COVID-19 Hair Stories: Exclusive Interview with Frontline Nurses

Gayle Caillier and her daughter, Megan, were part of a group of nurses from North Texas who risked their lives to save ours. Today, we’re talking to the Caillier women about their experience on the frontlines during this historical time.

Back in April, New York went into full quarantine mode as COVID-19 took hold of the city. While many of us retired to the safety of our homes or fled to greener pastures, there were healthcare workers from all over the country traveling to the city and diving straight into the fire. Gayle Caillier and her daughter, Megan, were part of a group of nurses from North Texas who risked their lives to save ours.

Today, we’re talking to the Caillier women about their experience on the frontlines during this historical time. Read on to learn more about their daily lengthy decontamination process and more about their COVID-19 hair stories:

covid-19 nurses
Photo credit: Gayle and Megan Caillier

There is a lot that’s still unknown about COVID-19 and how the virus lives and spreads. Because of this, Megan and Gayle underwent a detailed decontamination process after long shifts in the hospital at the peak of New York’s first wave of COVID-19.

Daily Decontamination Routine

“The strict regimen that we were on [went] as far as everything,” Gayle says. “Getting up to our rooms, showering, going downstairs, getting our food, checking our mail, taking our laundry down—just making sure that everything stayed very clean and sanitized. Even the way we took off our clothes and cleaned our shoes—it was very, very strict.”

“We didn’t want to take any risks because we have no idea how the virus lives or what it could live on,” Megan adds. “We tried to take every precaution we could possibly take because we have a family that we wanted to come home to and we didn’t want to get anyone sick. We tried to be as careful as possible to protect everyone.”

Pre-COVID-19 Hair Care Routine

Megan: My standard hair care routine at home is pretty basic: I’ll shower at home and just wash my hair every other day. In between, when I don’t wash my hair, I’ll use dry shampoo to keep it looking healthy and fresh. On my days where I wash my hair, I’ll get out of the shower and use oil heat protectant to protect my hair from the blow-dryer and straightener. I typically use those each day that I wash my hair. After that, I’ll usually just wear it down or put it in a ponytail.

Gayle: Before I went to New York, I would shampoo and condition every other day. Typically, I use Nexxus Color Assure Long Lasting Vibrancy Rebalancing Shampoo and Conditioner. I like to deep condition every week at least. I fluctuate between Nexxus and TRESemmé—those are my main go-to products.

COVID-19 Hair Care Routine

Megan: It changed when I went to New York… I didn’t really use a hairdryer or a straightener. We would shower every day after our shifts, and then I usually just let it air-dry afterward. There really wasn’t any need to blow-dry or straighten—nobody saw our hair for the most part, because the next day, we [just] went to work and put it up into a ponytail, and then wore a surgical hat on top of it to keep our hair covered when we went into the hospital to treat patients.

Gayle: When I was in New York, I shampooed every day just because we’re not really sure if COVID lives on hair; I don’t think anyone really knows that as of right now. So we took every precaution we could. We would shampoo and condition, and [only] then we could go downstairs to get our food to eat.

We would go upstairs, shower, come down, get our food and let our hair air-dry. I kind of did the same as Megan: No heat applied to my hair at all. I would just air-dry, and the next day I would get up and do the same thing—either a bun, a ponytail, or a French braid, and put the hat on to protect our hair from any possible COVID [contamination].

That’s why we wore the hats, for some added protection. Our hair did kind of hang out of the bottom a bit, so that’s why we shampooed and conditioned every evening.

Self-Care Routine During High-Stress Times

Gayle: Skincare is very important to me too. I have some addictions when it comes to lotions: I have to have Suave lotions—there’s not any other kind I really like. I have it in every room in my house; I like the way it feels on my hands. Dove soap—everywhere we go we take the bar soap. For hair care like shampoo and conditioner, I like TRESemmé and Nexxus. I have the travel packs I take with me everywhere I go. Those are non-negotiable.

Megan: I would say the same. Dove bar soap is so much easier to take when traveling. I tried other bar soaps in the past, but I always went back to the bar soap.

When asked about whether the virus can live on our hair, Megan says, “I don’t think anyone really knows… we just tried to be as careful as possible, because we don’t really know yet. I think it’s important to wash it every time you could possibly be exposed.”

We want to thank Megan and Gayle Caillier for their brave and tireless work throughout the COVID-19 crisis and for speaking with us about their experiences. Check back in for more inspiring hair stories in the months ahead. 

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