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Extra sanitizing is costing hair salons

I’m wondering when hair salons started charging $3 to $5 for sanitizing after a haircut? They should have been wiping everything down after a haircut in the first place. This is completely ripping people off.

— Paula

We called a long list of hair salons and barber shops, and most either didn’t answer the phone or said they weren’t charging an extra fee for sanitizing.

One hair stylist said she didn’t want to talk about whether there was a sanitizing fee at her salon.

But whether they are charging a fee, hair stylists are facing added costs as they help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Shelley Fisher, a senior stylist with Scissorhead salon in Medford, said the business does not have a sanitizing fee.

Stylists are taking extra steps like changing smocks, sanitizing each station between clients and keeping clients at least 6 feet apart, she said.

“Those steps do take more time. We’re happy to do it,” Fisher said.

Hair salons and barber shops were among a group of businesses that were forced to shut down entirely in the early days of the pandemic as Oregon raced to lower new infections. They’ve since opened back up in most counties under a host of new regulations that come on top of regular cleaning and sanitizing rules.

Emily Wiley, a hair stylist with The Olive Branch Salon in Medford, said the salon is not charging an extra fee but is facing higher costs for sanitizing.

“We’ve had to purchase more things than we used to like sanitizing solution, plus face masks for clients who don’t have one, disinfectant spray and wipes. It goes with the overhead of running a business,” she said.

Wiley said hair stylists were already taking steps like sanitizing their tools between clients.

“Now we have to spray every surface a client potentially touched,” she said.

Disinfectant needs to sit on surfaces for 10 minutes to be effective, she said.

Wiley said the extra safety steps to combat COVID-19 take about 10-15 minutes more per client. That time has to be taken into account when scheduling customers.

Wiley said costs for products like hair color have risen during the pandemic, so some stylists at the salon raised their prices for some services to reflect those cost increases.

During the pandemic, prices on a variety of products have risen, particularly groceries.

Wiley said she hasn’t heard any complaints from customers when she explains that the cost is up for some services because of higher hair product prices.

“I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences. Some of the most generous and kind-hearted customers are coming through the salon. People are happy to be back at a hair salon,” she said. “A lot of people have been very generous. Some paid me for services I couldn’t provide during the closure.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.