Hair Colorists are Offering Virtual Consultations, Sending Custom Hair Dye Kits to Clients in The Mail

As states across the country formulate social distancing strategies to combat the novel coronavirus, many hair salons, barbershops, and other close-contact businesses have been forced to close, and salon owners are facing an uncertain future. In the midst of the crisis, beauty professionals are getting creative. With salons unable to provide real-life hair care, some have begun to create at- home hair dye kits to keep their clients' color intact — and help keep business afloat — even during a quarantine.

"It's a job that you can't do from home," New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt tells ishonest. Social distancing guidelines require at least six feet of distance between members of separate households, and applying hair color isn't a job that can be done from six feet away. Still, entrepreneurial stylists have come up with a temporary solution keeping both safety and the bottom line in mind.

Bodt says she's currently hosting FaceTime consultations with her clients. "Picking the right shade can be so overwhelming," she says. "FaceTiming is a great way to connect with my customers and help people."

As for the founders of Brooklyn-based salon The Bird House, they worked quickly to create a Quarantine Color Kit. "It sounds silly, but one of my focuses for the salon is that hair care is wellness. Our hair contributes so much to how we feel, and I've been thinking about our clients going through this quarantine — not only stuck in their house, but possibly out of work, with kids at home, and maybe looking in the mirror to see a horrific roots situation," says Bird House cofounder and director Nicci Hubert.

In order to help, Hubert and cofounder/master stylist Brooke Jordan decided to pack color kits with clients' custom formulas. The salon keeps meticulous notes with each guest's color formula on file, and thanks to the salon's supply of Redken Professional Hair Color, they have been able to mix and package dye for clients who need it. (Their kids have even pitched in to help pack the boxes.) They've even taken on new clients who aren't local to New York City; all Jordan needs are photographs of hair taken in natural light to best assess their color.

The kits come with color and developer, an applicator bottle, gloves, a processing cap, hair clips to section the hair as you apply dye, step-by- step instructions, and a tutorial of Jordan applying color on her own hair to demonstrate. They're available in three tiers: root dye or gloss only ($75), all-over color for root-to-tip coverage ($100), and a hair-care package that includes color, gloss, color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, and Olaplex #3 for a post-color treatment ($150). As of press time, the salon had received over 100 orders.

Victoria Hunter, cofounder and head colorist at Whittemore House, walked through the barren streets of New York City from her apartment to the salon in order to help pack custom hair color kits for "hundreds" of clients. Whittemore House's kits include an eight-ounce bottle of color and another of a developer, a clip, bowl, brush, and a pre-guard cream, which keeps the dye from staining the skin.

Hunter is taking every possible precaution to ensure that her packages are sanitized. "Everything's done with gloves," she says. "We wipe every single thing that's going into the bag. It's really quite time-consuming, going over every little thing with the antiseptic and the wipes and the spray."

Salons such as The Salon Project already had an at-home color option in place. For $50, master colorist Rick Wellman would send his regular clients home with a small amount of their color formula to tide them over between salon appointments. "We custom mix the formula in a plastic to-go kit," he explains. "It's a little device that has two compartments, one for the developer and one for the color, with a snap-on applicator tip." Each package includes enough to "blend and maintain" the existing shade.

When it became clear that his salon space would be forced to shut down, Wellman took home a suitcase full of professional hair dye and got in touch with his vendors in order to secure that more product would be shipped to his house. He's been in touch with existing clients and also new clients from afar.

"For a new client, I do an in-depth consultation [via phone], and try to connect them with somebody in their area that they can visit once this is all over," he says. "It's not just helping the client, it's helping us generate a little bit of income, and hopefully helping local salons."

Even if your salon isn't offering virtual services, an individual stylist like Bodt may be willing to help you choose an at-home color to try. "I've been going on [at-home color service] Madison Reed with some clients and helping them formulate a color," she says. "I can tell them, 'You're a [shade] six' or 'You're a warm brown' and help them navigate that." (Please remember to tip for this service.)

Now, see 100 years of hair color:

Read more on: hair