OPINION: Working as a hairstylist during the pandemic is a challenge

Graphic by Mattheau Faught/ The Et Cetera

Those of us who are hairstylists during the pandemic are trying our best to keep our clients and ourselves safe and healthy. This can be difficult because it is impossible to social distance in this kind of work.

Salons are for the public, so stylists are constantly being exposed to different people every day. We never know if they have the virus or not. Many clients have not returned because they fear for their health, and many stylists have left their job because of the concern over the virus.

I first started working as a receptionist at Great Clips in August of 2019 as part of my training to become a stylist. After a few months of watching haircuts, cleaning and learning the computer system, I was able to start working as a stylist. I continued to cut hair until the pandemic forced us to shut down.

The day the salon reopened, there were so many people lined up outside. I took phone calls, checked people in and cleaned constantly. I was told that if it became too busy, I would need to step onto the floor as a stylist.

The first day was stressful. I was scared that anyone could have the virus, and I would not know. I had a choice to either not return to work, or to return and make money. I decided that I needed to work.

Because of the virus, there are more restrictions than before. As salon employees, we have to check our temperature every morning. We also have to wipe everything down with a disinfecting spray after each client. Before the pandemic, we only had to disinfect after clients who received shampoos.

Salon services are limited. We are not allowed to trim beards or bangs that are not part of a full haircut. We are also not allowed to do shampoos anymore.

Stylists and clients must be masked. There have been cases where clients have come in and argued about wearing a mask in the salon.

The chairs in the lobby are placed 6 feet apart, and only three people are allowed to wait inside at a time.

Although, many clients have lost their jobs since the pandemic, I believe many will still return to the salon once the pandemic is over. Some clients have mentioned how they are relying on the stimulus money and their unemployment. Others have been lucky enough to find a job.

Even though masks and social distancing will not disappear right away, a COVID-19 vaccine gives hope that life will return to the old normal.

Stylists like me will go back to earning tips each day in addition to a paycheck every two weeks.

Clients will be able to walk in freely and stand or sit next to other people while they wait their turn.

Everyone will be able to speak more clearly and breathe more easily. Clients will also be able to go back to shaking hands or hugging their stylist as a greeting.

Nearly everyone has experienced a loss during the pandemic, and it has taught us a valuable lesson. Appreciate what you have, because one day it could all disappear.

—Leah Salinas is a radio broadcasting major and a contributor.

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