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13 Things You Shouldn’t Do at Reopened Hair Salons

Ready for a much-needed cut and color? Not so fast—you need to know a few things first about keeping yourself and others safe.

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New rules in our new normal

Now that hair salons are opening back up in many locations, you may be very excited to finally get a haircut, freshen up your highlights, or cover up those dark roots. But as with restaurants, gyms, and other businesses, it’s essential to proceed with caution. While official quarantines may be over, coronavirus is still a very real threat and likely will be for some time. As we try to adjust to this new normal, we still need to take proper precautions to avoid becoming sick or transmitting COVID-19 to others, especially in situations where social distancing isn’t possible. Here’s what you shouldn’t do at your next hair appointment—and any others in the foreseeable future.

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Leave your mask at home

A study backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that wearing a mask can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by as much as 85 percent. So, it’s essential for you to wear a mask when you head to the salon—and in any other places where it’s impossible to maintain a proper amount of social distance. According to Los Angeles hairstylist and extension specialist Anthony Pazos, your stylist must wear a mask as well. “In our new normal, it’s important that your stylist is taking every precautionary measure to ensure the safety of their clients and employees,” he says. The salon should probably have an additional supply of disposable masks on hand, just in case someone ends up forgetting to bring their own. If they don’t, it could be a cause for concern.

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Remove your mask

A mask can only protect you if you’re wearing it properly. Matt Rez, a celebrity colorist at Mèche Salon in Los Angeles and a Redken brand ambassador, says that masks should not be taken off for any reason. “[Clients must] wear a mask during the entire duration of the appointment for their, mine, and my assistant’s safety.”

One way that California is ensuring masks stay on is by forbidding serving food and drinks in salons, according to Rez. But regardless of the law or location, many salons are continuing to give out bottles of water or glasses of champagne. So, if you’re thirsty and must imbibe, move your mask, but don’t remove it.

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See a stylist who ignores local regulations

“At Anthony Pazos Studio, we follow strict guidelines set forth by the California Department of Public Health, which requires masks at all times, proper setup, sanitation after each client, and seeing patrons one at a time,” Pazos explains. He doesn’t question these ordinances and is happy to abide by them. “These guidelines have allowed our practice to be a safe and private location to receive beauty services,” he says.

Unfortunately, not all stylists and salons feel this way. Regulations and rules can vary by state and municipality, as do rates of infection, so it’s best to check local laws and guidelines before going to your appointment. If your salon isn’t following local laws, it’s best to cancel your appointment or leave immediately.

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Go to a salon that doesn’t follow CDC guidelines

New York City hairstylist Nunzio Saviano tells Reader’s Digest, “I will be following safety guidelines recommended by the CDC and the Board of Cosmetology.” He recognizes that this is essential for the health and safety of his clients as well as his team. So, what do these guidelines entail? Reducing the number of clients in the salon by half, requiring patrons to stay six feet apart from one another, and requiring everyone in the salon to wear masks at all times. Generally speaking, these are 14 things you won’t see in hair salons anymore.

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Stay at a salon that isn’t clean

If something feels off, leave. Cleanliness should be the top priority wherever you are getting your hair done. All surfaces must be cleaned according to CDC guidelines using a disinfectant spray, wipe, or concentrate recommended by the EPA to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If no such product is available, the CDC suggests using 1/3 cup of bleach added to one gallon of water or a 70 percent alcohol solution as an alternative. Here’s why Clorox Bleach is so good at killing germs.

At Saviano’s salon, stations, tools, and surfaces are thoroughly disinfected between appointments. A deep cleaning is also performed at the end of each day. Additionally, Rez recommends disinfecting tools such as scissors in a UV sterilizing box. He even brings his own to the salon as an extra precaution.

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Forget to wash your hands

Proper hygiene is key to preventing the spread of coronavirus. Rez requires clients to wash their hands thoroughly for a duration of 20 seconds to one minute before changing into a gown for services. As an extra precaution, consider putting on gloves in the salon. Saviano keeps a box at the front desk if clients want to wear them, although they’re not mandatory. There should also be bottles of hand sanitizer readily available for both stylists and customers stationed throughout the salon. In addition to coronavirus, these are the diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

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Be hesitant to share personal information

Back in normal times, your stylist likely greeted you with a “Hello” or “How are you?” But during a pandemic, you may be asked more personal questions. Jennifer Aniston’s longtime colorist, Michael Canalé, has a velvet rope at the entrance of his Los Angeles salon. “[It] stops clients from entering before having their temperature taken. [They must also] fill out forms regarding their health and safety, along with standard questions.”

