At Boulevard, we are dedicated to supporting salons and spas across the U.S., not only with our incredible technology and services but as a true partner. As part of our mission, we have a higher calling to advocate for the industry we support.
COVID-19 restrictions are essential for recovery and there is no denying that these precautions have impacted businesses across all industries. However, the beauty and personal care industry has faced more challenges than any other — regulation and policy enforcement are inconsistent, and finding up-to-date information as consumers is a constant struggle. Above all, the industry lacks corporate backing to lobby for the help it deserves. This year has been incredibly trying for the businesses we rely on to help us look and feel our best. And it didn’t need to be this way.
Much of this friction stems from a severe miscalculation on the part of regulators: Because salons involve person-to-person interaction, they assumed the risk of reopening would be high. In reality, the opposite is true. This industry is well-equipped to operate safely under pandemic conditions because its foundational practices emphasize hygiene. All cosmetologists, barbers, manicurists, skin care specialists, and makeup artists in the United States receive training and licensure from accredited cosmetology schools. Such an education covers health safety in detail, with a specific focus on sanitation practices to minimize the transfer of infectious diseases.
There is real-life evidence to validate the efficacy of these practices. Back in July, the Center for Disease Control found that two mask-wearing stylists from Missouri who tested positive for COVID-19 in May didn’t transmit the disease to a single one of the 139 clients they saw. And earlier this month, contact tracing data from New York proved that 70% of transmission is occurring from household and small gatherings, prompting Governor Cuomo to allow salons to reopen to 25% capacity. That data also revealed that salons and other personal care businesses accounted for just 0.14% of cases in the state from September to November.
Other brick-and-mortar small businesses, like restaurants, have received considerable government support despite the fact that many are generating revenue at a reduced capacity. But unlike restaurants, salon owners and their stylists can’t supplement their income with take-out service. House calls are not a viable solution — several state boards outright prohibit "offsite services," while others require special licenses, permits, and expensive insurance. Meanwhile, consumers are left with the option of crossing state and county lines to get essential self-care services or simply choose to go without.
As if these hurdles weren’t enough, salons struggle to get the word out once they reopen.