Quarantine guide to dying your hair like a pro(duct designer):

The one with personas, double diamonds and other fluff

50 shades of double diamonds , courtesy of The Internet

In a nutshell

Have you ever heard about procrastination? To be honest, it’s the main reason for this case study. But on top of that, this is a story of how basic design techniques and some luck can help you to go crazy in real life and still expect better outcomes.

...It also shows my questionable sense of humor and how you can make a case study out of ✨ anything ✨
Role: Bored Designer → Hairstylist
Timeline: 3 weeks
Teams & parties involved: Me, myself, and I
Context & Goals
Problem
Strategy
R&D
Execution
Outcomes

Context

In December 2020, 8 months deep into the San Francisco lockdown and WFH, I had 3 major issues: quarantine hair + boredom + urge for something new.

Initial problem statement: client (aka myself) is unhappy with her hairstyle and bored.

Goals

1
Have fun
2
Learn something new
3
Fix hairstyle issues

Phase 1. Understanding the problem

Digging a bit deeper

Luckily I was immediately available for the user interview, and we quickly discovered the roots of the problem.

Just before the lockdown I had a surprisingly good haircut that actually grew out very gracefully. Yet as soon as local authorities briefly reopened salons, I went for a cut just to support my stylist. Apparently I used up all my hair luck in the pre-quarantine session, and the new cut was just not that great.

Digging even deeper, I was able to deduce  that most of my unsettlement stemmed from a very severe hair layering — I had sections of hair of very different lengths — a thing I usually try to avoid.

It’s worth mentioning that as soon as I was able to identify the core of my unease, all salons were closed again.

Phase 2. Exploration & Inspiration

Wait for it, here comes the persona

This is me failing to make fun of how seriously we treat our UX-personas sometimes

Exploring possibilities

The initial plan was to fix the haircut only. Then I remembered that I really enjoyed having neon pink hair and didn't mind having some pop of color and diverged my search for possible solutions.

Secretly, however, I wanted to avoid bleaching my entire head and would love to have something easily maintainable as a result.

Finally I found my inspiration offline. I saw a beautiful girl with black wavy hair and neon-green tips. I was too shy to take a picture. Thank God for Google, Pinterest and Instagram.

References

Images found on The Internet

Phase 3. Strategy & Trade-offs

To start, I had two obvious paths: seek professional help or do an at-home job. My main assessment criteria and estimations:

Salon
@Home
Accessibility
Poor
High
Expected quality
High
Low
Price
High
Low
Effort & Mess
Low
High
Risk
Med
High

Being a bored adventurous person who doesn’t really feel a strong attachment to her hair (I even tried being shaved at some point and it wasn’t that bad) I decided to take the high-risk, high-effort, low-cost and super-accessible path and do the thing myself.

Also, I do enjoy learning new skills. Even weird ones.

The challenge

The moment I added bright color to my desired outcome the stakes got way higher. DIY hair bleaching is a terrible terrible idea roughly 99 times out of 100.

If you ever google ‘quarantine hair disaster’, you’ll see that the most terrible cases were caused not by scissors, but by bleaching.

Phase 4. Research & planning

Because I chose the riskiest path, my execution strategy was all about risk mitigation.

Mandatory photos of sticky notes and a team brainstorming, courtesy of The Unsplash

Step 1. Online research

Unfortunately, it turned out that most googlable materials on DIY hair coloring looked like SEO content for websites or salon promos.

Most sites blah over dozens of screens about the subtle difference between shatush and balayage techniques and then jump directly to the ‘draw the rest of the fucking owl’ part. Disappointing.

Also, almost every single source shared the consensus that you probably shouldn't do it yourself anyway (and it does make a lot of sense).

 Step 2 . Talking to experts

At this point, I lost all shame and asked my beloved hair stylist from Moscow for help. As a professional who has to deal with DIY-induced disasters quite frequently, she said all the right things and really tried to stop me before sharing some professional advice and relevant sources of information.

I deeply appreciated it.

Step 3. User interviews

I also interviewed a talented friend of mine who somehow managed to turn her dark brown hair into the prettiest peach-pink all by herself.

Step 4. Repeat steps 1–3

Hours of videos and dozens of posts later, I was more or less ready for it.

Phase 5. Execution & Validation

Being well aware of my lack of skills and experience I decided to utilize some of my product skills to minimize risks. I used A/B testing and an iterative process.

A/B testing

I literally did test strings to figure out the following:

These photos are pretty low glam, but you should've seen me with an ASOS bag on my head

Iterations

Iterating,✨ the holy grail of any product development process✨, was hard to manage here but it was crucial for the final outcome.

I underdeveloped the bleach on my first application. At this point, it took a lot of discipline to stick to the plan:

Outcomes

Long story short: iteration two is considered to be a huge success among our target audience (me, myself and beyond). I enjoy my stupid green hair, get a lot of complements all the time + it’s very easy to maintain as reapplication only takes 30 minutes.

  • Poor hairstyle → fixed (the client is happy, no haircut needed)
  • Qarantine boredom → fixed (sooo fixed)
  • Urge for something new → fixed (new skills unlocked)
Me right after the first application, after a month, 6 months & 1 haircut later

Lessons learned