Is It Safe to Visit the Salon?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to not take life’s little luxuries for granted.

Although 42% of women over the age of 18 say they prefer more natural beauty products over synthetic versions, that doesn’t always mean that at-home beauty treatments are effective or enjoyable. And given the fact that multiple rallies during lockdown protested against the widespread closures of salons and barbershops, it’s clear that Americans are willing to fight for the privilege to get a haircut.

Since a single strand of hair typically grows for two to six years before naturally falling out, that means your quarantine ‘do might be a real “don’t” by now. But the question is: with COVID-19 cases on the rise nationwide, is it actually safe to visit the salon?

Depending on the state in which you reside, hair salons may have remained open even during the early months of the pandemic. In other places, some salons still remain closed or aren’t operating at full capacity. In New York, salons and barbershops were permitted to reopen in late June provided they operate at 50% capacity. But in Calfornia, mandates have changed a handful of times since March. There are even salons who are offering services outdoors in order to reduce the risk to both employees and clients.

You need only a quarter of an inch of hair growth to achieve a smooth finish during a waxing treatment — and if you haven’t visited the salon since March or so, you could probably use help from a professional. But is the risk low enough to warrant a haircut, pedicure, or waxing?

Ultimately, it depends on a few factors. Providing that every stylist and client is masked, occupancy is reduced, sanitizing procedures are followed, and anyone with possible symptoms of (or exposure to) COVID-19 be asked to reschedule their appointments, you can probably feel reasonably protected. Many salons have installed plexiglass dividers, which can be a comfort, but others simply add extra space between clients. It’s a good idea to limit your appointment time, if possible, and to put off any unnecessary services for now; after all, the more time you spend in an indoor space, the higher the risk. In general, it’s best to inquire about your salon’s particular policies regarding masks, appointment procedures, confirmed cases, and more before you arrive.

There have been some famous cases where stylists with COVID-19 did not transmit the virus to their clients, all because they wore masks diligently. But you can’t rely only on a mask to protect you. Before you book an appointment, you may want to take a look at the number of COVID cases in your area. Even if your salon is taking lots of precautions, there’s no such thing as a riskless visit to a salon. If your area is currently in a hotspot for COVID, you should consider waiting for a while to get a color and trim. It’s also worth finding out about anything your salon has done to improve ventilation within the building. As a rule, be sure to bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes along and consider skipping unnecessary services (like blowdrying, styling, or even washing).

If you’re at high risk for complications from COVID-19, most health experts would still caution you to wait on your next haircut. However, those who live in areas with lower case numbers and whose salons are going above and beyond to keep the community safe may feel like a haircut is worth the inherent risk. While it’s never going to be 100% safe to visit a salon or spend time at another business indoors, being diligent about following health guidelines and local ordinances can go a long way.

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