UV light, masks, shields: How a Glendale salon owner is keeping clients and stylists safe

Governor Gavin Newsom says salons and barbershops can reopen for indoor services, even in high-risk counties like Los Angeles. But they can only open at 25% capacity.

Rosey Ibarra owns Social Salon Suites in Glendale. She rents out spaces to hairdressers, nail technicians, and other grooming professionals. KCRW talked to her in July about not being able to get a PPP loan. 

She tells KCRW that she’s happy about being able to partially reopen her business. “Our hairdressers and our barbers, they are very happy to be back to work, and the clients that have been very patiently waiting for them are finally coming in.”

When it comes to spreading COVID-19, does she think nail and skincare services are riskier than haircuts? “Hairdressers, when we’re doing shampoos … the service provider is wearing a mask. And the client is also wearing a mask at the shampoo bowl. … Being face to face really is the probably closest you can get to truly getting any kind of cough contamination. But when you’re getting your nails done, they are regulated to have some kind of a shield in addition to a mask. … So no, I don’t believe it’s going to be any more risk than getting your hair done.” 

She explains that when a customer comes in for a haircut, they would text her from the parking lot, then she’ll text back to say she’s ready to greet them at the door. Both people have masks on, and she takes the client’s temperature. Hand sanitizer is also available. She asks if the client has experienced COVID-19 symptoms or been exposed to someone with the virus. Inside the salon, clients can leave their cell phones at a UV light sanitation station while they’re getting their consultations. Clients and stylists must wear masks during the whole service, and she also has face shields. 

She adds, “Everything has been wiped down with disinfectant. And then we also have a portable UV light wand that we like to pass over certain surfaces that will get damaged if we did spray any kind of disinfectant on there. It’s pretty clinical in a lot of cases.” 

Ibarra says she accounts for an additional 30 minutes for all of her services, especially hair coloring services. “That gives us enough time to clean in between clients. But then also for color, there are so many things that I touch, which requires me to sanitize even more things in between.” 

How is she surviving financially since only a portion of her business is open? She says she’s barely covering the rent and expenses, and isn’t making an income. 

She’s been able to get a loan that she must repay at a low interest rate. “But it is not forgivable,” she notes.

Looking to the future for industry, Ibarra says, “I definitely wholeheartedly believe that we all need to be open because the ramifications of staying closed — I mean I’m seeing salons close by the droves and it’s just disheartening.” 

— Written by Amy Ta, produced by Rosalie Atkinson