Typically, a trip to the hair or nail salon is a nice, relaxing way to unwind. But in the age of coronavirus, where restaurants across the country have temporarily closed along with many retail stores, concerned consumers wonder if they should cancel their manicure or haircut appointment. In short, yes, they should.
Dr. David M. Aronoff, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's director of infectious diseases, told TODAY Style that beauty devotees should reconsider spending an hour or so in close proximity to their nail artist or hairstylist.
"With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the country I would advise postponing any hair/nail appointments. Every person needs to do what they can to prevent the spread of infection," he told TODAY in an email.
People can be infected and contagious without expressing any symptoms, so spending time in a high traffic spot like a salon can be potentially dangerous, Aronoff explained.
"In addition, the virus can cause significant harm, including death in older adults and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical problems. Participating in what we call social distancing can really help slow the spread of infection and prevent vulnerable members of our community from getting severely ill," he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends each person stand 6 feet away from each other for a prolonged period of time in order to prevent the virus from spreading. Since nail artists and hairstylists get up close and personal with their clients, it can create an unnecessary risk.
Should I cancel my nail appointment due to coronavirus?
With the coronavirus spreading across the country, many nail salons have made the tough decision to temporarily close.
Earlier this week, popular New York City nail salon Tenoverten announced that they would be closing all five salon locations "for the foreseeable future.”
"We truly believe it was the best decision for the health and safety of our employees alongside our social responsibility to try and assist in stopping the spread of the virus," Tenoverten co-founder Nadine Abramcyk told TODAY.
Celebrity nail artist Julie Kandalec told TODAY she has recently had several clients cancel. She was also scheduled to teach at a beauty trade show called The Beauty Experience that was later canceled.
"As we have all seen, things are rapidly changing by the hour. Ten days ago, I felt that maybe it was (safe to go to the salon) as surfaces were extra clean, tools were being taken care of even more diligently, etc.," she said. "However, we know that it is not only spreadable on surfaces, because this virus can be spread very easily through close contact and symptoms don’t show up for several days."
Kandalec recommends postponing your routine manicure, even if the salon is open, for your own safety and the safety of your nail artist.
"It is not worth getting someone else sick unknowingly or spreading the virus even more," she said. "If you see a salon that is open, that doesn’t give you the excuse to go in; please allow them to close, too, by not going in."
Dr. Nate Favini, medical lead for health resource Forward, recommends staying home as much as possible to limit the spread of the virus.
"Although these appointments are usually one-on-one, there is still a risk of transmission since you are in a public space. ... Even as a young or healthy individual, this is crucial to ensuring our health care systems have the time they need to care for the most vulnerable among us," he said.
Should I cancel my hair appointment due to coronavirus?
Many hair salons are making the difficult decision to close as the coronavirus situation evolves. On Monday, popular blowout salon Drybar announced their decision to close all salons until further notice, effective March 18. "The health and safety of our clients and team members is a priority and we want to make sure we all take care of each other during this difficult time," an Instagram post from the brand says.
DreamDry, a salon with locations in several states, is also closing temporarily. "Our community will always be our first priority and we feel that this precautionary step is the best course of action for everyone involved," the company explained on Instagram.
Stephanie Brown, master colorist at IGK Soho in New York City, has seen a rise in cancellations in recent weeks. Before the salon was officially shuttered for two weeks (as of Tuesday), staff members were making sure that hair products and tools were cleaned every 45 minutes and that stylists washed their hands after touching anything.
In light of the current situation, Brown told TODAY she recommends postponing any upcoming hair appointments you have.
"Hair is not something to be worried about since no one is going out because everything is cancelled," she said. "Try doing hair masks at home and get your hair healthy for when you can make your next hair appointment."
Dr. Edo Paz, a cardiologist and vice president for the medical app K Health, also suggests avoiding any unnecessary appointments at this time. "Nail and hair salons are places where many people congregate and where virus particles can remain on the many common surfaces, such as the chairs, products, front desk, door handles, etc.," he said.
But in-home beauty services also come with their own set of risks. Glamsquad, an on-demand beauty service that sends stylists to your home, has not paused services as of yet. CEO Amy Shecter told TODAY the company is committed to keeping customers and employees safe. "As the situation rapidly evolves, we are doing absolutely everything in our power to protect consumers and pros at this time. We are closely monitoring the recommendations of the CDC and local governments and will prioritize health and safety above all else."
How to support salons during coronavirus closures
If you're worried about your go-to salon and stylist during this tumultuous time for small businesses, there are a few things you can do. For starters, you can still pay them the tip you would've spent through Venmo, PayPal or another digital service. Another idea is to give them a nice social media shoutout to help them book additional clients.
"If possible, you could reach out to your artist and ask them directly what they prefer," Kandalec said. "Some just want you to book several appointments in the future, some would love for you to purchase a gift card and some would just love a bigger tip the next time you see them. Also, if your nail professional sells products like cuticle oils or polish, now’s the time to stock up and support them that way."
How to protect yourself from the coronavirus at a salon
If you still decide to go to a nail or hair salon after considering all the risks, there are a few ways you can try to mitigate your exposure.
"Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after your appointment. Bring and use hand sanitizer if you cannot do that and be careful to avoid touching your face," Aronoff said. "Stay away from anyone who appears to be ill (cough, runny nose, sneezing, etc.) and definitely do not go out in public if you are having a new cough or fevers or other worrisome symptoms."