How Hair and Nail Salons Are Reopening During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Drybar, Massage Envy and European Wax Center locations have started reopening their doors for business in states where restrictions are beginning to be lifted
After the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced many businesses to close, some states have started to reopen in some capacity. That means the restrictions on non-essential businesses like nail salons, hair salons and massage parlors, have lifted, and some Americans can visit their colorist, nail technician and masseuse again.
But since these services largely involve physical contact and it was reported that California's outbreak of the virus initially started in a nail salon, beauty businesses are being especially cautious when it comes to reopening their doors to customers.
So far, large franchises like Drybar, Massage Envy, European Wax Center and more started booking appointments in states like Texas, Florida and Georgia after implementing new health and sanitation commitments and employee training practices. Before you book your next trip to the salon, read on to learn about each company's reopening plan and the CDC guidelines they're following to ensure both customers and employees are safe.
Beginning on May 12, the nationwide blowout salon began reopening locations in Arizona and Colorado, and has since welcomed back customers in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Ohio as well.
"We’re working on a market-by-market reopening plan that prioritizes the safety of our clients," Drybar said in a statement shared on its website. "We don’t take this lightly and we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable coming back to our shops as soon as they are able to."
The company implemented a new set of health guidelines to ensure the safety of all customers and Drybar stylists. Some of the changes you'll see at Drybar are detailed below (and more are listed on its website):
- All employees and customers required to wear a face covering in store
- All employees and guests will get temperature checked before entering store
- Guests with a temperature above 100 degrees will be asked to cancel appointment at no charge
- Twelve hours before an appointment, guest will get a health questionnaire to ensure they don't have any COVID-19 symptoms
- Counter will be disinfected after each guest as well as tools, products and chair
- Beverages will no longer be served
- Virtual check-in
- No walk-in appointments
Since mid-May, more than 453 of Massage Envy's 1,153 locations (of which are independently owned and operated by franchisees) reopened in states such as Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Colorado. "It’s happening on a state-by-state basis as local governments are allowing businesses to reopen," Massage Envy's Chief Executive Officer Beth Stiller tells PEOPLE.
To ensure everyone's health and safety, the company has followed CDC guidance and worked with third party experts to implement updated brand standards for cleaning, disinfection and PPE protocols.
When deciding whether to reopen a location, the franchisee must satisfy local government requirements in addition to Massage Envy's own health standards. And even though some states have started reopening, that doesn't mean you will immediately see your local Massage Envy back open for business. "Some franchisees have not reopened their franchised location just yet," Stiller explains. "The brand standards require that all franchisees ensure that all of their employees complete new mandatory health training before they can go back to work, and that takes time.”
Massage Envy's updated health and sanitation standards include:
- All service providers wear face coverings during services
- Between services, sheets are removed and clean replacements are put in treatment room
- Between services, all surfaces are disinfected using products registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Use Against Emerging Enveloped Viral Pathogens
- Between services, all equipment and tools are disinfected
- 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer available in all treatment rooms
- All employees required to regularly wash hands
- Change air pads and filters regularly
- And more measures which will can be implemented based on CDC's guidance
So far, since reopening many of its locations, Massage Envy has "gotten a great response" from the customers who have returned for massages and facials. "Franchisees are seeing a lot of pent-up demand across the country, with some franchised locations returning to appointment levels similar to pre-coronavirus rates," Stiller says.
She adds, "The customers have shared that they really appreciate the steps the franchised locations are taking to promote their wellbeing."
European Wax Center
While each European Wax Center is individually owned and operated, the company is working with franchisees to reopen locations based on local and state ordinances. "All of our centers that have opened are following any applicable local government regulations and guidelines and those from federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Center openings are being taken very seriously," European Wax Center Chief Experience Officer, Chris Kobus tells PEOPLE, who says the company currently has 40% of locations open (and counting).
"There are some that are not yet open and they are in states where the ban has not been lifted or they are continuing to go through EWC's safety and cleanliness standards in order to open," Kobus adds.
