12 Things to Expect As Hair Salons Begin to Reopen

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We’ve already heard there are waiting lists for many of the country’s top hair salons—root cover-up products are great, but they only last so long. However, the salon experience many of us love—enjoying a glass of champagne, flipping through our favorite magazines and chatting with our beloved stylists—is going to look a lot different for a while.

“The hair salon industry is changing, along with others, and it is hard to tell exactly how things will turn out, but a few things are inevitable, at least for the first few months after reopening,” says Adel Chabbi, founder of Adel Atelier in New York City. Although guidelines will vary state to state depending on risk and laws, here’s what to expect at most salons, according to the pros.

No Walk-Ins Will Be Permitted
Services will only be offered by appointment until further notice. Salons are implementing new check-in processes to keep their waiting areas clear, which involves notifying each client via email and/or text with instructions on how and when to enter the salon. “We will confirm the client’s preferred contact method and phone number when they book the appointment,” says Riawna Capri, co-owner of Nine Zero One in Los Angeles. If you are visiting a salon for the first time, Kali Ferrara, a stylist and colorist at The Salon Project by Joel Warren in New York, says any consultations for new clients will be handled over Zoom or FaceTime.

Health Questionnaires May Become Routine
At drybar—12 locations are open as of today, and 20 more will be open by June 1—each team member will begin their shifts by answering a questionnaire to ensure they do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19, and that they don’t have any known exposure to it either. Clients will also be asked to fill out a similar pre-appointment questionnaire. Similar methods will be used at other salons, and the consensus seems to be that if a client expresses symptoms or exposure to COVID-19, their appointment will be canceled and/or rescheduled.

Masks Will Be Mandatory
Salon staff and clients are required to wear a facial covering the entire time they are in the salon, and if clients forget to bring one, they will be provided with a disposable mask. At many salons, staff will be required to wear gloves as well.

Temperature Checks Will Be Given to Everyone
When you arrive at the salon, you will have your temperature taken with a no-contact digital forehead thermometer—salon staff will also have their temperatures taken at the beginning of each shift. At drybar, clients with a temperature above 100 degrees will be required to cancel their appointment and return at a later date. (Note: Client temperature data will not be logged or stored.)

Blowouts Won’t Be Offered Everywhere
Capri says it’s most likely that blowouts won’t be offered in the reopening phase, “but this all depends on what the California State Board is or isn’t allowing. Nine Zero One will always err on the safe side of things to protect our stylists and clients. Because other states have requested no blowouts for safety purposes, we will most likely be doing the same. And instead, we’ll have clients leave with a complimentary In Common Crystal Cashmere treatment!”

Clients Should Think Minimalistic
Capri says, “We’re asking clients not to bring extra clothing like jackets. We will not be hanging up any coats because we don’t want them hanging next to anyone else’s coats. We’re also asking clients to only come in with minimal accessories, so leaving purses behind and only bringing their wallets.” This minimalistic approach also applies to pets and children, which will not be allowed to join an appointment with a client.

Hand-Washing and Disinfecting Will Be Necessary
Salon staff will be required to wash their hands before and after each service and client interaction. “Clients will be required to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before sitting in the salon chair,” says Capri. Ferrara adds that “once the client is in the fully disinfected chair, he or she will have been given a clean robe, and there will be disposable capes provided for each service.”

Between clients, salons will wipe down every surface in the area, including tools, products, chairs, countertops, etc. “We will be open longer hours to accommodate more clients in a less-crowded environment; however, clients won’t be scheduled back to back, as we will need more time to thoroughly disinfect everything,” says Chabbi. According to Aaron Grenia, cofounder of IGK salons and products, IGK has even gone as far as to install germicidal UV lights in its air-conditioning system.

Social Distancing Will Be a Must
Salons will make sure there’s a vacant chair in between all stations if they are not already at least six feet apart. Some salons, especially in high-risk areas like big cities, are taking it a step further: “Plexiglass and glass panels will be placed in between each station to help with social distancing,” says Grenia. 

Extra Perks May Be Gone
Because magazines can’t be properly sanitized, most salons will remove them entirely. Beverages we typically enjoy, such as hot tea and champagne, will not be served unless they’re in single-use packaging and disposable—bottled water will be the standard.

There May Be a Surcharge for Color and Time
Don’t be surprised if your bill is higher than normal, but this may not be entirely due to COVID-19. “We—and most salons—have always charged for extra product and extra time,” says Ferrara. “If a client has three-inch roots instead of the normal one-inch roots, that will require more time and product. But don’t worry, an extra color charge is generally only $20 more.” 

Electronic Payment Will Be Encouraged
Many salons are checking clients out via iPad, which can easily be disinfected. “We are also asking that clients use an electronic transfer such as Venmo, Zelle or PayPal for gratuity,” Ferrara adds. Grenia says IGK, and some other New York salons, are requiring payment ahead of time.

Gratuities Will Be Appreciated More Than Ever
Stylists and colorists typically have two to three clients at any given time to increase profitability, but now they will only be able to book one client at a time, which will greatly impact their livelihood. “Please do keep in mind that for the foreseeable future, we will no longer have the capacity to book more than one client at a time, which will result in longer waiting lists for appointments, as well as profit loss for your stylist or colorist and the salon,” says Ferrara. “This means that my colleagues and I may be making half or a third of our usual income due to earning on a solely commission-based pay structure. If you’re in the position to pay it forward in gratuity, it won’t be forgotten. Purchasing retail is also a great way to support your stylist and salon, instead of ordering something online.” 

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