Hair salons will open for up to 18 hours a day from Monday to clear the backlog of millions of ‘desperate’ clients.
Customers have booked appointments in their droves with many salons fully booked until June.
Hairdressers hailed the reopening, saying it will give ‘a confidence boost to the nation’ and provide vital income to the beauty sector.
Rolling lockdowns have led to as many as 5,000 of the sector’s 40,000 salons to close their doors permanently, according to the Fellowship for British Hairdressing.
Some salons are expected to raise prices to take advantage of booming demand, and make up for strict limits on the number of customers they can serve because of social distancing.
Others have spent this week converting backroom space to fit more customers in, while furloughed hairdressers were said to be practicing the latest styles on mannequins.
For the last four months, men and women across the country have been forced to turn to family members to wield the kitchen scissors and keep unkempt mops at bay.
Boris Johnson lasted until mid-February before drafting in fiancé Carrie Symonds to tame his famous blonde thatch.
Some of those outside the public eye have even paid premium prices for ‘black market’ haircuts in their gardens.
Yvonne Smith, the first customer at Taylor Ferguson hairdressing since the country went into lockdown in March, has her hair styled by Tammy NcCreadie on July 15, 2020 in Glasgow
The end of lockdown is even expected to influence styles, with experts predicting that ‘expensive, luxurious’ dos will replace the minimalist, leisurely looks adopted for long spells at home.
This week salons put the final touches on their preparations to welcome customers back.
Joanna Hansford, who runs a high-end salon in Mayfair, with her mother Jo, said they will open from 5am to 10.30pm next week in a bid to get through 2,000 clients in April.
The 46-year-old, who offers a full head of highlights for between £285 and £520, said: ‘We’re very excited, it’s been a long lockdown and it has been a lot tougher.
‘The closure of salons has a huge impact on people not being able to look after themselves, especially when you’re looking in the mirror a lot more than usual. The reopening will make a big difference.’
Leslie Cavendish, the hairdresser to the Beatles and author of The Cutting Edge, said: ‘The reopening of hairdressers will give a confidence boost to the nation. It’s so important, you come out of the salon feeling good.
‘It is so stimulating to leave your house and get pampered for a couple of hours. You need to talk and need to unwind.’ Kelly Boad, owner of the Hair & Beauty Gallery in Warwick, will do the first legal professional haircut after the lockdown at midnight on Sunday.
Hairdresser Taylor Ferguson cuts Yvonne Smith’s hair, his first customer since the country went into lockdown in March, on July 15, 2020 in Glasgow
She said: ‘We’ve been inundated with bookings and are fully booked for the first three weeks we’re open.
‘Given that our first booking is the first haircut we’re doing in 2021, I thought it would be quite symbolic to do it at midnight as soon as we’re allowed, and unsurprisingly one of our customers was super keen to get their hair as soon as they could.’
Richard Lambert, chair of The National Hair and Beauty Federation, said: ‘There will be a lot of people who are desperate to get back into a salon. Anecdotally we have people telling us they are booked into June.
‘Everyone is just desperate to reopen and get back to what they’re good at, and see their clients again – it’s an important human relationship that builds up.
‘People didn’t realise what they got until they lost it. Having your hair done is part of how you feel about yourself. Once it wasn’t there people really started to realise the impact it had.’
Keith Conniford, chief executive of the Hair and Barber Council, which has 12,000 members, said: ‘The industry is extending opening times, a lot of them are opening seven days a week, and the staff are being staggered and shifted for social distancing.
‘The longest hours I’ve heard of is opening at 6am, and staying open until 10am. Customers are desperate to get back in.
‘I think some salons have had to raise prices, some are keeping it the same to weather it for their customers. I can understand that, they’ve been closed for so long. They need to be viable.’
But amidst the jubilation, industry chiefs said lockdowns have taken their toll on the industry causing 5,000 of the UK’s 40,000 salons to close, according to industry figures.
So many staff have been driven out of work, the sector also faces a skills and labour shortage, MPs said.
Barry Stephens, Chair of Fellowship for British Hairdressing, said: ‘As an industry we have not had a lot of support. Hairdressing has always been recession-proof, but in this one client behaviour has been different.’
Beauticians will also open on Monday after months of closure with campaigners claiming they have not had the same level of support afforded to hospitality.
Carolyn Harris, co-chair of the MPs’ all-party group on beauty and wellbeing, said: ‘The beauty industry is made up of tens of thousands of small businesses, mostly owned by women, so Monday is a crucial milestone giving a major boost for the nation.
‘But just as pent-up demand for treatments and hair cuts explodes, the industry has been forced to its knees. It will be a long road to recovery after months of closures, so the Government must not pull the rug out by withdrawing financial assistance.’