What will salons look like after lockdown?

Right now, 4 July is the earliest salons can open in England – and no date has been set for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. When they do open, they’ll need to be different – here’s what to expect

The roots… the poorly home-trimmed fringe… the split ends… there are lots of hair-related reasons why we’re all pretty desperate to get back in the salon, although for many they’ll also be looking forward to the catch-up with their favourite stylist. Salons have always been a buzzy, friendly, welcoming retreat, and while root touch-ups might not mean life or death, a trip to the hairdresser is essential to many for the social interaction that it provides. Many of us have been going to the same salon or seeing the same stylists for years – they’re like family. That’s especially true for many elderly clients, who might have very little contact with others at home. Hairdressers have never been more valued or appreciated because lockdown has shown us all the important social role they play.

But a trip to see them now will need to be a little different, so here are a few changes you’ll need to be aware of:

Appointments will be in high demand

Yes, it will be tricky to get booked in, because EVERYONE will be looking to get booked in. But there will also be few appointments on offer, because salons will be needing to follow social distancing rules. This means fewer people (both staff and clients) in the salon at any one time, and with more space between clients, many salons will possible use only half their work stations. Lots of salons are planning longer hours and possibly seven day weeks to try and fit everyone in, and some will take a leaf out of supermarkets’ books and offer special slots for elderly and vulnerable clients, such as the elderly and but they’ll also be needing time to properly clean between client visits, so if you do have a bit of a wait, it’s not because they don’t want to see you!

Consultation? Let’s Zoom!

During the lockdown, lots of salons have been offering help to clients over Zoom and video calls… and this could become a regular thing. A video consultation will allow stylists to chat through your issues and plan your next visit, so that as soon as you arrive you can get cracking.

PPE? A-okay

While salons can ensure the right distance between seated clients, it’s impossible to actually wash, colour or cut hair at a 2m distance, so you’ll be seeing stylists wearing PPE for appointments, and you’ll most likely be expected to wear a face mask too. It’ll be pretty tough for hairdressers working under all that extra gear, too. You might be asked a few questions about your health and also that of your family’s, to make sure you pose no risk to the staff or other clients, and some salons might also be taking temperatures ahead of allowing visitors inside.

The menu might be smaller

Because salons are keen to see as many people as they can safely, many will be offering a reduced menu of services, with express treatments the key addition. So instead of that full head of highlights, it might be a T-section that will see you through until your next appointment. Colour services take the longest, and often colourists will be working on two clients at a time (while one customer’s colour develops, they’ll get cracking on the next one). Due to social distancing, most colourists will only be seeing one client at a time, so express services will help more root-sporting women get seen when lockdown lifts.

Be warned, there is a question mark over hair dryers and how they might be able to transfer airborne CV19 particles, so some salons might be forgoing the blow-dry at the end of services too.

You’ll need to do your bit, too

Because of social distancing, salons will need your help too to make everything work. Make your appointments over the phone or online (lots of salons will now say no to walk-ins). At the time of your appointment, you might need to wait in your car until you receive a call from the salon letting you know they’re ready for you, as you won’t be able to wait in reception. Take in as little as possible (leave your coat in the car, take only your phone and your payment – many will be banning handbags for now. And definitely no family and friends joining you), and once inside there will be hand sanitising points all around to encourage you to keep those mitts spotless. Try to touch as little as possible – product testers will be placed out of sight, and if you want to buy any hair products, a team member will need to access them for you.

Salons will be shouting about their hygiene routines

Salons have always been excellent at cleanliness (the constant washing of towels and big blue jars of Barbicide for their tools illustrate that!) but staff will be spending lots of extra time disinfecting surfaces and tools during the day, and you’ll probably see lots of posters and notices about the work they’re doing to keep everything clean for you. While there are currently no specific government guidelines for hair salons in terms of going back to work, most of the big hair brands that salons partner with (such as L’Oréal Professionnel, Wella Professionals, Schwarzkopf Professional, Goldwell etc), as well as the National Hair and Beauty Federation, have shared very detailed ‘back to work’ support guides to get salons and stylists ready for your safe return.

Don’t expect the same treats… for now

The lovely frothy cappucinno, with the biscuit on the side? The glass of bubbles? I’m afraid you might need to go without when salons reopen. To minimise risk of transmission of anything nasty, salons are being advised to look at single serving drinks (such as bottles of water), and to avoid putting out items lots of people touch, such as magazines and style books. And all those lovely hugs and cheek kisses? Fraid they’ll be off the menu too.

Your bill will probably be higher

PPE for staff, extra cleaning products, Perspex screens added to reception, longer opening hours and days… salons will be racking up extra costs, so you might see your bill go up a bit to help them pay for all those additional items. To be honest, lots of shops will need to do this, so you might need to budget for a little more than your last appointment. Also, you might be asked to pre-pay for your service, or to pay while you’re sat at the mirror, so that there’s no queue at reception.

A tip for tips

We always recommend tipping your hairdresser if they’ve done a good job, somewhere between 10% and 20%. But this will need to shared a little differently if you’re used to discreetly slipping them some cash as you’re leaving. Many salons will be going fully cashless and paperless, so you might need to add your tip to the bill. Otherwise, individual stylists should have a slotted money box to accept your tips, so do keep an eye out for it.