Salons are opening soon… but what will they look like after lockdown?

It’s now been confirmed when salons across the UK can open, but how will they be different? This is what you need to know…

The day we’ve been waiting for is in sight… It’s now been confirmed when hair salons across the UK can reopen – 4 July for England, 6 July for Northern Ireland, 13 July for Wales and 15 July for Scotland. HALLELUJAH!!!

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 what can you expect the next time you’re in the chair? Well the UK government has just shared its guidelines for salons in England, and its expected that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish salons will stick to many of the same suggestions and rules. If you’re planning to visit a salon anytime soon, this is what you need to know before ahead of your next appointment:

Appointments will be in high demand

Yes, it’s tricky getting booked in, because EVERYONE is looking to get booked in. There are also fewer appointments on offer, because salons need 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 use fewer of 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, so if you do have a bit of a wait, it’s not because they don’t want to see you!

For the time being, salons will also be switching to an appointment only basis to avoid walk-ins and manage client flow. With many already pre-booking appointments, get in touch NOW or check social media to find out how they will be prioritising those slots and how you can get booked in. And if you want somewhere more local, remember to check out booking apps like Treatwell for recommendations (those star ratings might help you find a hidden gem).

PPE? A-okay

While many salons can ensure the right distance between seated clients, you can also expect to see screens/barriers between work stations and at the backwash and reception. It’s impossible for a hairdresser to actually wash, colour or cut hair at a 1-2m distance, so stylists must wear a face visor. There’s no requirement for you to wear any additional protection such as a mask or face covering, but you are allowed to wear a face covering if you wish. You’ll also be asked a few questions about your health and also that of your family’s, as salons have to keep a temporary record of all clients and visitors for 21 days to support the NHS test-and-trace system. Some might even check your temperature at the door – just to be extra safe!

You’ll need to do your bit, too

Because of social distancing, salons will need your help too to make everything work. Depending on the size of the salon, waiting areas can only be used if social distancing can be maintained, otherwise they will be using a one-in-one-out policy. Once inside there will be hand sanitising points to encourage you to keep those mitts spotless, but try to touch as little as possible. Product testers will likely 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 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. The government has issued guidelines for English hairdressers and barbers, and there are also very detailed ‘back to work’ support guides from professional hair brands and the National Hair and Beauty Federation, to get salons and stylists ready for your safe return.

Despite previous speculation and some scare stories, it’s also worth noting that there is no restriction on the use of hairdryers within the government guidelines. However, some salons may be opting to park the blow dry for now simply to find the extra time to see more clients in need and to clean down each station properly after each guest.

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’ll need to go without when salons reopen. To minimise risk of transmission of anything nasty, salons will no longer offer food or drink, except for water in disposable cups or bottles. A leisurely flick through magazines or books won’t be an option each, with these being removed (lots of people would be touching them – a big no-no). And all those lovely hugs and cheek kisses? Fraid they’ll be off the menu too for now.

A tip for tips and paying

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. The government has advised salons to minimise contacts around transactions, with the preferred option being contactless payments, which includes tips where possible.

To find out more about the salon experience post-lockdown, Gatsby & Miller in Amersham shares its new look, super safe salon set up.