Coronavirus: Hairdressers offer virtual appointments in lockdown
Hairdressers have been offering virtual appointments to help people style their hair at home.
Stylists are using apps including FaceTime, Zoom, and YouTube to provide customers live one-to-one advice and tutorials.
While salons have already reopened in France and Germany, hairdressers in the UK expect to remain closed until July.
An industry report estimated the hair and beauty sector contributed £6.6bn to the country’s economy last year.
Paul Phillips owns Chopp Hair salon in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, which shut in March when the coronavirus lockdown began.
He provides a service called Chopp Drops, in which he delivers hair products to customers’ doorsteps and then demonstrates via video call how to apply the treatment.
“Most hairdressers say you should never colour your hair at home, and in normal times I’d agree,” he says.
“But lots of clients’ mental health has been affected by the current situation, so sorting out grey roots and split ends makes them feel better.”
Paul says he serves up to 26 clients a day, but adds that he is cautious to only offer advice that is achievable at home.
“It’s too technical to dye blonde hair, so those clients sadly have to sit tight and wait for the lockdown to be over,” he explains.
“You don’t want somebody to mess up and then have to live with it for another seven weeks.”
‘Time to focus’
Most of the hairdressers the BBC spoke to offered bespoke hair kits and virtual appointments priced between £30 and £150.
Ebuni Ajiduah is a hair loss-specialist. She has also moved her appointments online, offering clients home treatments, and when required referring them to dermatologists for further advice.
“People now have the time to focus on things they may have neglected,” she says, adding that she’s seen an increased demand for her services.
Ebuni has also launched a Virtual Wash Day every Sunday, when she invites people to join her on Zoom to wash, treat, and style hair together.
“We talk about the products we use and how we twist our hair,” she says. “It’s really nice, you get some people in shower caps and others trying to keep their kids still.
“It gives people a sense of normalcy when the world is on fire – you can still have a routine and focus time on yourself.”
Some hairdressers advise against cutting your own hair but are still offering other tips online.
“I’ve trimmed mine at the front but even I wouldn’t attempt [to cut] mine at the back,” Michael Van Clarke says in a video on Instagram. Instead, he proceeds to show the audience how to style short hair that has grown out over a few weeks.
Since closing its doors, the team from his salon has been posting videos on social media and booking virtual colour consultations, serving more than 3,000 customers online.
“We have new clients which have never even been to our salon, the demand is huge,” Mr Van Clarke says.
“It’s a lot easier to do the video consultations if we’ve seen them in person before, but we are still able to give advice to new customers.”
Senior technicians carry out a hair assessment over an initial video call, advise on treatments and products, send them out and then offer a follow-up consultation to observe and guide the client.
“Some people like their hands held for reassurance, so our technicians can show them how to hold the brush and how long to leave colour on for,” Mr Van Clarke adds.
Gina Conway, who runs three salons in London, thinks this could become the “new normal”.
“Even when lockdown is over, it’s going to be chaos,” she explains. “Some people might not be able to afford to go to the salon, they might be working from home or looking after children still, so I hope we can relieve that stress through technology.”
Gina says she’s now pivoting to focus on the internet.
“At first I was hesitant as I wanted to keep my business as professional as possible, but this is our way of giving proper advice and helping people to feel good about themselves.”