No magazines, no long and complicated styles, no manis in the chair – but a cleaner space and at last, a root tint! Our salon appointments look a little different now, but we can't wait
With just over a week until we can sit in the salon chair, the countdown is well and truly on; in line with government advice, salons are set to open on 4 July with 56 per cent of salons saying they're ready to go when the day comes, according to The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology.
Stylists and salon owners have been busy behind the scenes getting their premises ready – here’s what to expect when you set foot back in the salon
Online consultations before you arrive
Forget the chinwag in the chair about the colour you’re hoping to achieve or the restyle you’re dreaming of. In L’Oreal salons, consultations will be done virtually ahead of time either online or over the phone, according to the company's Back To Business support guidelines.
“The consultation is a key part to any appointment and this will be especially important after prolonged time since the last appointment,” it said. “Our learnings from other countries where salons have reopened have shown that digital or virtual consultations can be a great way to avoid additional time spent in salon meaning clients will feel reassured and that stylists can pre-prepare as much as possible prior to the appointment and can get straight to work once their client arrives.”
Say goodbye to the walk-in blow-dry
“When salons reopen it’s highly likely that one of the biggest restrictions will be the prohibition of walk-ins,” says beauty booking service Treatwell .
“Customers will be required to secure an appointment prior to visiting the salon. This will reduce the number of people waiting in or outside a salon, and allow salons to regulate their customers and prevent overcrowding. It will also give salons the opportunity to communicate their health and safety guidelines – either over email or a quick phone call – before the appointment date.”
The days of stopping by a blow-dry bar unannounced a thing of the past too. “We’ll only be offering online-booked appointments to control the footfall across stores and maintain social distancing,” say London blow dry bar Duck and Dry .
Wait outside and don't bring personal belongings
You’re probably used to flicking through a magazine in the waiting area, but this will be no more. Most salons are doing away with the waiting area with outdoor queuing systems (as per supermarkets) in place if you're early for your appointment.
At black hair specialist salon Mimi et Mina in Notting Hill, they are putting a garden bistro terrace outside where people can sit and wait.
If your salon does still have a waiting area it's likely to be will be a lot more sparse than you remember; magazines will be removed. “Where possible we will be avoiding people waiting in reception,” confirms hairdresser Michael Van Clarke who operates out of his Marylebone salon.
Cloakrooms will be closed too. “Salon staff will not be allowed to touch any customer’s personal belongings (including jewellery) and clients will be asked to leave personal belongings, such as handbags and scarves at home,” says Treatwell.
Salons will be quieter with fewer customers at a time
Salons are normally buzzy places, but social distancing means fewer people in the space at any one time and time allowed between appointments for stations to be cleaned. Michael Van Clarke tell us they have has removed some seating to increase the distance between clients, which will mean fewer people in at any one time.
Mimi et Mina say they will reduce their offering to two stylists and two chairs at a safe two-metre distance on Thursday to Sunday, while on Monday to Wednesday for those who are extra cautious about being around others, stylist Mimi will have only one customer in the salon at a time, with a higher price to reflect this.
But they will stay open longer
Never have there been more of us clamouring for an appointment. At Michael Van Clarke there is a waiting list of 3,000 for just a single salon. However, they are confident that extending opening hours and offering a seven-day service initially will clear the backlog in a matter of a couple of weeks. “We’ll be opening for two shifts per day: 7am to 2pm and then 2pm to 9pm for seven days a week. This way we can operate two shifts for staff with a reduced team on each shift to maintain social distancing.”
“We are looking into opening on Sundays to keep up with demands while keeping human interaction to a minimum,’ adds London salon Salon 64 .
Arrive on time and stick to your slot
"Appointments won't take longer, but service timings will be strictly adhered to," says Kirsten Maine, managing director of London salon group Live True London . "It's so important that capacity in the salon is predictable and consistent and this means that stylists cannot be overrunning. The day needs to be carefully planned out in terms of client and stylist numbers."
“Salons will need to factor in additional time between appointments to allow for the correct cleaning of equipment and the styling station before the next client,” says L’Oreal. “Each position in the salon will be deep cleaned after every client,” adds Michael Van Clarke.
PPE will be the norm
Government guidelines haven’t been put in place yet, but it is expected that both staff and customers will wear face masks and gloves while performing treatments. Treatwell expects therapists and stylists to be required to wear full dentist-style PPE (face mask, visor, gloves) "while customers may be advised to bring their own PPE or be provided it at an additional cost,” says Treatwell.
At Live True London they are geared up for this."Our stylist team will be wearing disposable aprons, a face covering, gloves and a face shield," says Kirsten. "Clients will be asked to bring their own face covering to their appointment. These must be worn for the duration of the service. However should a client not have one with them, we will have face mask available to clients for a nominal cost. Clients will be welcomed in one door and will exit from another. Physical screens will be erected and tape markings will be on the floor to mark safe distances for social distancing."
At Daniel Galvin's Marylebone salon perspex screens will be installed at reception and between seats at the backwashes.
You might have your temperature taken on arrival
At Salon64, your temperature will be taken upon entering the salon with an infrared thermometer and there will be perspex screens at reception and between each hairdressing station. “Face masks will be provided for clients and the staff will also wear them,” they tell us.
The same goes for Daniel Galvin's salon; "On arrival at the salons, both client and staff temperatures will be taken with a contact-free temperature gun. If anyone shows any sign of fever (38°or above) they will be asked to leave and not return for 14 days," they tell us.
Payment will be cashless
No more cash tips or paying on departure; “For the first month payments will be taken over the phone ahead of the appointments and then a contactless machine will be used for any additional extras,” says Michael Van Clarke.
Refreshments will be limited
One of the greatest joys of a haircut is the glass of bubbles or frothy cappuccino and biscuit that accompanies it, but for the time being this is not on the cards. L’Oreal advises its salons not to offer food or coffee, or to only use disposable cups and glasses if they are available. In line with this, Salon64 plans to remove glassware and serve their coffee and cocktails in takeaway vessels, while Mimi et Mina has stocked up on small bottles of water to offer clients. “We are happy to pop into a coffee shop if a client wants tea or coffee,” says managing director Mimi Kone.
Michael van Clarke tells us his salon's deli service with food brought to your chair will continue "if allowed."
Towels and gowns may be disposable
Some salons will be using disposable products for client peace of mind, “Everything that can be disposable, will be,” says Salon 64. “We’ll be using Scrummi towels which are disposable but also biodegradable, as well as disposable gowns for clients.”
Daniel Galvin's team will be using a combination of disposable and non-disposable towels, but no towel will be used more than once, and towels will be laundered at 60°. The same goes for gowns - they'll be used once before being washed at 60°.
Hair extensions and longer treatments are out
“We have been advised from other countries post-lockdown that express services such as dry cuts or a quick root retouch are preferable as some clients want to limit their time spent in salon,” says L’Oreal.
With this in mind, very long services which require you to be in the chair for many hours, such as hair extensions, might be off the cards for now. “Extensions can take up to five hours so we won't be doing that in the first month,” says Michael Van Clarke.
If you want to minimise time in the salon but need both a cut and a colour L’Oreal suggests splitting your appointment. “If express services aren’t suitable you can divide longer services into two visits e.g. by splitting services – cut one day and colour on another.”
If you enjoy a manicure while in the chair, mixed services won't be on offer for the time being, with manicures taking place at dedicated stations.
With less than a month until salons are set to open their doors we expect to hear about more changes in the coming weeks and will keep you posted. If you're a salon, tell us what you're doing and how we as customers can help.
In the meantime, check out how makeup shopping has changed since the reopening of Boots .