The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI students explore identities in fresh hairstyles

Once they come to campus, many college students seek changes in their hairstyle.
Ava Neumaier
Amaya Clark is one of many Freshmen girls who have changed their hair ahead of Rush Week. Maya had her hair highlighted with the new autonomy she has a college student. (Ava Neumaier/The Daily Iowan)

Some new college students arrive on campus each fall desiring a complete identity change, and their external features are among the first to be addressed. 

Hair, for one — cutting it, dyeing it, growing a mullet — is often an important first step. Whether students have a specific reason for their new ‘do, or simply want to try out something new, there is a story behind every change of style, as simple or complex as it may be. 

“Many of my friends either got piercings or dyed their hair or bought new clothes. Just to kind of bring the ideal of themselves into college,” said Amaya Clark, a first-year student at the University of Iowa. 

Clark is in the process of rushing for a sorority and recently visited a hair stylist to add caramel highlights to her previously dark brown hair.

“I wanted to spruce myself up for it. It was also a celebration for making it through a month of college,” Clark shared. “And I’m keeping it for as long as I can. I’m not touching box dye or any kind of dye anytime soon.” 

Lauren Stewart, a hairstylist at HABA Salon, has been behind the chair for two years. In that time, Stewart has seen many college students come in to fix their DIY haircuts. 

“[I see] lots of ‘I did my bangs at home,’” Stewart said. 

She also spoke to the laborious process of removing color from a bad box-dye job, as well as fixing color in the case of failed at-home bleaching.

“We have to talk them through [the process] like, ‘Hey, you’ve got about two options: Either we cover it over with dark [hair dye] or we just try and get rid of the pigment,” Stewart said. 

There is always a potential price for college students who choose to go the cheaper route. A failed $8 box-dye job can easily become a $100-$300 salon fix-up, she said. 

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“I think my biggest advice for people who have not [dyed their own hair] yet is to not do it,” Stewart said. 

However, Stewart shared that a lot of her newer clients have not touched their hair since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“They finally feel comfortable doing something to their hair,” she said. “We get at least one person a day [who’s] like, ‘I need a change.’”

Second-year UI student Renzo Gonzalez had grown his hair out during the COVID-19 lockdown but decided to make a big change after coming to college. 

“I wanted something new, different. People change their hair to express themselves and I feel that was my reason too. I wanted a soft restart,” Gonzalez said, his hair now nine inches shorter than it was last year.

As for second-year student Sebastian Buchman, it was the dissatisfaction with his current look that inspired him to change his style. During his first year at Iowa, Buchman challenged himself to not cut his hair until the year was over. 

Then, before the start of his second year, he decided it was time for a trim. 

“I decided to get a mullet. Mainly because of dissatisfaction, but also because my friends and I thought it’d be funny,” Buchman commented. “Your hair is something you can’t take off of you. With clothes, you can kind of put-on different hats — no pun intended — and look like a different person. With hair, that’s you no matter what you’re wearing.”

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About the Contributors
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.