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Welcome Back to Your Local Hair Salon


Article by Karen Kwong

Photography by Karen Kwong, Stock, and Provided

NJ hair and nail salons, barbershops, and other personal care businesses reopened on Monday, June 20. This is great news for many people. I reached out to one of my favorite local hair salons, ReCreations Salon & Spa in North Brunswick, and arranged an in-person visit to check out what the new normal is like and get some tips on this year's summer hair trends.

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The New Normal

Clients now have to wait in the car unit they are called. Once checked in, their temperature will be measured with a non-contact thermometer. They also need to fill out a health questionnaire. All team members have to go through the same check point every day and keep a record as well. And of course, everyone needs to wear a mask at all times in the salon.

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Left: ReCreations Salon receptionist measuring my temperature when I first walked in

Middle: Client Health Questionnaire Form

Right: Counter-top shield barrier is installed at the receptionist area

The inside of the salon also looks very different than the old days. All the waiting areas have been removed or blocked. Water machine is sealed. Product shelves are covered.

Left: "The New Normal" salon interior look - no waiting areas, no beverages served, covered product shelves

Right: Waiting area before the pandemic

Each service provider can now only work with one client at a time. Therefore no overlapping appointment is allowed. They each take less clients in a day therefore the salon has limited their staff. The salon arranges every other styling station and nail station with someone working. That gives each service provider 7 feet apart. All salon staff will sanitize stations strategically including the front desk. Service providers are to keep an eye when a client uses the restroom. One of them will disinfect the door handle, toilet, sink, and light switch. All door handles are sterilized many times throughout the day. When a client's service is completed, they will clean the service area, shampoo area, and styling chair. They will clean, disinfect and sterilize every single time before they call the next client to come in. The salon has eliminated the break room. Reception desk has a separate computer for each receptionist. Also there is no blow-drying because the force of a blow dryer will spread the virus further than 6 feet. At the end of each day, walls, floor and every inch of the salon get disinfected to be ready for the next day.

The salon arranges every other styling station and nail station with someone working. That gives each service provider 7 feet apart.

"The New Normal" Way of Working

"We made a commitment to do whatever it takes when we re-open to keep everyone healthy under the new normal."
—Steve Stoupas, Owner

The Culture Shock

Steve Stoupas opened ReCreations Salon 30 years ago. After a few years in business, Steve re-analyzed the need for non-toxic hair products and started searching for them. About 15 years ago, he discovered the first professional organic permanent hair color.

"You have to understand that I need a product that is capable of doing everything the existing products do, such as covering gray, lightening the hair and have many different tones." —Steve Stoupas

The first organic color came from UK, a brand under the name OCS (Organic Color Systems). It was amazing! No smell, no burning of the eyes, no ammonia, and work 80% of the time. Even though, it was not good enough because Steve needs a product to perform 100%. So he kept searching. Then he found a brand from Italy that the Salon uses now. OWAY (Organic Way) is more predicable with accurate results and work the same every single time without any surprises. With a full line of home care products it will do everything the other colors do but with no toxins. That day, ReCreations Salon went from the hair color salon to the organic hair color salon. They are proud of the fact that in their salon they don't have anything with ammonia including the cleaning products.

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Me (Karen) with ReCreations Salon owner Steve Stoupas during my re-opening on-site visit

Like hundreds and thousands of businesses globally, ReCreations Salon has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. They were closed for 3.5 months. They were affected financially as a business like everyone else but they started Zoom training on new techniques and products as well as getting certifications online. One of those certifications is the "Barbicide" certificate for proper cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing tools and working areas. Steve made it mandatory for all his staff.

"Barbicide" certificate for proper cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing tools and working areas

"I pride myself all these years for running a clean and non-toxic salon, with the use of products that promote holistic hair care, as well as cleaning the salon with non-toxic products. One now will understand that we have to use some of the cleaning and disinfecting products that do not sit well with our philosophy or ethos. But under this special situation we will do whatever it takes." —Steve Stoupas

The requirement to use certain cleaning and disinfecting products under "The New Normal" is a culture shock to an organic hair salon.

Summer Hair Trends

Summer hair is about texture and easy care. Steve provides us with 3 summer hairstyle tips.

The Calligraphy Cut

Try a multi-layer cut with the calligraphy pen! This calligraphy cut creates texture and movement. Hair needs no styling and looks great with just running your fingers and placing the curls. 

Left: long multi-layer calligraphy cut

Middle: the calligraphy pen

Right: my own calligraphy cut at ReCreations Salon back in 2019 - it works great on straight hair too!

Balayage Hair Colors

Balayage is a color technique that allows the ends of the hair get lighter naturally during the summer months. This technique starts with a darker color near the scalp and gradually go lighter at the ends. Zero maintenance! You don't have to touch it up until you cut it off. Starting the summer with a color and you don't have to do a thing until the end of the summer time.

Steve applying Balayage coloring on beauty, health, and personal care influencer Mona Chebli- Ayoubi

The "Mask" Cut

A short hair cut trend both stylish and making mask-wearing easier during summer time. The cut is a bob with under cut by the nape area ( hair is cut very sort) to be able to tie the mask without the hair getting stuck. The rest of the cut is point cut for movement.

Before and after pictures of a "mask" cut by Steve last week. No blow-drying allowed under the new normal.

Going Forward

ReCreations Salon & Spa continue strives for excellent customer service and experience. They open up a dedicated room and entrance/exit pathway for clients who need special care. Besides hair and nail services, they also provide makeup, facial, massage, waxing, body treatment, and eyelash extensions services. All will be following the protocols under the new normal.

When asking Steve about his outlook for the future and what would he continue to do to cope with the new normal, he responded:

"I am a very positive person by nature. I believe that everything will be fine as long we all do what we have to do. We will adopt the new normal and I think business will be fine in the long term."
—Steve Stoupas

Title image is from Pixabay. Pictures of the Salon were taken by Karen (the author) during her re-opening on-site visit. Other pictures are provided by Steve Stoupas, owner of the ReCreations Salon & Spa.