Hairstyles Are Changing Because of Covid

We asked local stylists how the pandemic is influencing hairstyles.

Yene Damtew of Aesthetics Salon. Photograph by Evy Mages

Longer Hair Is In

While we’re working from home and not interested in frequenting a salon, we’re letting our hair grow. And it’s not just women. “Some of my male clients, their wives have said, ‘Hey, I like your hair longer—why don’t you keep it like that?’ ” says Jérôme Obry of Izzy Salon in Georgetown.

We’re Embracing Wave and Texture

All those smooth, blown-out bobs that so many professional women have sported in DC? Gone, at least for now.

Obry thinks more women may invest in curling irons for summer to create beachy, casual waves in that now-longer hair. Meanwhile, those with naturally curly hair are giving their locks a break from a flatiron.

“My clientele is mostly African American,” says Yene Damtew, owner of Aesthetics Salon in Arlington. “A lot of women who typically wear straight styles because they felt they needed a specific look to be acceptable in corporate America aren’t anymore. With everything going on, I think people are more inclined to  show up as their authentic selves—even if that’s a protective style. I have seen more clients schedule appointments for natural styling.”

We’re Trying Out Gray Hair

“I got a lot of notes from my older clients saying, ‘Jamie, I’m growing my color out,’ ” says Jamie Simon, who works out of both Phenix Salon Suites in Bethesda and a space above Dupont Circle. “People are getting a chance to see what their gray really looks like, whether it’s flattering or not.”

Says Obry: “I am sure there are clients who will not go back to coloring their hair. Some women do have a very nice gray. You have to style it—that’s the only thing. If you give up on the color, you have to find a way to make it visually exciting.”

We Want Lower-Maintenance Color and Highlights

It’s not just older women who are getting comfortable with their true hair color, says Brittany Mears of Bang Salon on U Street. It’s younger women, too: “Maybe they are seeing more of their roots and loving the natural shade.” To help with the awkward growing-out phase of going, for instance, from blond back to brunette, stylists might do “brond” highlights, a mix of blond and brown.

Other clients are skipping foil highlights for balayage, a process to paint in graduated streaks that are easier to grow out. “I’ve been trying to utilize techniques in the salon that create an effortless look that has a lot of impact,” says Gabby Imperato of Hudson & Fouquet in Annapolis,“since people want to spend less time in the salon right now.”

We Want Lower Maintenance, Period

Before coronavirus, Tiffany Naté of Tiffany Naté Beauty in Gambrills had been doing more hair extensions, particularly micro-links. But micro-link extensions require a lot of salon time.

“I’ve had to transition some of my clients out of micro-links into clip-ins so they can maintain a style but not have to frequent the salon as often,” she says.

One hairy part: While the salon was closed, a client whose micro-links were due for upkeep had to remove them herself. “They had to use pliers,” Naté says. “I suggested that they ask someone else in the household to help. I was there on FaceTime talking them through.”

This article has been corrected since its original posting.

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.

Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.