Navigating Your Salon Experience During COVID-19
Re-opening the salon industry has been a joy and an adventure for both stylists and clients alike - with the question of, "is it safe?" thrumming in the backs of everyone's minds.
Fortunately, we can confidently answer that question with a resounding "Yes!"
If you've been eager to touch up those roots or even just try something completely new, but feeling the uncertainty of going into a public space where physical contact is required, keep on reading: we're going to break down the many amazing reasons why the hair salon is one of the safest places to visit right now, and how to get the most out of your visit.
We were prepared before it hit
True Story: Before coronavirus, aka COVID-19, reached our shores...and before any stylist stood behind the chair...heavily regulated health and safety requirements were in place. While artistic techniques are certainly a large part of the service provider's education, another massive chunk of required material is all about microbiology, chemistry, and How To Prevent Infections. Blood-borne pathogens, airborne pathogens, viruses, illnesses, and all the nasties in-between are covered in an intensive portion of hands-on education in every school, and every state, supervised by the watchful eyes of the Health Department.
What this means: once a stylist/service provider is licensed through the Board of Cosmetology (a division of the state's Health Department), they are REQUIRED by law to use hospital-grade disinfectant between every service on every surface, and cannot allow any opportunity for cross-contamination to occur. This has been part of daily life long before the pandemic, and continues to be a large part of our battle to Stop the Spread.
Speaking of Disinfectant....
Barbicide has long been the standard for salons and spas of all types across the nation, used for everything from deep-cleaning tools to wiping down surfaces between each and every service. Not only does it prevent infections from spreading, it stops contagions dead in their tracks - including, but not limited to, tuberculosis, Hepititis, HIV, herpes, Influenza (including H1N1), and MRSA. When COVID-19 proved to be a massive health risk, the scientists in Barbicide's labs immediately went to work testing the effectiveness of the popular disinfectant against this new viral strain...and then proudly announced it's good to go!
Even with such a heavy-hitting chemical in our arsenal, the salon industry was DETERMINED to reopen with a full artillery of extra-strength, fast-acting disinfectant to cover every inch of the salon/spa with coronavirus-combatant solutions to protect you and your loved ones from risk of infection. Our newest weapon against the Spread: Equifect 256, a disinfecting solution SO intense, it requires a hefty certification process to even use it. One small bottle of diluted Equifect 256 is enough to completely destroy all contaminants in 3 minutes, and is our own go-to spray for literally every surface. It leaves no trails or residue, so it can work its magic on mirrors, metals, glass surfaces, plastic bins, bathroom counters, and so many other non-porous surfaces. If you get a chance to visit our salon in downtown Chicago, you are guaranteed to spot a bottle of this in every room, every station, and every corner - even the front desk!
For more information regarding Barbicide and the lab results from tests against COVID-19, as well as EPA certification, click here.
For more information regarding Equifect 256 and its EPA-certified effectiveness against COVID-19, click here.
Don't Waver at the Waivers
In case you may have missed it, our industry takes your health VERY seriously. With the outbreak of this pandemic, we put our heads together to brainstorm the best ways to keep you safe and healthy while also providing assistance to local health officials should outbreak tracing be needed. This resulted in the creation of The Screening Waiver, a template shared amongst industry professionals and refined for each salon's compliance needs.
Before your visit, it's a great idea to check with your salon or spa for waiver policies - most of us require a new waiver per visit, completed within 24 hours of the appointment time. Your information is kept strictly confidential, and helps us help you determine if rescheduling is needed due to increased travel policies or heightened exposure risks. Should an outbreak ever occur in the localized neighborhood, health officials will only need information such as dates, times, and possible on-site contacts to trace the spread and minimize further infections. Additional information, most especially government policy updates, are typically included within the waiver.
Most waivers, like ours here at SVR, are electronic and can be completed in the comfort of your home. This not only maintains a contactless experience, it also helps save paper - and who doesn't love being eco-friendly?
Taking Your Temp is Temporary...
Of all the times of the year to require temperature checks, of course it had to be in the middle of summer, right? But don't worry - we are an industry of common-sense people who won't throw you out immediately just because your brow soaked up the sun.
Check with your local regulations regarding body temperatures so you're prepared for that potential conversation with the Front Desk at check-in. Here in Chicago, temperatures above 100.3 F mean we have to reschedule - but on particularly hot days, we give an average of 2-5 minutes for a cool-down at the front door before making the final call because we observed a consistent 2-5 degree drop in body temperature. Only when there is no decrease do we have to reschedule, and such an occurrence has been significantly rare.
