While hairdressers have opened in other European countries, Irish women have to wait. With salons closed until July 20, we asked some of Ireland’s hairdressers about new measures which will be in place when salons do open … and what we can do for our hair in the meantime …
Pray Leo, open the hairdressers, was every woman’s heartfelt prayer before the phased exit from lockdown was announced over a week ago. No such luck. While Romans and Parisians could have a do subito/tout de suite, we would have to wait until Phase 4 – or July 20 (on Sunday, Boris announced July 4 as the date when UK salons could open). Submissions from the hairdressing industry including Mark O’Keeffe from Brown Sugar, Ciaran Nevin of the Merrion Hotel and Dylan Bradshaw of his eponymous salon on South William Street among several others followed, many citing the looking good/feeling good school of philosophy and the fact that more clandestine, unregulated appointments would be taking place under these conditions, seem to have fallen on deaf ears, though hairdressers are still lobbying for a re-opening in Phase 3, June 29. With the fate of our dos in the hands of bald Tony Holohan, it doesn’t look likely …
Some women simply can’t wait until then, never mind July 4. Hot glossip at the weekend revealed that on Friday, as temperatures soared, in a garden in a leafy suburb on Dublin’s southside, a glossy posse of ladies was filing in one by one (strict social distancing applied) to have cut and colour issues addressed by a pro in PPE. Evading Garda notice was never before part of our hairdressing routine, but there you are … this is what it has come to. It would seem that hair styling, for many of us, is an essential service.
On Zoom, eyes stray to the hairline on the screen – but not usually before your colleague, friend or sister has referred to her own disastrous barnet. Surveillance and scrutiny are becoming daily habits. Surely Claire Byrne is not cutting her own bob? How on earth is Miriam’s hair so blonde and rootless? Did your neighbour do a L’Oréal Excellence Creme over the weekend (see the depleted shelves of home colourant kits in the supermarket – go a shade light than you would normally, one reader advises). Anyone who has decent-looking hair at the moment is a figure of suspicion or pure and simple envy – either they are seriously handy with their Dyson, or else they somehow have secret access to a stylist. Or perhaps, like Davina, they were just clever enough to get together with their hairdresser …
It’s not easy as an older woman either. The cocooners are texting pictures of themselves to their hairdressers, asking them to suggest a home kit that works. One woman did not know how to take a selfie so instructed her coiffeur to use “Rita from Coronation Street” as a guide. Officially, though, salons should not be providing colour to the public to apply at home, say the Irish Hairdressers Federation; they are not covered by insurance, and so it’s breaking government guidelines to ask a salon to do this. “It’s hard as we want to help our clients feel better and look better,” says Daniel O’Hagan, salon director of Romina Daniel. “But it only takes one allergic reaction to close your business. Some salons will take that chance, but it’s not healthy for the industry. And we want to all stand together as an industry.”
Reopening is not going to be straightforward, with strict guidelines just announced for safety measures. Across Europe, websites are crashing under the demand of bookings. In Germany, salons are open in limited fashion and under strict new rules (no waiting, no direct communication, ideally no blow-dries, and so on); in Spain, salons are running at a maximum 30 per cent of normal capacity. Most Irish salons now have a waiting list in operation, and many hope to extend their opening hours when they do return in order to cope with the demand. And, as with online grocery appointments, some women are booking their salon slots way ahead into the autumn, knowing that demand will be high. “We have around 800 people on our list at this stage,” notes Romina Marsella of Romina Daniel sustainable hair salons in Sandyford and Palmerstown. “Our main concern is obviously safety, for both our staff and our clients. There will be strict measures in place, which will inevitably affect the social aspect of a salon visit.”
