Salons in limbo after failing to make cut
While hairdressers welcomed ‘Super Saturday’, beauty firms made clear their frustrations at being out in the cold, writes Hannah Uttley
Therapist Michelle GeraghtyCarns has always prided herself on providing customers with a calm and relaxing atmosphere at her clinic EternalBeing in Enderby, Leicestershire. Now, she says, the clinic, which provides a range of treatments for allergies and intolerances, looks and feels more like a hospital.
Nail bars, beauty salons, spas and businesses providing complementary therapies were among those which were barred from reopening on “Super Saturday”, but have continued to plough on with preparations.
Geraghty-Carns says she has shelled out around £7,000 on health and safety equipment to prepare for reopening, not to mention the £38,000 cost for a refurbishment of the clinic to ensure staff and customers can distance safely. “We’ve lost two treatment rooms because of that,” she explains. “Everything is hospital grade so our clinic rooms now look like you’re walking into an operating theatre.”
Customers visiting the clinic will be required to complete a Covid-19 pretreatment questionnaire before they arrive and will not be able to arrive early for an appointment.
“If they do, they will need to wait in the car,” GeraghtyCarns says. “Sometimes in the past, clients arrived half an hour early for an appointment but we don’t have that luxury anymore. We’ve got rid of the reception area where they could sit and have a nice herbal tea and relax.”
Customers visiting hairdressers for the first time in over three months on Saturday were also faced with an entirely different experience.
Hairdressers have reported waiting lists entering the thousands as customers race to be first in line to have their unruly locks tamed.
Blow, a mobile beauty business, says it has hired more than 100 hair colourists to meet demand.
Due to hygiene reasons, customers will no longer be offered a complimentary beverage or magazine at many salons, and waiting areas will remain empty to ensure compliance with social distancing rules.
Plastic screens have been put in place at hair washing stations to separate customers, and stylists are wearing face masks and visors, with customers also encouraged to wear face coverings.
In some cases, salons have been encouraged to use single-use towels or wash them at a high temperature where this is not an option.
L’Oreal has put together hygiene and safety training, and back-tobusiness guides for hairdressers to support the industry. Hairdressing is the biggest contributor to the British beauty industry and was worth around £6bn to the economy last year.
Béatrice Dautzenberg, UK and Ireland managing director of L’Oreal’s professional products division, says: “The resilience and entrepreneurial spirit we’ve seen among British hairdressers during the crisis has been very impressive.
“For example, more than 40pc of salons are choosing to extend their opening hours so that they can accommodate the same number of customers but with the right safety measures in place. We know that there is a strong appetite for consumers to have access to this service outside of the standard opening hours, so Covid-19 might actually accelerate some of these trends.”
Some other businesses which rely on physical contact, such as physiotherapists and osteopaths, were not prevented from shutting in lockdown, though many chose to close out of fear for the safety of staff and clients. One osteopath practitioner says she has been forced to modify some of the treatment techniques to avoid being face to face with patients, while any linen or towels have been removed from treatment beds.
Stringent handwashing is also mandatory, while therapists wear full PPE, including gloves, where the patient requests it.
She says a shift to working from home in lockdown has seen demand for services such as osteopathy surge, forcing many clinics to operate longer hours. “Demand has been off the scale,” she says. “We have waiting lists every day; it’s been really busy particularly because nobody was prepared to work from home full-time as they did not have laptop risers or the right chair. I’ve been giving a lot of advice around that.”
While the pandemic has delivered some major challenges for businesses which rely on physical
‘Everything is hospital grade so our clinic rooms now look like you’re walking into an operating theatre’
contact, it has provided an opportunity for others. Alex Collinson’s business, Pod, was one of the few massage studios allowed to open its doors to customers on Saturday and has been recognised as the only Covid-19 secure business of its kind by Brighton and Hove City Council.
Using the latest technology in massage chairs, Collinson says she and her business partner have created an experience that is relaxing and enjoyable, while being entirely contact-free.
The service was due to open in February but was delayed by difficulties in obtaining equipment from China, the epicentre of the outbreak. Collinson’s business allows customers to book appointments directly but she also has chairs that can be hired by other companies which may not be able to operate as usual due to social distancing.
“There is an opportunity for us to partner with other organisations that don’t necessarily want to stop doing hands-on contact but it would be a potential way for them to future-proof their business,” she says.
Beauticians have expressed frustration at being left out of the Government’s Super Saturday reopening and continue to await clarity as to when they will be able to take appointments.
Lianne Rispoli, who owns Bellatique Studio, a beauty salon in St Albans, argues that the Government does not recognise the high level of hygiene standards within the industry.
She says customers will be banned from using mobile phones in the salon when it reopens, and all staff will wear masks and visors.
For treatments which are usually carried out face to face, such as manicures, beauticians will sit side-on to the customer.
“What we have to do is so vigorous, I don’t think you could be in a cleaner place,” she says. “I think visiting a salon would be safer than going to a pub or a supermarket.”
Hairdressers wear visors at Cambridge Barbershop on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, with similar safety measures in place at the city’s Bellaire beauty salon, below