Akim Powell

May 1, 2020

Cov-19 Affecting African American Women Beauty Regimen

Every two weeks, she would drive two hours to get her eyelashes and eyebrows in Jackson. Now, she’s teaching herself how to do her eyelashes and eyebrows by watching Youtube videos due to the outbreak of COV-19.

  Reagan Kelly, Ole Miss graduate student is one of many African American women who know all too well the effects of hair, nails, and eyebrow salons temporarily closing due to the pandemic. Many African American women, including small business owners, have found new ways to adjust to the new normal.

“I would get my eyelashes and eyebrows done every two weeks in Jackson,” says Kelly. “And I made a vow to myself that I would never leave the house without lashes. It just made me feel good.”

Kelly says that while she doesn’t like to drive two hours for a lash appointment, self-care is something that she took pride in. Now, three weeks into the stay-at-home order, she has found a new love for her naturalness. 

“This pandemic has shown me that I don’t need all the stuff and my natural beauty is beautiful without lashes or my eyebrows done,” says Kelly. “I’ve started rocking my natural hair and it feels great because for the longest time ever I didn’t feel like dealing with it. And I think it’s beautiful that I see everyone else on social media is natural and authentic.”

Someone that would understand Kelly’s struggle is Peyton Stubbs, a USM senior journalism student. 

“I literally can’t wait to get my hair done,” says Stubbs. “Maintaining natural hair is so hard. I think this pandemic is teaching us that minimalism is okay. We don’t always need to have our lashes and hair done.”

Stubbs says that we’ve been conditioned to believe that we need those things to be pretty. 

“I appreciate the beauty in the eye of the storm that we’re in. I’m able to embrace all of me,” says Stubbs. “Especially the parts that I’ve not been in tune with. I’ve always worn protective styles. It feels good to be in tune with myself, all aspects of myself.  Even little things like polishing my toes and shaved the peach fuzz under my nose.” 

Although some may think hair is merely a physical identifier, hair and the black identity mean so much more. It could mean finally transitioning your chemically relaxed or permed hair, which is a treatment to make your curly hair permanently straight, to natural. 

Surprisingly, Tatyana Johnson, CEO of LifeLine Hair has seen a spike in hair orders, specifically wigs due to C0V-19. 

Picture of a hair salon closed due to COV-19 in Gulfport, MS. Photo credit: Akim Powell

“I sell hair on hand which means I deliver the hair to them and I’ve made $400 in a day,” says Johnson. “More people have more money to spare. I also have been giving a lot of girls bundle deals so they don’t have a choice than to buy,” says Johnson. 

Johnson says that even though girls are buying hair, she’s still missing out on profit because a lot of girls are scared to go to salons or they don’t find the benefits of buying hair at the moment. 

Like Alexus Baldwin, a senior Hampton University student says that she developed a skill that she probably wouldn’t have mastered if she wasn’t quarantined. 

“I learned how to braid,” says Baldwin. “I just watched youtube videos and began doing it. I honestly think that before the pandemic that I wouldn’t have learned how to do this, I would’ve just gotten somebody to do it for me.”

Baldwin says that while she can go to somebody’s house to do it, she’d rather not risk herself getting infected. 

“I feel as though a lot of us are natural but just because we are natural, not a lot of us know how to do our hair,” says Baldwin. “We typically all go to a stylist, get braids, or wear a wig.”

While others are affected tremendously by the pandemic, others not so much. Lauren Conley, senior Ole Miss journalism student, who says that while she misses getting her pedicures and eyebrows done, her hair routine hasn’t changed.

“I have been natural for almost two years, “ says Conley. “But this time under quarantine has motivated me to try different styles with my hair. I learned how to do more protective styles like braids and twists.”

Conley says that she also makes time for spa days but it isn’t the same spa vibe that she’s used to. She says she’s excited for the state to reopen so she can show her newfound styles.

“This time of quarantine has taught me to go with the flow,” says Conley. “It’s nice not having the standards of beauty imposed on you. I feel free to try out different styles in my home. Whether they work or they fail, I won’t be judged.”

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