“We’re going to be under a lot of pressure when we reopen, but the main thing is to take care of our team and our clients,” says Dylan Bradshaw, who has also been inundated with requests for appointments. “We’ll have to reduce the number of clients, control the environment. Taking care of our own space, team and clients, that’s the focus. Nobody can tell what’s going to happen. We are pulling together as an industry, and we are hoping to get the reopening date changed to a bit earlier – nobody is trying to undermine the health and wellbeing of the country, but I do believe that we can do this safely.” Bradshaw has extensive precautions in place, from face masks and gowns for staff and clients to measures for deep cleaning between each client.
In the meantime, is this a time to pull back a little – let your grey grow out, switch from chemical-heavy dyes to natural ones? Or are we just destined to wear a hat until the end of July? It could be time to take a more natural approach. In general, we’ve a tendency to do too much to our hair, and you could view this as an opportunity to scale back. As Dylan Bradshaw has told me, “You shouldn’t be getting your hair coloured more than three or four times a year, and if you have a good cut, it should last.” At the start of lockdown, Graham Santeliz Molloy, senior stylist at Brown Sugar in Blackrock, suggested: “Take this time to look after your hair – use treatments, conditioners and leave the hot tools down. Give your hair the rest it needs!”
In the absence of professional blow-dries, at-home styling tools, such as Dyson’s Airwrap Styler and new Corrale straighteners, are certainly coming into their own right now, with the help of online tutorials. Laura Whitmore’s stylist Sophie Sugarman (@themanestyle), for example, has plenty of tips and videos on wielding your GHDs.
Going organic is another route to take. Ivana Margarini and husband Francesco of Organic Italian Hairdressing have been advocates of a natural approach for more than 30 years. Their Dalkey salon is chemical-free – they use herbs, flowers, plants and water rather than chemicals for all treatments. And they can provide personal recipes for their clients to use at home, with tutorials on their YouTube channel to help clients in this process. What are the advantages of using a natural hair dye? “It’s a modern choice for a cleaner world, saying no to pollutants and peroxide, filling our salons and homes with products based on raw materials that respect the hair and scalp deep down, as well as the planet,” says Margarini. “Going natural can help you avoid allergies and damage.” Margarini believes chemicals in hair dye are bad for our health. “All our treatments are bespoke, from colour to hair and scalp treatments – nothing is ready-made.”
The Romina Daniel team have been keeping in touch with clients via Facebook and online, giving advice on covering roots, recommending suitable products and even hacks like using eyeshadows as affordable root cover-up. Marsella recommends the Davines Alchemic range, and Kevin Murphy Colour Angel toners as good stop-gaps: the toners are “not as harsh as using a box dye, or as strong as salon toners, but good for blondes who are sick of looking at their roots.”
Some of us are contemplating a big hair change – embracing the fade to grey at last, for example, or an at-home Normal People-inspired fringe (risky). Perhaps you’re just keeping an eye on your regrowth and seeing how long you can live with it. Letting the grey loose once and for all can be a long process but doesn’t need to be traumatic: just aim to get gradually lighter with semi-permanent dyes – a few highlights around the face can ease the transition. Use purple shampoos to deter brassy tones, keep hair hydrated with masks and silicone-free care products to avoid frizz, and keep your cut sharp (easier said than done at the moment).
But even if you have resorted to a box dye in desperation, or given yourself an unintentional mullet, don’t be embarrassed to return to your hairdresser. Daniel O’Hagan stresses: “We totally understand that people will cover up their roots while we can’t supply their colour. People need to do what’s best for their overall wellbeing. But do return to your salon when you can, and we will welcome you back in, and help you fix anything that needs doing – there’s no judgment here.”
At Romina Daniel, they are trying to look to the positives in challenging times. “I do think that people have a higher regard now for hairstylists and beauty therapists in general,” O’Hagan offers. “It’s not just about how your hair looks, it’s about how you make someone feel. So much of the whole experience of going to a salon will have to be scaled back. Visiting a salon should be a treat, from the great cut and colour to small touches such as the coffee. And we’ll be trying to keep as much of that as we can, while being totally safe. That’s the challenge for us. It’s not just about a haircut.”
By Sarah Halliwell and Sarah McDonnell
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