What Plymouth’s hairdressers will look like when they reopen

Many of us are dreaming of binning the box-dyes and putting away the kitchen scissors and turn to the capable hands of our hairdressers.

And this dream can finally become a reality as the Government announced this week that hairdressers – along with hotels, restaurants, pubs, cinemas – will be opening their doors once again on July 4.

But how different will our salon experience after three long months away, and what are hairdressers doing to keep their clients and staff safe?

Salon Ninety9

When Kristy Butcher took over Salon Ninety9 last August, she certainly didn’t expect to be closing her doors in March due to a global pandemic.

But the tangle teasing expert says she felt ready and prepared when the prime minister announced she could reopen.

“I felt ready when the announcement came. There was a lot of preparation and checking up on what we need, I was quite organised and had everything in place.

“I’ve basically had all the PPE stuff and next week I’ll have disposable gowns and aprons. So everything is quite organised. It’s all been common sense with barbicide and hand sanitisers.”

Kristy and her staff have been busy at work during the lockdown, and have been taking COVID 19 and barbicide training online – these courses focus on safety measures, symptoms of the virus and how to clean vigilantly in between clients.

She’s also prepared her salon for social distancing and regular cleaning.

She says: “Salon preparation wise we’ve separated two metre areas off, I’ve got a cleaning station with automatic hand sanitiser machine for clients and staff upon entering the salon, hand sanitisers will also be on every work station throughout the salon.

Kristy took over the salon last August and didn't expect her first summer to look like this
Kristy took over the salon last August and didn’t expect her first summer to look like this (Image: Kristy Butcher)

“There will be safety posters on display everywhere explaining the two metre distance and washing your hands.

“Salon cleaning will be in process all day. We will be wearing visors for extra protection and there will be 15 to 30 minutes extra between people to clean and allow clients not to cross each other. We’ll have a sneeze-guard in reception as well.”

The bad-hair-day banisher has also set up a system by recording her clients’ name, contact details and date of appointment in case she needs to trace anyone.

She says: “We have a strict policy, if any of our clients have an appointment booked and are showing signs of COVID 19 then we can cancel their appointment.”

Mannamead Haircare and Beauty

Kelly Lidstone, owner of Mannamead Haircare and Beauty, can’t wait to welcome back her customers – she says her phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the government announcement.

She has been making changes to the premises and the ways in which her stylists will work, as the business gears up to open in a completely different way than ever seen before.

She says: “My phone has literally been blowing up the last four or five days it’s constantly ringing. Which is great!

“I wouldn’t like it if it wasn’t ringing, so it’s nice to hear from the clients. I know they’re all really looking forward to getting back.”

She continues: “Everything is going to be different for the staff, we’ve got to have a big staff meeting to instigate new operating things and procedures to protect staff and clients.

“Usually we work it between us but we’re going to have a dedicated person to see people into the salon and welcome them through.”

The hairdressing expert has kitted out her salon with all the necessary equipment and PPE ready to open on July 4.

“So much is different,” she says.

“There’s going to be socially distancing, all the PPE measures, hand sanitisers, signage everywhere telling people which way they can go and how they can come in.

“There will also be screens, masks, visors, single use gowns, aprons.

“We’ll have a lot of single-use things really which is all new to us as we usually just use normal aprons and gowns all the time.”

But what about the social aspect? Will we be able to chat about our lockdown baking or which TV show we’ve been binge watching?

Apparently not, according to the National Hair and Beauty Federation (NBF), who has advised hairdressers to keep talk ‘to a minimum’ to protect staff and customers.

The body is advising members to talk to clients side by side looking into the mirror and to limit discussions, telling salon owners and staff: “Avoid face-to-face discussions with clients.

“Discussions about cut, colour and treatments should be made via the mirror while standing behind the client and kept to a minimum.”

Kelly hopes there will still be a slight social element for her clients even if it isn’t quite the same as normal.

“A lot of these clients haven’t been out for three months, so there’s going to be an element of consultation.

“We will definitely still be talking to the clients. The girls have to wear visors and masks, and clients will be wearing masks too.

The salon has sectioned off some of the seating in line with the two metre social distancing guidelines
The salon has sectioned off some of the seating in line with the two metre social distancing guidelines

“When you’re blow drying you lip read quite a lot so when people have masks on it’s not going to be possible really!

“I’m hoping there’s going to be an element of it being a social thing for the clients so I’m still hoping they will be able to enjoy the experience of coming to the salon.”

She continues: “Some of them are going to be anxious going out.

“But some people are saying ‘I don’t care I’ll be there at midnight I’ll wear two masks!’ They’re desperate to get their hair done.

“It’s good for wellbeing and mental health, it can make some people feel really miserable when they haven’t had their hair done.”

