Foggers, air purifiers and UV sanitizers are not things that you normally associate with a salon but as the beauty industry prepares to go back to work these things have become part of the new normal to help them stay coronavirus-free.

Personal services like barbershops and beauty salons are set to open July 3 in Philadelphia, while suburban shops are allowed to open as soon as Friday.

Ky’sha Woods, owner of Lux Lab Philly in Glenside is opening Friday (June 26) and says she’s not afraid of COVID-19. Plus, she says she can’t wait to get back to seeing clients in her Montgomery County salon.

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“We are excited to get back. Our clients are excited to get back. I think our clients have a new appreciation for what we’re doing and we’re all excited. I’m not afraid and I know the people I’ve been talking to are not afraid,” Woods says. “We’re just making the necessary assessments to make sure our clients and our guests are safe and feeling serviced. I actually think that they will like this process even better because now they really get that one on one time with me.”

The long-time salon owner says following many of the COVID-19 guidelines comes as second nature to her and her staff since they are pretty close to her current business practices.

“Our salon is set up for individually customized services. We book our clients according to what they’re having done so my clients aren’t sitting around waiting all day,” Woods says. “We hope they feel even more reassured with the extra precautions that I am taking following the guidelines CDC and what the cosmetology board has instructed us to do.”

The Pennsylvania Cosmetology Board guidelines mandate that salons operate at no more than 50% capacity, practice social distancing at 6 feet apart and require workers as well as clients to wear masks at all times.

Germantown salon owner Terry Baird says most of her clientele at “A Better Image” are seniors so she understands if they’re skittish about coming back.

“Right now a lot of people are very much afraid. You know with all that we’ve lost, it’s definitely understandable for people to be fearful,” she says.

Maplewood Mall, where Baird’s salon is located, is under construction. She says this will be a bigger hurdle for her senior clients than any COVID-19 measures.

“We’re going through a whole construction phase around this area. That makes it hard because a lot of the customers we serve are seniors from the Germantown community. And it’s kind of hard to get to where I am,” Baird says. “Everything else is close to standard business practices since we are a small salon and usually only take one client at a time.”

Duafe Holistic Hair Care owner Syreeta Scott is excited to get back to work but is holding off on opening until July 7 so she can use the extra time to make sure her salon is as safe as possible.

“I know that the green light in Philadelphia is June 26 but I just felt it will be more responsible for me to delay opening for a week and a half so I can check the climate before we officially open,” Scott says.

She says she’s put a lot of time and effort into getting the salon ready and that it will be well worth it in the long run.

“I’ve been able to create a space for black people to come in comfort, now I have to be concerned and rightfully so, with everyone’s safety. So the measures that we’ve gone through, including spaced out scheduling, will not allow for me to make the same amount of money that I made previously,” Scott says. “But I know if I ensure your safety now, when this lifts, I’ll have an opportunity to keep servicing my clients throughout the years. I’m thinking long term in this process.”

Woods, who’s suburban salon is opening Friday, says they are taking precautions before clients even walk in the door.

“We’re going to have like a little table on the outside before they come in, where they can squirt their hands with sanitizer and when they come inside, there’s another table for them to do that. We will be wearing face shields for an extra layer of protection. Another thing that we are doing is we’re making individual packs for each client. When they come in, the pack will have a client’s name on it. It just took our level of service up a little bit so it’s more individual,” Woods says. “It’s customized so every client will receive a case, their own comb and other implements for each service. Afterward everything will be disposed of and laundered.”

Gone are the days of waiting in the salon to be serviced, due to social distancing and operational capacity guidelines. Duafe owner Scott has found a way to accommodate her clients who arrive prior to their scheduled appointment time due to taking public transportation or being dropped off.

“Our waiting area now is going to be in the backyard. We call it our secret garden. We actually have a tent out there, and it’s really nice with plants and it allows for people who take the bus and things like that,” Scott says. “This way they’ll have a space where they can wait with plenty of ventilation and we don’t have to worry about containing too many people in one room.”

Scott says she sees these new changes as a good thing.

“I think that these measures should have always existed. I feel like we were too comfortable. I’m so sorry for the amount of deaths that had to happen for this level of change. It’s a lot of work. It’s taxing, I mean, I did not know what a fogger was before this, but I bought one,” Scott says. “If we can advocate for each other better, if we can care for each other, if people can begin to think of somebody other than themselves in their business practices, and as a consumer, there could be a blessing at the end of this.”

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