The New Normal For Beauty Salons

Coronavirus – It’s changed all aspects of our society. Without a doubt, some business have felt the impact more than others. One of them being beauty salons – according to data from the UK Spa Association (UKSA) more than 90% of spas have been impacted negatively by CoVid-19, since their closure on the 23rd March. Around 54% plan on opening as soon as restrictions are lifted – which will most likely be by the 4th July according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. To get a real sense of the impact this has had on salons, I spoke to the owner of beauty salon Ambience, Wendy Penny and their hairdresser, Sarah Jayne Allwright.



When CoVid-19 started, what happened? How did you deal with it?


Sarah: We knew it was coming from what was being told in the media. We were waiting, watching the other businesses starting to close, we’re obviously up-close and personal with people, a lot more than others. It was getting a little bit scary, I felt like we were on a time bomb, waiting for something to happen, but it was all very surreal like I suppose it was with a lot of companies, and at the end of the day you have to put everybody’s safety first, haven’t you?

Wendy: Yeah, it was a bit scary, and it’s just the unknown. I think that was the scariest part about it, just the unknown.

In terms of of the last couple of months, what’s happened?

Wendy: We’ve had lots of clients calling us in the last three months saying when are you opening? But we couldn’t give them any real dates, because we don’t know, although we’ve got the 4th July, we don’t know if it’s going to be the 4th July, we don’t know the guidelines, we don’t know if it’s still going to be two metres, we don’t know if we’ve got to wear masks – I’m sure we’ll have to wear masks. But we don’t know what guidelines he’s [Boris Johnson] is going to put in place.

Did the Government give you anything to help out?

Wendy: Yes, if you’re a business owner, every-single person got up to £25,000. All depending on the square footage of what your business is. You can get a loan, grant, which you have to pay back. You don’t have to pay back the money you got from the Government, staff could be furloughed. So, yeah, they were really good. I think, as a business owner, they did help me. If they didn’t help me, then I would have struggled.

So, what can you do in terms of treatments?

Wendy: We don’t know, do we?

Sarah: No, it’s still a little bit grey as to what we can do. Obviously with the two-metre distancing, obviously we can’t apply that, we can’t at all, but neither can dentists. That’s why the PPE has got to be important. Because there’s no way, we can apply that.

Wendy: I’ve ordered screens that are going to be in-between the hairdressing chairs. And I’ve got a big screen that’s going to go between the nails. So, we’re putting in place lots of things, but. Oh yeah, and appointments only, no walk-ins, because we can’t have too many people in the salon. Whereas before the doors were open and we’d take everybody in. But we just won’t be able to do that. As long as everybody does it, all the salons you know, everybody sticks to the rules, then you know we’ll be fine. But if they don’t stick to the rules and then the rate goes up, then we’re back to square one again, aren’t we?

Wendy and Sarah at Ambience Laser, Hair and Beauty Salon

Will you be able to handle another wave, do you think?

Wendy: No, personally no, financially, no. If the Government were to give me any more money, yes. Which I can’t see them being able to do that, so no, because three months is a long time to be shut.

But also, I’ve always bought masks, you have to have masks for some of the treatments, and I was paying 4.99 plus VAT for fifty masks, and I ordered some more before coming back, £108 for fifty. That upsets me.

And how do you think beauty salons will be like in the coming years?

Wendy: Well, I hope we all stick to this hygiene. Because when I used to do beauty many, many years ago, hygiene was very important. I mean, I’m very strict with hygiene anyway, I’m a bit obsessed with it, I think everybody should do it. I mean, have you been into salons before and seen the way they are, not all salons are [gives me a look].

Sarah: We’ll probably keep it, won’t we? It does make you realise, I personally haven’t been ill for the whole three months, where I’m often picking up colds, and it’s not unusual for people to come in – and you say to them ‘oh, do you have a day’s holiday?’ And they’ll say, ‘oh no, I’m off sick, but I’m ok now.’

Wendy: It does happen, clients do come in when they shouldn’t really. So hopefully, it will make people think twice about it, hopefully.

You’ve put all these new safety measures in place without set guidelines, how do you think the Government will make sure other salons are doing the same?

I hope that the Government or the local authority comes round and checks these places. I pay licence fees; someone comes round once a year. But not everybody tells the council they’re running [a salon], they don’t have a licence. I think everyone on the high-street that has members of the public coming in should be checked. But they won’t.

On the 23rd June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation, updating everyone on the latest easing of restrictions. Among the list of businesses that will reopen by the 4th July are hairdressers. Unfortunately, there is still no news for other beauty salons, like spas and nail bars. Many women, as Wendy and Sarah have talked about, are very eager to get back to their routines. So they’ve been pre-booking treatments to help sort-out some probably pretty terrible roots and other more private matters that only beauticians can help us with. If you want to show support to your local salons, here are some ways you can: buy products directly from the salon; purchase a voucher for a treatment; get on yelp/Facebook/trip-advisor and leave a good review, and next time try to reschedule instead of cancelling.

Wendy and Sarah at Ambience Laser, Hair and Beauty Salon

Author: Victoria Di Gioacchino