Pretty In The City, an eyelash and brow bar in Toronto, stopped taking appointments the second week of March, around the same time Italy issued a lockdown to quarantine roughly 16 million people and the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. At first, the staff contacted clients to reschedule. Some did, while others simply cancelled due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. The last week of March, however, Pretty In The City shut its doors completely, cancelling the remainder of their existing appointments. “We basically lost our livelihood overnight,” owner Veronica Tran tells CR.
Like Tran’s business, salons and spas around the world rushed to close up shop in March. Now, months later, they’re wondering how best to resume business post-pandemic. “Within a week, we went from operating a vibrant, popular spa to shuttering our doors for an indeterminate amount of time,” says E. Rae Jo, who owns SoJo Spa Club, a seven-story spa complex in Edgewater, New Jersey. “The way business has changed is profound,” adds German aesthetics doctor Barbara Sturm.
Mass furloughs and lay-offs are just a fragment of what those in the spa and salon industry have grappled with. Out of the nearly 500 employees who worked at milk+honey spa in Texas (the spa has six locations in Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth), 475 were furloughed. “It was the most difficult day of my life,” owner Alissa Bayer says.
In Kansas City, spa owner and Native Atlas founder Alexia Wambua was left with “empty books and a revenue freeze.” For Kate Leydon, who owns Ruby Room in Chicago, the pandemic has resulted in a “dramatic loss of business that we cannot get back.” A hotel, spa, and healing center all in one, Leydon’s challenges in reopening Ruby Room are immense. In addition to out-of-pocket costs for things like personal protective equipment and a “flawed Paycheck Protection Program that arrived too late,” Leydon must do away with the most lucrative side of her business: hour-long skin and massage services. (Chicago’s current policy caps spa services at 30 minutes.) “Paying to open our doors on a skeleton menu of services is going to result in more loss,” she says.
In tandem with mounting financial difficulties, many business owners are scrambling to pivot to a digital strategy to remain afloat. At Paintbox, a New York-based nail salon that closed in mid-March, that means hosting virtual manicure parties via Zoom, according to CEO Jane Hong. In Miami, Sana Skin Studio ramped up their e-commerce offerings and are focusing on growing their online presence, says owner Valentina Hernandez. (Sana reopened on May 22.) New York-based esthetician Sofie Pavitt was an early pioneer of the virtual facial, which has helped her business. “People have the time at home to really evaluate their product routines,” she says. “Our acne program has never been more successful.” ORA, an acupuncture clinic in New York that closed on March 15, offers virtual sessions on acupressure, herbal remedies, anxiety, skincare, sexual health, breathing, and dozens more topics. “While the coronavirus pandemic disallowed ORA from developing a business-as-usual [approach], it’s been an opportunity to grow our audience and client base from a virtual grassroots perspective, which has been very rewarding,” owner Kimberly Moss says.
So, what will salons and spas look like when the world opens up? If you’re envisioning a hyper-sterile environment replete with plexiglass barriers and copious amounts of hand sanitizer, you’re correct. “Ultimately, as licensed professionals, this is a small extension to what we already practice day in day out,” says Amanda George, who owns the Beverly Hills hair salon Roil.
Prior to the pandemic, there were already specific, statewide regulations in place for spas and salons to operate. In New York, for example, tables and beds had to be sanitized and cleaned between clients; gloves had to be worn by those performing extractions or waxing; and tools like razors, nail clippers, brushes, and capes had to be disinfected with an EPA-approved solution after each client.
