Covid Risk Assessment v2.0

Red and grey illustration of a magnified coronavirus and a warning sign 1 Introduction

  • This update replaces Covid Risk Assessment v1.0. Thanks to some great feedback this version is a little more concise, the structure of the five sections remains the same

Red and grey illustration of a magnified coronavirus and a warning sign 2 Comparison with a salon

  • In contrast to a salon, I work with a very small kit which I am able to entirely disinfect with surgical visiting before and after each client.
  • Being a cyclist, I do not travel on public transport which minimizes my exposure.
  • As you do not need to make the journey to the salon you also minimize your exposure.
  • Visiting clients one at a time allows me to be able to track and trace much more precisely, whereas in a salon you are mixing with a large number of other people.

Red and grey illustration of a magnified coronavirus and a warning sign 3 What I’ll do

  • As mentioned, I’ll arrive by bicycle which minimizes the contact I have compared to using taxis/public transport.
  • Wear a face covering by default and other PPE at your request while I am with you to minimize our exposure to one another.
  • Leave my coat, bag, etc. at the door and bring only a very small kit which I sanitize between clients, consisting of:
    • Scissors
    • Comb
    • Water Spray
    • 2 Metal Hairclips
    • Surgical Spirit Spray
    • Nylon Gown
    • Manual Clippers (optional)
  • Follow up after 7 and 14 days asking that you confirm that nobody in your household has developed symptoms.
  • I will NOT use gloves because I need to be able to sense the hair’s tension with my skin, to be able to cut it properly however I will wash my hands immediately before and after cutting your hair.
  • I will NOT use
    • Brushes
    • Razor
    • Hairdryer
    • Any other equipment
    • unless we explicitly agree beforehand, on an individual basis, during our consultation.

Red and grey illustration of a magnified coronavirus and a warning sign 4 What I’ll ask of you

  • That you read this risk assessment (thank you for making it this far!)
  • That we book a virtual consultation in advance, via email, chat, telephone, video call, or in combination.
  • Confirm there is nobody in the household who is isolating or has been advised to shield.
  • Give us exclusive use of the room where we cut your hair.
  • Wear a mask during my visit however, there will be times when I’ll need you to remove it.
  • I’ll ask you do NOT to offer me any food or drink. But thanks though!!

Red and grey illustration of a magnified coronavirus and a warning sign 5 Conclusion

  • Thank you for reading this rather dull part of my website!  Thanks also for the feedback from version 1.0 which I’ve incorporated in v2.0. Let’s hope there’s no need for a version 3, but, please do leave a comment below if you have feedback you’d like to share.

Foaming… “There’s no cleaning benefit”

From The Power of Habit

“Foaming is a huge reward,” said Sinclair, the brand manager. “Shampoo doesn’t have to foam, but we add foaming chemicals because people expect it each time they wash their hair. Same thing with laundry detergent. And toothpaste—now every company adds sodium laureth sulfate to make toothpaste foam more. There’s no cleaning benefit, but people feel better when there’s a bunch of suds around their mouth. Once the customer starts expecting that foam, the habit starts growing.”


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How might the pandemic affect your appointment?

The first thing I want you to know is that (although I can’t be certain – as there are no antibody tests at present) I’m sure I’ve had COVID-19 between February and March 2020. I’m behaving as if I had it and I’m aware it’s possible to get it again, so when I start cutting hair again, I will be taking precautions not to get or spread it.

In anticipation of early July’s lockdown easing I am currently preparing a risk assessment and will include details of further mitigating actions I’ll be taking in that.

I anticipate there will be mandatory use of face masks and I’m planning to clean all my tools more thoroughly between clients. I’ll probably request that clients provide their own gown, towel or covering to protect themselves from cuttings. I keep myself informed mainly via the uk government website directly but I also refer to the guidance provided by the fha, the nhbf and other industry bodies on a regular basis. If you have any special adjustments you’d like me to make for you I’d be happy to hear them.

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“If we don’t urgently change our way of life, we jeopardize life itself.” – Antonio Guterres UN secretary general

What do calls for rapid and deep change mean to you?

To me they sound ominous. But are they?

A couple of things happened recently which meant I needed to do something that – were I to tell you – would sound very unpleasant. However actually doing those things was beyond pleasant; they were rewarding, enriching even!

My point is this: I know it sounds like using Wild Sweet William* (Soapwort) to wash your hair instead of shampoo would be a bit of an ordeal, but in reality it was a fantastic experience.

To hopefully illustrate this, I made a video of myself and used the opportunity to do a little bit of science experiment! I had quite a drastic haircut halfway through the first part of the experiment, therefore I am going to restart it now that variable has changed! So, if only for posterity’s sake I’ll be uploading a video of me washing my hair with Wild Sweet William here soon.

I am going to be growing my first crop this year! More on that another time…

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Environmental impacts of hairdressing

Since coming across the idea of Ikigai, and for a while before that, I’ve been meaning to write about my environmental values as a hairdresser. Often, when I talk to people about the environmental impact of hair, they say: “Oh yeah it’s everything and everywhere isn’t it.” (It being the wanton destruction of the planet.) Just like The Good Place tells us, the impacts we have on the world around us run deep, and are highly interwoven.

