Here’s How Your Post-Shelter Salon Experience Will Be Different


In some states, hair salons are once again open for business, and many more will open soon. “Hallelujah!” you think as you peer at your overgrown bangs and inches-long roots in the mirror. Your stylists are just as excited to see you as you are to see them, but before you head out for your first post-COVID shelter-at-home appointment, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Check For New Rules And Guidelines Before You Go

“Salons and stylists want to be sure their clients feel safe and comfortable when they return to the salon,” says Matrix Artistic Director Michelle O’Connor. To that end, many are following stringent protocols for sanitization and social distancing. Those protocols may be communicated to you via email or telephone before your appointment, on your salon’s website or social media feeds or all of the above. For example, “We’re making a video showing what to expect and sending it to clients before their appointments,” says Matrix Artistic Director Michael Albor, who also owns two The Loft Salons in the Boston area.

Your Stylist Will Likely Wear A Mask & Maybe Even A Face Shield

To protect themselves from contact with clients throughout the day, and to protect their clients, most stylists will wear masks in the salon for the foreseeable future, and some will opt for the additional coverage provided by face shields. Many salons may also require you to wear a mask while you’re in the salon. They may even be specific about what type of masks they would like you to wear, and in some cases, they may provide a mask.

If you find your mask to be a bit confining, here’s a tip. “Health experts recommend sucking on a peppermint or menthol lozenge while wearing a mask,” says O’Connor. “It opens the nasal passages and produces a cooling sensation. You may also put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on your mask.” And as uncomfortable as you may feel, please have empathy for your stylist who will be wearing that mask all day long!

Clean Hands Matter

As medical experts continue to advise, hand washing is essential for staving off the virus. To that end, expect to find hand sanitizer throughout the salon, and expect your stylist to ask you to use it at least once and maybe more. They may even ask you to wash your hands before the appointment begins. “When each client checks in our salons, both the stylist and the client will wash their hands,” says Albor. “We’ve also installed four new hand sanitizing stations throughout the salons and our receptionists will wipe down all door handles and the desk every time a guest enters and departs.”

Prepare For A Temperature Check

Some salons are purchasing thermometers and doing quick temperature checks before allowing clients into the salon. “If the reading is more than 100 degrees, they may ask you to reschedule,” says Matrix Artistic Director Dilek Onur-Taylor. “If they aren’t taking temperatures, they may ask you to fill out a questionnaire, indicating whether you’ve been exposed to the virus.”

Allow More Time And Space Between Clients

Stylists will be thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting their stations, chairs and tools between each appointment, as well as disposing of capes and towels, all for your safety. That means turnaround time between clients may take a little longer so be patient. Also, some salons may ask you to wait outside or in your car and wait for a text to let you know when your stylist is ready. If you do wait in the salon, expect a different configuration in the waiting area, with chairs spaced far apart. In the salon, plan on seeing styling chairs set further apart as well or every other station left empty to allow for safe distancing or dividers placed between styling stations.

Virtual Consultations

Every salon appointment normally begins with a consultation to determine the game plan for your visit. Now however, in order to reduce time spent in the salon, those consultations might be done virtually, prior to your appointment. You may be asked to do a Facetime or send photos of your hair in advance, along with notes on what you have in mind. “We’re setting up Zoom calls with all clients to go through the consultation before they get to the salon,” says Albor. “It will cut down on time spent in the salon.”


Express Services And Pricing

If you’re dreaming of getting “the works” after your long beauty drought, you may want to recalibrate your expectations. “People are going to want to really go for it after being out of the salon for so long,” says Onur-Taylor, “but that may not be realistic in that first appointment.” Many salons are looking at streamlining services in order to minimize time in the salon and to accommodate as many clients as possible in early days.

“We’re asking our guests to come in with freshly shampooed hair and we’re holding off on doing blow-dries for a bit,” says Albor. “It’s another way to minimize the client’s time in the salon. We’re also recommending ‘express’ services like accent highlights and other quick techniques. We want to be able to get clients in and out quickly and also accommodate people with lower prices if they have been out of work and are getting back on their feet.”


The lovely glass of wine or cappuccino that used to be on offer at your salon might be on hold for a time. Many salons are suspending beverage services to avoid spreading germs through cups and glasses. So if you think you’ll need water during your service, bring your own bottle. Otherwise, try to refrain until you leave the salon.

Streamlined Checkouts

You may be offered no-touch payment options, such as the option to pre-pay via app prior to your appointment. “We’re bringing in terminals that will allow clients to check out while they’re still in the styling chair,” says Albor. “Each terminal will be wrapped in cling wrap and the cling wrap will be replaced once it’s used.” There are also no-touch ways to restock your favorite products. “Let your salon know in advance what you need,” suggests O’Connor, “and they can have the products packed up and ready to go for you.”

Also, many salons that have not yet opened are offering curbside product pickup and/or online ordering options. What’s more, many product companies are offering affiliate programs, which means if you order your shampoo or conditioner or hair spray from their websites, they’ll automatically send a portion of that sale to your stylist if they’ve signed up for the program.

Above all, suggests O’Connor and Onur-Taylor, try to be patient. “It’s day to day right now; things are changing all the time,” they note. “Your salon experience may not be exactly what it was before COVID, but the top priority now is to do your hair and help you feel like yourself again, as safely as possible.”