Lockdown this summer saw many of us attempt DIY cuts or root touch-ups at home, but hairdressers were able to reopen from July 4 for all services. Here's our experience of the UK's first 'covid-secure' haircut. Hairdressers are currently required to wear a face mask, as well as either a full-face plastic visor to reduce the risk of infection or a pair of goggles. They also need to follow strict rules over the disinfecting of equipment.
Now that the UK has introduced a tier system of lockdown, what does this mean for our hairdressers? As it currently stands 'personal care' businesses - the category in which beauty salons and hairdressers come under - are able to remain open in all tiers, including Tier 3.
Despite no current closures for hairdressers in Tier 3 areas, this is at the discretion of local authorities: if a city has been put into Tier 3 lockdown by central government, it is up to local authorities whether they want to further close other businesses such as hairdressers, if they see a rise in cases due to any particular areas.
So if you haven't yet had a haircut, it might be advisable to book in for one before any further lockdowns are announced. So what can you expect at your salon experience? We’ve enlisted the help of some of the industry’s leading experts to tell us everything you need to know.
What will I have to do before an appointment?
According to Catherine Handcock, director of the British Beauty Council, consumers will likely be asked “to complete an online wellness questionnaire to ensure they are healthy - and have been in the seven days prior - before any appointments.”
Will I have to wait long before I can secure an appointment?
With strict social distancing measures, most salons are likely to operate at a reduced capacity compared to pre-lockdown. This means you’ll still be able to see your regular hairdresser, but don’t count on an appointment as soon as you need it. “I’m planning on our teams operating on a shift basis,” says Luke Hersheson, who owns a salon in London. “There’ll be a rota to distance contact between staff.”
Once you’ve had your appointment, it’s likely you’ll have to make your next appointment online or over the phone once you get home.
Will I have to wear a mask and gloves?
The minimum requirements suggested by the government apply just to the hairdressers and salon staff, who will have to wear visors. However customers will have to come in wearing a cloth face covering, which you keep on for your entire visit. Gloves will be less common, however you will have to sanitise your hands on arrival.
At his salon in London, the colourist Josh Wood has set up a ‘one-way’ route around the salon to limit personal contact.
Read more: Can I still tip my hairdresser?
Will I still get all the trimmings of a salon experience?
In some salons you may be required to leave your belongings in a locker, and sadly there’s little chance of a cup of tea with a magazine while you wait for your appointment: customers will be advised to come at their allotted time and go straight through to their appointment with their designated hairdresser.
Will my haircut cost more?
“It’s possible,” says Keith Conniford, the registrar of the Hair & Barber Council, though this will be up to individual salons to decide. “But it will probably only be between £2.50 to £5 [more] per hair appointment. This is because the personal protective equipment required will cost salons a lot of money, and even if salons are operating at 50 percent capacity, the fixed costs are still the same.” When you do go to pay for your haircut, it will likely be card payments only.
Read more: Will my hair appointment cost more?
Can I still have a blow-dry?
Many hairdressers that have already opened in America and across Europe are operating with reduced treatment lists. This includes a reduction in the number of blow dries, or none at all. Although it has been suggested that as hairdryers blast air particles freely around the salons it could compromise the safety of the space, the British guidelines haven't suggested blow-dries be taken off the menu. Phew.
Is there anything I should be looking out for?
“Customers should be more aware and alarmed if they feel something’s not right,” says Millie Kendall, Chief Executive of the British Beauty Council. “If you go into a salon and they have testers out, or the counter is dirty, you should walk straight out again. The consumer will help to get certain areas regulated.”
When will things get back to normal?
“We think it will take 16-18 months to get things back to what we consider ‘normal’, but it’s a tough road ahead,” says Hersheson. “One thing is for sure - salons are based on making people feel great, so that’s still very much a big priority. It’s just about doing it safely, hygienically and making customers feel completely confident coming into a salon again.”