As the next step out of lockdown eases in England on Monday, hair and beauty report being booked up “back to back” for several weeks, as people brave the cold weather to queue in long lines for much-needed trims.
Hairy Britons have either had to resort to haircuts at home or simply growing out their locks and waiting patiently for the professionals to pick their scissors up once again.
In south east London, queues of shaggy-haired men snaked along rows of shops in Blackheath Village, waiting their turn at local barbershops. Salons bustled with the sound of hairdryers and chatting, as clients took the opportunity to catch up with their stylists after a long winter.
Waiting in line for Bond’s Barber Shop was 28-year-old Tim, who last had his hair cut by his girlfriend several weeks ago. He told The Independent that he was “really excited” to be getting a professional haircut.
“My girlfriend’s actually done a pretty good job with my hair, but she is really nervous about the idea of doing it again,” he said.
“So I think, for as long as the barber can stay open, I can spare my girlfriend from cutting my hair again. For her sanity, but also it is great to see these businesses reopening after so long.”
But as excited as customers are to get their unruly manes back into shape, it is the stylists, technicians and salon managers who are most looking forward to the steady stream of clients once again.
Jess Sharp, assistant manager at the Good Looks Hair and Beauty Salon in Blackheath, told The Independent: “We’re booked out back to back for the next two weeks, we’re so so busy, but it’s really good to be back.
“We get as many people in as we possibly can while making sure everyone is socially distanced and we have enough time in between appointments to clean and sanitise everything before the next customer.
“I’m hoping that this is it, this will be the last lockdown. The vaccine rollout is going well and that gives us some hope. There will probably be a spike in infections, but hopefully it won’t be bad enough that we have to go back into lockdown.”
Some salons could barely wait for 12 April to reopen. Kelly Boad, owner of the Hair & Beauty Gallery in Warwick, told the PA news agency that she opened her salon at midnight for a symbolic “first cut” of 2021.
“We’re fully booked for the first few weeks and can’t wait for our customers to be back with us,” she said.
“I thought it would be nice to do a cut as soon as we possibly could and it wasn’t hard to find someone who wanted their hair doing after so long.
“It felt great to have a pair of scissors back in my hands and I can’t wait to see all our great customers again.”
In Birmingham’s Digbeth creative quarter, customer bookings are “absolutely full to the rafters” at Salon Strand & Lock, said its co-owner.
Lizzie Hewitt said it was “great” to finally be able to open again, but worried that another lockdown would be “make or break” for their business.
Ms Hewitt and fellow owner Danny Law opened the salon in November 2019. Mr Law said Monday felt like the “third launch” for the business because of repeatedly having to lock down.
“It was really hard not knowing when we are actually going to open – not having that end goal,” said Ms Hewitt.
“So, as soon as we got that date, it got really exciting. I think it seemed alright until maybe March but the last month has been really difficult.”
Additional reporting by PA