It’s been a few months since most of us have been to a salon in person. Ever since cities and states began to shut down to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, salons haven’t been an option. But now, states are starting to reopen, which means salons are too. That doesn’t mean you should just run off to the salon, however. Before you make your next appointment and head off to have your hair or nails done, you should know that things will likely look and operate a little differently once you arrive, so as to try to protect safety of all those involved. Though specific guidance varies by location, they’re doing what they can to protect both employees and clients. The experience might look a little bit different than what you’re used to, but your stylist can’t wait until you’re back in their chair—as safely as possible, of course.
“Salons are required to follow certain guidelines in order to open and operate safely,” hair stylist Nicole Moore said. “Making these changes ensures we are doing our best to make you feel comfortable and safe while getting back to work. However, implementing these changes is not easy. Finding supplies, rescheduling clients, taking time to sanitize properly, addressing clients concerns, all takes time so please be patient with your salon staff and know we are doing everything to get you back looking and feeling amazing.”
The exact guidelines that salons are following vary, based on where the city or state in which it’s located is in their reopening process. Tabitha Fredrichs, a stylist in Minnesota, noted that when the salon reopens on June 1, they won’t be taking any walk-in appointments and the salon will only be able to operate at 20 percent capacity, which means that there might be a longer wait to see your stylist than there normally would be. Staggering work hours is one of the ways that some cities and businesses are going to try to prevent an increase in coronavirus cases, according to MarketWatch.
Before you go
If you succumbed to coloring or cutting your hair while at home, you may want to let your stylist know when you’re booking your new appointment. Fredrichs said that there’s no judgement if you did—it’s understandable!—but that knowing in advance will allow them to adjust the length of your appointment if there’s anything that needs to be fixed.
Not only that, but if you’re able to add notes to an online booking or do anything else before your appointment that will help your stylist get a feel for what you’re looking for, that can be a major bonus as well.
“The stylists’ job is to help make you feel beautiful,” Piersten Gaines, the CEO of Pressed Roots in Dallas, Texas, said. “Help them help you by being clear with what you want done. It may be harder to do these days with a mask covering your mouth, so if the stylist offers a note section when booking online, make the note there, or if the stylist offers a virtual consultation before the appointment, be sure to take that!”
Many salons are also advising that you bring your own hand sanitizer, Anthara Patrice, the founder and CEO of My Beauty Fill, noted, and are instituting a mask requirement.
“We are requiring our staff and clients to wear masks while in the salon so be prepared and bring a mask with you,” Moore said. “No magazines, so bring your phone or tablet. We’re not offering beverages at this time and not allowing guests to wait in the waiting area so leave your friends, kids and spouses at home.”
When considering which mask to bring with you to the salon, look for one with ear bands, rather than those that tie in back, which Ariel Maher, the salon director at Lola Beauty in Austin, Texas said can get in the way while your stylist is trying to work. Make sure to also take into account if you’re getting your hair colored or not when you’re deciding on which mask you want to bring, Fredrichs advised, and know that some of your usual services may be off the table for the time-being. “We can not do any service that requires them to take the mask off,” Fredrichs said. “So no face or nose waxing. Only brow waxing.” Blow drying and shampooing may also be unavailable, depending on your salon, so it’s a good idea to ask questions, do your research, or just prepare yourself that things might be different this time.
When you arrive
Other changes include arriving right at your appointment time (or waiting in your car until it’s time to go inside), which Moore, Fredrichs, and Maher all said were being adopted by their salons. Salons want to avoid people waiting inside at all, so as to keep the number of people inside to a minimum.
Maher also noted that her salon is requiring clients to sign a consent form that says they haven’t experienced any COVID-19 symptoms within the past 10 days and some are implementing temperature checks, Patrice said. Some are also asking clients to wash or sanitize their hands and belongings, as well as to leave unnecessary belongings in your car or at home.
While you’re there
The nitty gritty details that you’ve come to associate with a hair appointment may look a little bit different as well (are you sensing a theme here?). Shampoos and blow drys might also be affected by all of the changes.
“I know some salons are opting out of blow drys, are asking clients to come with dry, straight hair for haircuts to cut down on time, etc.” Maher said. “I’ve been asking my clients what they’re comfortable with once they get there and have been adjusting the appointment accordingly.”
Salon employees will also be making sure to clean and sanitize even more frequently than they already do, Gaines said—noting that stylists and cosmetologists are “well versed in proper sanitation procedures”—including styling tools, shampoo bowls, and the styling stations themselves. Because of this, appointments may be longer so that stylists have plenty of time to do what needs to be done, Fredrichs explained, so it’s really helpful if clients are as patient as possible.
When it’s time to leave
While you’re likely pretty used to paying for your treatments and services with a credit card, cards and other cashless payments are likely to be required the next time you stop in. “We ask them to pay with credit card or Apple/ Google pay,” Fredrichs said. “If leaving a cash tip, they would need to hand it to the stylist directly and not to the front desk.” Cutting down on the number of people handling your form of payment is meant to protect both salon employees as well as you.
Additionally, telling your friends about how much you love your stylist or even paying in advance can go a long way toward helping your stylist get back in the swing of things.
“If possible, please support your long-term service providers with tips and referrals or pre-paying for services so they may catch up on any possible business or personal needs due to most working hourly through services provided,” Patrice said.
Staying apart, washing your hands, and wearing masks correctly are still considered some of the best ways to fight the spread of COVID-19, as Cameron Wolfe, an infectious diseases expert and associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, told NBC News. But if you are venturing out again and are going to your local salon, you should know that there are steps being taken to try and keep you and everyone else there as safe as they can. Nothing is guaranteed, but steps are being taken.
“Sanitation has been something that’s not taken lightly in the salons,” Maher said. “Everything is just held to an even higher standard now, so we are taking more time to make sure we do our part, we want everyone to feel safe. We are all so excited to have you back in the salon and get our hands in some hair again doing what we love! We appreciate you all so much, we could not do this without you!”