What will hair appointments be like after lockdown? – A hairdresser’s view.

Other than seeing our friends and family, there’s probably not much that tops most peoples post lockdown wish list more than getting their hair done. There are men and women all over the world gradually resembling cave people, desperate for a trim or a root touch-up. I know so many of my friends can’t wait to be pampered, treated to a latte and a good old natter with their favourite stylist and confidant, but will it be like that, or will the reality be much more like a scene from the movie Contagion?

Recent media news suggests that our experience at the hair salon may not be the same as it used to be for a very long time yet. Various countries have allowed hairdressers to work again as long as strict health and safety guidelines are adhered to. The earliest possible date for UK salons to reopen is currently 4th July and salons up and down the country are frantically preparing for the onslaught to ensue.

My client and I pre-lockdown.

In Germany salons have been allowed to reopen as long as the social distancing measures and very strict cleaning routines are carried out after each client. Fifty percent of salon chairs have been removed creating a 1.5 – 2 meter distance between clients. That means 50% of staff have also been removed too though, or they are working on a shift system, as one of the other stipulations is that staff can only be subjected to any possible threat for a certain amount of hours. That also goes for the client too. A lot of the time-consuming colour procedures can’t be done as they go over the time limit allowed for clients to be in the salon environment.

There are huge difficulties with preparing a large salon for COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Most backwash chairs are attached to each other in rows, therefore screens have had to be put in place at vast expense, so that clients can sit next to each other whilst having their hair washed. Talking of washing hair, in many parts of the world, one of the stipulations is that hair is washed and dried in the salon before colouring, adding at least half an hour to each colour appointment. The backwash, styling chair, indeed everything you touch will have to cleaned after you leave and before the next client is allowed to enter the salon. This will also add a good fifteen minutes extra between appointments, which will in turn increase the cost to you!

In certain states in America, blow drying is not allowed at all, which could mean you going home with wet hair. In all countries that have allowed salons to open so far, clients are not permitted to bring more than their phone and wallet/purse with them – so handbags, coats and umbrellas are all out. Very often the customer toilets are off limits, so make sure you go before you leave home. You definitely won’t be allowed to have your complimentary drink or snack and either way you will be obliged to wear a face mask, which in most cases you must bring with you. Your stylist/colourist will also be wearing a face mask, visor, apron and gloves. Having a good old natter and a giggle will be very hard indeed and you wont even be allowed to read a magazine! It makes for sombre reading doesn’t it?

Of course, as a hairdresser by day, I can tell you that safe social distancing will be all but impossible in a salon environment, although the safety measures I’ve mentioned will help greatly. Unless I purchase a pair of two meter-long scissors and a tinting brush the size of my yard broom, there isn’t much chance of me being more than a few centimetres away from my client. I’m sure you’ve all seen the hysterical videos online of spoof salon environments with stylists throwing buckets of water at clients to rinse their hair and using a mop to massage the scalp!

Joking aside though, being that far a distance from the client is actually the only way that a stylist can possibly be safe. If the two meter rule must be applied for all clients, then why surely is it not applied to the stylist themselves? Are their lives not as important? Collateral damage to make the country feel brighter? Of course, our amazing doctors and nurses in the NHS have been putting their lives at risk for all of us for months now and I for one could not be more grateful. However, having your hair done is not exactly essential or a matter of life and death, although I understand it might feel that way right now with an ever-increasing badger stripe and split ends for days!

So why are salons opening relatively soon you wonder? Well, in my opinion, it’s because everyone is desperate for a haircut and the government needs to gradually re-start the economy. Everybody needs a boost and we can’t allow the country to go down the pan. The industry is, of course, desperate to re-open salons again and millions, maybe even hundreds of millions of pounds has been lost since 23rd March. The safety measures we have had to put in place have also cost the industry vast amounts of money at a time when bank balances are almost at zero. Recently I decided to try and be slightly ahead of the curve by ordering PPE and a UV light sterilising machine, which will be required to clean all tools in between every client. I do feel bad about ordering PPE when it is still in short supply for the medical profession, but all the facts so far point to hairdressers having to wear it too. I spent a lot of money, money I do not have, but the measures are imperative and there isn’t really any choice if I am to earn a living again.

The majority of hairdressers are self-employed and a lot of them only get an income from actually doing the work, there is no sick pay or holiday pay or any company benefits. Stylists often rent a chair, so if the salon is closed then they won’t get any pay from the owner and won’t be entitled to any furlough scheme either. I’ve been worried about my own hairdresser who has a wife and family, as I know he’s in this very position. The industry is on its knees and I would not be surprised if many salons have already gone under. I work for myself, so the only money coming in is from the work I do. Luckily, I have been self-employed for years and submitting my tax returns accordingly, so I have been entitled to the government’s grant scheme for the self-employed, although that currently only takes me to the 1st June. Salons can’t offer anything online either, like a lot of retailers have been able to do, so the industry really is at breaking point.

