Is Getting A HairCut During the COVID-19 Pandemic A Good Idea?
All of your questions answered on the risks, mitigations that salons should offer, and mitigations you can take as a salon client.
Are you safe to return to the hair salon for a haircut during the COVID-19 pandemic?
We get it, getting your hair done, your nails touched up, and your beard trimmed by a professional makes you feel polished.
And at this point, doesn’t pampering yourself feel almost like a necessity?
But now you’re battling the question of what’s worth risking your health, or your family’s health, over.
You’ve heard that it could be a bad idea, but it’s also legal in many states to practice your beauty routine, and your hairdresser could really use the money!
Let’s dive into all your questions and figure out exactly what risks are involved, and ultimately decide if it’s worth it.
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What is the Risk Level for Hair Salon Workers?
Hairdressers fall into the category established by OSHA as a medium risk group for COVID-19 exposure.
Medium risk occupations include people with frequent or close contact with people not suspected of infection, potentially including:
- grocery store workers
- airline attendants
- retail store workers
- construction workers
- janitorial workers
- public-transit drivers
- in-home repair workers
- delivery drivers
- correction facility operators
- correction facility inmates
- veterinarian workers
- and hairdressers.
Therefore, hairdressers and salon workers could be exposed, and this risk increases with the volume of clients they see, and the pervasiveness of COVID-19 in their area.
However, their risk level is not nearly as high as individuals exposed to known or presumptive COVID-19 cases, and reasonable steps can drastically reduce the risk level salon workers are exposed to.
What is the Risk Level for Hair Salon Clients?
Ultimately, the main risk of getting your haircut during the COVID-19 period comes from the close contact that you are required to maintain.
I mean, your hairdresser can’t really do your hair from six feet away (unless they have seriously long arms and amazing eyesight).
But there are other risks.
For example, you will be using shared equipment, like salon chairs and tools, and you will likely be in an indoor environment with more than one other person.
Fortunately, the risk from shared items is incredibly small, and probably negligible if you are diligent in washing your hands and avoiding touching your face.
Your risk also varies by location and the volume of clients your hairdresser is seeing.
Is there a large outbreak in your community?
If so, you are encountering increased risk when getting a haircut during the COVID-19.
There is a small risk as a client, and the longer your hair or nail appointment takes, the greater your chance of exposure.
Fortunately, easy steps can be taken by the salon employees, and by you to greatly reduce this risk.
For example, most salons are reducing the time that hair appointments take by having clients wash their hair at home, and by foregoing styling at the end of the appointment.
In the next section, we’ll go over exactly what mitigations you should talk with your salon about.
What Concerns Should You Have As A Client When Receiving A Haircut During the COVID-19?
Thankfully, nearly all salons have committed to taking COVID-19 measures seriously.
They care about the wellbeing of their clients, and they want their staff to stay safe!
If you are nervous about going out to the salon, you can consider asking your salon the following questions for peace of mind:
1.) Is Your Salon Training Their Employees?
Scientists have known about personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronaviruses for a very long time.
And they should.
Scientists train for years to spend time around infectious diseases, but the general public hasn’t!
It may be the era of WebMD experts, and so-called “armchair experts”, but most of us do not have training beyond some Google searches.
Our hairdressers should have more access to proper training and risk-mitigation.
They should be told, by salons, how often they should change their mask, how to safely take their mask off, how frequently to clean high-touch surfaces and chairs, and how to sanitize their equipment.
If salons could commit to standardizing precautions, then we, as clients, would feel a lot more comfortable!
2.) Is Your Salon Limiting Exposure Risk?
Salons also have the responsibility to limit the number of clients inside, open doors and windows, increase airflow with fans, and use duct tape on the floor to direct traffic safely through the salon.
Ask your salon if it’s mandating masks for workers and clients, if there’s one-way traffic through the building, and if they are taking payments over the phone.
3.) Is your Salon following AIHA Standards?
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) details exactly how salons can reduce the risk, including wearing a mask, reducing close interactions, and setting strict limits on building occupancy.
You can ask your salon if they are following the AIHA guidelines, which are detailed here: https://aiha-assets.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/AIHA/resources/Guidance-Documents/Reopening-Guidance-for-Hair-and-Nail-Salons_GuidanceDocument.pdf.
4.) Does the Salon Check Temperatures or Use Questionnaires?
Another thing salons can do to reduce risk is to take temperature checks of all employees and clients that enter the building.
They may even establish online questionnaires that assess your risk level, symptoms, and recent travel to determine if you pose an obvious risk to others.
Is it Safe to Get a Haircut During The COVID-19 Pandemic?
