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The Unexpected Beauty of COVID Hair

Obliged—or enabled—by the pandemic to go gray, other subjects whom Carucci photographed also reckoned with transformation. Lauren Katzenberg, who is thirty-five, started going gray at sixteen. “I would sit by the mirror and pluck them out, but by the time I was in college there were too many to pluck out,” she said. Shut up at home last year, she learned to appreciate what she had so self-consciously sought to hide. Carucci pictured Pamela Gontha, who is forty-seven, from behind, her hair a luxurious curtain: new growth of gunmetal gray giving way to russet and then to luscious black at the deep-dyed tips. “It was almost like breaking an addiction,” Gontha said, of giving up her at-home coloring routine. “I don’t miss that smell—especially the first day you go to bed and you can’t escape it on your pillow.”

For Sabrina Spencer, who is forty-seven, unleashing a streak of silver was a statement of kinship. “I have many cousins who have it in the same place, so I started to leave it in, because it identified me with my family, in a way,” she said. Munirah Alatas-Khalifa, who is eighty, had been coloring her hair for more than thirty years. In Carucci’s portrait, her elegant features are illuminated by a nimbus of silver, with remnants of brown behind: “My friend said, ‘But why? You look old.’ I said, ‘I’m not exactly young.’ ”

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