How hair salons are reopening

"Salons used to be super jumping and busy and clients on top of clients; there will be a major shift."

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

People are eagerly awaiting the day they can see their hairstylist for a cut and/or color, but that experience will be radically different as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Salons used to be super jumping and busy and clients on top of clients; there will be a major shift," Tracy Ftacek, owner of Pretty Convenient Hair Extension Studio in Oswego, Illinois, told TODAY Style.

Ftacek's salon has been closed since mid-March, but she's started preparing for a safe reopening whenever the state's stay-at-home order is lifted. As of now, Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the order through May 30.

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"When we return, we will do one client with one stylist at a time. The business will be slower," Ftacek said. She's also leaning heavily on digital consultations, teaching people how they can style their hair at home.

Part of the preparation for an appointment will need to happen at home. Ftacek and other salon owners are asking their clients to come with their hair cleansed and damp, so that stylists can avoid having to take clients to the same washing station.

Van Michael Salons, a Georgia chain with six open locations, said it would reserve washes only for clients that need color washed from their hair.

In a prepandemic world, customers would typically check-in with their stylist by walking directly to their chair and perhaps read a magazine while they wait. Ftacek said she now plans to ask clients to wait in their car and come in only after they receive a text from their stylist indicating they are ready for them.

Wherever they get their hair cut, clients should also expect to wear gloves and a mask, which are best practices that have been recommended by state cosmetology boards. Van Michael has shared photos on its Instagram account of its stylists wearing both masks and shields.

There will also be no hair drying, unless its a color appointment. This allows stylists to cut down on the flow of germs in the salon and reduce a person's time in the building.

While the experience will be different for the foreseeable future, Ftacek said she is ready to make adjustments as she listens to the scientific facts and guidance. She wants people to know: These changes won't be forever, but stylists are ready to meet the new normal.

“One of the things that isn’t noticed in our industry is we have had to prep for safety and sanitation since cosmetology school. We have strenuous processes and inspections and there are heavy fines if we don't follow them," she said. "Over the years, we have been dealing with making sure AIDS, Staph, Mersa, TB, we’re sanitized for those things. The only shift really now is we're relying on digital consultations more than normal and requiring gloves and masks in the salon, 24/7.”