Hair stylists hammered by coronavirus; San Francisco mayor offers pro tips

Talk to anyone in need of a haircut, and they'll argue that hair stylists need to be on the "essential" workers list instead of having to shelter in place during the statewide coronavirus quarantine.

Some people are even giving themselves "quarantine haircuts," going on social media, offering advice on how to shave heads and trim bangs. 

Kidding aside, hair stylists across the country said they are getting hammered by not being able to work. 

L'Oreal stylist Scott Smith of San Francisco said his industry is getting particularly battered by staying at home, and he feels like he and his colleagues cannot go "unheard, unnoticed and treated as the basement of the small business community." 

In addition to not cutting hair and losing out on wages, Smith said he has also stopped his travels teaching others about his craft. 

Pricilla Valera, co-owner of Brogan and Son Barbershop in San Francisco's Financial District, said she and her barbers are hurting. But she said she'll make do, even as she had to scrape together this month's rent despite not being at work for nearly two weeks.

What she's most fearful of is what happens next.

"The state board hasn't told us what the changes will be when we return to work," she said. "What are we supposed to do?

She's wondering how she will be able to accomodate a new era of rules if she's not allowed to have more than 10 customers or three barbers at a time working in close proximity. 

"Will we have to wear masks and gloves?" she asked. "I'm not sure how we will make these adjustments." 

Tonya Caprice, who owns a skincare boutique in Lafayette, said don't forget about the estheticians.

"My clients are asking me, 'Are you sure you can't come in?'" she said. 

While she said she can pull through this month, she's just not sure how much she'll actually get from unemployment, and she added her landlord is not cutting her any breaks.

To try to stay busy, Caprice is cleaning out her shop, taking exercise classes online, hiking and updating her company website. 

It's not just California hair stylists who are suffering.

A total of 23 states in the United States have shut down their salons and spas, leaving owners to sit and think about how to build business back up when lockdowns are lifted.

Beauty publication Salon Today has released a webinar for salons to strategize how to manage business hardships.

And in New York, celebrity hairstylist Oscar Blandi, who was forced to close his Madison Avenue salon, is  offering advice to salon owners over the phone. Blandi said he’s prepared for clients and stylists to re-enter salons with a completely different perspective.

“Stylists want to work and clients will enjoy the experience more than ever,” Blandi said in a statement to FOX Business. “As a country, we will become stronger but this will be a struggle for right now for a lot of people.”

The hair stylists' concerns are much more serious than folks who simply need a hair cut.

But there is a cost, albeit smaller, for those whose locks are long and curls are dull.

And that includes San Francisco Mayor London Breed. 

"All right folks here we go," the mayor said in an unusually candid video on Instagram, where she's wearing a simple white T-shirt and no makeup. "My hair needs to be done and unfortunately, all the places I go to are unavailable." 

Then Breed pulled out her "tricks of the trade," a flat iron, curling iron and blow dryer and went to work, offering free pro tips to her Instagram fans. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez