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3 Pinays Open Up About What It Was Like To Shave Their Heads During Quarantine

'A shaved head is just a shaved head.'
PHOTO: COURTESY OF LEI GUTIERREZ
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If there's anything I've learned while scrolling through my feed over the last few months, it's that quarantine has given people the courage to cut, color, and style their own hair however they want. Speaking from experience, one night at around 10:00 p.m., I randomly decided that I needed Korean-style bangs, so I got out of bed and stood in front of my mirror to make it happen. Some women took it a step further.

Cosmopolitan spoke to three Pinays who not only cut a few inches off, but actually shaved their heads.

Jopie Sanchez

  1. What made you decide to shave your head? 
    I've always wanted to shave my head. I think, probably ever since that iconic scene in Empire Records wherein Robin Tunney locks herself in the toilet and just shaves her head. I saw that movie when I was in high school. But I've always been scared to fully commit to it. What if my head wasn't round? What if I look stupid? What if I look too pogi and no guy will ever find me attractive? What if I hate it? What if my hair doesn't grow back right away? So many hang-ups and vapid concerns. 
    It's just hair, when you really think about it. It always grows back. I guess I had to wait until I was emotionally mature enough before I could actually do it. That took years of preparation. Baby steps in adjusting how I relate to hair and my physical appearance.

    COURTESY OF JOPIE SANCHEZ
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    Over the years, I've gone halfway and tried undercuts in various forms as well as a mohawk. The pandemic was a convenient excuse. No one would be seeing me for months, and it'd get past the awkward growing out phase. That's always the worst part of shaving any portion of your hair. Also, I was bored at home, it was the height of summer, and it was just too hot to even think straight, I wanted to get rid of all the bleached and colored hair so I could see my natural curl pattern show up. I thought about it for several days, and at around a week into lockdown (March 23), I just went for it.
  2. How much research did you do beforehand? 
    I've been saving random pegs for years. A shaved head is just a shaved head. So I looked for pegs on how women would rock it, just so I'd psych myself up for it. I watched maybe a video or two of women going through the process of actual shaving on YouTube, and several more videos of the growing out process. And, a lot of emotional preparation. I had to grow into the kind of person who wouldn't care whatever she'd choose to do with her hair for so long as it was representative of her authentic self. So much so that any choice I make with regards to style, people can say for sure, "That's who she is."
  3. What kind of tools did you use?
    I did it myself, locked in the toilet, Empire Records-style. I even played the same song from the movie while doing it, just because. First, I trimmed my hair using scissors so that it would be easier to go in for the shave. I have professional hair scissors because I cut hair from time to time, so that's been with me for years. It's this blue pair from Three Darts which I bought off a colleague. It's on the pricey side, but if you cut hair, these things are considered investments. They cost me a little under P2,000 for the pair, but I have had them for a little over six years now. For the actual shaving, I used this cordless, rechargeable, portable trimmer from Philips, the MG3750 model. It's smaller than the regular trimmers. I bought them off Amazon when a relative went home from the US so it only cost me around $17 (less than P1,000 at the time). Locally, it retails for around P2,500 based on some online shops. It's just a bonus that I found one that cost the same price but had better quality. After the general process, I let my sister check any portions I might have missed and then she ran through them with the shaver also.

    COURTESY OF JOPIE SANCHEZ
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  4. What was your initial reaction when you saw your new 'do? 
    I was laughing so much during and after. As a promise to my brother, I did a reverse mohawk first, just so I could send him photos and we could laugh about it. And when I finally did it, it was a mix of awe and amusement. Wide-eyed, uncontrollable laughter, interspersed with utterances of, "Oh, shit." 
  5. How different is your hair/beauty routine now? 
    I was on the Curly Girl Method prior to shaving my head, so things have been much more effortless when it comes to my hair routine after. I can now take more than the average number of baths in a day. It's weird, but the hassle of having wet hair and waiting for it to dry turned out to be a factor when it came to the frequency of my baths. I don't like using a hairdryer because that takes up more of my time, and I prefer a predominantly wash-and-wear regimen for my hair. I'm all for anything low-maintenance. At the start of it, I would just use either shampoo or conditioner: Shampoo for the days my scalp would get oily, conditioner for the other days. I'd mostly use conditioner as my scalp would get dry and flaky if I shampoo too frequently. Also, I've been using a thicker conditioner to help hydrate my scalp and keep it from flaking. My curls have started to show up now, so I've incorporated a leave-on curl treatment after baths on some days. 
  6. Did your feelings about your hair change after you shaved your head? 
    YES! So very much. Shaving your hair is such a liberating experience. I don't know if it's just me and the way I approach things, but the experience was very zen-like and meditative. It wasn't just shaving my head, it was a physicalized process of letting go of society's expectations about women and how we should look. It was a process that allowed me to liberate myself from the expectations I also unwittingly had for me based on these societal norms. Shaving my head felt like a protest. I had no idea I was that attached to my hair. When I shaved it off, I felt like the core of who I am. Just human. My fears and reservations about it from all those years ago, shifted. From wondering how others would think about me, it became more of, anyone and everyone who could appreciate me and find me beautiful in this form are the people worth keeping around. The experience freed my future self from all these ingrained expectations I previously thought mattered. At the end of the day, they really don't. Your decisions concerning your physical appearance and self-expression will always, and should always, just be about you.
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Lei Gutierrez

  1. What made you decide to shave your head? 
    I've always wanted to try this style. I was afraid to try it before 'cause baka hindi bagay. I've experimented with different hairstyles and colors before, but shaving my head was something I had to really think if gagawin ko ba or hindi. My fear was baka mag mukha akong itlog. Kung kailan kasi ang taba ko and bilog, tsaka ko naisip to shave my head. But in the end I thought, so what if mataba ako? I never really cared about covering myself up when I'm at the beach. I wear sexy one-piece swimsuits, and I carry it well. Why is shaving my head any different? 

    before and after photo of woman shaving her head
    COURTESY OF LEI GUTIERREZ
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  2. How much research did you do beforehand?
    I looked for pegs on Pinterest and Instagram. I searched for girls with a similar face shape to mine. I also searched for articles about the pros and cons of shaving your head. I never researched like this for my past hair experiments. But for this one, I really had to prepare myself 'cause it was a super drastic change. Deep down, alam ko naman na bagay pero nauna yung takot
  3. What kind of tools did you use? 
    A friend gave me a number of someone who was selling clipper razors. The clippers were part of the box set nung razor. Then I bought pa the barber brush, barber scissors, and the cape. But the cape I didn't use naman. I got those for P1,910 in total.

    As for the shaving part, I did it all myself. I even recorded the process and posted it on my wall. The first thing I did was cut my hair with scissors. I started from the bottom then went upward. I used a hair clamp to section my hair then snipped away. After the first snip, I was so nervous, my eyes were closed. I can still hear the sound of my hair being cut. Then I just went all in with excitement na. The fear was gone! And then when it came to the shaving part, ang bilis lang! I started with a no. 4 clipper, then no. 3 'cause mej mahaba pa rin, and ended with no. 2. But now when I trim my hair, I use the no. 1 clipper na. It looks more clean and ang sarap nung feeling when I run my hand over my head.

