What it’s like for hair stylists to follow guidelines on a daily basis

After months of isolation, uncertainty, and bad hair days, on May 14 hair salons were allowed to open! As we stylists returned to the salon, we discovered our jobs were quite different. Different enough to make things—well—weird. Although regulations for salon openings were lax and non-committal, many of us took it upon ourselves to go above and beyond to ensure the safety of our clients and our communities. 

My day now begins 25 to 30 minutes prior to my first client, twice as early as in non-pandemic times. Upon entering my salon, I sanitize my hands and lock the door to prevent anyone from walking in. I head over to the sink to wash my hands thoroughly,  reciting the opening monologue to Star Trek: The Next Generation, usually out loud. It takes me a little over 20 seconds. I hum the theme song as I continue getting ready.

Hairstylists abide by health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and goggles, to help keep clients safe. | Victoria Stevens

I disinfect the outside and inside door handles and any areas I touched coming in. I give the whole salon a quick disinfecting wipe with some harsh cleaners. Once completed, I take a few sips of water from my water bottle, wash my hands again, don a mask, and wait for my first client to check in through the online system. I let them know they can come in, unlock the door and sanitize my hands again.

In my salon, I require clients to wear masks at all times. As I’m going to be working around someone’s head and face, it’s a good idea to have one on. My client enters and we resist the urge to hug. I direct them to the sanitizer beside the door first. Most of my clients arrive with their own masks, but if they don’t, I have disposable ones for them. We head over to my stylist station and the magic begins! 

Everyone is getting accustomed to the new normal, especially hairstylists. | Victoria Stevens

The rest of the service continues with me washing my hands often and donning safety glasses at the sink and while blow drying. After a client leaves, I sanitize my hands and quickly remove the mask to give myself some unencumbered breathing time. I have 15 minutes to wipe down the whole salon, including door handles, my payment processing system, and every single product or tool I touched. This also includes time to drink or eat. Five minutes prior to my next appointment, I don a new, clean mask and wait for my client.

By the end of the day, my throat is sore. Between having to talk louder to ensure I am heard through the mask and the cleaning products I am using, my throat takes a beating, and I’m not finished yet. I spend another 20 to 25 minutes thoroughly cleaning the salon, packing up any laundry that needs to be done overnight, and ensuring everything is ready for me when I come in the next day. 

In between clients, Victoria disinfects the salon. | Victoria Stevens

It is definitely a challenging time to be a hair stylist or barber. We will continue to come in, do the cleaning and wear the masks, and to ensure you, our loved clients, are safe and can take on the day with the confidence great hair gives.

Featured Image: Working as a hairstylist during a pandemic is challenging. | Victoria Stevens