What your hairstylist wants you to know during coronavirus

Here's how coronavirus is affecting hairstylists — and what they want you to know.
Woman 40s at hairdresser
Hairstylists are eager to get back to work as salons increasingly close during the coronavirus outbreak.Getty Images stock

By Chrissy Callahan

Hair salons across the country have temporarily closed in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus. As the situation continues to unfold, many clients are asking the same questions, like, "Should I cancel my haircut if the salon is still open?" and "How do I take care of my hair until my next appointment?"

TODAY Style went straight to the source and consulted some industry pros to answer these questions and get some insight into how clients can help.

1. It's OK to cancel your hair appointment right now

If the thought of getting up close and personal with your hairstylist right now makes you nervous, you're not alone. As we all attempt to practice social distancing and stay 6 feet away from each other, medical experts are increasingly suggesting that consumers cancel any nonessential self-care appointments.

"The coronavirus can live on surfaces or travel through the air after a cough or sneeze. The virus is also highly infectious," Dr. Edo Paz, a vice president at medical app K Health said. "Because of this, we would recommend postponing trips to the nail and hair salon."

Many salons across the country have already decided to shut down temporarily. If your local hot spot is still open, rest assured that your stylist will not hold your decision to cancel against you.

"It is absolutely OK if you feel your health may be at risk. We as professionals very much value our clientele and want everyone to be safe and comfortable," Jonathan Colombini, L'Oréal Paris hairstylist and colorist, told TODAY Style.

Salon owner straightening hair of client in salonYour local salon will understand if you cancel, and health experts say you should.Getty Images stock

2. Salons are putting your health first

In recent weeks, many salon owners have agonized over the decision to shut down over coronavirus concerns. Carmen DePasquale, CEO and owner of DePasquale Companies, is one of them.

"It was a very difficult decision because it would affect all our employees financially, however, the health and well-being of our employees and our clients took precedence," he said.

Laura Rugetti, owner of The Beauty Can salon in California, has spent the last several weeks worried about the impact a salon closure would have on her staff.

"I have 18 stylists that rent from my salon and most of them are moms who financially depend on working to support their family. Out of caution, I have closed down the salon to the public, with a select few stylists taking private clients. My stylists are independent contractors so this is a very difficult situation," she said.

Most hairstylists work strictly on commission while others work for base pay plus commission, so extended time away from the salon can often present them with a significant financial burden. But many salon owners believe it's necessary to help "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of the virus.

"When my salon closed, the decision was made to keep everyone safe and healthy. We all know someone who is at risk, wherever it be a grandparent or someone who is sick or has cancer. We don't want to be carriers for the virus. Especially when we see a bunch of different people every day," Stephanie Brown, master colorist at IGK Soho in New York City, said.

With many salons temporarily closing, some beauty devotees are turning to in-home beauty services to maintain some sense of normalcy. As of right now, on-demand beauty company Priv is still offering services to its customers across the country, but the company's artistry director, William Edward, recognizes that many consumers are hesitant to allow someone they don't know into their home right now.

"All of our providers are trained to maintain a clean, sanitary work environment at all times, which includes the use of state-regulated disinfecting materials and work-practice controls. We have reminded all of our providers that if they do wish to take appointments, to do so at their own discretion and continue to uphold those safety precautions," he said. "We encourage everyone to do what makes them feel comfortable, and our services are available for them when they do."

3. You can maintain great hair at home

Whether you're due for a routine trim or a root touch-up, there are plenty of ways to keep your strands healthy and strong until the next time you make it to the salon.

Hair treatmentIt's a perfect time to do a few hair masks at home.Getty Images stock

How to keep your hair color at home:

  • If your salon is still open, call your colorist and ask them to put together an at-home color kit so you can touch up your roots on your own. In cases where your local salon is closed, celebrity colorist Matt Rez suggests asking your colorist to hit up a pro store and create a color kit and send it to you. "This is where colorists buy their supplies and, as of now, they're still open," he said.
  • Looking for a basic, quick fix to cover up your roots? Rez suggests using some brown eye shadow.
  • Want to extend the life of your color? Try using a dry shampoo to avoid overwashing and prevent fading until you can get back to the salon.
  • Know your limits! Some things are best left to the pros. "Do not attempt at-home highlighting or lightening of your hair. This can lead to major costly color corrections," Rez said.

How to keep your hair color strong at home:

  • Give your hair some extra TLC while you're stuck at home. "Now is a great time to not wash your hair and get those natural oils in there. Conditioning treatments are perfect for this time. If you don't have one at home, you can always make one using coconut oil or olive oil. And it's great because you can leave it in for the whole day and then rinse it out since you're not going anywhere," Brown said.
  • Celebrity hairstylist Ashley Streicher suggests using this time to grow your hair out so you can experiment with new styles. You can also practice air-drying your hair and avoiding hot tools to keep it healthy.
  • Try some fun hair accessories. "If your hair is long overdue for a cut, then it may be time to embrace headbands," said Gina Rivera, CEO of Phenix Salon Suites and hair artist.

4. Send your stylist some love

During tough times like these, it's nice to remind your hairstylist how much you value them. Since it might be a while until the next time you plop down in the salon chair, there are several ways to support your favorite salon or stylist.

  • Reach out and say hi: "Right now is a weird time, and more than ever, a check-in text or positive message could really make someone's day," said Gregory Russel, Kerastase celebrity hairstylist.
  • Shop your salon's website: "A great way to support your local salon or hairstylist is to buy a gift card or certificate to use in the future. Also, try to buy all the products you can from them online," Streicher said.
  • Consider a video appointment: "Some people have embraced video servicing. In essence, a stylist walks a client through a retouch application so they can get by for a short period of time without visiting the salon. This is not ideal, but it is a way to support each other," Rivera said.
  • Send a little tip their way: "If you can afford to do so, sending tips to your stylist could be so appreciated as our income disappears without us being able to service our clients," Russel said.
  • Think ahead to your next hair service: "I think prebooking appointments is really helpful. I don't expect anyone to spend money at this time as I know we are all hurting in one way or another, but knowing that we have appointments in the future sheds some light at the end of the tunnel," Rugetti said.
Young woman talking with her hairstylist during a salon appointmentSoon enough, hairstylists will be making the world a beautiful place again.Getty Images stock

5. Stylists are eager to get back to work, too

Since many hairstylists work on commission or as freelancers, they don't get paid when they're out of work. So, like many Americans, they're just as eager to get back to their routines.

"For people in fields like mine — massage therapist, restaurant workers etc. — we don't get paid vacation or paid sick days, and if we don't have a client, we don't make money. So for us, it's trying to get back to normal so we can get that paycheck, so we can pay rent and health insurance (we don't get that either)," Brown said.

Hairstylists are a creative bunch, and all of this downtime is making many of them antsy (just like the rest of us).

"I feel a natural eagerness to work, of course, especially as a freelance person. It's how we're wired! The good news is that we're all in this together and you have to remember we're not missing out. It's important to stand united on this front. If we can all be in this together, it will feel a lot less isolating," Streicher said.

Some hairstylists are trying to look on the bright side and take this time to find perspective.

"I think this time has really made people take a step back and realize what is important in life. We often forget that things like being able to go to the store as we please or socializing with friends are a privilege," Rugetti said. "Being that none of us have ever experienced anything like this before, it is scary knowing that there isn't a roadmap for this complex situation. But there's hope in knowing that we're all dealing with this together."

Overall, the professionals we spoke wanted to share the immense pride they take in the work they do. "We are not just in the business of doing hair; we are in the business of making people look good and feel good," DePasquale said.

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