How Hair Salons Are Operating During COVID-19

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Thompson and her team were ready to head inside (to the air conditioning!) and felt safe doing so when given the green light by the state. Thompson feels optimistic Governor Newsom won’t shut salons down again. “As licensed professionals, we are trained in sanitation, especially in preventing the spread of infection and disease,” she explains. “We are using sharp objects, blades, irons, water, heat, etc., and touching our guests physically. Pandemic or not, we work in an environment that needs to be cared for at all times.” Each hairstylist we spoke with echoed the same sentiment.

Liz Jung, a colorist at a private studio in Los Angeles, set up her indoor/outdoor space to be ready for any and all changes. “Our clients love being outside in the fresh air, but our biggest challenge might be the wind and heat right now,” she says. She’s adjusted her indoor space to follow CDC and California guidelines, including incorporating masks, temperature checks, and extra sanitizing. She’s also gone a step further, asking clients to remove their shoes (and pop on some slippers), adding multiple air purifiers throughout the space, and hiring full-time cleaning staff. Now, finding time to see all her clients when only operating at a 25 percent capacity is the biggest challenge.

For Kari Hill, a colorist at Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills, it was the constant mosquito bites, unwanted animals, and lack of nighttime light that posed some of the biggest issues while working outside. “I set up the trunk of my car as our color room and had a tray with me at all times so I didn’t need much else. I did every hair service you could think of,” she says. But it posed more than one challenge, some of which actually felt unsafe. “Let’s start with parking issues, passes, street cleaning — literally nothing available. Many challenges and lessons in patience have been learned,” she says. Now, she feels safer working inside with restrictions in place.

Heading Inside

Not all hairstylists took their services outside when the governor said they could do so. Hairstylist Ted Gibson, co-owner of Starring salon in Los Angeles, decided against doing hair outside for a variety of reasons. He feels his “smart salon” was built to be socially distanced before it was needed, with each client in a “pod” separated from the person next to them. All appointments are scheduled online so there’s less interaction with staff. He feels much safer in a space he can control than doing hair at a client’s home or outdoors.