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Rethink That Quarantine Makeover: Ohio Stylists Offer DIY Hairdos And Don'ts

A Cut Above The Rest barbershop has remained open for nearly 30 years, but is now closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
David Holm
WOSU Public Media
A Cut Above The Rest barbershop has remained open for nearly 30 years, but is now closed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

As Ohio's stay-at-home order stretches on, so does hair. With barbershops and salons closed, Ohioans are missing out on cuts and coloring, and may be tempted to take their hair into their own hands. 

But restless energy and a desire for a new quarantine look doesn’t necessarily mean you should trust yourself to do it alone.

WOSU checked in with a few hair stylists throughout the city to ask how they’re doing, what they miss from work, and what they’re looking forward to when businesses open again.

As far as hair tips in quarantine go – well, it’s more about maintenance than attempting an at-home makeover.

A Cut Above the Rest: Al Edmondson

Nearly 30 years ago, Al Edmondson opened A Cut Above the Rest near his old stomping grounds. The barbershop sits off 20th Street, what Edmondson calls “the main drag” of the King Lincoln District. 

On a normal day, school kids stroll by and wave, clusters of families walk to church, and nearby residents amble to stores. A Cut Above the Rest is a community staple; Al’s cut three generations of hair in some cases and shorn a host of local celebrities – including Wil Haygood.  

A Cut Above The Rest barbershop.
Credit David Holm / WOSU
A Cut Above the Rest Barbershop

Now, things are different. The area surrounding A Cut Above the Rest looks like a ghost town. The kids are gone, the vibrant community is dormant.  

“We have a walkable neighborhood and people are just... not out, which is good," Edmondson says. "But you know, you just kind of miss those things.”

The business is more than just a barbershop, it’s also a community center. For the past 18 years, the shop has also partnered with the American Heart Association to offer free community health screenings on Fridays.

That fellowship is what Edmondson misses the most.  

"Those things are taken away from us right now,” Edmondson says. “I hope that when this all clears, that we come back with a different perspective. How we value our relationships, how we value our businesses, how we just value these things that we take for granted.”

Edmondson worries about other independent contractors in the business: barbers, beauticians, nail techs, massage therapists, and skin care professionals. He’s starting a fundraising effort for these independent contractors with The Odyssey Project through a nonprofit he runs called Making a Difference.

He hopes funds raised by will assist in payment of rent, utilities, and other living expenses.

“When somebody is down and out, you know, we rally together and support one another,” he says.

For client hair needs, Edmondson says it’s about small touch-ups and moisturizing. 

“If you have a pair of clippers, put a guard on it and just try and keep it simple,” he suggests. 

Credit Al Edmondson / A Cut Above the Rest
A Cut Above the Rest
On a normal day at A Cut Above the Rest, the barbershop bustles with activity.

Eyebrow liners are also good, safe tools to make edges look crisp. If you’re missing clippers, any clippers will do – even pet clippers. 

More than trimming or upkeep though, Edmondson says hair health is key.

“Make sure you keep your scalp moisturized in this time because the weather’s changing and that’ll keep your hair healthy," he says.

Virtue Vegan Salon: Allison Hannahs

Virtue Vegan Salon usually serves around 300 clients a week. The homey and eclectic Clintonville shop is known for their status as Columbus' only vegan salon. 

Virtue Vegan stylist Allison Hannahs is 32 and has been cutting hair professionally for a third of her life. She comes from a long line of stylists – her mother was hairdresser and grandfather a barber. Her lifelong passion for hair stems from the want to "help someone feel on the outside how they feel on the inside," she says.

Since Virtue closed its doors, a few clients have contacted Hannahs, asking about her general well-being and reaching out with notes of encouragement. The messages are touching, because Hannahs does miss her clients and sees the salon as “a huge part of my life and my clients make up a large portion of my time and energy.” 

When asked for hair cutting and coloring tips, however, Hannahs says it’s better to leave it to the professionals.

“We don’t want anybody doing something at home that they can’t properly execute, or safely execute for that matter,” she says. 


Virtue Salon in Clintonville has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, and plans to reopen May 18.
Credit Cindy Gaillard / WOSU Public Media
WOSU Public Media
Virtue Vegan Salon - Columbus's only vegan salon - is located in Clintonville.

Hair stylists are one of few professions – outside of the medical field – that require physical touch. 

“The salon, even before the virus, already used hospital grade disinfectant," she says. "We go through a huge list of safety precautions, and sanitary precautions... the magnitude of our responsibility is huge.”  

Much of this sanitizing work usually fades into the background of the haircutting experience, which Hannahs says just means they're doing the job right. 

She understands the want for an at-home hair transformation, but doesn’t think it’s wise. For shorter haircuts, pixie cuts and bang trims, she sees clients every 4-6 weeks. 

“It’s been two weeks, you know, you’re good,” she says. “That one idea that you thought was going to be so easy to execute and be fun… You know that might end up costing you hundreds of dollars and hours of your time to correct."

Hannahs also hopes to encourage other hairdressers in the city to "uphold the integrity of our profession and our industry.” She says hairdressing is an art and takes time, and can't be learned just by watching Youtube videos.

Hannahs suggests wearing hats or trying different hair styles rather than resorting to a “trim” or kitchen sink dye-job. She says this is a “temporary situation and we’re all going to see each other really soon.”

Credit David Holm / WOSU Public Media
WOSU Public Media
Azul Violeta Salon in Whitehall, Ohio has remained closed, like many salons, since March 15th.

Azul Violeta Salon: Cristal Galloso

Cristal Galloso founded Azul Violeta when she was 23 years old. The Whitehall salon has grown in the past four years and now offers haircuts, coloring, facials, brow waxing and hair donations.

Many of Azul Violeta’s clients are from the Latino community, and most days the salon is busy. 

Galloso says that hairdressing friends in other states warned her that a statewide closure might happen. She working as usual when she heard news they needed to close indefinitely by 5 p.m. on March 18.

She recalls that a longtime client called after hearing the news, asking if she could squeeze in one last haircut before she closed. Galloso agreed.

Now, it’s not uncommon for clients to call and ask if she is willing to do home visits, even for extra pay. These requests, Galloso declines.

Many of Galloso’s clients work construction and in restaurants, and she’s concerned about their wellbeing.

“I’m not worried about getting back to running,” she says. “I’m just worried about how long this is going to take.”

Galloso has been back to the shop to retrieve some items and occasionally sees clients attempting to open the locked doors, hoping that Azul Violeta is open.

A sign outside Azul Violeta Salon.
Credit David Holm / WOSU
A sign outside Azul Violeta Salon.

Azul Violeta sits on a strip right by the Whitehall police station. Galloso notes that Whitehall's 10 p.m. curfew does make everything “pretty quiet.”

What she's finding difficult to process is that neither she, nor anyone she’s talked to, has every experienced anything like this.

“It’s very overwhelming. But you do have to be prepared especially as a business,” Galloso says. “You have to have money saved up because you never know what can happen.”

She also wonders if hair salons will look different after this. If the cleanliness standards will be upped – if gloves and masks will become part of the uniform.

As far as hair treatment tips for clients, Galloso also says it’s better to just maintain and wait. Trying a new hairstyle and try out hair accessories will be much easier than footing a bill for her to fix it later.

Most of all, she just hopes people stay well, exercise, journal, and turn off social media for a while if they need it.