The Things... Going to The Salon (Haare & Nagel)


The Things... Going to The Salon (Haare & Nagel)

I haven't been to a salon since late 2018. And it is pretty rare that I visit a salon of any kind in general. I personally do not follow a fussy beauty regimen. I have unproblematic skin and easy to maintain hair. I do not wear false lashes or nails. Being Black I do not require any intense anti-aging or cosmetic services or tanning. I may get a Brazilian wax or sugaring in the summer. I generally stick to a uniform hair style that is somewhat flexible if I need a change. I treat myself to an occasional pedicure and a natural manicure when I can. Overall I do not think any of the above is vital to my existence. Therefore sitting out the salon experience for 2020 wasn't that hard to do. I did however empathize with women who rely on regular hair color services. Having worked in the beauty industry I know how hard it is to keep up appearances when pretending to be a true blonde and or covering greys. I color my hair as well but after a brief tri fashion color experience that left my hair damaged and partially blonde I was on the road to growing it out. But the grey had come to haunt me during the pandemic and I was thankful I could hide indoors. But once I learned salons were open in Germany I made my way back to black. I could have totally done this at home but I do not want to mess up my sink or my hair to the point I would require outside intervention. I figured I might as well risk exposure by having someone skilled do my hair for me and leave promptly after to finish the conditioning & styling in the comfort of my own home. Unfortunately for me B.C. type reactions to me wanting services at a high end German salon was met with a lot pushback. It took a lot for me to ask for an appointment but way more to follow through with keeping it. 

I spoke with five employees at said salon before a time, date and stylist was agreed upon. All of them parading around the front desk with their surgical masks. I also had them constantly tell me they couldn't hear or understand me asking to make arrangements on the outside of the plexi shield dividing us. Frankly, I am tired of this salon. Every time I go there is some song and dance. The same dye and developer they use is available for purchase by the unlicensed public. So if I felt confident I could totally do this all by myself. But this time my husband had agreed to pay for it so I figured I would allow said salon to do my hair 200%. I would allow ze Germans to color, cut and style my Black natural hair. Knowing that doing this to afro textured, natural and wildly grown out hair I anticipated a 300€ plus service cost. So to make this process easier on everyone I inquired about paying by the hour so that stylist didn't feel inconvenienced by my needs. In this I expected to pay around 150€ per hour for three to five hours not to exceed 800€. Before I could wager I was met with a stern "we cannot cut your hair"  so I begrudgingly opted for the 110€ color and leave wet as per normal. I leave wet because I know if they are this standoffish about me coming in with straightened hair to be colored that they would never apply their techniques to detangle, blow dry and straighten my hair after coloring it. It is something I deal with that I hate and this happens in both Caucasian and ethnic hair salons here and abroad. I do not want a hand out and I always offer to pay beyond cost. But I am seldom met with someone eager to help me at any amount. But I know in Germany people are just stuck on me wanting to be in that space when there are afro salons all over when little do they know those hair braiders and wig installers are not skilled or equipped to do hair like mines. Again, all of this back and forth is exposure to Covid. So I took what I could get and got out of their ... hair.

On the day of my appointment, they started with a thorough hand washing before I could get a cape or sit down. I brought my own mask. I would recommend bringing a few as the straps could break, color or get wet during services. I was met with all the same niceties as B.C. A drink. A snack. Magazines. All of which I never expected during a pandemic. The stylist was very refreshing despite all the front desk staff being rude and inconsiderate. If I had to do it over again though I would definitely go to a salon that was willing to do what I asked. But I also didn't want to travel somewhere and have to ride the U-Bahn home with wet hair. However, any salon is typically socially distanced as is, towels and tools are constantly sanitized and they are always well ventilated because of chemicals. The stylist did inform me that services like makeup and lashes were temporarily unavailable because the duration of face to face exposure was high risk. Otherwise it is perfectly safe to have a masked individual do your hair while you are masked as well. The only inconvenience was having wet ear straps and having to change my mask after the rinse. I would imagine if I had base color, a rinse, highlights and another rinse I would have gone through two to four masks which were not provided. Otherwise the entire experience was easy going and safe. 

The nail salon is another thing. The one I go to doesn't have good phone skills so I typically go in there as well to set an appointment. While one can walk in sometimes there is a wait and it really isn't a large space for sitting around. There are typically one or two employees and only the front door for ventilation. I imagine they have a back door too which is hope was left ajar but it is not a well ventilated place to begin with. So making an appointment is the best solution to ensure you are seen at opening before others show up crowding the space. I always bring my own polish including top coat. So I really cannot speak to the hygiene of using polish that is constantly touched by employees and clients. I also do not get faux nails which would require close face to face contact for a duration. Those gel, dip and acrylics are also very dusty and often blown around with conversation and air flow. A pedicure is social distanced as is and a natural manicure can be done at the pedicure chair or very quickly at a nail station. I did notice that this salon was now taking more precautions like wearing latex gloves and bagging the footbowl. But the mask use was a problem from the moment I arrived. They just didn't seem to want to keep those things on their faces which was problematic. And I couldn't just move or leave like I would do on the train or in a restaurant. My shoes were off, my purse was away from me and there was a man holding my wet foot doing things to it. His colleague opened the front door and ran an oscillating fan so I felt somewhat better knowing there was a breeze. The bad part was a random old woman walking in and requesting a pedicure on the spot. Instead of saying give us ten minutes until my toes were done they sat her directly next to me as the bowl filled and they prepped for her. In this no one was available to man the phones or decline someone coming in. Everyone was occupied with us two and we were all close together in the corner. At this point I was not socially distanced and the woman began to cough. 

That woman coughed her entire service and I wanted to say you know what just forget about the manicure. But I had booked it and set that appointment a week in advance. I thought doing that at opening would prevent what was happening and I also thought the employees would consider the size of their space and maybe ask her to wait, move me to a station and then placed her in the second pedicure chair. And of course she was one of those grumpy types with ugly feet who really needed a podiatrist so her service was long and arduous for them. I basically endured her coughing and remaining there through me paying and leaving. And adding in dry time for my feet that was a long time to be confined with her. Normally this nail salon offers drinks and is very chatty during services. This particular day it took them a minute to even get the music started. I think they are just as nervous about their operating practices as I was. I will probably not be returning to a nail salon during the pandemic and probably never returning to that particular one. I think I'm better off going to a small, local fußfleger where I will be alone with my technician in a more clinical and ventilated space. And as for other services like waxing or sugaring, I don't even want to go the dentist during this time so I am not game for someone leaning over my vag for twenty minutes in a basement broom closet. I'll pass. 

So salons during pandemics 7/10 experience and risk factor 5/10 in a nail salon but 0/10 in hair salon. Unless you really need a haircut or color DIY it and no one is looking at your nails or your muschi!