Fashion / Beauty

Houston Hair Salons in the Age of Coronavirus — What Reopening Really Looks and Feels Like in High-End Pampering Palaces

The Champagne and Lounging are Gone, But the Pent-Up Demand's Intense

BY // 05.12.20

On your next visit to the hair salon, you will undoubtedly celebrate having your roots colored and finally getting that much-needed trim and styling. But you can forget all the niceties that a salon visit pre-coronavirus meant.

We tooled around town on Tuesday to see how several high-end Houston hair salons are handling the mandated protocols that are changing the landscape of luxe salons. Things are … different.

Missing: the bottomless servings of champagne and wine, the coffee bar, the fruit basket, the nibbles, relaxing in the lounge before your appointment or while your color is setting.

Added: temperatures taken before entry, gloves, masks, physical barriers between stations, lots of hand sanitizer and germ killer.

Pent-up demand for hair care is so intense, it’s doubtful that any desperate man or woman will mind.

It seemed that only seconds after Governor Greg Abbott started announcing relaxed stay-at-home protocols, Cynthia Everage’s cellphone was nearly exploding. Within minutes, she had more than 150 text messages asking for appointments at Therapy Hair Studio; currently she’s  juggling 200 requests. To make room for all the requests, with a purposely reduced staff, she is still working on re-bookings that are now five weeks out.

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Ceron Hair Studio in Uptown Park, which has also reduced staff to provide extra spacing, is booked until July. (He’s moving in August to a locale overlooking Levy Park on Richmond.)

Whether entering Therapy, Ceron, or Bella Renova in River Oaks District, we were welcomed by host and hostesses standing behind acrylic barriers. Our temperature was taken before entry, and at all three, we could use our fill of hand sanitizer from massive jugs.

Signs on the doors emphasize that things are different now. Masks must be worn at all times. No food or drink allowed.

In fact, guests are not allowed in the shops until their stylist is ready. Clients must wait in their cars until summoned by cellphone. Likewise, while your color is setting, you could be asked to spend that time back in your car or on the terrace.

Therapy Hair Studio
Therapy Hair Studio after the coronavirus changed everything.

Typically, Therapy has 16 stylists, but owners David Bamford and Luis Perez have cut that number in half to allow for space between stations, even though the stations are separated by Kératase screens. They have added a UV sterilization machine and recertified staff on Barbicide sanitation.

Ceron has cut his number of stylists as well, leaving every other station empty with barriers between.

“It’s been difficult,” he tells PaperCity. “But it’s part of the protocol, and we are really working hard to do it right. We tried to think of every detail.”

He says that on the day of the opening announcement, his salons had 600 phone calls. To make up for lost time due to the distancing requirements, his salons are now open from 8 am to 8 pm. Bowls at the door are filled with the required masks and recommended gloves.

Before you mount the stairs or enter the elevator at Bella Renova, a well-masked attendant checks your temperature and announces your arrival to the hostess upstairs. Owner Lynette Davis points to numerous steps taken, including social-distancing signs on seating, and, in standing areas, the addition of clear shields between each station (allowing all 33 stylists to maintain their client roster).

While the disposable client capes have not yet arrived from China, Bella Renova is already using disposable full-size hair towels. A number of those could be seen on clients relaxing, while their color set, on the 2,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with social-distancing requirements carefully marked.

Solaya Spa & Salon by The Houstonian will reopen on May 18 with a number of steps in place to meet required protocols and to further client security. Masks will be required and gloves recommended, both provided at the spa. Temperatures will be taken from staff and clients. Pre-arrival health questionnaires will be issued. Guests will wait in their cars in the shaded parking area until their appointment time. Lockers and changing rooms will be closed.

However, the salon is lovely, and the luxe experience expected will undoubtedly still be delivered.

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