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Can Barbers and Hair Stylists Provide Their Services Safely Inspite of COVID?

Article by your sharpener, Garnet R. Chaney

Protestors holding a sign about wanting a haircut

Someone wrote this on social media:  "These #covidiots bitching because they can’t go out for a haircut are making fools of themselves, not to mention jeopardizing public health (not just their own)." - Michael Rubinstein, response to a post on Facebook about skateboard parks being filled with sand.

His statement boils down to this: Are these people merely selfish?

Well, as a sharpener with hundreds of barbers, stylists, and groomers, as a customer every year, I get a lot of opportunities to see how customers relate to their stylists, barbers, and other clients at the salons and shops they visit. So I have a perspective on how they feel about their contact with hair styling. 

First my standard disclaimer. I am not a stylist. I don't play one on TV. And if I did, I wouldn't be interesting enough for you to watch.  

I do have thousands of hours experience in salons and barbershops. But I am not a stylist, so I will readily admit I don't have their training, most have even more hours in their environment than I do, so let me assure you that they are even more experienced about what I am about to say. 

But I can say as an expert, here is the reality about COVID and haircuts in salons:

  1. RIGOROUS SANITATION STANDARDS - You can be sure that every state has already specified a rigorous set of sanitation specifications for this profession, makes sure every one is thoroughly trained and tested before licensing, and has regular inspections. And in California, regulators give salon owners severe incentives to make sure that everyone renting a chair does their job in the salon according to all the standards.
  2. WAKEUP CALL - The current events are a wakeup call for all grooming professionals to double down their focus on the sanitation standards recommended for their profession.
  3. SALON MUCH SAFER - It is entirely possible to take extra precautions that enable getting a haircut to be safe from COVID transmission risk, and certainly much safer than an "essential" trip to the local liquor store to buy a packet of cigarettes, or to the gas station to buy gas and hotdogs.
  4. DONT FORGET ABOUT ALL OF US - COVID, influenza, drug resistant tuberculous, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, occupational chemical exposure, STDs (yes, they are a risk too even without sexual activity), recreational water illnesses such as diarrhea and Legionella which causes a kind of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, staph and MRSA (flesh eating bacteria), are all serious issues for salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, and tanning salons. You can read the PDF below for even more dangers, and the ongoing educations of the State of California for their licensees on how to protect themselves and the general public.
  5. ALL COMMON SENSE ALL ALONG - The only recommendation being uniquely demanded for COVID is social distancing, but you can not argue that it was not a reasonable precaution all along for many other of the communicable disease threats listed above.
  6. LET THEM USE THEIR PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT - Stylists are professionals, and they are able to consider the facts given, and develop additional procedures and rules that take into account the extra recommendations we are being given about COVID. They can certainly do this to a much greater level than anyone is demanding of liquor stores or gas stations.
  7. LET PROFESSIONALS IN THEIR FIELD CALM THE HYSTERIA - Given that much of the public has been frightened much more by politicians, the government, and media coverage about COVID than any other communicable disease that historically causes a larger number of deaths every year, (e.g. influenza), stylists have a high bar to meet in order to convince their frightened customers that the stylist has implemented a good set of procedures that will keep everyone in the salon safe. Certainly safer than at a CVS pharmacy.
  8. GROOMING ESSENTIAL FOR MENTAL HEALTH - Proper grooming is a key part of mental health. A lot of people struggle to do basic hygiene tasks when depressed. “They report not having enough energy to do simple self-care tasks, such as brushing their teeth or washing their hair,” says Melissa A. Jones, PhD, HSPP, a clinical psychologist based in Indiana. “Many of them do not take care of their personal hygiene needs unless they are reminded by a family member to do so.” One of the keys to dealing with depression is maintaining proper rituals. “Unfortunately, at both ends of the spectrum, a lack of personal hygiene or an obsession with personal hygiene create additional stress and anxiety for the sufferer,” says Carla Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author.
  9. DISABLED PEOPLE NEED ACCESS TO HAIR PROFESSIONALS - According to Frolich, Gordon, and Beason, disability attorneys, personal grooming can be a significant challenge to living with various disabilities that affect mobility. According to the United Spinal Association, the United States largest association dedicated to advocacy for people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), traveling barbers are a vital professional resource for people with certain disabilities.
  10. LET CLIENTS AND  PROFESSIONALS BE FREE TO ASSOCIATE - There are individuals who would like to receive their personal grooming services from providers who are dedicated to providing those services in a safer form. For them, they feel it is an essential need for them to get their grooming services.  And there are professionals who want to, and are able to, provide those services in a safe way.

To the person who got me started with their comment on social media:

If you don't agree, that's fine, you are free to stay home and do whatever it is you want to do while you write FB posts condemning people who value personal grooming more than you do, and by extension you condemn all the people who want to provide these services who have instead had their livelihood ripped out from under them by government fiat. 

And if you happen to have benefit of any kind of income like a pension, annuity, or government check, during this crisis, and your income has been mostly uninterrupted by these government decrees, then your opinion should not count for squat when it comes to decisions about many of these cosmetology professionals.  Before all this began they were often working from haircut to haircut, trying to afford their lives, and now have been declared unessential and left without any income. You can't possibly understand what their lives are like right now.

In the words of one of your darlings, "How dare you!"


Watch next: Dr. Erickson briefing on COVID-19

Comments on researching this article


* The Traveling Barbers: In-Home Hair Professionals For The Disabled - https://spinalcord.org/disability-products-services/the-traveling-barbers-in-home-hair-professionals-for-the-disabled/ - Google queries: hairdressing the disabled, cosmetologist taking care of the disabled, disabled and cosmetologist, mobility issues and cosmetologist, mobility issues and self grooming

* United Spinal Association - https://unitedspinal.org/

* Why is it so hard to brush my teeth or shower? - Google queries: depression and proper grooming

* Why Good Hygiene & Grooming is Good for Mental Health - https://www.thefashionisto.com/why-good-hygiene-grooming-is-good-for-mental-health/ - 

* Personal Grooming For The Disabled - https://www.fgblawfirm.com/blog/2017/december/personal-grooming-for-the-disabled/

* The positive impact cosmetology has on health - Minnesota School of Cosmetology https://www.msccollege.edu/blogs/hair/the-positive-impact-cosmetology-has-on-health/  - Positive impacts for the customer include: Eliminating stress, raising self-esteem, and improving health through hair.  Google queries: grooming psychologic health

* Five diseases you can catch from the salon or spa - https://www.pastemagazine.com/health/disease/5-ways-you-can-catch-disease-at-a-salon/#5-staph-infections-from-tanning-beds - Google queries: biggest disease concerns for cosmetology


Places Posted

* https://www.facebook.com/garnetchaney/posts/3662999277075853



Resources

* Safe Salon Communicable Disease - Promoting health and safety through education   https://www.barbercosmo.ca.gov/consumers/safesalon_communicable_disease.pdf

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Garnet R. Chaney

I provide shear sharpening for hair stylists, groomers, barbers, and hair salons, for these counties in California: Marin county, Contra Costa county, Napa county, Sonoma County, Alameda county, Sacramento County.

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I do shear sharpening in these cities: Novato, San Rafael, Fairfax, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Corte Madera, Richmond, Pinole. Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro, Benicia, Vallejo, Fairfield, Sonoma, Napa, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sebastapol, Piedmont, Orinda,
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