After spending a year inside her apartment with her two children, Danielle Campoamor, 34, was ready for a new look. The freelance writer and editor in New York wanted to cut her waist-length dark brown hair to her shoulders and bleach her locks white.
At her salon, called [salon]718 in Brooklyn, her hairdresser asked Campoamor if anything traumatic had recently happened in her life, like a divorce.
"No, just the pandemic," Campoamor recalled saying. The hairdresser didn't miss a beat. "She said, 'Oh, I get that.' Then she was like, 'All right, let's do it.'"
Campoamor was thrilled with the result, calling her slick, snow-colored bob "one of the best, albeit expensive, decisions I've ever made."
If you're feeling the itch to overhaul your hair or finally get that tattoo or nose piercing, the timing makes perfect sense.
"I think what you see now is people coming out of the pandemic saying: 'I feel changed, but I want to look like I have changed. I want an outward symbol of that,'" said Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and author of the book "Beauty Sick."
However, as excited as you are to see a new reflection in the mirror, you might want to pump the brakes before you break out the bleach.
If you plan a significant change, Brent Ericsson, a hairdresser at the Philadelphia salon American Mortals, emphasizes the importance of first consulting your hairdresser.
"Always do a consultation because they'll be able to tell you how long it's going to take, what the maintenance is, how much it's going to cost you and if it's going to look good," he said.
If you're booking your appointment online, Ericsson recommends alerting the salon to your plans. If there's space to add a note, he suggests writing that you want a dramatic change. Including this information, he said, "is really going to help to make sure that your first time with a drastic change is going to have a better outcome."
Colored hair requires specialized shampoos, tinted conditioners and hair masks to maintain the color and nourish the hair. Shorter cuts could require more frequent trips to the salon for touch-ups. Budget accordingly.
Sophie C'est la Vie, a tattoo artist in Brooklyn and co-owner of the tattoo studio This Time Tmrw, recommends thinking through how your new body art will influence how you are perceived at work. If the tattoo or piercing is highly visible, be prepared for stares and questions, even when you may not feel like dealing with the attention.
There are also financial considerations to large-scale tattoo projects. Some studios require a deposit and may charge you by the hour, the day or the session, C'est la Vie said. The time it takes to complete a tattoo depends on the size and detail of the piece.
"A very tiny, minimal outline tattoo could take less than five minutes, where a sleeve could take more than a year, depending on how often a client books for," she said.
You also need to factor in costs like tipping.
WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL
"Getting tattooed is such a personal, and I would say intimate, experience," C'est la Vie said, so clients should feel welcome, safe and respected.
Consult online portfolios when looking for a reputable salon, piercing studio or tattoo parlor. Approach friends who are happy with their salon experience or have body art you admire and seek recommendations.
BE CLEAR ABOUT GOALS
When consulting with your hairdresser, take a few pictures of your desired cut or color.
Ericsson encourages his clients to find pictures of a model, actress or online personality whose face shape is similar to theirs. And most importantly, he said, look for people who have a similar hair density and curl pattern to yours. This will give you the best chance of a good result.
"My hairdresser was so grateful that I didn't just bring one picture," Campoamor said. "I had a few that varied a little slightly, so we could work on what was best for me, my complexion, the shape of my face, all those kinds of factors."
DON'T FREAK OUT
"We can fix it," Ericsson said. "Especially if it's just a shape thing. You just have to be willing to let go of a little bit more length" to get the desired cut.
C'est la Vie recommends telling your tattoo artist if you don't like the finished work.
"Give them an opportunity to address and fix the situation for you," she said. "Sometimes people feel self-conscious or uncomfortable to do this, but it's the best policy, the most fair, as well as respectful to allow the original artist the chance to rectify the situation."
MIX UP YOUR STYLE
Keep in mind that these experiences, while fun, are not designed to have staying power.
"We are sold a bill of goods by the beauty industry that making these kinds of superficial changes to our appearance will change our lives," Engeln said. "It's not going to change your life. It might be fun for a while. It might be interesting, but the way human brains work is we get used to new things and they're no longer new."