California Salons Fight Shutdown — How to Help

California Salons Say They Are #SaferInside: How You Can Help


What is the future for hair salons in California? California salons and stylists worry and wait as the ebbs and flows of COVID-19 closures in their state change nearly every week.

The hashtags #SaferInside and #SaveOurSalons have started picking up pace as salons in California experience yet another month of shutdowns. The confusing reopening plan across the state has closed salons down, allowed them to reopen donning expensive PPE and protocols, then forced yet another shutdown after only a few days of work.

California Salon Shutdowns: What’s Happening Right Now

Most recently California governor Gavin Newsom released orders on Monday, July 20 that salons were allowed to reopen outdoors only and only offer dry hair cuts. This has acted as a ‘last straw’ for many stylists and salons in the state who are running out of money after paying for expensive PPE compounded by the fact that many did not receive loans or stimulus from the government during this time.

Opening outside has come with many caveats that have not allowed salons to operate nearly to their fullest. First, all California salons and barbershops can only operate outside under a tent, canopy, or some other open air covering that has no more than one side closed. They must be next to or adjacent to a licensed establishment. And dry cuts are allowed only. This means no highlighting, color services, or hair treatments which tend to account for around 80% of stylists’ salaries.


Dan Watson/The Signal

The determination to move California salons outside was due to studies on outdoor particles showing that strong airflow allows particles to disperse more quickly, dryness kills the SARS-19 lipid cell covering and that humidity weighs down particles and makes air thicker, in turn sinking the particles and inhibiting travel.

“The good news is we now have new guidelines out on the website clarifying what we can and can’t do as it relates to hair cuts and activities that we want to move from indoors to outdoors for personal care services industry,” said the Governor last Monday.

What are Stylists Saying About California Salon Shutdowns?

Well, not good news for most California salons. Many feel that inside is far safer than the outdoors where the environment is uncontrolled–busy streets, passersby without masks and unfit locations paired with the summer heat are just a few of the challenges encountered when operating outdoors. Hair stylist Samantha Alvarado lives in Lakewood, California, and has been on the front lines of fighting to get back to operating indoors.

“This week shows 91 degrees outside. If we are following guidelines outside, there are high chances that our guests, or our stylists will become ill with heat exhaustion and insurance will not be able to assist since it’s not INSIDE our salons. Many people also walk around outdoors with no masks and I do not want someone walking past my guest without a mask on.”

Plus, hairstylists are licensed beauty professionals.

“I truly believe that there is some kind of disconnect with our industry, as most society thinks, we “just do pretty hair”… when that’s only the cherry on top of what our jobs actually entails. As beauty industry professionals, We are trained and licensed in disinfection and sanitation. That is the WHOLE purpose of our training in cosmetology school, to keep our guests safe. As safety is our number one priority,” said Alvarado.

Samantha Alvarado | Image by @jvvphotography

The fight to move salons inside has sparked movement using hashtags like #OpenSafeCalifornia and #OpenSalonsNow. Other than protests, letters and cries for action on social media, California salons hands are tied. Some decided to go back into work on Monday August 17th, but other salons, such as Tempest Salon in San Rafael, CA, fear backlash and revocation of their licenses if they do so.

“We are concerned about fairness as well as safety,” said Ryan McCann, owner of Tempest Salon, in an email to clients explaining the California salons current stance and struggles confronting the closures.

“At Tempest we believe that the spread of COVID-19 has to be mitigated. It is a serious illness. We know that we have the same ability to keep people safe as clinics, med spas, and dentists as our licensing reflects. They have been open for weeks without infections, as have barber and beauty services in ALL the other states with data studies to back them up. We are asking to be classified with them and not with gyms, bars and other non licensed facilities.”

Tempest Salon - San Rafael, CA

How can you help California Salons #OpenSafe?

If you aren’t in California or a hairstylist yourself but would still like to support California salons in their reopening endeavors, you can sign stylist and Simply Organic Beauty educator Deirdra Vierra’s petition to reclassify salons and barbershops here. Their website has contacts of government officials, media and letter templates you can use to contact officials.

To help demand a recovery and relief fund for California salons and stylists, you can sign the California Beauty Alliance petition here.

You can also donate to the Professional Beauty Federation of California Legal Defense Fund as they work to help reopen salons.

Alvarado has some closing advice for holistic hairstylists looking to get involved in the fight.

“If you are a stylist in California and you are ready to get back to work, I suggest handwriting your governor. I suggest protesting, I suggest standing up with our industry. I also suggest making sure you are connecting with your salon guests during the shutdown and communicating with them. Do your clients know you can still directly ship them their haircare? Do they know that they can get their favorite shampoo sent to them from you? The key is to still be active with your salon guests during the shutdown, still “servicing” them with retail to enhance your relationship. You are always there for them on a regular basis, don’t stop for the shutdowns. They need us most now. “