More maintenance jobs or drastic changes?
The season of DIY haircuts and box dyes has thankfully come to end! Hair salons across the country opened their doors this week, with some planning extra-long opening hours to fit in loyal clients and clear a backlog of bookings.
For those that were lucky enough to nab a seat in the salon chair, we wondered if it was proving tempting to go for a complete style overhaul... after all, surely we’re all bored of looking at the same old hair day in day out! Oppositely, if the waitlists for appointments are anything to go by and follow-up appointments might be as hard to come by as that first one, maybe the majority were playing it safe and just going for a trim and colour refresh?
Curious as to what hairdressers were faced with after three long months of clients taking matters into their own hands, we got in touch with some of our favourite professionals in the field to find out more about how their first week of trade has been, if they've seen many DIY disasters and if they've noticed any big, breakout trends.
Scroll on to read what salons in Dublin, Cork and Galway are seeing.
Hair is healthy Again
For some women, lockdown has been a 12-week hair detox; it's provided a much-needed break from colouring or time to embrace natural texture and get to know their own hair again after years of processing.
Sabrina Hill, owner of Kopper hair salon in Cork, is rejoicing the fact that of the clients she's managed to see this week, the majority of them have really invested in the health of their hair during COVID-19. "Without the luxury of a monthly trim or a colour-refresh, my clients have been frequently treating themselves to luxurious masks and refocusing on their haircare routine; buying salon-quality shampoos and conditioners," says Hill. "As a result, I've been seeing really healthy hair coming in this week."
Anna Hosty, co-owner of Yourells Hair Group in Galway is seeing something happen on the west coast. "Women, who would have come in and prioritised being super-blonde over the condition of their hair, are now seeing how much the extended break from bleach has served their hair," Hosty explains. "They're embracing the less maintenance, root-look and their hair is reaping the rewards."
Stylist Dylan Bradshaw, whose five-star salon will be opening from 8 am to 8 pm, six days a week, told us that his clients have spent the past three months reacquainting themselves with their hair in its natural state and learning how to manage it without the help of their trusted hairdresser. "If hair is cut right, it should sit well naturally and without much help but for women who've consistently relied on a weekly blowdry, they've had no choice but to work with what they've got and reskill almost," says Bradshaw. "Lots of clients have been in touch saying that they've finally taken the time to play around with their Dyson SuperSonic or Airwrap and have seen the magic in action for themselves."
Lighter + Longer
Despite life being in flux, in terms of colour, a seasonal shift towards lighter hues as the weather warms is still common – perhaps an attempt to reclaim what's left of the summer months.
"Everyone coming into the salon is going lighter and brighter, we've had no clients opting for dark browns or black. The results of our prescriptive colouring technique are looking so fresh and summery, and because they've been looking after their hair in lockdown, we can go that bit brighter without causing any unnecessary damage," Hill explains.
"Also, for my clients coming in who are experiencing a lot of grey regrowth, I've been taken aback by their willingness to skip on the root cover-up, embracing it and really focusing on the cut."
People are keen to keep a hold of their long, lockdown locks too. "I've spent years trying to convince some of my clients with shorter hair to try a style with a bit more length and for some, it's taken having the decision made for them," laughs Bradshaw. "Now, they're coming in really attached to the few centimetres they grew in quarantine and wanting to maintain the length. It's great."
"We also have a running joke in the salon that we're cutting bangs less in relation to what suits the face and more what works with the masks!"
NO DIY Disasters
Self-indulgently, I asked the hair experts if they'd witnessed any true horror stories caused some foolhardy snipping with the kitchen scissors or had many big, home-colour corrections on their books this week.
As you might expect, they were very professional in their answers and gave very little away."Of the 1,000 clients we've contacted already this week (we won't go into the 1,100 more on the list we've yet to reach), only two clients resorted to a box dye in lockdown. Only two! And I'm certain that's a testament to our colour philosophy here in Kopper," says Hill.
"We've always maintained that knowledge is power when it comes to hair, so we made a real effort to contact all of our blonde clients at the very beginning of lockdown and gave them as much information as possible, hoping they'd resist the urge to reach for the at-home bleach," Hosty told us. "And most of them did hold firm, thankfully!"
Dylan's South William Street salon was equally a disaster-free zone. "We haven't seen any real carnage yet and I think that's because we got ahead of that sense of desperation by sending our clients what we called 'DB Rescue Packs'. They contained specially-mixed, semi-permanent colours our patch-tested clients could apply at home to disguise the regrowth and save them from doing something they might regret," Bradshaw continued. "It also saved us from having to do serious damage-limitation now."
Time TO Reset
Much like us regular folk, the pandemic has forced those in the hairdressing industry to experience a drastic change in the pace of life and all three salon owners agree that plenty of positives have come out of the unforeseen downtime.
"People have taken a long, hard look at their priorities. In terms of the business, it's been a time for reflection and refocusing and it's really reminded me, personally, why I choose to do what I do," Bradshaw explains. "And for any clients who were maybe pushy or rude around booking re-opening appointments, I had the time to suggest to them – in a nice way – that we weren't the salon for them any longer. The downtime has really cleared a pathway for us to do what we want to do again – no BS."
"As a hairdresser, you're used to people leaving the salon happy but the level of job satisfaction right now is off the charts. People are overjoyed to just be sitting in the seat and the Yourells' staff are so excited to be back doing what they love - there's such a buzz around going to work each morning, even if it is for a twelve-hour shift," Hosty says. "We've been sent bouquets of flowers, have had lunches paid for the whole staff and some clients are dropping in vouchers for the local coffee shop, the goodwill being shown is incredible."