New COVID-19 guidelines allow hair salons and barber shops to operate outdoors. Haven Salon owner Cindy Brokaw says some businesses will benefit more than others.
On Monday, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced state officials changed their COVID-19 guidelines for personal care activities.
The guidelines include face coverings, workspace-specific plans including outdoor access to water and shade and employee training on heat-related illness.
Businesses must also temperature-screen workers and customers upon arrival.
Ms. Brokaw is a 30-year veteran of the hair salon industry. Her salon is located 1150 Coast Village Road in Montecito between Bree’osh Bakery and Alice’s Nails. She bought the salon three years ago.
Ms. Brokaw said on a normal business day she’d offer all regular hair services including haircuts, hair color correction, balayage, highlights and blowouts.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Ms. Brokaw also offered full wedding services at the wedding location.
She said that the logistical challenges of working outside prevent her from providing the full salon experience to her clients.
“For some salons that do mostly haircuts and do mostly styling and are not near food providers, I can see where that can be useful. It’s lovely to work outside. It’d be wonderful if we all had outdoor space with electricity and running water and all that. For anyone who specializes in color or more complicated work, it’s not feasible,” Ms. Brokaw said.
She explained that she needs to be able to wash her client’s hair between steps of coloring or highlighting and that isn’t possible without running water. She added that some electrical clippers and hair dryers are battery powered, but they don’t hold a charge for very long and running an extension cord outside creates a tripping hazard.
“Part of what we do when we shampoo somebody, that’s your first step in creating a relaxing pleasant experience. That scalp massage creates a sense of ease and ‘you’re gonna be taken care of.’ You don’t get that with a spray bottle,” Ms. Brokaw said.
She continued that running water allows stylists to wash their hands more frequently.
Ms. Brokaw said that hair stylists are highly trained in sanitation and public health and could operate safely indoors with limited clientele.
She also suggested landlords update their properties to accommodate social distancing and outdoor operations.
“Landlords putting up barriers for the stylists, running electricity and running water outside; really looking at it as an extension of the salon, that would be really helpful,” Ms. Brokaw said.
“The guidelines are pretty comprehensive from what I’ve seen. That’s part of the problem and part of the solution,” Ms. Brokaw added. She explained that the guidelines are restrictive and hard to maintain, but they are necessary.
“I wouldn’t argue against any of the restrictions. People ignored the restrictions and that’s part of the reason we’re closed,” Ms. Brokaw said.
Ms. Brokaw said her regular clients come from all over the area.
“Hair services are not just about the hair. It’s about going to a place where you feel safe and you have a level of trust,” Ms. Brokaw said.
“We have licenses to touch people. There has to be a level of trust there. To have that, it can’t be a spray bottle outside with no sense of privacy. You don’t want to be sitting there with your hair in foil and your ex-husband comes by.”
Some of her clients come from as far away as San Francisco and Yucaipa. Others have trusted Ms. Brokaw with their hair for over 30 years.