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14 Things You Won’t See in Hair Salons Anymore

Hair salons and barbershops are starting to open back up, but they aren't going to look like they used to.

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Salons are opening

Even though coronavirus is still a very big threat, some states are starting to open back up again after being in lockdown for months. One place that people are excited to get back to is their hair salons. For some, at-home hair cuts didn’t cut it and they’ve endured weeks of unruly hair while patiently waiting to book an appointment with their stylist. And, just like with grocery stores, nail salons, and gyms, hair salons have adapted to a new normal and there are a lot of changes that are being made. Things will carry from state to state, but we talked to some stylists to learn about the changes they’re making to their salons based on the CDC guidelines for reopening. Read on to find out what you should expect the next time you head to your hair salon. Also, read up on the secrets your hairstylist won’t tell you.

Man having hair cut in barber shopThomas Barwick/Getty Images

A crowded salon

Sadly, the excitement of the hustle and bustle of a hair salon running a full capacity will be no more. Abra McField, hair industry expert, stylist and salon CEO of Abra Kadabra Hair & Healing, says that her salon currently has only three chairs opposed to their typical seven. “Each stylist can only take two to three clients as opposed to four to five clients prior to COVID-19,” says McField. Most salons are operating at 50 percent capacity, and if your salon is small, they may only be able to take one client at a time.

A female beautician working in a beauty salonKohei Hara/Getty Images

A client or hairdresser without a mask

To keep fellow workers and their clients safe, hairdressers are wearing masks during their appointments and asking that no one enters the salon without one. “We require everyone to wear a mask. We also take everyone’s temperature upon arrival. One of the last safety measures we have taken is invested in air purifiers to remove bacteria, remove dust, and all things flying in the air that is not good for us to breathe in,” says McField. Stores are going to look different too, here are some things you won’t see in Target anymore.

Hairdresser cutting teenage boys hair in barbershopSue Barr/Getty Images

Quick appointment turnover

Bret Bonnet, manager of Niki Moon Salon & Spa located in Naperville, Illinois says that his salon has taken many steps to make sure their clients are safe and is treating everyone as though they could be infected. In between each appointment, the stylists are required to change their gloves, masks, towels, and apron and sanitize the chairs, bowls, desks, and tools. Stylists have to make sure to schedule enough time in between each appointment since this takes more time and cut down on small talk with their clients so they can get out of the salon before the next appointment.

Arrangement of hairdressing toolsMike Harrington/Getty Images

Tools being reused

Extreme cleaning measures have been put in place in salons to ensure that germs don’t transfer between clients. Many salons have transitioned to use single-use gloves, cutting capes, and chair covers. For tools such as brushes, sheers, and styling tools, they are only used on one client and then thoroughly cleaned. “We adopted a three-bucket system where all used tools go in one bucket. Once cleaned and scrubbed with soap and then rinsed, those tools go in the second bucket. Last, the third bucket soaks the tools in barbicide,” says McField. “We also have tags that read ‘This seat has been cleaned’ or ‘This area has been cleaned’ so that our entire team, as well as clients, feel safe and protected.” If you’re planning a day of summer fun, first read about these things you won’t see in theme parks anymore.

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Waiting areas

Clients can no longer gather in a waiting area to be called by their stylists for their appointment. Braden Weinstock, co-founder and owner of efoxx HAIR who reopened his salon on June 2, says that they are having clients wait in their cars and calling or texting them when their stylist is ready to start their appointment. They also screen their clients with health questions and take their temperature before they enter the salon. Learn the normally good habits that can backfire during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Since there are no waiting areas, there are also no magazines for people to flip through. They’re a breeding ground for germs with the number of people that touch them, so salons are no longer providing them for customers. These are the secrets your colorist would never tell you for free.

Coming to hair stylistsvetikd/Getty Images

Walk-in appointments

Salons are no longer offering walk-in appointments since they can only have a limited number of clients at once. Since people haven’t been able to get their hair done for months, most salons are booked solid anyway and wouldn’t be able to take walk-ins.

Paying hair cutsvetikd/Getty Images

Cash transactions or tips

Bonnet’s salon has introduced a new contactless payment system as well as a booking system. Some salons will still let you pay with your card, but very few are taking cash. This can be a blessing for people that never have cash on them—plus, should you really be using cash in a post-COVID-19 world anyway?

Hairdresser and girl laughing while having blow dry in hair salonNancy Honey/Getty Images

Blow drys

Some of the states that have allowed salons to open say that they can’t offer blow-drying services in fear of spreading more germs in the air. For example, salons in Connecticut are allowed to use blow dryers but salons in New Hampshire are not. Even if their state hasn’t put out specific restrictions on blow dryers, some salons are still choosing to not use them to keep the process more sanitary.

Barber combing hair of a customerWestend61/Getty Images

Snacks or drinks

If you went to a higher-end salon you may have been offered some coffee, snacks, or even wine while you got your hair done. Sadly, snacking time is no more. Salons can no longer offer you food or drinks at risk of spreading germs. You also shouldn’t bring in your own drink or treat. Here’s what you won’t see in Costco anymore.

Beauty procedureshironosov/Getty Images

Spa services

Xavier Cruz President of Barba Men’s Grooming Boutique says that they discontinued spa services until further notice. That includes facials, hair removal, brow shaping, body treatments, and beard grooming services. Make sure you know the signs a store isn’t protecting against coronavirus.

Washing hair at hairdresserNastasic/Getty Images

Shampoo and conditioning service

Since hair washing means you have to be in close quarters, salons have asked clients to come with clean hair ready for a cut. “We ask clients to come in with their hair washed and dry so we can do dry cuts because we aren’t doing blow drys yet, which means they might not get to see how beautiful their hair looks when finished, it’s disappointing to your stylist too!” says Weinstock. Planning a trip? This is what you won’t see in airports anymore.

hair salon reopen with safety precautions after coronavirus lockdownamriphoto/Getty Images

Crowded stations

Cruz said that at his boutique they have removed every other chair from stations to abide by social distancing rules. They have also installed plexiglass dividers between stations to minimize the spread of germs. Not all salons have had to do this if they have more square footage, but salons with stations close to each other have had to remove or not use some of them.

Woman at reception desk of quirky hair salonJAG IMAGES/Getty Images

Cancelations fees

Bonnet says his salon updated their cancelation policy to not penalize clients for any last-minute cancelations. They understand that people could get sick or may not feel comfortable coming into the salon. Now, brush up on the haircut style terms you should know before your next visit to the salon.

For more on this developing situation, including how life might be different post-lockdown, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.