Soon after lockdown I believe my husband and I both contracted the virus. We certainly had a lot of the symptoms and two of our friends, whom we had met at a supposedly safe distance just prior to lockdown, also came down with it, one of which had to go to hospital. There, he tested positive for COVID-19. We have all since recovered slowly. I am on the vulnerable list due to various health issues and have been self-isolating since the 23rd March. My 12-week isolation period is up on 30th June. I’m very much hoping that it now means that I can’t pass it to anyone and that I have some immunity too.

So, it’s a terrible double-edged sword, a Sophie’s Choice. Do I remain closed until the virus has subsided further, or at least until I can take the antibody test to find out if I definitely did have it, or do I open as soon as I’m allowed to in order to try and save my business? If I don’t open then we truly will start to suffer financially and some big decisions may have to be made. Will my clients stay with me and wait till I feel ready to open my doors, or will they after months of shaggy, grey roots feel a need to seek solace somewhere else? For most hairdressers there actually is no choice at all. I haven’t written this so that the violins start playing for the hairdressing industry and neither do I think that our position is any worse than other industries. In fact many other industries are in exactly the same position: dentists, nail technicians, massage therapists, chiropractors, the list goes on. I do think it’s important, however, for all points of view to be heard. We do not know what the UK government will decide for the industry as far as rules go. I do hope that they listen to the industry, rather than just deciding on things they know very little about. The next few weeks will be very interesting indeed. Either way, get ready for increased prices, a waiting list for an appointment and I’m afraid not an enormous amount of joy or fun whilst at the salon. I’m sorry I’m not my usual upbeat self, but some things you just can’t sugarcoat.

31 Comments

  1. May 28, 2020 / 7:05 am

    Life as we know it is changing. Tough decisions to be made – your health vs your clients.
    You can only do what feels right for you and that you feel ok with.

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 11:05 am

      You’re right Penny. One day at a time. Xx

  2. Angie
    May 28, 2020 / 7:08 am

    Great read JP I’ve already been put on the waiting list with my wonderful hairdressers. I used to go for a weekly blow dry & colour every four weeks.
    Missed this do much!

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 3:05 pm

      I bet you do Angie! Hopefully it wont be too much longer! Xxx

  3. Lisa
    May 28, 2020 / 7:17 am

    Thanks JP, it’s a angle I hadn’t thought of. Interesting to hear how the new normal is going to be for different industries. For myself, I’m a vintage upcycler and seller so events was the thing for me. Not sure how that’s going to go moving forward. We are doing virtual fairs on insta but that’s just not the same as meeting people in person.
    Wish you all the best and hope you dont have to throw buckets of water!🤣

  4. Clare Stack
    May 28, 2020 / 8:15 am

    Another great read! It is quite scary how it’s all going to or try to work. I’m a massage therapist and goodness knows how we are supposed to work and be 2m or any distance away. And the thought of working in ppe and gloves is dreadful. Let’s hope we can return in July. It’s also whether patients’/customers’ will have the confidence to come for appointments too? All very surreal. I like a lot of people cannot wait to get my greys sorted!!! Happy Thursday to you

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 3:03 pm

      Let s hope for the best. Either way we will get through, just got to stay calm and strong. Xx

  5. Philippa McFarlane
    May 28, 2020 / 8:16 am

    Really interesting post JP. Rooting for you all the way as you embark on the next phase of planning the reopening your salon

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 3:02 pm

      Thank you so much Phillipa and I’m rooting for you too. Lots of love xx

  6. Joanna wills
    May 28, 2020 / 8:37 am

    Wow, that’s crazy. I had no idea how different things will be!! So sad for all – clients & businesses!! Great read & stay strong! X

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 3:01 pm

      Thank you for taking the time Joanna. It’s going to be a whole new world and the hairdressing bit doesn’t sound fun at all. We’ll get through it though. Xxx

  7. May 28, 2020 / 8:40 am

    Great post Jon, interesting read and all of the same issues and worries I face as a fellow salon owner!
    Let’s hope for some well thought out guidance from the government and not some ridiculous plan that only works for a few. Wishing you well x
    Here’s to being able to make people feel great about themselves again, we certainly could do with it right now! Xx

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 3:00 pm

      Let’s hope so Leah, i have a feeling it might be quite rushed though, but fingers crossed!