Pro Tips: If your salon does not have indoor waiting room available for early arrivals (due to COVID-19 regulations), take advantage of a local cafe or other small business to cool down, refresh yourself, and help small business owners all at once! Waiting in the car is fine as long as the air conditioner is on blast, but if you're looking to save some fuel while helping your community (and maintaining a low body temperature), grabbing an iced coffee may just be the best solution for everyone.
Safety Tip: If your temperature decreases after a cool-down period but not by much, don't be alarmed if the Front Desk lets you know (discreetly, of course). Various other things may be going on with your internal temperature that is just a good idea to keep an eye on, especially if this occurs with children schedule for a quick trim. Remember: the vast majority of the beauty industry is owned and operated by mothers. It's in our nature to care for you!
...And So Is the Fee
You may have noticed a slight hike in prices lately as salons and spas reopened nationwide. Due to the heavy amount of pandemic-fighting supplies needed in addition to the usual disinfectants and cleaning supplies we already used, the expenses to keep businesses operational have increased. The amount of time each service provider invests cleaning and scrubbing between each service visit has also increased, and in some cases, limited the number of clients they are able to see per day.
While the Personal Protective Equipment Fee varies per location, many have calculated $5 to be sufficient enough to cover these new expenses. To help put things into perspective, consider this:
A venti iced coffee at Starbucks, with customizations and sales tax, comes to approximately $5
The ability for your salon/spa to operate at the highest level of coronavirus-combating sanitation in order to keep you, your loved ones, and your service provider safe from infection, also comes to approximately $5.
Once regulations lift from industries, so will the fees. Until then, we greatly appreciate your support as we adjust to this "new normal"!
Prepare to Chill Out
Seriously though...these masks heat up FAST. Paired with the summer heat (and in some regions, intense humidity), the discomfort becomes almost unbearable. For this reason, many salon professionals have opted to lower the indoor temperature to ~65 F so service providers can maintain comfortable working conditions and balance the hot with the cold. It also helps with that cool-down process at the front door!
If you're someone who gets cold easily, even with a mask on, pack a light sweater or request heavier cape materials (if available). Due to pandemic regulations, most locations have doubled-up on robes and capes to maximize skin coverage and minimize contact, which does help keep you a bit warmer in the frigid air conditioning. Even so, each person is different, so it's a good idea to arrive prepared with a little extra arm coverage.
Gift Cards Are a GIFT for Contactless Payments
The trend for gift cards really took off during the nationwide quarantine as a way to support small businesses in various industries, especially since the payments made online softened the blow of such a massive loss of business.
But the true payoff? Once businesses reopened, most of those gift cards purchased online have allowed customers and clients to pay for goods and services without lifting a finger - literally! It's always a good idea to check with your salon to see if eCards are available, and if so, load one up so you can have an easy-breezy checkout process without touching any screens or swiping your card.
If gift cards aren't your thing, it's always great to see what your salon/spa's policy on saved credit/debit cards is, as some locations (like ours) offers that convenience. It does require just a little legal paperwork to ensure your privacy and our confidentiality, but it's still a great way to pay for services and products without touching any surfaces. Rest assured, the Front Desk and Point of Sale is CONSTANTLY disinfected!
A Note On Cash: Always check beforehand if cash is accepted at your location, as some areas have opted to minimize or eliminate the exchange of paper currency due to its widespread contact between thousands of people in short amounts of time. It's not just the Front Desk who handles the cash - it's also the banker, the bank manager, the money truck drivers, and every person in-between at every possible cash transaction. If you're concerned about your service provider receiving your gratuity, it's completely encouraged to ask the establishment about their tip-out policy (i.e. SVR ensures each service provider gets their tips as fast as possible, whether it's cash or electronic!)
Remember to Have Fun
The check-in process may feel a little (or a lot) like TSA, but unlike those unpleasantly strict security policies, we actually LET you keep your shampoo!
At the end of it all, every ounce of extra effort is worth being able to see your smiling faces again - even if we can only see your eyes! Every visit is a chance for us to catch up, to hear about your new skills and hobbies acquired at home, and to hit the Refresh Button on the artistic expression that makes you so wonderfully, uniquely YOU.