OSAKA--Japan's now omnipresent use of the face mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic has presented hairstylists with the formidable challenge of how to create a fashionable haircut around it.

Ideas anyone?

Seeking inspiration, Gamo Kansai, a Kyoto-based firm that supplies beauty salons with hair coloring agents, shampoo products and other goods, took to Instagram to ask hairstylists to share their photos and videos of hairstyles that fit with masks.

Gamo Kansai staged the project in response to a customer who is a stylist, who asked if the company could propose an industry-wide measure to “allow consumers to enjoy beauty services while staying at home” since far fewer people are visiting hair salons during the pandemic.

The company set up the Instagram account @cut_together on April 29 and called for posts. 

More than 800 posts flooded in by the end of the event, including text messages and movies detailing techniques and agents to set hair as well as photos.

Seven famous beauticians posted comments on especially eye-catching works, including Atsushi Komatsu, 60, who said he serves as a judge at 20 competitions a year where hairdressers show their skills.

“The quality of the wavy section is great,” read one. Another lauded a stylist, saying, “your style is very aggressive.”

“Instagram therefore provides a good opportunity for beauticians to present their techniques,” said Komatsu, who lamented that almost all the contests he usually judges have been canceled this year.

“Wearing masks will surely be part of fashion in the future. Seeing the posts, I thought the future of hair design must be bright.”

Among those who uploaded images of their creations was Risa Yoshihara, 28, a stylist at the Cache hair salon in Osaka. Yoshihara said she started thinking of hairstyles that would go well with masks after observing more and more people including her customers wearing masks since April.

Yoshihara’s cut adopts a curly style that caters to customers who have let their hair grow out rather than risk a trip to the salon during the pandemic.

The hairstyle allows for even thick hair to be beautifully arranged. The bangs nearly reach the eyes, making the client’s eyes appear larger.

“Covering the lower half of the face with a mask can make the face look smaller, and I wanted to emphasize the appeal of eyes to create a cute ambience,” Yoshihara said. “Because simply extending the bangs to the eyes could make some people look homely, my hairstyle is arranged so the forehead can be seen through the hair.”

Yoshihara said she thought the campaign to share thoughts dealing with face masks was a great idea.

“It spread in a way so ordinary people could enjoy it, too, and it was cool to see so many beauty shops get involved,” she said. “I would like our positiveness to be shared among people.”