Here's how hair salons are reopening amid COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how hair salons function.

May 11, 2020, 1:37 PM

Sanitation stations, temperature checks and blow-drying bans all play a part in the new way hair salons operate.

As America starts to reopen and rebuild amid the coronavirus pandemic, states such as Georgia — which on April 27 became the first state to allow hair salons to open — are offering a glimpse of what the "new normal" may be for salons.

Georgia State Board of Cosmetologists and Barbers posted a detailed set of safety guidelines that include temperature checks, suggested PPE and disinfecting best practices.

At Atlanta-based Cherry Blossom Salon, which reopened its doors on May 1 with updated safety procedures in place, clients were told they must wait outside or in their vehicles until they receive a text that they can enter for their appointment. Only clients being serviced are allowed inside the salon and no walk-ins are accepted. The salon is also requiring that all customers wear a mask while being serviced and said it is thoroughly cleaning all "touchpoints."

Another Georgia-based salon, Akasa, announced a soft reopening in which stylists will be available on rotating schedules with a limited number of patrons to allow for safe distancing between work stations.

Several other salons within the state have made sure to include sanitation stations to be used by customers upon entry.

Jeff Alford, CEO of the CBON Group, one of Canada's largest suppliers of professional infection control products, shared a variety of best practices with "GMA" that salons should consider before reopening:

Staff education: Returning workers should get trained on the risks posed by germs if they are to confidently open their doors again. "In addition to their stated profession, the role of 'infection prevention practitioner' will accompany the new norm to allay the concerns and fears of an increasingly aware and scrutinizing customers," says Alford. Stylists should also review the Infection Control Education website before returning to work.

Client distancing: The elimination of waiting areas, reduced work stations and fewer appointments can help to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Wearing shields and protective wear through salons is also highly encouraged.

Client screening: "In the new 2.0 salon and spa world, customers can expect rigorous screening at the door that could include temperature taking, a checklist for symptoms, and required use of face masks while receiving service," said Alford. Only in so doing can beauty professionals protect themselves, their clients and their businesses.

Increased sanitation stations: Routinely sanitize exposed touchpoints between appointments.

Blow-drying protocol: While some salons have chosen to discontinue blow-dry services as it is beleived that germs can more rapidly spread with the presence of blow-drying tools, Alford suggests that if you are going to continue using blow-dryers be sure to disinfect them before servicing each new client. He also recommends aiming dryers down at the ground rather than in an upward motion. "While pointed at the ground, run the dryer on high heat for 30 seconds to clear any possible pathogens before pointing at the hair of a client," he said.

Plans for Texas and Florida salons

In Texas, which allowed salons to reopen on May 8, all salons can operate with social distancing practices in place, including work stations standing at six feet apart. Face masks are encouraged, as announced at a news conference on May 5 with Gov. Greg Abbott.

Tangerine Salons, the go-to salon for Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, have quickly gone into overdrive to strategize reopening plans.

"It was a whirlwind as customers got the news and immediately started messaging us on every platform such as Instagram, email and Facebook," Tangerine Salon owner Brandon Hensley told "GMA." "We were suddenly faced with an incredible decision to open with just a few days' notice or continuing with the original plan of the 18th."

Hensley confirmed the salon has decided to keep its original reopening date of May 18 as staff schedules have to be safely arranged and adequate PPE and other logistics are being ordered for five other Tangerine Salons located throughout Texas.

"The other major factor was getting the thousands of appointments that were canceled back on the books in a fair manner in conjunction with the typical appointment load we would be seeing," said Hensley. "Our reservationists are going to be very busy."

Tangerine Salons will also open with limited quick services such as color touch-ups, grey coverage and haircuts. There will be no three-hour balayage or advanced color services for the time being.

Another Dallas-based salon, BAM Beauty Bar, told "GMA" how happy it is to reopen. "We were so excited to hear we could reopen and see our clients again," said BAM Beauty Bar co-owner and general manager Fay Rezaee. "Clients have been clamoring for us to reopen."

"We made sure to do extra deep cleaning in preparation for our reopening, bought extra hand sanitizer and protective gear for our staff and clients," she added.

Tela Goodwin Mange, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, shared with "GMA" that Texas salons planning to reopen should also review Checklist for Cosmetology Salons/Hair Salons before reopening. It outlines a wide range of minimum standard health protocols to follow.

Another big state slated to reopen salons is Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced all counties within the state can reopen except Broward and Miami-Dade on May 11. A list of guidance and mandatory restrictions from Florida's Department of Business & Professional Regulation was also released that includes the following:

- All customers will be by appointment only.

- Allow at least 15 minutes between the conclusion of an appointment and the beginning ofthe next appointment for proper disinfecting practices.

- No group appointments are permitted.

- Masks must be worn by all employees while performing personal services.

Other states such as New York and California have yet to announce when salons will reopen, but businesses are closely following guidance from the CDC and FDA on how they will safely proceed.

From an economic standpoint, closures have also heavily impacted the livelihoods of salon owners and staff who rely solely on income from salons to provide for themselves and their families.

Syreeta Scott, owner of Duafe Holistic Care Inc. salon in Philadelphia, previously told "GMA" that COVID-19 has totally shut down her business and ability to contribute to the community.

Lots of other salon lovers genuinely yearn for the sense of community they provide.

"I miss the ambiance," NYC-based social media manager Mabel Martinez told "GMA." An avid customer at Dominican hair salons, she said they remind her of the Dominican Republic. "I miss the bachata and salsa music blaring through the speakers, and all the conversations and funny stories everyone tells about their lives."