Reopening guidelines and tips for hair and nail salons post COVID-19

Important PPP update for 2021

On December 22, 2020, Congress passed a bill renewing funding under the CARES Act, including an additional $284 billion earmarked for America’s struggling small businesses. The rules and application process for PPP loans and forgiveness have been modified, with more businesses eligible for PPP loans, more expenses forgivable, and a simplified application process. Also there is provision for “second draw” PPP loans for businesses that received PPP funding in 2020.


In this 8-minute read:

  • Safely reopening your hair or nail salon
  • Issues to be aware of
  • Unique social distancing requirements for nail and hair salons
  • Upgrading your facilities and services

As more states initiate their plans to reopen businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic, hair and nail salons are among the most-anticipated shops for many customers.

One of the reasons hair and nail salons are so anticipated and missed during the quarantine is the very reason they’re one of the most problematic businesses to reopen under stringent new rules: close personal contact between stylists/technicians/artists and the individual customer is part and parcel of this type of business. 

Of course, you should carefully follow your state and local guidelines for reopening your salon, and pay attention to any requirements and timelines that may be unique to your specific area. 

In this article, we’ll provide some tips and suggestions for reopening your hair or nail salon safely so you can safely provide the great personal service and care people are craving, while helping alleviate current and potential customers’ concerns. 

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How can you safely reopen your salon after COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely far from over, and nobody knows exactly when it will completely stop being a serious threat, but as new cases start to decline and the economy continues to struggle, government officials are enacting plans to reopen businesses, including hair and nail salons in some areas. 

Because we are still technically in the midst of a pandemic, it is important to take every precaution possible to limit the spread of the coronavirus so we don’t see a second wave of COVID-19 cases or have to go through another round of shutdowns. 

nails and face mask for COVID-19

Take it slow, allow more time per client, and follow the directives from your local health authorities

After this rather traumatic (to the economy and to people individually) period in history, it’s important for businesses to start slowly. Some customers may feel compelled to run out and patronize every salon, restaurant, and business they couldn’t visit during the lockdown, and many others may be somewhat skittish as life begins to return to something closer to normal.

Business owners, too, are both champing at the bit to get back online and at the same time trying to navigate the new directives and restrictions in the proper way.

As you reopen your salon, don’t be tempted to just jump right in and fill a full schedule. The additional sanitization protocols, material requirements, and social distancing procedures outlined below will most likely add a few minutes to each appointment. 

You may also be understaffed due to illness layoffs, or other reasons. Don’t feel like you can handle everything yourself. 

Plus, people might be starving for that personal attention you provide and decide to talk your ear off more than usual or ask for the full, deluxe treatment. And since people haven’t been allowed out for months, your technicians may have their hands full “catching up” on maintenance for neglected nails, hands, feet, and/or hair. 

You might start by limiting the hours you are open and/or only scheduling half the normal amount of people (in some regions this may be a requirement). 

Best practices for ensuring customer and employee health and safety for hair and nail salons after COVID-19

  • Encourage clients and employees to wear masks and fresh nitrile gloves at all times in the building (in some locations, this may be required in any case), and change gloves and wash hands between clients
  • The usual 6-feet social distancing rules between clients and stylists/technicians will obviously not be able to be maintained. However, space between clients can be adjusted
  • Modify scheduling where necessary to allow additional time between clients for proper cleanup/sanitization/preparation
  • Consider plastic barriers between mani-pedi clients and technicians (with appropriate openings for hands and feet), and/or between client stations
  • Provide clean and/or single-use masks for customers who may not have theirs
  • In some states, dental/surgical type face shields may be required or recommended for nail or hair salon employees due to the increased physical contact with clients
  • Encourage cashless transactions and contactless transactions (like online scheduling and payment) when possible (many retail shops have ceased using cash altogether during COVID-19, but that trend is unlikely to be perpetuated for long)
  • If you decide to accept cash for payment or tips, ask customers to place it on the counter or in a jar rather than you or your employees handling it
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available and make sure you and your employees are regularly using it
  • Wipe down all surfaces with anti-bacterial/anti-viral cleaners regularly (chairs, counters, door handles, windows, bathrooms, touchpads, styling or manicure/pedicure tools and baths, sinks, etc.)

