ROLL on July 4, the day when Britons can hotfoot it to the hairdresser and finally get our roots done or have those terrible manes tamed. But what will salons be like when we get to sink into those long-awaited, faintly uncomfortable seats?
At top London salon Hershesons, all appointments have been extended by 15 minutes to allow stylists to fully sanitise the area they are working in before the next client arrives, says creative director Luke Hersheson. In addition, every other seat will be out of use to allow for social distancing.
The salon is planning to be open from 8am to 8pm but it may stay operational until 11pm as its waiting list is thousands of clients long. Technology is also going to be used more widely.
‘Clients will be able to check themselves in remotely via our app so stylists will be notified as you walk in, meaning you don’t have to go to reception,’ says Hersheson. ‘We’re now offering a check-out service from each seat and we are creating a cashless system where you can tip via a QR code on your phone.’
Stylists and staff at Hershesons will be wearing masks and visors, while each client will be allocated a personal PPE kit when they arrive containing, he says, ‘sterilised brushes, disposable towels and a freshly laundered gown washed at 60 degrees’. He also cautions that guests need to be punctual.
‘On time rather than early or late,’ he says. ‘Time is our biggest issue. And only people who have an appointment should come, sadly, to minimise the numbers inside the salon. Normally we love people hanging around but…’
If it’s been a while since your last colour (join the club), Hershesons is looking to send out advance allergy ‘patch tests’, meaning there will be fewer unnecessary journeys into central London.
At Josh Wood’s swanky London atelier, the eponymous founder says they have spent ‘considerable time thinking about how we can build the salon experience of the future’ and are working with the government about how best for the industry to reopen safely.
‘We are ready with spaced seating, online booking, mirror consultations (not face-to-face) and longer appointment times to allow for additional cleaning,’ he adds.
As well as taking all appointments online, removing half of the chairs, disinfecting after every client, and wearing and offering PPE, Wood’s atelier will be introducing shift work and opening seven days a week to reduce the number of staff in the building at one time. They have also decided to no longer cut dry hair and reduce the number of blow dries but the personal service continues. During lockdown, Wood’s colour team have done over 3,100 personal video consultations to help people colour their hair at home. Wood says this remains key for the brand, ‘as we know there will be people that still cannot make it to a salon for whatever reason, or may struggle to get an appointment’.
Nicola Clarke at John Frieda will be supplying clients with masks if they don’t have their own and as well as thorough cleaning and disposable towels, all staff will wear masks and face shields.
‘We took magazines out of the salon two weeks before lockdown as we thought they were going to spread germs,’ says Clarke. ‘Another difference is that while stylists will work longer hours to cope with demand, we’ll be able to see fewer clients in a day. Colour changes are also going to have to be put on hold as they can take up to five hours.’
Clarke’s celebrity client list is as long as your arm and she says she won’t be able to take on any new clients for the first few months after reopening but the salon will offer NHS workers free services ‘as a thank you for looking after us in these horrendous times’, either via a specific evening or giving one key worker an appointment each day.
Finally, The Lions Barber Collective is a charity training barbers and hairstylists in how to recognise mental health issues and what to do about them. They’re aware that, for many, ‘sitting in the salon chair is an opportunity… to talk and share their troubles’, so have teamed up with the NHS, Health Education England and the South West Mental Health Clinical Network to offer a four-hour online training to barbers and hairdressers to better help their clients’ mental health.
‘These last few months have been incredibly challenging for all of us,’ says founder Tom Chapman. ‘We feel a sense of duty to help prepare the industry in some way for these conversations they will be having and our BarberTalk training can help. The hair industry is accessible to most with no stigma, is on every high street from the biggest city to the smallest village, and we truly care about those who sit in our chair. We help — for some, we may be their only human contact — and we even save lives.’