The fast fashion industry is coming under heavy scrutiny recently, however it appears to me that the beauty industry’s environmental impacts are mysteriously immune. Clearly I’ve got lots to write about here. To set the ball rolling in this first post, I’m going to write quite broadly about about three aspects of haircare. In increasing order of their associated environmental issues, these are: cutting, maintenance, and colouring.

Cutting hair

Cutting hair has very few environmental issues involved with it, which is one of the main reasons I was attracted to it as a career (as opposed to colouring) in the first place. Hairdressing scissors are self sharpening – the hair actually polishes the steel as they’re used. Combs, which were traditionally made from bone, are now made from plastic. The only other necessaries: clips, a waterspray and a gown are all very durable, and can last many thousands of haircuts. I’d say taking into account what a dramatic change a haircut alone can make, the environmental impact per job is negligible, especially when compared to the next two aspects. Hair cuttings are of course a natural product and can be composted, however the vast majority ends up in landfill.


Cleaning, conditioning and styling hair, has the potential to have a very low impact too, as the nopoo movement has shown. Nopoo, NO sham-POO, in its purest form is about using only water to clean your hair until it recovers its natural self cleansing abilities. [n.b. use of word ‘chemical’ can be misleading – water is a chemical [even if its called “aqua”]]. This is not always achievable and so alternatives to commercial shampoo products, are often sought. Most of these can be found around the home, such as apple cider vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and so on. These products, owing to their extreme acidity/alkalinity, kill the bacteria which build up on the scalp and cause unwashed hair to smell bad. Using natural dry-shampoos (such as cocoa for brunettes and starch for blondes) between washes can help to reduce the visible buildup of oils. On the other hand coconut and other oils can be used to calm frizzy hair. For the sake of brevity and positivity, I’ll save the whole anti- Sodium Laureth Sulfate case and the story of foam for another time.

There’s a lot more to write about on the subject of NoPoo… but in a nutshell my advice would be to make use of a variety of plants which have been proven for millennia to be safe, effective and indeed – free. The two plants I recommend being Wild Sweet William (for greasy hair) and Nettle (for dry hair). Both of these grow in the UK as weeds and consequently can be foraged. Nettle is known for its ability to alleviate skin conditions such as eczema and its ability to give shine. Wild Sweet William’s scientific name Saponaria officinalis comes from the Latin stem ‘sapon-‘ meaning soap, it is still used to clean delicate fabrics like tapestries today in museums etc. From experience I can tell you that it is a very strong cleanser.

Colouring hair

Colouring hair, is a very big subject. Colouring today involves the use of a range of mostly synthetic chemicals,with varying degrees of toxicity – some are associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is why professional hairdressers refuse to colour pregnant women’s hair.

There’s an ever increasing range of natural/organic haircare products available, all pledging their environmentally friendly credentials, such as ‘recyclable’ packaging, not having been tested on animals, carbon offsetting etc. None of these stand up to even the slightest scrutiny and in my opinion, they’re some of the most insidious examples of greenwashing.

Here’s a quick background to what got us here:

What we now know as hair colour began in the 1860s with the discovery of PPD and in 1907 Eugène Schueller (founder of L’Oréal) invented the first hair colour. Thus began the multi billion dollar industry which is now hoodwinking us on many levels into thinking we are not perfect as we are, that we can reverse the ageing process and that we *need* to colour, shave, and faff with our hair to the extent that we currently do.

To really expose the foundation on which the advertising industry has created and profited from insecurities about imperfection and aging, try searching YouTube videos of hair ads from the 1950s onward. On a connected note, there’s plenty to delve into with regards to race, gender and so on which I look forward to writing about another time. But I’m digressing, so back to hair colour…

While there are the plants I’ve already mentioned at our fingertips that we can use to clean our hair, Henna and Indigo grow further afield in tropical climates. The powdered leaves of these plants are simply mixed with water and have been used successfully to colour and condition hair for thousands of years. Organically grown henna and indigo are easy to find online, and can be used at home or taken to a sympathetic salon. They darken hair by adding pigment molecules to the hair shaft.

In order to lighten hair, pigment needs to be removed and this can be achieved by spraying citrus juice on hair on a long term basis and leaving it in. The effect is speeded up by UV from the sun. There are records of Celts bleaching their hair thousands of years ago. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there which I’ll be exploring in future posts. But that’s about it, for this article.

So yeah, that’s my basic analysis of the environmental impacts of haircare. But when you care for your hair what are you really trying to do?

On a social and individual level, whether we admit it or not, hair’s actually quite a big deal… I’ve read theories about hairdressing being the inspiration for the invention of acting, owing to the way a change in hairstyle can so dramatically alter one’s appearance. I’ve even seen it argued somewhere that, given the social complexity with which primates groom one another, hairdressing is older than humanity itself. Or perhaps even a precursor to it!

In my next post I’ll be looking back to the recent past, specifically around the early years of globalisation, modern science, etc where we find hairdressing leapt into a state of incredible creativity – perhaps its most extreme. And I’ll link that with how I propose to find satisfaction as a hairstylist, being part of this paradigm shift which civilisation is hopefully embarking on, having taken globalisation to its limits.

I look forward to reading people’s comments on this post and if there are any topics I touched on which you would like me to write more about, or any other directions you’d like me to explore, please leave a comment!


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