open sign hanging in the window of a barbershop
Posted by Brad Wicks on June 17, 2020 Ambassadors, Barber Training, Latest News No Comments

We’ve teamed up with our roster of barbers to tell you what to expect when your favourite barbershop reopens after lockdown.

It’s been a rough few months, right? Covid-19 and the global pandemic it’s caused have forced many of us to change the way we live our lives. Our social, work and shopping habits have all had to change. We’ve exhausted the long list of DIY jobs we had for our homes. We’ve even gone months without visiting friends, family and loved ones. So far, 2020’s been a real kick in the nuts…

But, other than the obvious threat, the biggest challenge we’ve been forced to face is taking control of our own hair and beard styling, without the supervision of a professional barber! Fear not though, as after 12 long weeks these essential services are set to reopen on July 4, all things going well!

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done with your hair and beard during lockdown – left them to grow or sheared yourself like a sheep – you’ll almost definitely need the attention of a good barber to get your style back on track.

The thing is, barbershops might look and feel a little different on the other side of all this. And that’s where our barber ambassadors come in. They’re here to help you understand the five main changes you’re likely to experience when you step back through the doors of your local barbershop.

Take it away, gents…

Appointment-Only Services

Many of us are already well rehearsed in the world of barbershop appointments. It’s a service that’s become particularly popular in busy barbershops, where traditional walk-ins can mean waiting in line for upwards of an hour! If you’re happy to sit and chat with like-minded gents, walk-ins can be a great addition to your social life. But if you’re in a rush, booking an appointment is a godsend. However, when barbershops reopen their doors, it’s likely that walk-in services will be temporarily removed in an effort to safely maintain social distancing rules.

barber wearing a mask while cutting a man's hair

“It’s about being able to safely control the number of clients in a barbershop at any one time,” says Callum Marks – Head of Barbering Education at Skills Group, Plymouth. “The strange times we’re facing have put a strain on everyone’s comfort levels when being around other people. The last thing anyone wants when entering a barbershop is to feel on edge being sat cheek-to-cheek in a waiting room with 20 other customers.”

For some more traditional barbershops, this could be the first time that an appointment system has been adopted. Ken Hermes, Head Barber at Gould Barbers, is excited to see appointments introduced in his busy shop. He said: “We are introducing appointments for the first time in my shop. This is to keep both the customer and us safe. It is the only way that we can enforce social distancing, as usually we have queues out of the door. In time, I think everyone will find it easier – our customers won’t have to join the never-ending queue and as barbers we’ll know in advance how busy our days are looking.”

No Waiting Rooms

In a similar way to adopting appointment-only services, waiting rooms are likely to be a no-go for the foreseeable future. Closing these sections of the shop will limit the amount of time clients spend in close proximity to each other, as well as drastically reducing the number of bodies in a shop at any one time.

At Gould Barbers, Ken says: “All customers must wait outside the shop until their allocated time slot. The only exception to this rule will be parents of Under 16s and carers. This will inevitably interrupt routines and take away some of the social fun for some of our regulars, but it’s a small price to pay to stay safe.”

Increased PPE and Sanitisation

One of the biggest changes you’re likely to notice when you next sit in your barber’s chair is the increased amount of PPE (personal protection equipment) and sanitisation that’s been introduced to the shop. Just like a trip to your local supermarket, you can now expect to wear masks and wash your hands before you even get past the barber pole that hangs outside.

Of course, the onus isn’t all on you, which is why barbers will also be upping their PPE game too. Just remember, these measures are being put in place to protect you, your barber and your household. They’re not designed to scaremonger or deter you from getting that fresh fade you so desperately need!

man gets a haircut from his barber while wearing a mask and gloves for protection

To help you get a clearer picture of what a trip to the barbershop might now entail, we spoke to Liam Hamilton (Owner of Hamilton’s Barbers in Redruth, Cornwall) about his shop’s PPE and sanitisation routine. “Before entering the shop, we’ll be taking the temperatures of clients, as well as asking everyone to wash and clean their hands thoroughly with hand sanitiser that we’ll supply. Customers will also be required to wear masks when inside the shop and throughout the duration of their appointments. Our barbers will be wearing masks, aprons and gloves at a minimum. We’re also deciding whether personal visors and/or screens will need to be in place.

“Before and after each appointment, we will be cleaning down the whole workstation, including our tools and chairs. Barber capes will be used once per client, then thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant before being used again. Alternatively, we may opt to use one-use disposable capes if customers feel particularly uneasy.”

As you can see, barbers all over the country will be taking your safety very seriously when they reopen their doors. And according to Liam, “the most important part of all these changes is that barbers properly explain everything they are doing to put the client’s mind at ease.” Perfect.

No Wet Shaves or Beard Trims

If you’re a classic gent that enjoys nothing more than a traditional wet shave in the barbershop, then we have some bad news for you… With face masks being made mandatory by most barbershops, wet shaves and beard trims are services that simply won’t be possible until later in the year. After all – you can’t shave what you can’t see.

According to Callum, “these are services that are likely to be temporarily culled from most shops until they can be safely practiced once more.” And Ken supports him: “Our customers will be wearing masks, which eliminates beard trims and shaves straight away. Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets generated by coughing or sneezing, so working at a close proximity to a customer’s mouth is just too risky for both parties right now.”

man has his beard and moustache styled by a professional barber with bluebeards revenge products

So, where does that leave you if you’re rocking a burly beard? Thankfully, your barber’s still on hand to provide maintenance and styling advice. “As barbers our job is to help you look and feel great,” says Liam. “If we can’t actively perform a service that you require, the next best thing we can do is give you advice on the best practices for maintaining and styling your beard at home. We have years of experience that we’re always willing to share with our customers.”

Higher Prices

Yes, unfortunately your next trip to the barbershop is probably going to cost you a few extra quid. No, it’s not because of the amount of extra hair you’ve grown; nor is it due to the time it’s going to take to fix your dodgy home haircut. Put simply, the extra cost is to help cover the additional overheads that barbers have had to swallow to get their shops back open for business.

PPE and a volumetric ton of hand sanitiser are just the bare essentials. Add to this the loss of income that comes from extending out appointments to make sure stations are properly cleaned between customers, reducing the number of chairs that are operating in order to maintain social distancing, and the inability to perform some essential services, and you can start to see why the cost of your haircut might have increased slightly.

Hopefully, as things start to return to normal, the costs will come back down. But in the meantime, open your wallet a little wider and remember how much you’ve missed your barber during lockdown.