Have hairdressers reopened in the UK?

Hairdressers are picking up their scissors again

woman having her hair cut by hairdresser wearing face mask
(Image credit: amriphoto via Getty Images)

With restrictions ever changing many of us have been wondering, when will hairdressers open in 2021? Thankfully we no longer need to rely on our best hair dryer and DIY skills as hairdressers and barbers opened on 12th April, 2021.

Here's what the latest updates say about when beauty services are likely to reopen in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

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When will hairdressers open in England in 2021?

Hairdressers in England have been allowed to open on the 12th of April. This will be the second of four stages under Boris Johnson's plans to ease lockdown, which was announced on the 22nd of February and is driven by "data not dates".

In order for this to happen four key criteria have been met – the vaccine programme has progressed as planned; vaccinations are reducing Covid deaths and hospital admissions; current infection rates don’t risk increased hospital admissions; and new variants of the virus don’t increase the risk of easing lockdown. 

All non-essential retail and personal care services, including hairdressers, have been closed since the 5th of January, when the Prime Minister announced that England would go into a third national lockdown.

When will hairdressers open in Scotland in 2021?

Hairdressers and barbers reopened across Scotland from April 5. 

Announcing the news on March 16, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "These changes will, I hope, make a difference to people in a number of different ways. However, given the state of the virus and the extent of vaccination, what I have just set out is the maximum we consider possible at that stage to do safely."

All personal care services, including hairdressers, have been closed since the start of January, when the First Minister announced a lockdown of mainland Scotland. Mobile hairdressers and barbers are also not permitted to work.

When will hairdressers open in Wales in 2021?

Hairdressers have been open in Wales since March 15, for booked appointments only.

Are hairdressers open in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has not yet confirmed any dates for when hairdressers and barbers could reopen.

How does social distancing work in hair salons?

Founder of London Soho's SALON64 Ricky Walters told us what clients could expect when they returned to the salon: "We will be taking everyone’s temperatures upon entering the salon with an infrared thermometer to ensure there is not further spread of coronavirus within the salon that will affect our clients and staff," he confirmed. 

"Everything is going disposable! From the gowns our clients wear to the towels we use to dry hair, everything will be single use. Still conscious of our environmental responsibility, we are using eco-friendly bio-degradable towels and gowns that decompose at the same speed as a banana skin (from our favourite eco-brand Scrummi). Even our cups and glassware will all be single use. Still serving up incredible cocktails at the bar as well as delicious coffee, it will all be served in disposable tableware.

"'Sneeze Screens' will protect clients at the front desk upon check in and check out as well as floor to ceiling screens between each section. Clients will be supplied with a face mask to wear along with the team all wearing gloves, branded 64 face masks and 64 shields.

"We are currently looking into pre-payment options to eliminate unnecessary human interaction when paying at the front desk. We know with our innovation and high standards, we will continue to provide an incredible environment and positive energy even with these new restrictions”.

Can mobile hairdressers work in local lockdowns?

No. All personal care services, including mobile hairdressers, barbers and beauty therapists, must remain closed under the current lockdown rules. This applies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What happened before Lockdown 3?

At the end of 2020 before it was confirmed hairdressers would be open from tiers 1-3 in England, beauty booking services Treatwell and Urban warned of the impact to the industry if salons are unable to open at the start of December.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, they outlined that 10% of the beauty industry has already gone out of business due to the pandemic, a figure that could jump to 30% if workers cannot take advantage of the all-important Christmas period.

The letter, signed by more than 500 members of the beauty industry, stresses the devastating potential impact on 370,000 jobs and 50,000 businesses across the country, and that tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost – 94% of these by women.

"Hair, beauty and wellness cannot survive another last minute U-turn from the Government," reads a statement from Treatwell COO Giorgia Rossi and Urban CEO Jack Tang. "We are seeking urgent clarity and reassurance that businesses will be able to open on 3rd December. Let’s come together to bring back hair, beauty and wellness and prevent it from getting left behind again."

In May, Keith Conniford, CEO of the Hair and Barber Council spoke to Woman & Home about the plans for hairdressers and barbers to open when the first lockdown ended. He confirmed that, during the initial lockdown, there were people making plans to support the industry in preparation for the restrictions being lifted.

He said, “One of the critical things that businesses need to do is ensure that they feel the health, safety, and hygiene of their premises is as safe as possible for [clients] to come in and get their hair done, or whatever service they’re going to have."

The Guild of Beauty Therapists also confirmed their initial position on the subject with a post on Instagram in May. They said, "Beauty and hair salon businesses, holistic centers, practice training schools and nail bars including mobile and home-based businesses must remain shut" as "our industry involves touching clients, which makes it impossible to adhere to the 2m social distancing rule. Hence the industry remains in lockdown."

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At home haircut: the golden rules for a DIY trim

 If your hair needs urgent attendance, or you’re just looking for a little lockdown pick-me-up, there’s nothing wrong with giving your hair a light trim. If you really can't wait for the lockdown to lift, We asked SALON64's Ricky Walters for his top tips for maintaining (or changing) your style...

Find a video for guidance

“There are huge amounts of videos and tutorials online on how to cut someone’s hair, but my first piece of advice would be to shop around for a video that speaks slowly, clearly and with plenty of detail.”

Ricky says, “Do not just go for the first video you quite like the look of. The key is in the detail – whether it’s flicking out the clippers when fading men’s hair or the amount of tension in your hands when pulling ladies’ hair down to cut. Details are key.”

Make a contingency plan

Ricky says not having a contingency plan this is one of the most common mistakes you can make when cutting someone else’s hair. “Your husband or wife wants three inches off their hair and I cringe as I watch an amateur cut a line at exactly 3 inches with no margin for error.

“Remember you can always take more off but you can’t put more on.”

Start from the back

For some reason everyone like to start at the front, says Ricky. “For me this is the most important area and the place most visible to your client. Try and take less off starting from the back as a little test patch to find your feet and work slowly and methodically following an experts tutorial. [Find someone] who is a professional hairdresser and not an amateur trying to gain followers.”

Everything you need for a DIY haircut

Along with a good amount of confidence, these are the things that Ricky suggests you need before attempting a DIY haircut:

1. Comb

Combs play an important role in cutting hair. They help to divide it into sections and guide the scissors when making the cut.

2. Scissors

Easily the most essential tool for cutting hair. You can buy hairdressers' scissors in a huge variety of styles and colours - but we went for these basic ones that are easy to use, from Amazon.

3. Curling wand

As recommended by Ricky Walters of SALON64, this CLOUD NINE curling wand will help you style your hair in whatever way you like.

4. Straighteners

One of ghd's most popular products, these straightening tongs might not be the cheapest, but they're some of the most reliable around.

5. Hair mask

Designed to give your hair a new lease of life, this hair mask from Aveda will help moisturise and repair damaged hair.

Here's hoping we don't have to endure at-home cuts for much longer!