Laguna Beach hair salons cautiously color and cut hair again

The Hudson Hair Salon & Spa installed an outdoor seating area for customers to wait and be processed after the statewide closure was lifted. Photo courtesy of the Hudson

Daniella Gallo, owner of The Studio Laguna, was preparing to renovate her hair salon on Ocean Avenue when the state order closing non-essential business came down.

Gallo was able to live off her savings account during the closure but she was constantly concerned about her furlough hair stylists and what would happen to them as the statewide closure dragged on.

“As an entrepreneur, it went against everything that you know and it felt like you failed even though I know that I didn’t,” she said.

Laguna Beach hair salons and barbershops received the go-ahead to reopen about a month ago and they’re busy cutting and coloring clients’ hair, despite state guidelines to remain six-feet apart, screen employees for coronavirus concerns, and wearing personal protective equipment.

For now, Gallo has limited her salon’s operation to herself and two stylists working alone on alternating days to limit interpersonal contacts. One thing Gallo has learned as a third-generation hair dresser is that people enjoy having haircuts when times are good to celebrate happy occasions and for self-care when circumstances are trying.

“Everyone is excited to be back to work and clients are happy to be able to be able to look in the mirror again,” Gallo said.

Paul Welsh, co-owner of British Hair Company, said he and his wife Tracy held a soft-opening of their shop on May 28 and are currently accepting clients by appointment. Welsh said they’re taking the six-foot social distancing requirement in stride.

“It’s going to reduce our capacity but we’ll work around it,” he said.

To protect customers and employees, Welsh’s team requires that customers stay in their parked car until an employee comes out to the parking lot and reads their temperature. Stylists are wearing gloves, as they typically do, while coloring customers’ hair and are wearing masks as required by state guidelines.

Welsh’s team schedules customers in three-and-a-half or four-hour blocks so stylists have more than enough time to complete their work before the next client arrives.

“It’s like kids at Christmas,” Welsh said. “There’s so much pent-up excitement, not just to get your hair done but also get out.”

British Hair Company co-owners Tracy Welsh and Paul Welsh with their dog Bear. Courtesy of Paul Welsh

Katrina Martino, owner of the Hudson Hair Salon & Spa, said her team has prioritized safety by taking customers’ temperatures and asking them sanitize their hands upon arrival.

Employees are also wearing masks when they work on clients’ hair.

She’s also added four styling chairs under an umbrella outside her salon to serve customers who still don’t feel comfortable getting their haircut indoors.

“Even though it’s inconvenient at times to do some of the things that we’re doing at the end of the day we’re going to do what we need to make sure everyone is healthy,” Martino said.

Generally, Martino is hearing from customers that they’re very happy to be out of their homes. She’s seen a spike in new clients seeking to get their graying hair colored.

“It makes them feel so good, like they’re resuming some normalcy to their life,” Martino said.

Welsh said he’s been amazed at the amount of gray hair clients are coming with after self-quarantining at home.

“You’re seeing someone after 12 weeks and they have seven inches of gray hair,” he said.

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