Salon owners frustrated at rocky return to work
This month’s U-turn by the government further postponing the of return facial treatments is the latest blow for ‘disregarded’ beauty business
It has been a mix of highs and lows as beauty salons have reopened after the Coronavirus lockdown. Though a return to work has been welcomed by beauticians and customers, restricted treatment menus and claims of sexism levied against the government have blighted it. Now, a last-minute U-turn on restrictions has left the beauty industry once again railing at the system.
“Our busiest time of the year is from April to September when we take possibly more than 50% of our annual takings, so for us it’s been a massive hit on our business,” Jayne Goodings, owner of Lemon Tree Nails and Beauty Salon in Cowbridge, told the BBC.
In England, salons were allowed to reopen from July 13th, while Wales and Scotland opened up slightly later on July 27th and 22nd, respectively. New guidelines for reopening were announced by the government, which worked with The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology on the plan. Initially, body treatments were fine, but anything above the chin was a no go.
New, often costly, safety measures have been implanted at salons to facilitate this retricted reopening. “Salon safety is my utmost priority and to get the salon ready for the post Covid-19 conditions has been very thorough,” said Heidi Holt, owner of Pretty Green Eyes Makeup and Beauty in Wrexham, in an interview with local paper The Leader. “For example, correct PPE, signage, staff training, enhanced salon ventilation and internal social distancing measures. I have also invested in equipment that makes for a safer works space, including nails tables with extractor fans and air purifier system.”
In the first weeks of reopening, there has been some upset over the banned treatments – namely the restrictions on facial treatments such as eyebrow waxing. This has been further fuelled by barbers being allowed to trim beads, with some beauty business owners suggesting such decisions were down to sexism within the government. It has been suggested that the government does not take the beauty industry – largely made up of female workers and customers – seriously, despite the sector being worth about £30 billion a year to the nation’s economy, according to the British Beauty Council.
“If barbers can do treatments closely to the face why can’t we?” asks Nez Hasan, founder of the eponymous salon in London’s Kensington, in a story on Refinery29. “My main treatments are eyebrows. Clients must wear a mask, which would not affect the treatment. However, when a barber works, they will not be able to trim or shave a beard when the client is wearing a mask. The mask would need to come off. I feel as though women and beauty salons have been disregarded and made fun of by parliament. It’s like we’re not important.”
The latest blow for beauty salons has been a last-minute revoke on lifting these restrictions. It was expected that from August 1st, the scope of permitted treatments would be widened to include face treatments such as waxing and facials. However, giving beauticians who had been lining up appointments in advance less than a day’s notice, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that salons would now have to wait until August 15th at the earliest before the government would consider changing the rules.
“The impact of the last-minute postponement has been insane,” said Hannah Benney, owner of Nova Beauty in Bodmin, in an interview with Cornwall Live. “Last time, it took six days to reschedule all my clients and now I had to do that again with little notice to the point where I was due in to start treatments at 7am the next day – it was around 18 hours’ notice. There was no sort of hint that we wouldn’t be opening before that, and surely the government would have known.”
Needless to say, this latest blow further damages the prospects of the beauty industry, which has had a tougher time than most as the UK navigates its way out of lockdown.