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Fixing a DIY ‘do: Stylists prepare for hair disasters as Manitoba salons open

DIY haircuts during COVID-19
This pandemic has forced us to get used to life with no hair salons or barbers, but some of us are more cut out for DIY haircuts than others.

When hairstylist Lisa Vernaus went back to work Monday for the first time in seven weeks, she was hopeful she wouldn’t have to fix too many DIY makeovers.

Vernaus had been fielding text messages from clients since the coronavirus pandemic shut down her Winnipeg businesses in March, and she tried to dissuade each of them from any risky tinkering with their locks.

READ MORE: Hair salons among Manitoba businesses given the green light to reopen Monday

That pleading seems to have worked — on most of her clients, anyway.

“I had one men’s cut where he attempted to cut his hair himself but only got halfway through and just decided to wear a hat instead,” Vernaus said with a laugh.

“He was pretty embarrassed but we fixed it easily.”

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Reopening day for hair salons
Reopening day for hair salons

Vernaus, who works at Rehab for Hair and owns her own small business called Hair by Lisa Nicole, is one of many Manitoba stylists allowed back to work Monday as part of the province’s first phase of reopening businesses.

Manitoba hasn’t been as hard hit by the novel coronavirus as other parts of the country. The province had a total of 282 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, including seven deaths and 238 resolved.

READ MORE: Pass the scissors? Winnipeg hairstylists weigh in on DIY trimming in isolation

Still, some salons are taking more time before reopening.

Shian Bear, who works at Be You-nique in Winnipeg, says her salon needs to ensure it can get necessary cleaning products and masks for stylists and clients before it hopes to open its doors on May 19.

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Lisa Anderson of the Winnipeg-based CJ Hair and Spa, meanwhile, added logistics of scheduling as another reason her salon will be closed until May 15.

Safety measures

For salons already open — and those soon to join them — it won’t be business as usual.

Stylists and clients are encouraged to wear masks at all times, workspaces need to be sanitized after each service and normal staff hours are being reduced to ensure that there are fewer bodies are in a salon at once.

“We’ve moved our stations around so there’s probably only two clients and two stylists at either ends of the shop,” Bear said. “And we’re disinfecting everything, booking half an hour after each client to properly sanitize shears, chairs, trolleys, sinks, debit machines — basically anything that’s touched.”

Vernaus said she was worried initially about reopening this week, wondering if she would be able to secure cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) on such short notice.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Winnipeg tattoo artist irked at reopening rules

“I wouldn’t have opened if I wasn’t able to get the PPE,” she said. “But I got what I need so I’m confident now.”

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Vernaus is sending a long list of safety measures to clients before their appointments. They’re asked not to bring anyone with them to the salon and to leave jackets and backpacks in their cars.

Stylists are also making some of their services optional, like blow-drying hair after a cut, to reduce the amount of time spent on each appointment.

Anderson, whose mother has metastatic cancer, said there’s “absolutely” hesitation in going back to work too quickly.

“You really can’t social distance when you get your hair done,” she said. “It’s such a personal experience.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Hair stylists and barbers worry about long-term harm to industry, do-it-yourself cuts

The financial incentives also aren’t great right now, said Anderson, who estimates she’ll take home just $100 per week with the limited number of clients she’ll be able to see.

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Anderson and Bear have both decided to remove beard trimming from their services to avoid being too close to clients’ faces.

On the barber’s side

While hairstylists can make that call, barbers can’t.

Dan Potenza, a managing partner of Winnipeg’s Aura Hair Group, which owns two barbershops and three salons in the city, said he’s not too concerned, though.

“We do have masks for (the barbers) and we do pre-screen every client before booking, that’s one of the biggest (safety precautions) in place,” said Potenza, who opened all five of his locations Monday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus at the salon — Should you cancel hair, nail and wax appointments?

“If they don’t have any COVID symptoms, or they haven’t had any, we will book them in. So I don’t think we’ll have any issue with that.”

Potenza also doesn’t expect to see too many DIY mishaps from his clientele.

“It doesn’t get too crazy on the barbershop side,” he said. “Everyone is just really, really shaggy.”

Manitoba businesses report issues finding workers amid re-opening plan
Manitoba businesses report issues finding workers amid re-opening plan

Anderson, meanwhile, is excited to fix her first hair disaster.

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She said typical mishaps for women include using too dark a hair dye, while men often don’t realize they need to put a guard on their clippers.

READ MORE: Should you cut your own hair during the new coronavirus pandemic? Most experts say no

“It’s like, ‘No, sweetheart, you need to start long to short,'” she said with a laugh. “But DIY fixes are my favourite. I love a challenge.”

Bear said uneven cuts are easy enough to fix. It’s the bad colour jobs that can be tricky.

“A few of them have messaged me, like, ‘I have to cut my bangs,’ or ‘My hair was getting too long so I trimmed it myself.’ And it’s like, OK, fine,” she said. “But I don’t think any of my clients have tried any DIY colours — knock on wood.”

Stylists, clients willing to break the law for black market haircuts in Alberta
Stylists, clients willing to break the law for black market haircuts in Alberta

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.