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Hairdressers slam new ‘discriminatory’ Covid rules which will impact black customers

As hairdressers prepare to reopen their doors on Monday there are new Government guideline they must adhere to.

Under new rules salons must reduce the time customers spend in their chairs so any services offered should be “short and basic”.

This means that hairdressers are no longer allowed to do ‘long treatments’ such as highlights and any other services that may take time.

This includes offering braiding, hair relaxing treatments, hair weaves and hair extensions which are very popular with black customers.

Michael Styles has run a black hair salon in Willesden, north west London, for more than 10 years.

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Michael has lost thousands of pounds during the lockdown
Michael has lost thousands of pounds during the lockdown

He told the Mirror that the new rules ‘discriminatory’ and said it would have a devastating effect on the black hair industry.

“Whoever came up with these rules knows little about the hairdressing industry and nothing about the black industry,” he said.

“How are suppose to run a business if we can’t offer the treatment our customers want?

“Black hair is complex and you can’t just offers a wash and blow dry must hair will need some sort of treatment.

“The most popular treatments by customers ask for will take a minimum of two hours so it won’t be short and basic.”

The hairdresser has won more than 25 awards for his creative styling techniques
The hairdresser has won more than 25 awards for his creative styling techniques

Michael said the treatment his customers need take hours
Michael said the treatment his customers need take hours

Michael’s creative styles have turned heads and won him more than 25 awards in the last decade due to the intricacy of his work.

The guidance states that if longer procedures such as braiding or massages are being done salon workers should “consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised”.

But Michael said this is impossible with some of the work he does.

He said: “A lot of women ask for a weave which takes a couple of hours and if they want single braid extensions that can take between eight and hours. Plus there will be two people working on their head to speed things up so it can’t be minimised any more.

Single braids like this can take hours
Single braids like this can take Michael and his staff hours

Michael treating a customer in his salon
Michael treating a customer in his salon

“Maintaining black hair takes time and can’t be rushed.

“We can’t just wash and go.

“These rules are discriminatory against black hairdressers and need to be looked at again. All hair matters.”

The beauty industry has taken a battering as hairdressers, barbers, beauty salons and nail bars were among the last to open in July last year after the first lockdown began in March.

Michael's client with coloured and relaxed hair
Michael’s client with coloured and relaxed hair

A client with locs which takes hours to treat
A client with locs which takes hours to treat

They then had to close again in November which means they have been shut for business for a total of almost nine months.

Michael added: “I’ve lost so much money because of the lockdown and it’s so unfair I’ll have to turn people away and lose even more business because of these rules.”

Carole Scott from Harlesden, north west London, has been a mobile hairdresser for over 30 years so travels to her customers’ homes to treat their hair.

She said the Government needs to ‘tear up’ the rules and write them again.

“They are ridiculous and will affect my work as most of my clients are black,” she said.

Carole Scott is a mobile hairdresser
Carole Scott is a mobile hairdresser

Carole has been treating her customers in the comfort of heir own homes for 33 years
Carole has been treating her customers in the comfort of heir own homes for 33 years

“It takes along time to treat black hair and after months of being in lockdown my clients will definitely need things like conditioning treatments and relaxers which take a long time.

“I have one client who wants a weave which will take 10 hours so that means I have to turn the work down.

“These rules discriminate against black people.

‘I have white and Asian client who usually want highlights so I can’t do their hair either.

“I’ve not been able to earn a penny during the lockdown and now there are so many rules in place that means I can work but can’t work either.”

Other guideline rules

  • Hairdressers must reduce the use of hairdryers to stop people from raising their voices.
  • Salons must not have background music on incase it tempts people to sing.
  • Workers must ensure they maintains a two-metre distance between their colleagues.
  • The British Beauty Council recommends that all workers don staff wear gloves and gowns.
  • Both staff and customers must wear face coverings.
  • Social distancing measures between workers and their customers should be followed where possible.
  • Salons must disinfect surfaces regularly and hand sanitisers offered to customer upon entry.
  • Workspaces should be kept clean and tidy with waste removed regularly.
  • Salons should increase ventilation on their premises by keeping doors or windows open.



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