When Seattle salons entered lockdown in March 2020, hairdressers I knew had grown very insecure about their personal safety, and the safety of their treasured guests. There was little to guide us in our new practice of learning how to save lives, as the science was only just developing. This, despite the fact that salons practice high hygiene habits hourly, like frequent disinfection of implements and surfaces, and our hands are constantly lathered in shampoo and hot water. Still, as safe as we knew salons to be, suddenly our workplace was at risk.
It wasn’t until the Cosmetologists of Washington United coalesced around public safety that we began to make some headway. To this day, this remarkable group of people work hand in hand to be sure that clients and staff are following sensible guidelines that protect the public safety. When the lockdown occurred, they got to work, joining forces with health and government leaders to collaboratively, cohesively craft simple procedures that we could easily follow.
Research published this week shows that their efforts worked: an impressive 95% of people who returned to the salon “felt safe post-lockdown, with 96% feeling the same or better than usual after their salon appointment.” Locally, I like to give credit to the COWU crew who showed-up as true leaders this spring. Their devotion to helping an entire industry bounce-back while, at the same time, protecting the public health, deserves our applause and my gratitude. COWU has plenty of resources on their website that salons can access for free, including a robust Q+A and downloadable PDFs of guidelines, signage, and more.
But plenty of credit is due as well to all the salon owners and cosmetologists determined to get back to work safely. We showed-up for in-service Zoom meetings, and patiently paid attention to the governor’s directives and conferences, and to our own questions, working hard to bolster one another’s understanding of the risks and how to meet them safely. Owners incurred great expense to stock their salons with personal protective equipment (PPE), signage, sanitizing supplies, and more. Hairdressers have taken it on the chin with reduced hours to ensure greater social distancing, and just as we enter into the holidays – typically our busiest time – we face the potential of new lockdowns and further restrictions. Despite the research that salons feel safer now than ever before, some clients still haven’t walked in our doors, and some salons might not make it through the winter, despite the good news outlined in this article from the UK in Creative Head magazine.
I am only just now starting out as an independent hairdresser, and I might not make it through my first winter. But my special place in this world is behind the chair, and it’s worth the risk in every way. I hope that you’ll come see me soon in my new spot in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, that you’ll come see for yourself how safe you’ll feel there. I have all the resources and guidelines to follow thanks to the COWU crew, and thanks to the staff who make up Shine Hair Studio.