8 red flags to look out for once hair salons open again

Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesCustomers and employees wear masks in a recently reopened salon in Miami, Florida.
  • As hair salons begin to reopen across the United States, it’s important to make sure they have certain safety measures in place before you visit.
  • Whether or not a facility is cleaned daily or has a mask-wearing policy could impact customers’ and employees’ health.
  • Dr. Michael Knight, a physician of internal medicine at George Washington University, told Insider that it is completely within people’s rights to ask salons about their safety precautions before attending an appointment.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As many hair salons across the country begin to open their doors again, clients should take the time to check whether or not they have policies to protect the health of their workers and customers.

“Self-grooming is important, but people still need to understand the risks,” Dr. Michael Knight, a physician of internal medicine at George Washington University, told Insider.

“The risk we know with the coronavirus is that it is a communicable disease that is spread primarily by respiratory droplets. That means if you are within distance of someone who may be infected and may have no symptoms, or have symptoms, you have the potential of contracting the virus.”

Since you cannot socially distance while getting a haircut, it’s important to weigh your personal risk before heading to a salon.

“If you are an individual who is high-risk for coronavirus complications, for example if your age is over 65 or if you have chronic medical conditions, especially if they are not well-controlled, then you may not decide to take on the risk,” Knight added.

Policies like mask-wearing and daily cleaning are a few of the important measures facilities can take to protect public health.

Here are eight red flags to look out for once hair salons open again.

The salon doesn’t have a sign stating their safety precautions or can’t name any when you ask.

Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register/Getty ImagesA safety sign at a barbershop in Laguna Hills, California.

Natalie, a representative from New Trend Hair Salon in Wilmington, Delaware, told Insider the salon has an extensive list of safety precautions set in place to keep their employees and customers safe, like social distancing and enforced mask-wearing.

The establishment doesn’t have a mask-wearing policy for clients and employees.

Alejandra Villa Loarco/Newsday/Getty ImagesAn employee and client wear masks at a salon in Long Island, New York, on June 10.

“What we know is that if you are not able to socially distance yourself from someone else, if you can’t stay at least 6 feet away, which we know you can’t in a hair salon, then wearing a mask is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of transmitting to others,” Knight said. “We know that the mask is protecting others from yourself. If you wear mask and the others in the shop are wearing masks, then that risk is much reduced.”

The salon isn’t operating at a reduced capacity.

svetikd/Getty ImagesA non-crowded hair salon.

Though states may have rules about establishments reducing their capacities, it is up to the salons to enforce those rules, as they are most likely not being checked, Knight said.

New Trend Hair Salon is following state rules and is limited to a 30% capacity, which helps provide enough space to keep clients at least 6 feet apart.

The salon isn’t doing regular and daily cleanings of tools and surfaces to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

svetikd/Getty ImagesA salon worker disinfecting a work space.

“Ask if they are cleaning the surfaces, doorknobs, and tools on a regular basis. Are they doing it once a day, between clients, or are they not doing it at all? You want to go somewhere that is at least doing a deep clean once a day and wiping down any high touch areas even between clients,” Knight said.

The chairs aren’t set up 6 feet apart from one another.

Jason Whitman/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesCustomers sitting far apart in a recently reopened salon in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Natalie, a representative from New Trend Hair Salon, said, “We try to make sure everyone is about 6 feet apart, and make sure there are only about four people in the waiting area at one time. The stylists are only allowed to have one client at a time, so we sanitize between clients.”

The salon is allowing walk-ins, which increases the number of customers in the store at one time.

Paras Griffin/Getty ImagesA barbershop with a closed door in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Any situation where you are going to have a number of people sitting and waiting for a long period of time is a high-risk situation. You really want to look for barber shops or salons that are only taking clients by appointment,” Knight said.

The salon isn’t doing daily check-ins with their employees to see how they’re feeling.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty ImagesAn employee wears a protective mask and face shield while giving a haircut.

“Establishments should be asking their stylists and employees every day before they come in, ‘Are you having any symptoms?’ or ‘Are you feeling unwell?’ That’s important, because these employees are interacting with multiple people throughout the day. Even though you are just coming in and out of that salon, that stylist has been working there every day and maybe having 10 or more clients a day, and their personal risk of contracting the coronavirus is very high,” Knight said.

It might be a red flag if the salon isn’t doing temperature checks, but having other safety measures in place can help mitigate risk.

Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty ImagesA customer getting a temperature check before a haircut.

New Trend Hair Salon has implemented mandatory temperature checks for clients prior to getting their haircut.

However, Knight said that temperature checks don’t eliminate risk, as people can be infected and show no symptoms, including not having a fever.

“I would never discourage an establishment from doing temperature checks, but I would also add additional measures,” he said.

Knight said it is completely within clients’ rights to ask salons questions about their safety precautions.

Jonathan Brady/PA Images/Getty ImagesA stylist gives a client a PPE pack at a salon.

“Even personally, if I am going to go to an establishment, and I don’t see a sign on the front door that says, ‘please don’t come in if you are sick or have symptoms, please wear a mask,’ then I am probably not going to go in. I have to be the one who is responsible for my own health. If I want to take the risk to go to a hair salon or barber shop, then it is also on me to do my due diligence, ask the questions, and really seek out establishments that are taking the proper steps to protect their employees and customers,” Knight said.

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