.mezing Nails and Nodspark.

Easy to apply in 20 minutes, they come off just as easily. Simply soak fingers in warm water for about eight minutes, then slowly peel the sticker off your nail bed upwards from the cuticles.