Now, hair and nail salons, facial spas, bathhouses, and skincare clinics must adhere to stringent guidelines from the Center for Disease Control. At Vicki Morav’s skincare clinic on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, her staff will have to wear disposable gloves, cover-ups, and masks throughout the entire service rather than during a procedure. (They’ll also have to change them after each client.) At a nail salon like Paintbox, there will be face shields, distanced seating, and product displays that can only be touched by staff. Celebrity hair colorist and salon owner Rita Hazan says she will operate at only 50 percent capacity and will use shampoo bowls sparingly. At ORA, patrons will be encouraged to take their teas and tonics from the bar to go, while estheticians at Rescue Spa in Philadelphia and New York will finish treatments with LED therapy, according to owner and Biologique Recherche ambassador Danuta Mieloch. No walk-ins will be permitted at Frédéric Fekkai’s salons in Los Angeles and New York, and at Gem Salon in Minneapolis, dry-cutting will be encouraged. Complimentary champagne—arguably one of the most therapeutic elements of any beauty procedure—will disappear from Seattle’s Penelope & The Beauty Bar, as they’re unable to keep glassware. Milk+honey will prohibit blowouts, Keratin treatments, and steam showers. Staggered appointments, hand sanitizer, and contactless check-in/out will be commonplace. At Joanna Vargas’ spa in New York, there will be sterilizers at the front desk “so people can come in off the streets and sterilize their cell phone and their keys if they want.”
This new normal will also include mandatory temperature checks upon entry. At cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank’s clinic on the Upper East Side for example, patients must get their temperatures taken by an infrared thermometer and sign consent forms understanding the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission from a medical procedure. Frank, whose Manhattan practice reopened last week, also says he now rotates his staff’s shifts and tests them with a nasal swab at the end of every week.
Gem Salon’s Molly and Neal Black also plan on on tweaking their staff’s schedules to allow for ample recovery time should they contract an infection. However, as their salon’s location is in Minneapolis—the heart of the current protests against police brutality—they’re anticipating a possible second wave of the virus, which would delay their planned re-opening of June 15. But, says Molly, “civil rights issues and a global pandemic take precedence over reopening our doors again, in place of anticipating a second wave of infection.”
For some, implementing such protocol feels bizarre, if a bit unnerving. “It feels so weird—I didn’t go to medical school and don’t want to be given that kind of responsibility,” New York-based hairstylist and owner of Wonderland Beauty Parlor Michael Angelo tells CR. “I can take a temperature obviously, but do I want to? Do I want to work, like, 90 hours a week in a mask and a paper bag? I’m not looking forward to trying to make my most beautiful work in challenging conditions.”
Despite the reopening of salons and spas, it’s likely there’ll be an uptick in at-home beauty services—think companies like Glamsquad, which sends someone to your home to do your hair, nails, or makeup. “It’s actually been a busy few months,” says CEO Amy Shecter. “Glamsquad is a natural solution to the aftermath of this pandemic. For many, in-home services will provide peace of mind and less exposure to big groups than would be possible in the confines of a salon.”
If we’ve learned anything from the swaths of Italian citizens recently flocking to hair salons after the lockdown, it’s that salons and spas are sorely missed. And while it’s no secret that hair is being cut on the sly, business owners like Vicki Morav are opting to comply with federal and state guidelines. “We have loyal clients begging for appointments, but as of now, we are still waiting for the OK from officials and for all of our new protective gear to be delivered,” she says. For hair pro Michael Angelo, this has provided an interesting—albeit unsavory—realization about his craft and the clientele he serves. “The bribes I’ve received [to do hair] are disgraceful, especially among my wealthiest clients,” he says. “The lack of humanity and compassion and they way some of them have prioritized vanity over health and safety is breathtaking.”
Nevertheless, he says, the vast majority of his clients have been supportive, and like many of the other salons and spas that have already reopened (legally), it’s likely he’ll have a roster of people eager to let him work his magic on their scraggly locks.
“I do think that the spa industry will survive this pandemic and will continue to be a place that provides a respite and relief from all of the other stresses of life,” says milk+honey’s Alissa Bayer. “But finding our footing in this new normal will require us to be responsive, cautious, and patient.”
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/beauty/a32713112/salons-spas-covid-19-guidelines/
createdAt:Fri, 29 May 2020 16:20:43 +0000
displayType:Long Form Article