Post-lockdown lift after salon visit
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SOCIAL media has been awash in the last fortnight with pictures of people sporting their post-lockdown hairdos – ready to take on the new normal.
And as hairdressers reopened on July 15 after a near four-month closure, I was prompted into remembering that I too had hair which probably required some attention.
While many have emerged from isolation ready to go for a full-blown hair makeover, I went for a wee trim.
I turned to Karen Thomson, owner of KAM Hair and Body Spa in Lossiemouth, to smooth out the lockdown tangles.
Masks and shields may have made salon conversations trickier, but we still managed to have a chat about the changes in the sector prompted by the public health crisis and how customers feel on re-entering the salon.
"A lot of people have said getting a haircut is the most normal thing they've done in months," Karen said. "It's nice for people to do something that they used to always do and enjoy."
But there's a whole new safety dimension to the salon experience. Those working in the beauty industry are trying to strike a balance between hyper-vigilance on the one hand while providing a "kick back and relax" experience for the customer.
Taking her sanitised tools from a UV cabinet, Karen added: "In hairdressing, a big part of what we do involves communication with clients. I always train my team to smile as people come in, so the masks and shields are a barrier. It's hard to portray that friendly face while wearing a big mask.
"It's the same with cutting hair. We are working with the client's features so we tweak every haircut to suit those features – and everybody is a mask now. We lip-read a lot when the dryers are on and obviously we can't do that with people wearing masks.
"With consultations, I always train the team not to talk to clients through the mirror but to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation – we can't do that any more. You feel like you're not quite able to give the full service you would like to offer.
"But it's the new normal for now and we just have to get used to it."
Owner at the Queen Street salon for 18 years, Karen heads a team of 22 between hair, beauty and reception.
The salon has extended its opening hours to seven days a week for a month to cut through the backlog of lost appointments.
It currently has a waiting list 1200 names long.
Karen spent the whole of lockdown planning for reopening and working to put in place measures to reassure clients.
A health check questionnaire email now goes out to all people booked in.
There is a fastidious focus on cleanliness. Karen said: "As soon as a client moves everything is wiped down."
KAM uses disposable towels, every gown is washed at 60 degrees, and all tools are scrubbed and sanitised after each use.
New express checkout measures are in place to limit clients moving around the salon whereby they can pay, make appointments and buy products from the chair.
Karen added: "Everyone is really well-trained on what to do now. We don't even need to mention the hand sanitiser – people are automatically sanitising their hands when they come in. It's part of life now."
I left Karen's salon in no doubt I had been in safe hands – and with a hair swishiness I hadn't experienced in quite some time. But I can't say that staring at my masked self in a mirror for an hour wasn't just a bit unsettling.
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