Many places of business will take your temperature using an infrared thermometer because the CDC states that fever can be a symptom of coronavirus. While these procedures and questions might feel a little invasive or uncomfortable, it’s something we all must accept for the sake of public health.

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Bring cash

To prevent the spread of germs, some businesses are discouraging cash transactions or halting them all together, at least for now. That is the case at Canalé’s salon. “At the front desk, cashless transactions are strongly encouraged,” he shares.

In addition to avoiding cash, many businesses are requiring customers to swipe their own credit and debit cards. Remember to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after typing in your PIN or using a pen to sign a receipt. While many salons will provide sanitized pens, not all do, and either way, extra precautions are a good idea. Also, while we’re on the topic, don’t forget to generously tip your stylist using your credit card or through an app like Venmo, Zelle, or Cash. Find out if you should be tipping more at reopened hair salons and restaurants.

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Keep your appointment if you exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19

If you’re showing any symptoms of coronavirus, it’s best to stay home. According to the CDC, symptoms include fever, chills, coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Remember that symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. If you’re unsure, cancel your hair appointment and go for a COVID-19 test instead. “If a client is feeling sick or has a fever, we encourage rescheduling the appointment without fees,” says Saviano. All hair salons should implement this policy. If you’re getting your hair cut for the first time in a long time, make sure the style is flattering for your face shape.

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Get your hair cut or colored at a crowded salon

At both Saviano’s and Pazos’ salons, clients are only seen one at a time. If this isn’t the case at your local salon or if there isn’t a good amount of social distancing between stations, your health—as well as the health of others—is at risk. It’s also crucial to respect your stylist’s hours, which may be modified right now. “To ensure we can stick to our strict new schedule, we ask all clients to please arrive on time or we may need to reschedule the appointment,” Saviano explains. If you show up early, it’s respectful to wait outside and leave as soon as your cut or color is finished. Still tempted to enter a busy salon? Check out these true stories that show what happens when you don’t social-distance.

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Ask your kids to come along

Childcare is a major challenge for many parents right now. And while your kids may feel very cooped up, you shouldn’t bring them to your appointment. In fact, Saviano and many other salons have banned guests altogether for the time being. “No additional guests or children [are permitted right now],” he says. “Only clients with an appointment are permitted to enter the salon.” If childcare is an issue, wait to take a trip to the salon when someone can watch your kids.

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Forget the importance of self-care

“In a perfect world, I wish clients would prioritize self-care more often. In Los Angeles and other major cities, even busy entrepreneurs forget the importance of self-care,” says Pazos. “Seeing your stylist is a way to amplify your spirits.” Self-care has been a challenge for many during the pandemic, so now may be the time to venture back out for this little luxury. That said, putting your health first is also an act of self-care, so if you aren’t quite sure about the safety of a hair salon, leave immediately. Use that time to practice self-care in a different way, and then start searching for another salon. These are the best self-care gifts for a friend in need of pampering.

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Stay silent

COVID-19 is a new virus, and some of the information regarding statistics, treatment, causation, and more has changed in a relatively short period of time. In fact, many things about coronavirus still remain a mystery, so it can be hard to know what the right thing to do is. While a business might not be perfect all of the time, there’s a fine line between making a mistake and being sloppy and a not-so-fine one when it comes to openly flouting safety recommendations. “If you witness blatant negligence, it’s important to report it,” says Pazos. Your local department of public health is a good place to start. Next, here’s what a post-coronavirus world could look like.

For more on this developing situation, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Amanda Lauren
Amanda Lauren is a design and lifestyle expert who covers all things home for RD and among other publications. When she's not in front of a computer, recording her podcast Bougie Adjacent, or re-arranging furniture, she enjoys Los Angeles with her husband and wrangling their two dogs, Milo and Lulu.