Estetica has spoken exclusively to Franck Provost, President of the National Council of Hairdressing Companies in France, about what France’s emergence from the lockdown is likely to signify for the French hair industry.

Over the past few days at France’s National Assembly, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has now given clarification on what France’s emergence from lockdown is likely to mean. Depending on whether shops and retail outlets are located in “red” (still critical) zones or “green” (lockdown lifting clearance) zones, they can reopen as planned on May 11, provided that footfall within the business is properly managed and employees & customers wear the correct masks. . Shopping centres larger than 40,000 sqm are excluded.

Franck Provost, President of the National Council of Hairdressing Companies (CNEC), and Christophe Doré, 1st Vice-President of UNEC, worked together with the various social partners including Aésio, from the start of the health crisis , in order to propose a complete roadmap to the French government, allowing hair salons to reopen at the earliest opportunity.

While we await the official health and work regulations authorised by the Government, which will definitively establish the protocols to be implemented, we interviewed Franck Provost, who has listed the main guidelines that have been filed.

The whole hair industry is awaiting the validation of these documents which will allow salons and independent hairdressers to start up again on 11 May. Do you think we can get a confirmation soon?
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and engaged in producing this document. I have consulted all the big franchise owners since the beginning of the crisis to gather their opinions and expectations. Together with Christophe Doré, first vice-president of UNEC and the representatives of Mutual Aésio, but also with the various unions and major suppliers in the sector, we jointly defined our guidelines for the reopening of salons. These early consultations have meant we can propose a complete and realistic document which, I hope, will be approved or only slightly modified by the relevant government departments Good preparation on our part has demonstrated our ability to proceed very effectively. We hope to receive validation over the next few days, to allow all French salons to prepare for their reopening with as much notice as possible.

Can you outline the most important details in the document?
First of all, there is employee safety, which is fundamental. We will request that everyone pays the utmost attention to compliance with health protocols in order to prevent a second wave of infections. For hairdressers, therefore, it will be mandatory to wear a mask and glasses, and for barbers, even the visor in addition to the mask. The use of gloves has long been debated with scientists and will not be mandatory, with the exception of technical services such as colouring.
After each client, the hairdresser will have to disinfect his entire work area and tools. He will have to wash his hands and change all the PPE he’s been using with the previous client. All these steps must be carefully displayed in the salons so that each employee follows the instructions to the letter. A second wave would be a real disaster for our industry, as it would for everyone else too.

Will all services be possible in salons as soon as they reopen?
Yes, all services will be possible. We have compared situations in different countries and have used different scientific studies to correctly evaluate the situation. The most important safeguard is, and will be, to wear a mask. The same will be accompanied by a visor for barbers to protect them from any splashes related to the use of the razor.

And what are steps that customers need to take?
Customers should wash their hands when entering the salon disinfect with hand gel. The ideal would be that they wore a mask with elastic bands positioned behind the ears to allow the hairdresser to work easily. We have discussed at length about the supply of masks, but if we work on a figure of 1 million customers per day, we will not be able to provide all the protection that required. It is for this reason that we preferred this option, so as not to put salons in an impossible situation. Customers will use a disposable or machine washable bathrobe, which has been washed with disinfectant detergent and then dried in a tumble-dryer.
Salons must ensure that a distance of 1 metre is maintained between each styling station and that only alternate backwashed are used. Shampooing will be mandatory. Each customer must come alone to the appointment so as not to clutter up spaces. The number of people inside a salon is not limited because everything will depend on its size. The maximum number of people who can stay in each salon at the same time will depend on the distance that can be maintained between each one.
Appointment reservations will be mandatory and the extension of opening hours will have to be reviewed to ensure each customer is received in optimal conditions. It is clear that we will all have to adapt to new hygienic protocols which, for some salons, will have to last for quite some time. Recovery will require a huge effort by everyone, but our profession is essential to the social and economic life of our country.

Financially, all these health protocols have a significant cost for the salon. Do you recommend adjusting the rates accordingly?
We have estimated that these new hygiene rules will cost between 2 and 3 Euros per customer. It will be up to each professional to decide how to cover this cost.

How has the French public reacted to the ongoing closure of salons?
Recent surveys conducted on consumer expectations after the lockdown show that 59% of French people want to return to their hairdresser. Many articles and television reports have highlighted our profession in this respect. It is very encouraging for us from a creative perspective, but also for our industry as a whole. This crisis has taught us that we will have to adapt – all together we will get through it.