To allow for safe social distancing, European Wax Center has had to limit its daily client capacity and restrict the number of people in its waiting room. "We might not be able to see as many guests at the same time as pre-COVID-19, but we’re working to accommodate as many of our guests as possible," Kobus says. "We also have implemented a contactless check-in process which allows guests to wait in their cars and not be in the waiting room. It helps with traffic flow for the utmost safety."
Clients are already quickly booking up appointment slots at the reopened locations, Kobus says. "We’ve absolutely had full books since centers have reopened. Our customers have a special relationship with their wax specialists and were eager to get back to them and their favorites services."
European Wax Center has prided itself on its rigorous sanitation and cleaning measures pre-COVID-19 and has now expanded on them further. The company's health and safety commitments include (but are not limited to):
- New gloves used by wax specialists for every service
- All tools disinfected or disposed after each service
- Beds sanitized after each guest and fresh paper put on
- Wax sticks never double dipped
- All wax specialists wear disposable masks and face shields for facial waxing services
- Guests will be given a disposable mask if they don't bring one
- No product testers in waiting room
- Additional and frequent deep cleaning of highly touched areas
- Additional hygiene safety and sanitation trainings for employees
- More which can be found at waxcenter.com
Base Coat Nail Salon
While Base Coat was able to reopen its Colorado locations beginning on May 9 based on the state ordinance, founder Tran Wills decided to proceed with caution and is holding off on opening until June 1. "We felt as a company it was too soon even though we felt ready to open with all the necessary new safety and health guidelines and PPE to protect our guests and employees we put in place following the CDC guidelines," Wills tells PEOPLE.
Wills continues: "Like everyone we would love to open as soon as possible. But at the end of the day risking our guests, employees and their families is not worth it without having the right information and protocols in place, especially as we are a non-essential business. For us it was always about listening to healthcare professionals, CDC, World Health Organization and scientists which guided us to make our decisions."
When the salons do open, the founder says she plans on operating at 50% capacity to start. "In Colorado we can only have 10 people in the salon at one time per business license," Wills explains, noting that there will be four nail artists, four clients and two front desk employees in the salon at once. "Pre-COVID we would usually have five to six nail artists working with eight to nine guests per nail artist per day and now each nail artist will have six to seven guests per day. So it is definitely going to impact us financially," Wills says.
In addition, Base Coat will no longer be able to accept walk-in clients or customers coming in purchase items from its nail polish line.
To ensure the safety of customers and employees, Base Coat is implementing the following changes:
- Employees and guests required to wear masks at all times
- Symptom screening required at entrance for guests and employee
- After symptom screening, guests and employees required to sanitize hands with 70% alcohol hand sanitizer, wash hands and sanitize hands with hand sanitizer again before service begins
- No personal cell phones, electronic devices or laptops inside salon
- No extra guests, children or babies inside salon
- No cash payments or gratuity
- Acrylic clear dividers between guest and manicurist during service
- More on updated employee certification and training found at basecoatnailsalon.com
Starting on May 1, the nationwide retreat, which offers therapeutic massages and facials, began reopening in Colorado and has since opened 70% more of its locations in Texas, California, Iowa, Florida, Nebraska, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and North Carolina. According to the Shane Evans, CEO of Massage Heights, the phases of reopening varied on a state-by-state basis which depended on the government guidelines in each area. "Massage Heights retreats were included in phase 1 [in Colorado], but in other states they are currently projected to reopen in phase 2 or phase 3," Evans explains.
Before welcoming their customers back, all the franchisees and employees have been required to complete and pass a series of sanitation certification classes. "We're also gauging the comfort level of our team members. We know if our teams feel comfortable and are excited to return, our members would too," Evans says.
In addition Evans says the company has purchased protective face masks for massage therapists to use during sessions with their guests.
Since announcing locations would be reopening, guests and members have been eager to get back in for their massages and facials. "There is a pent up demand for our services for the relief of pain and stress and our retreats have been incredibly busy," Evans says. "We are seeing successful implementation of new standards with strong re-openings. That said, the guidelines vary by state and it affects how many guests we can book each day."
