Tips on How to Care for Your Kids' Hair During Coronavirus Social Distancing, from an Expert

Kids and parents alike all over the U.S. are currently stuck inside amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, with some businesses closing indefinitely.

Among many of those businesses? Hair salons, leading many to wonder what they can do at home if their children need cuts. But as one expert — Teychenne Whitley, co-owner of Milk and Cookies Kids Spa & Salon in N.Y.C. — tells PEOPLE, it’s best to “wait it out a little bit” on a trim unless you really know your way around a pair of shears.

“Let’s keep the children’s self-esteem good during the social distancing and not even attempt,” Whitley jokes. “If you don’t have that qualification, I would suggest you just skip [cutting], because you want to keep their personal self-care and their energy uplifted and their self-esteem looking and going good.”

What she does recommend is keeping hair moisturized using a coconut-oil treatment or something similar, and experimenting with items parents already have at home, such as ribbons.

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“You can do a coconut treatment at home with a little steam to keep the hair and scalp moist and wash it out, detangle — things like that to still keep it fresh,” Whitley says.

“Also, if you have a little bit of braiding skills, maybe fun little hairstyles — Elsa braids are very simple and fun to do at home,” she adds. “Sleek ponytails. Also, this is a fun time to play with hair chalk at home, some fun color.”

While Whitley “wouldn’t recommend cutting” for most parents “because it’s such a strong skill and you wouldn’t want to mess that up,” she does advise moms and dads “with some skills” that it’s okay to trim — but “no more than an inch” and with extra care, given the use of the proper tools like a pair of professional cutting shears and a comb with measurements printed on it.

“If you need to go [shorter], I would just say wait for an expert to do more than an inch, but if you want to keep the strands healthy and you have some cutting ability,” then go for it, she tells PEOPLE.

Meanwhile, U.S. cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are over 12,000 as of Friday morning with 195 deaths resulting, according to a New York Times database.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there have been more than a quarter-million cases of the virus confirmed worldwide, with the death toll topping 10,000.

On Thursday evening, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered residents to “stay at home” to slow the spread of COVID-19. Effective immediately, all Californians — almost 40 million people in total — are to remain inside their residences under the new directive and will only be allowed out to pick up food and other essential items. The order is in place until further notice.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO and local public health departments, and visit our coronavirus hub.

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