Though it is legal to get a haircut, it is not 100% safe.
There is a risk of getting COVID-19 if you decide to go to the salon.
It’s likely a greater risk than grocery shopping or grabbing takeout food, but less risk than getting a massage or eating out.
It is a much smaller risk than going to the doctor or getting your teeth cleaned, and it definitely poses a smaller risk than going to a party or large social gathering.
You will be in close contact with an individual that has a medium level risk of contracting COVID-19.
But you can take precautions to further reduce your risk when getting your Haircut During the COVID-19.
There are horror stories of hairstylists ignoring more than a week of COVID-19 symptoms, and exposing up to 140 of their clients.
But, if you go to a trusted salon that temperature checks their staff and takes social distancing seriously, then it’s very unlikely that you’d have an incident like this.
When will it be Safe To Return To The Hair Salon?
Technically, it won’t be 100% COVID-19 safe to go to the salon until there is a vaccine for this coronavirus.
I know, you’re probably thinking that’s way too long to wait!
You need to assess your personal COVID-19 risk and your household members’ COVID-19 risk to decide if the risk is worthwhile for yourself.
If you’re not high risk, and you don’t live with high-risk people, then there’s not much risk in treating yourself.
After all, this coronavirus is around for the long haul, and you have to live your life at some point.
If you are willing to take extra precautions, then it’s okay to pamper yourself.
Deciding whether or not to go to the salon is a personal choice, and it can’t be made by anyone but you.
If you do decide that it’s the right choice for you, you should read ahead to see what you can do to be the best pandemic-era client.
If You Decide to Get Your Hairdo Fixed Up:
If you have decided that, for personal reasons, a hair appointment is exactly what you need right now, then you have the right to go get one.
But there are some actions you should be taking for your own health and as a common courtesy to other clients and your hairdresser.
1.) Wear a mask!
This one’s kind of a no-brainer, but it is important enough to emphasize here.
By wearing a mask, you reduce your risk of getting sick, and you reduce the risk that you get someone else sick.
Make sure that your mask covers your nose and mouth and try to get a tight seal.
Hint: if you wear glasses and they fog up while your mask is on, you do not have a tight seal.
2.) Now that you have read about the risks that salon workers are taking to make you look and feel your best, you should know that they deserve an extra tip.
Show them, love!
Alternatively, even if you don’t decide to go in, you could give your hairdresser an early holiday bonus if you have the cash to spare.
3.) If you want to be extra safe, you should see if you can pay ahead of time over the phone, when you book your appointment.
You can also request to add a tip in advance.
4.) Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer liberally, and make sure to keep your phone stashed away, and wipe it down with antiseptic wipes too.
As a side note, it is also not such a good idea to use public restrooms.
Go to the bathroom before you leave your house, and maybe don’t drink a huge coffee and a gallon of water while you’re away.
5.) Another good idea, if you are going to be out and about, is to refrain from keeping your nails super long and remove nail polish once it starts to chip.
It is gross, and a hotbed for bacteria and other microbes!
6.) You can also talk to your hair salon about having your appointment outdoors.
Some hairdressers may be comfortable with doing home visits in your own yard!
However, if you go this route, you really need to pay them well for their extra time, effort, and mileage.
7.) If you think you’re sick, even with the cold or allergies, now is not the time for you to go in!
Many people who have had COVID-19 experienced little more than seasonal allergy symptoms.
You never know, and you might save someone’s life by staying home when you’re feeling under the weather.
8.) Finally, be nice.
We are all stressed right now, and our kindness goes a long way.
If you decide to go to the salon, it may not be the same relaxing pre-COVID experience you remember.
Many salons are not washing your hair, providing you with magazines or free mints, and most are not risking blow-drying or styling hair at the end of the appointment.
Be reasonable with your expectations and be gentle and understanding.
Nothing is normal right now and it can be a difficult adjustment for many professionals.
The Final Recommendation For Getting A Haircut During the COVID-19
Going to the salon or barbershop is legal in most states.
You have every right to do it, but ultimately it could probably wait.
If you’re at high risk for getting seriously sick from COVID-19, or if you have family members that are, then it could be a smart choice to wait on the haircut during the COVID-19 period.
However, if you’re healthy and your household members are healthy, then there isn’t a huge risk in getting your hair done.
Just make sure to follow our recommendations on how to be courteous to your hairdresser.
Inquire with your hair salon to see what measures they are taking when getting a haircut during the COVID-19 times.
This pandemic can be scary, but we have a lot more control over it than we may think.
Be wise and cautious, but you don’t have to stop living your life.
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