Following CDC, state and local guidelines, Massage Heights has been reopening its retreats with the following health and sanitation procedures in place:
- Hosting virtual training camps so employees can learn of new cleaning and sanitation, operations, scheduling, staffing and therapist recruitment protocols
- Removing non-essential items from lobbies and treatment rooms to avoid cross-contamination
- Placement of hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes in all treatment rooms and lobby
- Sanitizing, disinfecting, or removing all items after each session, inclusive of products used, linens, head rests, chairs, tables, countertops, doorknobs and other operational items
- Frequent sanitization of all areas in the retreat
- Rearranging and removing lobby furniture to promote social distancing
- Staggering appointments to minimize number of people in the lobby at the same time
- Screening questions upon guest arrival
- Modifying massage services to avoid face and respirator areas
- And more about Massage Heights' commitment to safety on its website
The beauty retailer, which is known for its hands-on completely sensorial shopping experience, is slowly resuming operations across its stores in the United States and Canada, and hopes to reopen all shops by early July.
Lush's current "people-first" phased approach is beginning with contactless pickup where customers can purchase a product online and pick it up in-store, with the locations operating at reduced capacity. Each phase of the retailer's reopening plan is based on local government recommendations and CDC guidelines in addition to thorough staff training and established cleaning standards.
"While things continue to evolve, we’re doing everything we can to bring fresh products back into the hands of our Lushies — whether that be carefully welcoming folks into a store or safely passing parcels of handmade goodies on. Needless to say, the road back to normality is bound to be a little uncertain as the world changes around us, but we’re committed to safely and consciously starting afresh together,” says Elisa Torres, Lush Retail Director.
Below are just some of the new health and safety protocols implemented by Lush. For more updates, refer to the brand's website.
- 6-feet social distancing guide markes
- Access to clean sinks and soap for requested handwashing upon entry (no purchase required)
- Contactless payment only
- Sanitized cash desk and debit terminal after each customer
- Regular sanitization of surfaces throughout the store
- New product available if customers are not comfortable purchasing package-free or display product on shelves
- Masks for Lush team members and a request that customers wear them too
- Product demos will be paused to maintain hygiene levels
Amazing Lash Studio
As local and state governments began to lift restrictions on businesses, the eyelash extension and brow tinting studio started reopening. Now, at least 250 locations are open in 25 states across the country. "Amazing Lash Studio locations reopened when their local and state governments announced either by executive order or the 'stay-at-home' order had been lifted in their market," says CEO Heather Elrod. "All franchisees and their studio employees also completed all required training with respect to the brand’s new safety and sanitization protocols."
Since lash and brow treatments involve close contact, Elrod says for the foreseeable future the company will require all guests and employees to wear face masks and conduct a temperature check upon entry. During a service, stylists are required to wear gloves and finger cots.
"First and foremost, our priority remains focused on creating a safe environment for our employees and our guests," Elrod tells PEOPLE.
Amazing Lash Studio is also intentionally booking fewer clients each day and staggering appointments "which allows for additional sanitation to take place in our private treatment rooms and avoids gatherings in our reception area," Elrod explains.
Read on for more of the safety protocols Amazing Lash Studio has implemented as it begins to reopen across the country:
- Optional curbside check-in via phone call to avoid gathering in waiting areas.
- Employee uniforms washed daily
- Employees required to wash hands with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds at several points
- Guests must wash their hands, lashes and hands again before appointment begins
- No walk-in appointments
- Studio will increase education for their teams focused on smart, safe practices
Sola Salon Studios
Beginning on April 27, Sola Salon Studios, which provides hair, nail, wax and massage services, began reopening locations in Georgia as restrictions were lifted. Since then, more than 273 of its 505 salons have opened following each state's local reopening guidelines. Since each Sola Salon Studio is individually owned and operated, it is the franchisee's responsibility to follow all government and CDC safety guidelines, but CEO Christina Russell is providing recommendations for each locations which include the below:
- Clients remain in their cars and text/call their stylist when they arrive so stylists can meet them at the front door and escort them in
- Maintain 1:1 ratio and follow guidance from local health departments
- Installing touchless soap and paper towel dispensers
- Installing hands-free door pulls on restrooms
- Installing wall-mount hand sanitizers near all doors
- Removing all common area seating
- Staggering appointments
- Recommending all Sola pros become Barbicide certified (the leading sanitation and disinfectant brand in beauty industry) and hanging the certification in their studio
New York State officially designated acupuncture an essential healthcare service in late May, so on June 15 New York City-based acupuncture studio WTHN reopened for business with new hours and safety guidelines.