  8. Tanyas_vlog
    May 28, 2020 / 9:19 am

    Brilliant blog JP. It really seems like Hobsons Choice☹️

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 2:58 pm

      It truly is Tanya, if I had the finances I would never open again. Xx

  9. Sally Welch
    May 28, 2020 / 9:26 am

    So sad JP and well written. I think it is important we know all the details and what you have to do to open again and I am sure we will all be pouring into your salon! Hopefully it won’t go in for too long???? Please let me know when I can book an appointment. Xx

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 2:56 pm

      Hi darling you can book a provisional appointment now, which would be for the 10-12th July. Send me a text. Xx

  10. May 28, 2020 / 9:58 am

    It is very tough on hairdressers but I know how much their services mean to people. My friend in Milan was recently able to get a cut and colour and those, plus a pedicure, have brightened her up both physically and mentally. My hairdresser in London has said he will come and cut my hair on my outside terrace at home. Still not totally safe for him, but being outside will help. Amanda xx

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 2:58 pm

      That’s nice of him and not too bad doing it outside. You’ve done well there Amanda. Xxx

  11. Tracy Stark
    May 28, 2020 / 10:26 am

    I hope we will all try to support our local businesses and see the human behind the facia. I’m one of those strange people who hates having a haircut because I have to sit in front of a mirror for too long and I rarely like my hair because it’s so fine. Anyway it was a great read and I wish you luck. From your grid it looks like you could have a career in garden design or interiors if all else fails but I sincerely hope it doesn’t. X

    • Jonpaulclark
      Author
      May 28, 2020 / 11:04 am

      Thank you for reading. Yes, I also dont like going to the hairdresser. We will all get through this in the end though. Xxx

  12. May 28, 2020 / 5:30 pm

    Here in Kentucky in the US, I was my hairdresser’s first appointment last night, for a color and cut! We both wore masks the whole time, and I was the only customer in her small salon. We chatted non-stop! She’s emailing me an invoice and I pay via Venmo. The only awkward parts were dealing with my mask elastic around my ears. She said she reckons she can handle a max of 5 customers a day now. She told me of 6 salons in Louisville that were shut down and all thier stylists lost thier licenses for a year because they’d been sneaking customers in during lockdown!
    My heart goes out to you and every hairdresser and small business owner- what a horrible plague on all our houses! I adore your blog and IG, and cut my own fringe from your video (successfully!). Keep up the great work and know how much you are loved and appreciated!❤️❤️😘😘

    • JP Clark
      Author
      June 3, 2020 / 10:37 am

      Mary thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sorry about all the hairdressers losing their licence. I have been asked so many times to come to peoples house, but said no. It’s so hard as bills need to be paid. Thank you for your support. Xxx

  13. Lynne Curnow
    May 28, 2020 / 5:38 pm

    I like your honesty and that you say it how it truly is.
    During these strange and difficult times it will mean that a trip to the hairdresser’s certainly will be a very different experience in comparison to previous happier days for both client and stylist – but important that everyone takes onboard the need to be prepared with their face masks etc and adhere to the necessary safety measures. And, just as we did with lockdown, we’ll get used to the new procedures when going to see our hairdressers.
    Until we meet again JP xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      June 3, 2020 / 10:35 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words Lynne. Xx

  14. Jane
    May 28, 2020 / 10:35 pm

    Great read !!! I’m a hairdresser and have been for 35 years !!! 😱I’m not looking forward to starting back at all , the great social and rewarding job I’ve loved for all these years isn’t going to be the same ( maybe never again) it’s going to be a big decision for a lot of hairdressers , barbers , beauticians etc .
    Maybe time to hang up my scissors for good 😔
    Jane

    • JP Clark
      Author
      June 3, 2020 / 10:34 am

      Personally thats how I feel too, I just wish the finances would allow. However, we’ll get through it. Xx

  15. Kyla Magrath
    May 31, 2020 / 8:11 am

    Just caught up and had a read. Wow !!! It’s going to be tough. Can’t quite get my head around it all. Crossing everything that we can all manage to get through this tricky time xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      June 3, 2020 / 10:33 am

      Kyla, thanks for reading darling. We’ve just got to stay strong and calm. Xx

  16. June 1, 2020 / 7:37 am

    A really good article JP. I have partial hearing loss and a sensitivity to noise and found salons stressful enough before lockdown! At the moment I can’t imagine going back and I also feel for you and how unless you put yourself at risk, you are in a thankless situation. A salon outside in your garden might be the way to go?! Good luck with whatever you decide. Nikki

    • JP Clark
      Author
      June 3, 2020 / 10:32 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time Nikki. It’s going to be difficult for us all, but we’ll get through it. Xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Don’t miss a post!

Subscribe to my mailing list and get posts direct to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Never miss a post!
in your inbox

Subscribe to my mailing list and get all the latest stories direct to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.