‘We’ve been inundated’: England’s beauty salons say cash-splashing clients excited to return

Like many people in the beauty industry, Dennie Smith’s phone has been ringing off the hook as people clamour for appointments when salons reopen in England on Monday.

Her Vintage 62 unisex hair salon in south Croydon had just two 45-minute slots left for the rest of April, and May is nearly all booked up too. “We have been inundated, my phone is literally going 24/7,” said Smith, who has spent the last few days completely redecorating the salon in time for the big reopening. “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people and they’re all excited to come back.”

Most people are opting for a full cut and colour, a complete revamp in time for what is set to be a busy summer of reunions and, if the roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, events, festivals and maybe even holidays abroad. “I normally would get a cut and blow dry in those 45-minute gaps, but people are wanting massive restyles now, so every appointment is going to take longer,” Smith said.

Yet there is still uncertainty around exactly what is allowed under the new rules, after guidance published on the government’s website said hair and beauty salons “should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum”.

The Labour MP Judith Cummins, co-chair of parliament’s cross-party group on beauty, aesthetics and wellbeing, said the rules showed a “slapdash approach”. Last year, the government was accused of sexism when the beauty industry was overlooked in reopening plans.

But after 12 months of on-off lockdown, lost income and restrictions, business owners are relieved to see an increased demand for hair and beauty treatments, just as pubs and restaurants open again across England, even if outdoors-only for now.

“I think lots of people are just sick of seeing themselves in the house with their roots and split ends and stuff,” said Maddi Cook, a hair extension specialist and founder of Boss Your Salon mentoring group. “I think we’ll see a lot of very glam people in not-so-glam settings in the next couple of months.”