As the cities of Somerville and Cambridge begin to reopen, hair salons are seeing their services situated front and center. Many are back in business – with a few adjustments made to their procedures.
The Somerville salon Hair By Christine & Co. opened its doors on June 1, returning from its temporary shut down due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Owner Christine McSheehy said that while she and her team are enthusiastic about working again, after a hiatus that began on March 15, there will be many changes to the patterns and norms at the salon.
“We’re all very excited to get back into a routine and see people. The isolation aspect of quarantine does not sit well with most hairdressers, when we’re around human interaction all day and night,” said McSheehy.
“I’m a perfectionist, so there’s a lot of worry for me…We’re going to be going back to work, working harder than ever, and making so much less money than we used to.”
According to McSheehy, the salon will have many protective measures in place, sanitizing frequently and using the appropriate gear. She has ordered 100 re-washable masks for her staff to wear and will have capes laundered in between clients.
The salon will not be blow-drying hair after customers have their hair cut, to reduce the possible risk of spreading germs. While stylists are required to wear gloves, McSheehy said that she hopes this regulation will soon be lifted, as the conflicting textures of hair and latex could easily lead to injury.
McSheehy is tri-chair for an organization called the Hair Salon Working Group, which was formed through the City of Somerville and consists of 14 member salons. The panel has met with Mayor Joseph Curtatone to clarify guidelines, drawing together a coalition of workers.
A Different Vibe
Fernanda Macedo, another tri-chair and owner of Fernanda’s Beauty Salon in Somerville, said that she anticipates that clients will be afraid of venturing beyond their homes to have their hair cut.
“Overall, people are a little bit scared to be around us, and they’re just not as comfortable,” said Macedo. “In this industry, if the client doesn’t trust you, there’s a very likely chance that they won’t actually like the service. It’s a perfect dance of you vibing with them and them loving their service.”
In Cambridge, owner Erinn Danielle is preparing to reopen Simply Erinn’s Unisex Hair Salon on June 6. She said that she knows her team has anxiety about returning to work and that social distancing measures will change the haircutting experience.
Danielle said that the salon will be using protective shields, goggles, masks, gloves, and disposable capes to keep clients and staff safe. Sinks are close together, and stylists will only be able to shampoo one client at a time, which may slow down their scheduling. The process of cutting hair will certainly look different, she said.
“All that wonderful conversation that we love to have is probably going to be at a minimum,” said Danielle. “You’re under pressure now. You’re trying to get people in and out.
“Wearing gloves to cut people’s hair, to style it and blow dry it – that’s going to be crazy. Your hands are moist in the gloves, and that’s too much. I can’t shampoo you with gloves and give you a proper shampoo.”
Zina Thompson, owner of Zina’s Hair Salon in Cambridge, said that she is not reopening her business for a few weeks to make sure all safety measures are in place. The salon will only be taking former customers . They also request that clients complete a questionnaire about their health and the services they are using. Staff and guests will be required to take their temperatures on site as well.
“It’s going to be a whole new way of life,” said Thompson. “Just like you would see everybody with the masks, we’re doing what we have to do. Come into the salon, and this is what we’re going to have to do for now on. …It’s not that I don’t want to take new clients, but we have to be safe.”