"For the first couple weeks of reopening, we will be operating on a limited schedule with fewer days. For the first two weeks, WTHN will be open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. From there we will begin to ramp up as quickly as we can safely," a representative from WTHN tells PEOPLE.
There will also be fewer licensed acupuncturists and clients present in the studio to implement social distancing measures. "The appointments are staggered and there are also social distancing markers on the ground so people can easily stay physically apart," the WTHN representative says.
Below are more of the safety measures WTHN has implemented with its reopening plan:
- Masks will be required for all employees at all time and clients
- Masks will be provided to clients, but clients are also welcome to bring their own if they wish
- Studio will be deep cleaned weekly in addition to regular facilities cleaning
- All high-touch areas and restrooms will be sanitized hourly
- All staff will have their temperature checked before each shift
- Wellness lounge and sampling area will be temporarily closed
- All needles used during treatment are single-use and thrown away immediately
- Disposable paper will be used on acupuncture tables
Joanna Vargas Salon
The celebrity-loved esthetician's Los Angeles skincare spa is set to reopen on June 27, since L.A. County announced spas could open their doors again beginning on June 19. However, Joanna Vargas' New York City location doesn't have a reopening date set since the state hasn't announced when phase 3 of its reopening plan can begin.
While sterilizing, wearing gloves and cleaning have always been an integral part of Vargas' business procedure, her salons are amping up their safety protocols to be in line with CDC regulations. "Gloves, face masks, face shields and aprons worn by estheticians will be changed in between each client. And obviously you can't wear a face mask during a facial but since they are required in both L.A. and N.Y.C. while in public, clients must wear them when entering the spa," Vargas says.
Vargas says that the changes implemented are likely only the beginning and simply the new normal that spa-goers will need to learn to accept.
"Please keep in mind that the following changes are based on other state guidelines, as well as the CDC, and will likely be just the beginning of the changes made," she says. "It’s going to be a different world we return to, but I want you to know the staff and I plan on making your services be just as relaxing and glow-boosting as you remember.”
In addition to wearing protective gear, employees are also required to have their temperature checked each day and will sign an affidavit confirming they've had no contact with COVID-19 positive people and have no symptoms of the virus. Clients will undergo a similar temperature check and verbal screening, and anyone with a temperature of 100.4℉ or above cannot be seen.
But that's only a few of the changes being made. Read on for more of the safety protocols put in place at Joanna Vargas Salon:
- Facilities will be fully sanitized and cleaned by medical-grade anti-virus cleaning agencies
- Appointments staggered to ensure minimal client interaction
- Waiting areas will be closed
- Clients must come to appointments alone
- Clients will only be allowed to enter the facility at their appointment times and will be texted to notify when the spa is ready to receive them
- Hand sanitizer stations and UV phone sanitizer devices provided at the front desk and both stations must be used upon entry
- When arriving a sanitized robe will be provided for the service, and the clothes the clients wore in will be placed in a separate cabinet that is sanitized between appointments
- Facilities can be accessed via stairs if a client prefers not to take an elevator
- Complimentary beverage service will be discontinued
- Spa rooms will be fully sanitized between appointments and autoclave steam sanitizers will be used and sterile pouches for skincare tools
- Extra time will be scheduled between appointments for the sanitation process
- Product testers will be removed from the checkout area
- Plexiglass will be placed at the front desk for the checkout process
- All staff members have become Barbicide certified - a course designed to ensure all staff are knowledgeable about how to maintain a healthy, clean safe environment for both clients and employees
- We employ a full-time, fully trained cleaning staff to maintain sanitation of common areas, high-touch areas like doors, knobs and surfaces, bed clothes, bathrooms and spa rooms throughout the day
Eufora NYC Studio Salon
As part of phase 2 of New York State's reopening plan which began on June 22, N.Y.C.'s Eufora Studio Salon officially opened its doors for clients and will be operating at 50% capacity. To ensure everyone's health and safety, the salon committed to go above industry standards with keeping the space as sanitized as possible.
