Over these last few weeks, many of us have taken desperate measure to tame overgrown hair or send roots back into hiding. While not considered an “essential service”, this pandemic has helped many of us realize just how much we rely on our hairdressers and how important they are to our self-care. Yet salons are spaces that require intimate interactions, how can social distancing be possible?
As salons prepare to slowly re-open, owners are now knee-deep in policies, protocols, and regulations – all things most hairdressers love to hate. But as they start seeing clients again, reviving their businesses from this slumber may not be easy or quick. Stylists and clients excited about human touch are also anxious about staying safe. A picture of the post-pandemic salon is becoming clearer, and this is what it looks like.
To prepare for re-opening, many salons have made dramatic changes involving some combination of removing workstations, extending business hours, and working in shifts. All alterations are to adhere to proper social distancing guidelines and to maintain a maximum of 50% occupant capacity despite the fact that revenue may also be halved as a result. Half, however, beats little to none at home.
“Our goal is to provide you with the same level of service you have come to expect while adopting safety and sanitation procedures to keep us all safe and healthy,” writes Carissa Larson, owner of Latherhouse in Evergreen, Colorado, who also posted a video of her rearranged salon fixtures on her website to reassure clients.
When you venture out for an appointment, bolster your own sense of security, and do your part to ensure others’ safety with some preparation.
Before You Go to the Salon
The days of casual walk-ins are on pause, as are the social opportunities that hair salons are famous for. Getting your hair done now requires a little planning, some extra patience – and greater distance.
By Appointment Only is the policy most salons will adopt for now to best manage social distancing requirements.
Self-screen. If you feel unwell or have been in contact with anyone who is ill, reschedule with as much notice as you can manage. Your salon staff will thank you. COVID-19 symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, red and swollen toes (chilblains) feeling feverish, or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Leave others at home.Kids, spouses, and friends were welcome back when, but unexpected guests make maintaining safety measures more difficult now.
Arrive on time.To avoid crowding in reception areas, and to allow for things running less-than-smoothly at first, ask if you can call your hairdresser when you arrive and wait outside or in your car until ready to see you.
While You’re at the Salon
Once you arrive, you’ll probably have to sacrifice favorite amenities such as beverages or magazines in an effort to minimize the number of items people touch. In addition, these new procedures are designed to keep everybody safe:
• Sanitize and/or wash your hands when you arrive. Sanitizer will likely be provided.
• You may be asked to arrive with clean hair unless otherwise instructed.
• Wear a mask or cloth to cover your nose and mouth – one that you won’t mind getting hair or color on and that feels comfortable for the entire duration of your visit.
• Be prepared to answer questions about your health. See self-screening tips above for a list of symptoms you may be asked about. Your salon has the right to ask you to leave should they deem it necessary.
• Limit the number of items you bring with you into the salon to avoid possible contamination.
• Remain in your styling chair during services so proper social distancing can be maintained.
• Pay with a touchless method (ApplePay, Venmo, Paypal) if possible. Many salons may not be accepting cash at this time.
• Blow-out services may be unavailable or curtailed for the time being.
• Look but don’t touch. If you purchase products, refrain from handling items while you decide.
• Be social yet considerate. Limit your interactions with others while in the salon.
While hairdressers finally get idled hands on those gray roots and nose-grazing bangs, they also know that their services will be in high demand in the short-term, and many will be challenged to maintain stamina – and cash flow – when limited capacity means seeing fewer clients than normal during an even longer day. This means that clients should prepare for possible hikes in service prices for businesses to make ends meet in this environment.
Hairdresser Sharon Tranter in Georgia, one of the first U.S. states to lift restrictions, writes, “Clients have been wonderful but still nervous.” he advises her colleagues that, “This is a reset button for your business. Prioritize clients who are respectful of your time and not always looking for a bargain. Don’t try to be a hero and work 7 days a week, 13 hours a day to fit everybody in.”
Getting “back to normal” is a pointless aim for the near future, so for now, hairdressers and their clients will celebrate the opportunity to see each other in person and catch up on lives interrupted. Though conversation will be muffled by masks, and those magic fingers will be buffered by latex, our hair will continue to grow, and salon life will resume in a fashion. But rest assured that if it feels too risky to venture out to the salon even with safety measures in place, stylists have had a lot of practice over these past weeks coaching their clients online and revealing a few tricks of the trade.
If you’re ready for an appointment, don’t delay; book it now – and be flexible.