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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

How Pampering Has Changed During The Pandemic

Splatter Salon
Splatter Salon in South Charlotte has had to adjust to providing services during a pandemic

During the months when salons and barber shops were closed, the feeling of getting a haircut was a distant memory. But now that stylists and barbers are welcoming customers back into their chairs, everyone is settling into an experience that’s changed. 

When customers walk into Splatter Salon in South Charlotte, they’re greeted with plants that cover the front of the reception desk. It matches the wall of plants just off to the side. Kate Phillips owns the salon and moved in and decorated it at the beginning of the year.

But then in mid-March, it closed during the shutdown.

“We were all very scared,” Phillips said. “We didn't know when we were going to be able to reopen.”

The closings came as a shock to Phillips. But in May, her's and other shops across the state were able to reopen.

And as beauty shops reopened, some things changed.

Credit Splatter Salon / Facebook
A client poses -- face mask, and all -- pre- and post-hair coloring at Splatter Salon.

But some things … did not. 

So, let’s say you want to go to a salon. There might be less of the usual bustle and chit-chat because fewer people are allowed inside. 

Salons can only serve half of the number legally allowed in the building at one time. So, yes, there might be fewer people in the salon. What’s not going to be so different is how much disinfecting will take place. 

Lynda Elliott, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, says salons have always made sure to disinfect between customers.

“Everyone wanted to get back to work and everyone wanted to be able to receive those services,” Elliott said. “With our services being performed in the shop, we already have all the equipment and the infection controls that were in place to provide safe services."

State guidelines require everyone in salons -- whether it’s a stylist or customer -- to wear a mask.

Phillips is following guidelines but knows of other salon owners taking even more precautions.

“We are taking a lot of extra precautions,” Phillips said. “I know quite a few of my friends, even though we are not required to take temperatures, they are taking temperatures before they come in.”

She says customers have been following the mask requirement and are happy to be back in a salon again. 

Cathy Dougherty owns Rooted Salon in NoDa. She says people are still chatty and friendly in the chair. 

“It’s a very almost cathartic … therapy session,” she said. “There’s been like the ongoing joke that hairstylist are the cheapest form of therapy. And it's true. I know my clients’ kids. I know their dogs. I know their husbands. I know their sisters and brothers and parents.” 

Dougherty says she is also being extra careful with sanitizing and keeping up with the latest news on COVID-19 transmissions in hair salons.

She said it was previously thought that it could be spread through hair, and washing and blow-drying hair were not recommended.

But as time went on, Dougherty learned more on how the coronavirus could and could not spread. 

“I read up on CDC and everything like that and they have since said that it doesn't -- it's not transferred through hair and that you can do your shampoos and your blowout -- so I've done business as usual,” she said.

But some who do hair are also setting limits on what services are offered.

Conoda Gore runs C’s Barber Lounge

And there are just things he doesn’t feel comfortable doing during the pandemic.

"Because I had rules saying that I'm not doing no facial haircut, I'm just doing like, just a regular haircut, and you have to wear a mask in the shop," Gore said.

For about five months, Gore was not doing hair because of the stay-at-home order. So he took a break, but he was still active on social media. 

        View this post on Instagram                   Your brand identity tells people who you are, what you do, why you do it,and how you do it... #cthabarber#blackowned A post shared by C THA BARBER (@c_thabarber) on Jun 3, 2020 at 7:45am PDT

In fact, he has stayed connected and grown his clientele through Instagram during the pandemic. 

“I’m always giving advice to clients and friends … even through social media,” Gore said. “People ask me questions, or other barbers wanting to know what they should do when they open their shops back up or how I’m running my shop, or what they should buy." 

For now, Gore says his No. 1 concern is making sure people stay safe -- in and out of the chair. So much so, that he’s not even seeing his own barber for haircuts.

One of the things Gore and the salon owners missed the most during the stay-at-home order was being able to connect with people.

But customers are still being loyal.

And while it’s too soon to figure out how this will impact the beauty community in the long run, stylists are working to make sure their customers do not have to choose between a haircut and safety. 





Salon And Personal Service FAQs In NC During The Coronavirus

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services issued mandatory guidelines for hair salons and barbers, massage and personal care businesses so that North Carolinians can access those services while lowering the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Individual shops and counties can add additional regulations if they see fit.

Here is a summary of what the guidelines say.

Masks And Face Coverings

Employees and clients must wear face coverings, which can include face masks or face shields. The only exceptions for this requirement are for medical, behavioral or religious reasons. 

Face coverings can be removed if the client is receiving facial treatments, a shave or other services on the part of the head where the face covering is covered. 

Additionally, shops are required to have occupancy, symptom screening and social distancing signs visible upon entry.

Screenings And Distancing

Before coming to the appointment, clients will be asked a series of questions about whether they have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. They will also have their temperature checked. 

Once clients enter the shop, they must stay at least six feet apart from other clients. Additionally, there will be six feet of distance between work stations where customers are receiving services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that salons install Plexiglas or a similar barrier between customers and employees during face-to-face services that cannot be completed without close contact -- such as a manicure.

Sanitizing And Disinfecting 

It’s recommended that each contact area -- such as a chair or cape -- is regularly disinfected after each client. The stylist should perform ongoing cleaning on areas such as doors, doorknobs, rails and toilet handles. The disinfectant should be EPA approved for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

What If Your Specialist Is Not Following Guidelines?

According to the NC Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners, which oversees care for hair, skin and nails, when a shop or cosmetology school does not follow the required or recommended guidelines:

  • A citation will be written only to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement of face coverings. Operators of businesses and organizations are entitled to rely on their customers or patron statements whether they are exempt from the face-covering requirements. For these exceptions, they did not violate this executive order.
  • Law enforcement is not authorized to enforce face covering requirements. 
  • However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to an employee or customer because they refuse to wear a face covering, and this person enters the premises or refuses to leave, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws and other laws that person violated. 

If You Are At High-Risk Of Developing Severe Complications From COVID-19

For customers who are at a higher risk for developing complications from the coronavirus, a stylist can designate a specific time to go to the business without the general population, such as early mornings or late afternoon. 

It’s highly recommended to allow employees to self-identify as high risk for severe diseases and reassign work to minimize face-to-face contact. Additional accommodations would be to allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from others or, if possible, telework. 


Alexandra Watts joined WFAE as a Report for America Corps Member in 2020 in the unique partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library using radio and Wikipedia to fill news deserts.


Dante Miller joined WFAE as a Report for America Corps Member in 2020 in the unique partnership using radio and Wikipedia to fill news deserts.

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