The hair wizard has a long list of appointments already, and is booked up for the next few weeks.

During their three months away, the staff at Mannamead have also been taking COVID 19 and barbicide training online.

Kelly says: “We use barbicide throughout the year anyway, it’s nothing new to us.

“Hairdressers are really good at washing their hands anyway. We’re good at that type of hygiene so it’s just the other stuff like between clients sanitising the work areas.”

The business owner hopes she can keep an element of the ‘buzz’ her salon normally has.

She says: “I think salons are going to be quieter not because there’s less clients but because we can’t have as many people in at one time.

“But what I’m hoping is that all hairdressers love the buzz of a busy salon like at Christmas and Easter time and that buzz really carries you through and everyone picks up on it.

“I’m just hoping we don’t lose that and we can still get that hustle and bustle feeling with less of us in there.

“Everyone’s going to be so excited to get back that we can still make it an enjoyable experience for them doing what we really enjoy doing!”

Rebecca’s Nails

Salon owner Rebecca Hopkinson has mixed feelings about opening her doors on July 4.

The beauty expert says it’s a bit of a ‘nightmare’ preparing her premises Rebecca’s Nails to reopen.

“We’ve got to wear visors, and there’s talks we won’t be able to do blow drying but we’ve got to look more into that.

“We’ve got a one-in one-out situation. We’ve put guidelines in place so they have to get to their appointment on time rather than coming in early as people do so there’s no ‘chit-chat’ as we’d normally do.

Rebecca Hopkinson has mixed feelings about opening on July 4
Rebecca Hopkinson has mixed feelings about opening on July 4 (Image: Rebecca Hopkinson)

She continues: “We’ve got plastic disposable cups for teas and coffees because some people aren’t even doing hot beverages – but we’ve just ordered 1,000 cups so we can still give it to clients and they can throw it away properly.

“We also have to wear gloves on every appointment. We’ve got hand sanitiser as they walk in and we’re just going to have to clean every time, it’s just going to be an absolute nightmare.”

Rebecca normally has eight hair stations in her salon, but the two metre rule means she has had to halve this number.

She has also set up her reception area to have a one-in one-out policy, and will make clients wear a mask if they don’t have one of their own.

She says: “Rather than people queuing and waiting to book appointments or waiting to pay we’re going to have to time it all around each other to keep each other separated.

“We’ve just ordered 15 litres of hand sanitiser and then we’ve got more on its way.

“We’ve got disinfectant to spray down everything, every half an hour we’re going to have to sanitise everything. Even just the shelves just to be extra cautious with everything.

“Even if no one is in we will clean every half an hour with our keyboards, our card machines, our ipad.”

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She continues: “It’s a lot different to how we usually do it. Client-wise we usually have people in back to back as well as in between whereas now we can’t so we’re blocking out that 45 minutes where we’ll be constantly cleaning in between clients when we’re not getting people in, so it’s a loss of money for the staff as well.

“We’ve changed our chairs to all leather on everything because they’re wipable. We’ve had to change our furniture arrangements as well.”

Rebecca says it has cost her to kit her salon out with all the necessary PPE and equipment, and says prices are going up.

“Everyone’s putting their prices up because we need it with all PPE face masks and visors; people are just putting their prices up and it’s absolutely disgusting.

“But I guess that’s how they’re making their money because we need it.”

The salon owner will be calling all of her clients to make sure they haven’t had any symptoms in the last few days.

She explains if they have any signs of the virus they will have to reschedule their appointment and self isolate.

Similarly to Mannamead Haircare and Beauty, Rebecca is concerned about the social aspect of her job.

“Obviously our clients want a catch up they haven’t seen us for months so usually they give us a cuddle when they leave their appointment but now we’re not going to be able to.

“It’s not going to be nice for them either. We have older people come in that will be more fragile and more at risk and even then it’s not going to be nice for them it’s going to be heartbreaking because it’s all going to be different.

(Image: Rebecca Hopkinson)

“It was mixed feelings when I heard the announcement. But I don’t think anything is going to get back to normal any time soon. It’s all going to be a massive change for everything.

Rebecca is also opening up a second salon in Whitleigh, and has been in the process of preparing it since lockdown began.

She says: “All of it just doesn’t feel real in all honesty. A lot of stock that we needed was out wasn’t available because of all of this and our suppliers were all shut so it’s been really hard, especially with another salon.

“It feels like a big dream, I’m usually in the salon six days a week 14 hours a day and it’s going to put a lot of businesses out of pocket.”

The beauty lover is also disappointed at the announcement beauty and nail appointments would not be able to start up again on July 4.

“It’s extremely disappointing as this is a main aspect of the salon and we’d prepared the area in case it was able to open alongside us.”

Beauticians have been frustrated by the decision from the government after the announcement this week.

Plymouth Live