This is what a trip to the hair salon will look like after lock-down, says Clitheroe barber
It's not just the days that are long under lock-down, with Rapunzel and caveman tresses becoming the stand-out trends of the season.
By the time salons open up from July 4, in accordance with current Government guidelines, it will have been 15 weeks since any of us visited the hairdressers since the start of lock-down, which means stylists will have the mammoth task of covering up roots as long as rivers and trimming beards as wild as Vikings.
But when we finally get that much-needed chop, the salon experience is set to be markedly different to normal, according to Clitheroe barber Joseph Lanzante, who is sharing his insights into what a trip to the barbers might look like when lock-down restrictions are eased.
As most men visit the barber on average once every two months, says Joseph, who owns The Men’s Room in King Street, he expects the hair industry to be inundated with customers looking to book appointments.
The international hair stylist added: "The question is, how can we adapt to ensure staff and customers are kept safe? How should we manage demand when social distancing is likely to be enforced, and what trends might be on the rise as a result of this huge social change?
"As a barber myself and owner of a string of shops as well as the Joseph Lanzante Barbering Training Academy, I understand more than anyone the impact this lock-down has had on our industry and people’s livelihoods, but we will recover and come back stronger than ever.
"There is no shadow of a doubt that barbers’ shops will be inundated when lock-down is lifted and I’m expecting the Government to enforce strict guidelines around social distancing to protect staff and clients.
"Due to the nature of salons, the barber or hairdresser has to come into close contact with the client, so gloves and masks will be worn and disposed of after each client. We must all take responsibility for this and not be afraid to take all the extra precautions."
Opening hours are likely to be extended for the first few weeks and months to cope with demand, he predicts.
"My best piece of advice is to get booked in now as these appointments will be like hot cakes. Booking now will also help support your local barber whilst times are challenging," he said.
Salons are likely to operate an "every other chair" policy to allow adequate space between clients, adds Joseph, who plans to put his staff on two six-hour shifts a day to begin with, which will allow for longer opening hours while also providing relief for barbers who will have to work in protective masks.
And if you've endured an at-home hair disaster, then don't panic, as stylists will be ready and armed with scissors to work their magic on your mop and bring it back to high-style.
"You’re not alone if you’ve attempted to cut your own hair at home! The hair industry is expecting to see many customers whose wives, girlfriends and mothers have got hold of the scissors," he said.
"The knock on effect of this is that barbers and hairdressers will have many repair jobs on their hands, which will take more time in the chair."
That's why he's planning to run a big promotion, along the lines of a "Welcome back grooming package", which will offer a number of treatments in one visit.
Long beards have become the style of the season for many men, so beard trims are likely to become more popular, while many others who have grown their hair might decide to keep
the length, signifying a shift away from fades and blends and towards more layered haircuts and longer hair, Joseph also predicts.
"Now onto the topic of how much you’ll expect to pay. For the first few months many salons will only be breaking even whilst repaying debts and recuperating from losses. You may find that your local barber or hairdresser has decided to add a small price increase, anywhere from 5% - 10%, so if you usually pay £10 for a haircut, expect to pay £11," he added.
"As a customer you won’t really notice this small increase, but as a business owner, it really will make a difference when multiplied by 20 clients a day.
"As we are currently going through a huge societal change, people’s spending habits have changed quite drastically. For most, we’ve been at home not spending as much on leisure, restaurants and holidays so it’s possible that many people will feel like splurging on themselves with a fresh new look.
"Male grooming products are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the barber industry. Anti-ageing creams, night creams, moisturisers and exfoliators are all reasonably affordable luxuries that you can purchase at many barbers.
"Many blokes rarely visit the shops, so learning about new products in the barber’s chair can help you understand what will benefit you the most, especially if you’ve not spent a lot of money on yourself in recent weeks."
Joseph also plans to run top-up training courses on mini facials for men to provide "add-on" services.
He hopes it will help to raise people's confidence and spirits after many weeks cooped up indoors with few opportunities to relax and treat themselves.
As he added: "Barbering doesn’t have to be about the necessity of getting a haircut; it can be an indulgence, something to make you feel better, the same as ladies do when they visit the beauty salon."