As an industry built on aesthetics, connection and making people look good and feel confident, obligatory mask wearing can be a daunting concept. Everyone in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, Victoria, is wearing one as a matter of legality from 11:59pm, July 22nd, and the practice may become increasingly common by matter of choice in other parts of the country.

“Everyone has to understand that masks individually do make a big difference. Wearing masks and washing your hands have to be top of mind all the time,” said Sandy Chong, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Hairdressing Council.

It’s something that will affect salons and quite probably the mindset of your hair salon clients and staff, so here’s 5 things to think about to make the practice work for you.

1. Safety Comes First

Remember why we’re all doing this – while it’s not ideal, it’s necessary to flatten the curve, stop the spread and have more clients out and about and in salons again. Think of it as a means to an end, and be proud of yourself for being a part of that very necessary process for change as we as a community are fortunately able to still operate.

2. Don’t Become Complacent

Just because the masks are on display, doesn’t mean we should forget the other essential elements of healthy pandemic practices in salon. Hand washing, distancing between stations and education of staff and clients are all processes that remain paramount, as salons use months of their own knowledge and education to facilitate proper business practices.

“This time around we’re all more educated about COVID-19,” Sandy said. “We have more resources now and more information, whereas in March we had nothing so consequently everyone was in a panic. So even now while the future of our businesses is still in an uncertainty, we at least know what we need to do. Some of the hygienic and Work, Healthy and Safety (WHS) practices have become more relaxed and they just can’t be, not yet. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and use hand sanitisers all the time, and be strict with that.”

3. Show Off Your Style and Creativity

In the business of looking and feeling good, masks can feel like a deterrent to the cause, but they can actually be a showing of your style or artistic side. Use your creativity to make your own mask (there are a myriad of DIY how-to tutorials online) or purchase one that shows off your personality, which can become an opportune conversation-starter! Maybe you’ll want more of a salon mask uniform that shines a light on the creative brand of the salon and bonds the team, making them feel cool and special. Either way, see it as a facilitator of your personal or salon style, rather than a look-ruiner.

4. You Can Still Connect With Clients

Hairdressers may be concerned that masks put up a literal barrier to one of our most important jobs – connecting with clients. It’s important to remember that you can still talk to, engage with and be a significant listening ear for clients, even with masks on. Clients are seeing almost no one besides yourself and, like the rest of the state and country, probably going through a lot. This is when we can be at our most valuable, as service providers who offer important conversation, top-tier service and a look change and pampering opportunity that will brighten their whole week. No mask can diminish excellent engagement, effort and service!

5. Be Encouraging of Clients and Staff

It’s the job of salon owners to be encouraging and lift team morale, so be positive about the masks to shift the energy of your salon. Champion creativity, invest in cool, fun and stylish salon masks and make sure to enforce any mandatory laws for staff and clients. If you’re outside Victoria, be encouraging of staff and clients who are still wearing masks to feel safe and comfortable. Also, be flexible with staff who wish to take leave if they don’t feel safe working, or clients that want to postpone until a different time.

The name of the game in 2020 is adaptability, and those who can work with their circumstances with quality of service, genuine compassion and a smile on their face (even if it’s covered) will thrive.

#MaskUpMelbourne – and good luck!