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What will manicures, waxing and tanning be like when salons reopen?

June 18th 2020 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment


We're itching to get our beauty appointments booked in. Here's how nail bars, brow bars, waxing, tanning and mobile beauty pros are preparing for our arrival

The shops welcomed us back this week, hair salons are a mere three weeks away on July 4 and it looks like other beauty services will be opening then too so we can finally have our talons tended to and our leg hair banished.

We're already getting used to hand sanitiser stations, one-way systems marked out on the floor and screens at the checkout. Here's what else to expect from your next manicure, waxing appointment and spray tan session, as well as what mobile beauty appointments will look like.

What will manicures be like when nail bars reopen?

We can't wait to hear the magic words “pick a colour” from our nail technician and we’re happy to report our nail appointment doesn’t sound like it’ll be a world away from what we’re used to.

Firstly (and obviously) there will be no hug greetings or even handshakes. Beauty industry body BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology) suggests that technicians offer a soothing hand wash at the start of treatment by way of hello in its back to work guidelines.

Many nail techs already wear masks to protect them from the fumes and dust in their job, but now their PPE will extend to gloves, face shields and disposable aprons too, says London nail bar Dryby “We will use disposable towels, sterilised tools and stations will be disinfected after every customer,” says co-founder Krisztina van der Boom. Customers will need to wear masks too. If you haven't got one, Dryby will provide one for a £2 surcharge.

When hair salons reopen, we've been told that longer services such as extensions may be limited to minimise the time in the chair. So will the same apply to nail art? Not necessarily. At Dryby the full menu will be back – the nail designs we know and love will still be on offer. However, drinks and magazines have disappeared for now.

Walk-in appointments are a no-no in the new normal: “Everything needs to be booked via our booking team via telephone or online,” Krisztina tells us.

The days of booking a mani at the same time as your friend and having a chinwag are a thing of the past as a limited number of nail desks will be open for booking. “To allow for social distancing we won’t be able to operate all our stations,” Krisztina says. “The two-metre rule applies so some of our stations will be out of action." Pedis won't change as the stations are two metres apart anyway.

At London’s Townhouse nail salon they'll also have glass screens between the technician and customers at the manicure bar. "While people won’t be able to sit right next to friends, our focus is on keeping the experience the same – high-quality treatments delivered on time by knowledgeable, welcoming staff.”

Nail bars generally have very good air filtration due to the fumes. Townhouse tells us that their system "fully exchanges the air several times an hour while filtering for viruses and bacteria.”

What will waxing appointments be like after lockdown?

I can’t say I’ve missed the experience of my monthly wax, but I sure do miss the silky-smooth results. Appointments aren’t actually going to be that different in this sector, according to Zainab Siddiq, general manager of London waxing studios Ministry of Waxing.

Therapists have always worn gloves and a face mask but they'll now also have disposable aprons, “to minimise contact between the therapist and client,” says Zainab. There will be improved disposable coverings on the bed and the waxing room and bathroom will be sanitised between each wax.

Can I still use a mobile beauty service?

Having a manicurist or a massage therapist come to your home can be the ultimate in relaxation. But this is about to get more complicated. BABTAC advises mobile therapists to consider asking clients to come to their home, "where they can control the environment in accordance with government protocols and guidance."

Granted this may not be either possible or desirable, in which case the client needs to prove that they've followed all hygiene protocols, for example by filling out and signing an extensive advance checklist online.

Jodie Hayes of mobile beauty service Beautii says that if possible, your appointment should take place outside, where the virus spreads less easily. “We will be encouraging customers to have any [suitable] treatments in outside space, such as manicures, pedicures and haircuts. If they can’t, we ask them to keep windows fully open so that the room where the treatments are being carried out is well ventilated."

You'll also be expected to open and close all the doors yourself.

While it's undeniably more complicated, Jodie stresses that they aim to make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience "while implementing strict safety measures according to government guidelines" All their therapists have completed the industry-accredited Barbicide Covid19 Hygiene Certification course on how to deliver a safe and hygienic working environment.

If you are worried about receiving any treatment, go for a therapist who has this certification. It's recognised as a clear protocol to deliver treatments safely for both client and therapist, says aesthetician for Intraceuticals Lord Gavin McLeod Valentine, whose red carpet Oxygen Facial clients include Olivia Colman and Allison Janney.


Where possible the two-metre rule will be obeyed and therapists will come fully armed with disposable gloves, face-masks, face shield and visors (if needed) as well as hand sanitiser and steriliser for their kit. As a customer, you'll have to wear a mask and if you're booked in for a hair cut or blow-dry, you'll need to wash your own hair first.

Facials and – sob –massages won't be available right now, nor will group bookings, says Jodie, "as we cannot guarantee that full safety standards will be maintained." Therapists will be limited to three clients per day.

What will spray tans be like?

Spray tan appointments are set to be much quicker affairs. Treatments need to take less than 15 minutes to avoid contact, say professional beauty trade body The Beauty Guild’s guidelines.

Spray tanning expert James Harknett explains: "It’s been established during the pandemic that if you are less than two metres away from another person for more than 15 minutes, the chances of transmission are greater. As the tanner can’t distance during the treatment it needs to be contained to well under 15 minutes. Making the treatment shorter ensures both parties are being as safe as possible,"

You may need to use a darker formula if you want a deep tan rather than layering.

"I’ve recently experimented several times with my partner at home using the Fakebake 60 minutes professional spray tan formula. The client only needs one coat of tan," says James.

James has these guidelines on how you can prep for your tan. "I will ask my clients to apply a plain, oil-free moisturiser sparingly to their feet, heels, knees, elbows, wrists and hands before I arrive. If they don't have something suitable I will decant the product safely into their hands for them to disperse over the areas."

"I will arrive wearing a protective mask and latex gloves. My kit will be sanitised before each visit. The client can also be offered a mask for the spray tan treatment. I will set up in the space allocated in the client's home, while they wait in another room."

"The treatment will take ten minutes or less. To save valuable time I advise all clients to dry their tanned skin with their own hairdryer after I leave. I will clean away excess spray from nails and so on if required or hand out antibacterial wipes."

What will my brow appointment be like after lockdown?

We tried our best to groom our own brows at home, with varying degrees of success, so a visit to the brow bar is high on our priorities list. We caught up with Blink Brow Bar for the lowdown on post-lockdown brow appointments.

As with all other beauty salons, the waiting area has been done away with; you will be asked to wait outside until your appointment when a therapist will come and collect you. Once you're inside you'll see acrylic partitions placed at reception desks with contactless payment only and stations spaced at two metres.

All staff will wear face masks and gloves as well as face shields if they are performing a close-up facial treatment such as threading, lashes, facials and makeup.

While our treatments are certainly going to feel odd for the time being we're still looking forward to getting them booked in. Which treatment will you be going for first?

MORE GLOSS: What will working out be like when gyms reopen?

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