    tools for shaving hair
    COURTESY OF LEI GUTIERREZ
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  4. What was your initial reaction when you saw your new 'do? 
    I laughed at myself! But it was more like an excited laughter. And I was so happy that it was bagay! I couldn't stop touching my head and checking myself out in the mirror. I was wide-eyed and happy. I felt so good, so free, and powerful! My scalp could feel the difference! Ang presko! I have thick hair, and the difference from having a full head of hair to almost none is quite liberating.
  5. How different is your hair/beauty routine now?
    Before I shaved it, I always styled it in the morning before I left for work. I had to allot about two to three hours to prepare: 30 minutes to an hour for breakfast and shower, then makeup is fast lang, then hair. I spent about two hours to style my hair. Then for showering naman, like, from around 10 steps down to one. I'm a member of CGM, and I have been trying for a year to revive my curls. I damaged it by trying different hair colors. My hair was dead due to bleaching. And no mattter what I did, CGM was not working. So from using two different shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioner, all the squishing and other stuff, I am now down to just using shampoo thrice a week after working out. I don't even use conditioner anymore because there's nothing to condition. I shave my head every two to three weeks, so sayang the conditioner. Ang laki din nang natipid ko sa hair products! 
  6. Did your feelings about your hair change after you shaved your head?
    Nope. I mean, it's just hair. It grows back! I don't think I've regretted any of the hairstyles I've tried. Even the time I cut my own bangs, which was a disaster, I just laughed it off and had it fixed at the salon. I guess that's the good thing about hair, no matter what you do to it or how damaged it gets, there's always a solution to make it better. One of the reasons why I decided to shave my head was because my hair was extremely damaged from bleaching. I couldn't stand my hair anymore, and the only solution I could think of was to shave it off. And I am so glad I did, it's the best style I've tried. Nothing can top this now.
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Nadine Ramos

  1. What made you decide to shave your head? 
    I've wanted to shave my head since I got a pixie cut in college in 2012, but I could never work up the nerve to do it. I was afraid that I'd look like a siopao or that I'd regret it after a day. But I also just kept thinking about doing it—a lot of my friends have heard me say things like, "Ok if (x) happens then I'm gonna shave my head." Even my parents knew! When we reached two months in quarantine, I told my parents that I regretted not shaving my head as soon as quarantine was announced—but then back then, I was under the optimistic belief that it'd only last three weeks, max. So when we reached 100 days, I decided if not now, then when?

    before and after photo of woman shaving her head
    COURTESY OF NADINE RAMOS
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  2. How much research did you do beforehand?
    I watched YouTube vlogs of women who shaved their heads and their experience with it and also watched some videos on how people shaved their own heads. I considered doing an undercut first but then realized after some more research that my hair is too straight for an undercut to look good, so I decided to just shave it all off in one go!
  3. What kind of tools did you use?
    My dad has a Philips Easy Even Haircut Series 3000 that I used. It was so helpful because it had a blade guard and also had numbers for how close the cut would be. I started at no. 5, which is how close the shave is! I shaved my head in front of a mirror and had an extra, smaller mirror to check the back.

    I asked my dad to help even out my shave, especially in the area behind my ears. He was initially very against me shaving my head, but when he saw me after I'd cut it, he laughed and said, "still pretty." So that's when I asked him to help! When he finished, he said, "I can't believe I just did that." Hehe. It was a cute little bonding activity for us.
  4. What was your initial reaction when you saw your new 'do? 
    Leading up to shaving my head, I kept thinking to myself that I think I'm pretty and that's all that matters, but there was definitely a brief moment when I looked at myself in the mirror sans hair then I thought, "Oh god, oh no." Then I laughed at myself in the mirror and thought, "Yeah, this is AWESOME." I also immediately sent my barkada a selfie and they were mega supportive, so that helped lift my spirits.
  5. How different is your hair/beauty routine now?
    My hair routine is mostly the same—shampoo every other day and condition twice a week. Since we're in quarantine, I've focused on just taking care of my skin, but the one time I went out of the house this week, I put on brows, eyeliner, and mascara. So the short answer is it hasn't much! I just don't use as much product, hehe. 
  6. Did you feelings about your hair change after you shaved your head?
    To be honest, I was never really attached to my hair. I liked that it was long and smooth, but I honestly don't miss it much. But then again, it's only been a week since I shaved my head, so I'm still very much in the phase wherein I'm thrilled that I don't need to bring a hairtie around.
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