worker steam sanitizing restroom floor in salon post COVID-19

  • Use single-use tools or mani-pedi kits where possible, and if not, clean and sanitize any nail or styling tools, combs, clippers, scissors, etc. between each use
  • Place markers on the floor where lines gather (at the check-in kiosk or cashier or welcome desk) to help encourage proper social distancing
  • Consider limiting or eliminating your waiting area, and text or call clients in their cars (if you have a parking lot) or encourage them to wait outside
  • If you keep your waiting area open, space chairs or other furniture appropriately, and sanitize regularly (and visibly)
  • Try to discourage customers from touching any hair or hand-care products displayed for sale if they don’t intend to purchase (or rather, encourage them to only touch items they intend to purchase)
  • Require all nail salon clients to wash their hands/feet or use hand sanitizer before you work on their nails
  • For hair salon customers, thoroughly wash and towel-dry their hair before cutting or styling. For coloring, consider asking clients to wash and dry their hair prior to arrival
  • Restrooms should be steam-sanitized where possible, and air dryers should be taped over, disconnected, or removed, in favor of paper towels. No-touch faucets, toilets, and soap/towel dispensers are preferred
  • Prohibit employees to come to work if they are sick or show any signs of coughing, fever, chills, etc.
  • Consider taking employees’ temperatures as they arrive at work, and possibly screening each client as well. This not only helps ensure people with fevers aren’t admitted, it also puts clients at ease, knowing that everyone is being pre-screened
  • Speak to your HVAC professional and ask that your outdoor air exchange be increased, with negative pressure in restroom areas, and relative humidity be maintained at 40-60%. Sanitize HVAC intake and outputs/vents daily, and clean filters more regularly
  • If you typically have fans that blow air directly toward customers, make sure to minimize any air being blown from one customer toward another.
  • Your area may require that you maintain a careful record of all customers, dates, and contact info, in order to facilitate contact-tracing in the case of a local COVID-19 flare-up. You might also need to keep accurate records of work schedules for all employees. Consult your local health authorities for more information

Keep your salon customers well informed

Everyone is feeling the impact of this pandemic, and those feelings are not likely to fade quickly. Keep your clients informed of the precautions you are taking to ensure their health and safety as you reopen your salon and invite them back in. 

Consider publishing your adherence to your state’s COVID-19 safety directives and any additional precautions above via an easily visible poster near your entrance. 

Post your processes and rules on your website and social media channels. Send out a newsletter with your email marketing software to keep your customers up to date on changes as you reopen your salon. 

This can help put customers’ minds at ease and help them feel less nervous about venturing out in public for the first time in several months, particularly to a salon where there is necessarily closer physical contact.

Cashless/online payment and scheduling saves time and solves many safety concerns

COVID-19 has really been a driving force behind many businesses moving more of their scheduling and payments online. 

You might use this opportunity to switch completely to an online-scheduling model if you haven’t already. This way you can more easily keep appointments spaced appropriately, and clients can select the times that work best from them from the safety of their homes.

You might also consider requiring contactless payment options and/or prohibiting the use of cash during the transitional period. Banning cash may be technically illegal in your area, but many locations have done so temporarily under COVID-19 concerns.

Where possible, emphasize online product sales for your salon, if you sell hair, nail, or skin-care products in your store. Allow customers to shop/browse online and pick up their items curbside if they’re not scheduled for an appointment that day. 

salon products for online sale post covid-19

It’s likely that many customers will continue to do much of their shopping online even as more businesses start to reopen their brick-and-mortar locations. So make sure you are capturing every opportunity to get more business. 

If your salon sells products but doesn’t have an online store yet, check out this article to get started: How to get your business started selling online during COVID-19 / coronavirus.

What issues should your salon prepare for as you reopen?

One of the largest issues we foresee as businesses start opening across the country at the same time is potential disruptions in the supply chain. It may be difficult to acquire the supplies you need for your salon, particularly health, personal protective equipment, and sanitization supplies, as most businesses across the country are all putting in large orders for the same types of things. 

This goes for your any retail/personal care product inventory as well. There are a lot of unknowns where it comes to issues small businesses will face in the coming months. You may have to adjust the products you offer or even cut back on some regular services you typically provide in your salon.

If you do need to modify your product line, services, or scheduling, be sure to keep your customers informed via email, text, social media, and your website in order to provide transparent communication and better service. 

Need more customers? Let Womply help!

Womply can help you get more customers through online reviews and reputation management. As you start getting new salon customers again, be sure to remind them that you appreciate them leaving online feedback for your salon to help more clients see how great you are! Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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