What will hair appointments be like after lockdown? We asked the experts

As we slowly begin to see light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, many of us are curious as to what post-lockdown life will look like. It’s clear that social distancing measures will stay in place to some degree for a long time, but with both businesses and customers keen to get back to normal life, anticipation is building for what we can do first.

And with our fringes getting in our eyes, roots down to our ears and split ends aplenty, the reopening of hair salons is one of the most anticipated post-lockdown events. According to the 50-page blueprint set out by the government that details how the UK will ease out of lockdown, hairdressers could be allowed to reopen from 4 July at the earliest, granted the R number is low enough. If all goes to plan, you could be sat in the salon in as little as six weeks time.

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While salons are yet to hear more concrete information from the government on the official reopening guidelines and restrictions, we do know it’s not going to be straight back to business as usual. So what will a hair appointment look like post lockdown?

When will hair salons reopen?

4 July is the earliest possible date hairdressers could be allowed to open, but this is not a fixed date and will all depend on the R number (rate of infection) at the time.

World-renowned hair stylist Paul Edmonds is looking forward to reopening his Knightsbridge and Battersea salons, but has said: ‘As a team we have everything in place but we are still not banking on a 4 July opening, customers will not lose their booking sequence but this will just move a week or two for instance if the R number goes up and our opening date has to be pushed back.’

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Those in Ireland, however, could see their next hair appointment happening sooner, as the Irish Hairdressers Federation has said salons could reopen by the end of June.

How easy will it be to secure an appointment?

Since countries across Europe have started to lift lockdown measures, beauty booking app Treatwell (who are currently petitioning the UK government to provide economic hardship relief to the hair and beauty industry) has seen a huge surge in demand.

In Germany, bookings increased by 2000 per cent after the 16 April announcement that hair salons could reopen on 4 May, and bookings were being made mere minutes after the government announcement. In The Netherlands, bookings increased by 4500 per cent the day after it was announced that hair and beauty salons could reopen. And bookings in France shot up by 3100 per cent following the announcement that hair and beauty businesses could reopen from 11 May.

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It’s likely we will see a similar increase in demand here in the UK once salons are reopened. It’s thought that many salons will deploy appointment systems that will prioritise top customers. Paul Edmonds has taken this approach in his salons: ‘We are currently contacting our top 200 customers by frequency and spend, followed by those that had existing appointments in the diary between the start of lockdown and 4 July.’

To further manage the increase in demand, many salons will open for longer hours. ‘In order to support the demand of both salons, in Knightsbridge and Battersea Power Station, we’ll be open seven days a week for longer hours. Appointments are allocated on first come first serve basis. It won’t be possible to pick and choose a time, as we are limited on capacity, when we open again we will be operating with 50 per cent chairs less than normal.’

What will hair salons look like after lockdown?

As Paul mentioned above, salons won’t be able to run at the same capacity as before and will have to remove chairs to make room for social distancing. Treatwell has reported that their partner salons reopening in other European countries are wearing protective equipment (masks and gloves) and are allowing a limited number of people in the salon at one time (Lithuania country guidelines are 10m2 per customer, for example), therefore also limiting the number of staff working at any one time.

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Other salons are informing their customers of the health and safety precautions they’re taking, from pre-appointment calls to hygiene and safety videos sent to all customers prior to opening. This all indicates a very similar scenario is likely here in the UK, with every precaution possible being taken.

‘Every other chair will be removed to ensure 2 metre spacing between each client, markings on the floor will denote this,’ comments Paul. ‘Hygiene practises within the salon are based on current guidelines however these may be relaxed if the government guidelines are relaxed for a July opening. Currently we plan for acrylic visors for all staff, masks for clients, disposable gowns for clients and no drinks or food to be served. Each salon will have a capacity of 30 people on site, including staffing and clients.’

Paul also told us that there will be no reception desk in his salons, with each stylist or technician managing the appointment from start to end and no physical payments being taken – customers will prepay instead. This echoes Treatwell’s findings across Europe, in that ‘more customers than ever before are using Treatwell’s prepayment option so no cash needs to be exchanged once in the salon.’

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How much will it cost?

Treatwell have found that some salons have raised their prices by as much as 5-10 per cent ‘to compensate for the additional time that is needed to clean and to buy facemasks, disinfection gel and gloves.’ However, by the looks of the numbers, this certainly isn’t deterring customers, who understand the salon’s needs and want to support their local businesses and/or favourite hairdresser.

Where will we get our hair cut?

For the time being, there will be no geographical limit on which hairdressers can and can’t open, however, with many people staying at home and not traveling into city centres for work, local businesses will thrive. Treatwell noted the same trend: ‘Government measures are affecting booking behaviours across Europe as customers book closer to home than to work; local salons (outside of city centres) are receiving more bookings than ever before.’