Prior to each client's arrival, the chair, styling station and common surfaces are thoroughly disinfected and all tools, brushes and combs are sanitized in between each client. Additionally, all hairdressers hands will be "washed constantly" throughout the day.
"The Eufora NYC Studio Salon team continues to follow the situation closely and is hopeful that as we come together as a community and take the important precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, we will soon return to our normal lives in N.Y.C.," the salon said in a statement.
Eufora Studio Salon is also offering private and semi-private appointments on Mondays. "For those who want or need private bookings, they can schedule on a Monday and they will be in the salon with only their stylist," Eufora Style Director, Mirza Batanovic tells PEOPLE. "Semi-private appointments would be the case if a 'pod' wants to book together. For example, a mother and daughter or husband and wife. In this case the 'pod' would be alone in the salon with their service providers."
The private and semi-private appointments will be offered at no extra cost to the customers. "The extra sanitation and cleaning protocols are minor time adjustments and don’t really cost us much to implement. We felt it was a small way to pay back our community’s loyalty and patience, and our way to say thank you by offering private and semi-private appointments at no extra charge. It’s just our way of giving back," says Batanovic.
Below are more of the safety protocols implemented by the N.Y.C.-based salon.
- All stylists and clients are required to wear face masks in the salon
- Every guest receives clean towels and cutting capes
- All commonly touched surfaces, such as phones, computers, door handles, light switches and any other surface that multiple people may touch are cleansed each hour
- Hand sanitizer available at front desk
- Clients required to wash hands upon entering the salon
- Beverages will be served in disposable cups
- No walk-in appointments
- Staff required to stay home if feeling ill or if they have been exposed to someone who is sick
Following New York State's phase 3 reopening guidelines, the N.Y.C.-based nail salon is tentatively set to reopen its studio on July 6. In order to operate at approximately 30% capacity to facilitate social distancing, Glosslab (which previously offered an unlimited mani/pedi membership for $99 a month) is moving to a full membership model and won't be accepting walk-in or individually booked appointments at this time. Now, the membership costs $125 a month and interested members can apply to join the waitlist on the salon's website. "We will also offer longer hours of operation so that we can accommodate all guests," says Glosslab founder and CEO Rachel Apfel Glass.
Before COVID-19, health and sanitation was always a top priority for Glosslab, which is known for its waterless services during manicures and pedicures as "water breeds bacteria and germs," Apfel Glass says. The salon will continue its waterless method, in addition to scrubbing tools with hospital grade cleaner after each guest and keeping nail files and buffers for individual use only.
Glosslab has always been a cashless nail salon and will also continue to do so. As for gratuity, Apfel Glass explains that it is automatically added as a service charge to each service purchase. But to keep clients in the salon for a minimal amount of time, once their service is over, they can simply walk out and checkout will be processed digitally.
During the treatment, things will feel a little different for the time being since plexiglass has been installed at ever station for manicures and pedicures, staff will wear face masks, shields and gloves at all times and stations will have seat covers. Read on for more of the changes Glosslab is making to take hygiene to the next level.
- Clients must arrive within five minutes of their appointment time
- Health checks are required before every appointment
- Clients are required to wear a face mask and sanitize their hands and phone upon arrival (hand sanitizer is provided at the front desk)
- Clients can only touch the bottle they will be using and it will be disinfected after the use
- For polish application, nails are triple-disinfected prior to painting and due to the solvents in polish, germs cannot survive in the product itself
- Staff undergo temperature checks and health screenings daily
- Staff will change into uniforms in-salon and they will be laundered daily
- Additional staff will be dedicated to ongoing disinfecting and cleaning
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