Few industries were untouched by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit American soil in early 2020 and is still affecting our day-to-day lives today and will for the foreseeable future. But one industry that undoubtedly hit one of the hardest was the beauty industry. Hairstylists, makeup artists, nail technicians, etc. saw their livelihoods threatened in an unimaginable way. Many were forced to close the doors of their business with no potential reopening in sight. Their clients were also directly impacted, with little-to-no access to the professionals they know, love and have come to rely on.
“Most of us in the beauty industry find fulfillment in making others feel good and use beauty as a catalyst to do this,” shares Lauren Paglionico, hair colorist and owner of LRN BEAUTY in New York City. “Not being able to be of service feels foreign—it’s like telling an artist they can no longer paint until further notice.”
While certain states are reopening, many beauty professionals are still trying to regain their footing after what has been a devastating last 7 months. We reached out to 13 trailblazing beauty professionals to learn about their experience during the lockdown, the challenges and changes they’ve had to face and how they’re coming back even stronger than before.
“The hardest part of the pandemic was the unknown.”
Not knowing when things would go back to normal was one of the most difficult parts of the pandemic for Paglionico. “There was no getting around the limitations set by the state because our services could not be provided 6 feet apart, but this new ‘way of life’ was a call to action and a new way of thinking, she says. “It was the push for me to connect with my clients virtually and engage with them more on social media.”
She created content for her IGTV, sent more emails on how to manage your roots and grown out bangs and she and her team provided Zoom consultations for their brides-to-be who were unable to have their trial. Since being back in the salon, her day-to-day has not changed much except for the added sanitizing that is performed between each client. “Our studio is by-appointment-only so we are still able to provide an intimate, personal experience that we are known for,” she says.
“I tried to pivot through the pandemic but it was nearly impossible for me to be inspired.”
View this post on Instagram
Even though California is allowing nail salons to open indoors we must wait for Alameda County to set the timeline on when we can re-open. In the meantime, we still care about you and your nails! For ongoing salon updates please visit saundersandjames.com or follow us on social media @saundersandjames. To all of our clients, friends and family, we are so grateful for your ongoing support and patience. We hope to see all of you again soon, healthy and happy, and ready for Fall/Winter manicures and pedicures! If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to email us at email@example.com or DM us here on instagram. We hope to see you soon! With love, Michelle Saunders James
A post shared by Saunders & James (@saundersandjames) on
Because Saunders & James Nail Care is located in Alameda County, California, owner Michelle Saunders has had to abide by the strictest rules of any other county. “My salon opened in January 2020, so it has been closed longer than it was open!” she says. “Everything abruptly stopped, I had to furlough my team and scramble to figure out how to pay loans, bills, insurance, rent, etc.”
Only recently, Alameda County is allowing nail salons to provide services outdoors, but only as an extension of the establishment. Sadly, Saunders and her team do not have the space to provide this. “It’s been challenging to stay optimistic and encourage clients that we will be okay, but I hired a social media manager to help keep our Instagram on brand, professional, beautiful and positive because I found myself blocked from inspiration,” she says.
“Sometimes change is good, I love being challenged and elevating myself with doing things differently.”
View this post on Instagram
Aloha! I’m so excited to share with you something new we’re doing at Bloomingdale’s in Ala Moana. A client driven program called “Salesfloor” This highly stylized platform allows us to transform your shopping experience amidst challenging times by offering Live Chats, Makeup Lessons/Tutorials, Appointment Request and Virtual Shopping Request all with a personal connection. ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ As one of the few selected elite sales curators, I can take you beyond the traditional shopping experience with an expanded palette of beauty, fashion and lifestyle options all centered around you. ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ You are welcome to peruse items in my Digital Lookbook within my online store and feel free to contact me by phone or email to set up a consultation. Overall, I look forward to enlivening your online Bloomingdale’s experience soon! ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ Subscribe to my page to see my TOP PICKS, NEW ARRIVALS, STORE EVENTS, UPDATES and learn about deals & savings. ▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️▫️ Here's the link to my Storefront: http://stores-bloomingdales.com/brandyg And to get my updates: http://stores-bloomingdales.com/brandyg/subscr… Let’s start shopping 🛍 🛍🤙🏾🌸🌺 . . . . #alohabloomies #bloomingdales #hawaiishopping #alamoana #alamoanacenter #digitalshopping #virtualshopping #retail #shoppingonline #shopping #fotd #instagood #retailshopping #quarantine #quarantinelife #salesfloor #fashion #style #hawaiimua #hawaiimakeupartist #hawaii
A post shared by Brandy Gomez-Duplessis Hawaii🌺 (@bgdmakeupartist) on
As an entertainment makeup artist for more than 24 years on the mainland who is now living in Hawaii and working as a Business Manager for Bloomingdale’s in Ala Moana, Brandy Gomez-Duplessis’ experiences as both professionally came to a halt at the end of March. “Production on the island of Oahu stopped, freelance assignments stopped, and retail stores closed their doors,” she says. “I returned back to work as a Business Manager at Bloomingdale’s on July 6th and went through an intense training class on sanitizing and hygiene practices, social distancing, and the new way to assist customers who will be shopping for makeup.”
In the blink of an eye, everything Gomez-Duplessis knew about her industry shifted. To catch up, she’s started doing virtual consultations with clients and video tutorials. “It’s a little more time consuming, but I at least get to see my customers and hear their voices,” she says. “Sometimes change is good, I love being challenged and elevating myself with doing things differently.”
“Our clients started reaching out to tell us how much they were missing our service.”
View this post on Instagram
While we currently have some extra time to focus on self-care, why not learn how to fill in your brows like @jessmarak does. You’ll notice in the video that Jessica is using our Smokey Brow Mousse and Clear Brow Gel. Both products are super easy to use while giving you a natural looking brow which is what she prefers. Link in bio to purchase products 👆🏻 . . 1. Beginning with the front of your brow, bring your angled brush in an upward motion outlining the entire brow with product. 2. Gently fill in all sparse areas so they are the same color as your hair. Gently rub areas that are a little too dark with a Q-tip to even them out. 3. Brush your brows with a spoolie brush so the product is evenly distributed on the hair creating a nice feathered look. 4. Finish with our Browtiste Brow Gel which will hold your brows in place all day long. ✨ Brows:@browtiste 🎥:@jessmarak Music: Views Musician: @iksonofficial Site: https//icons8.com/music/. . . #browtips #howtofillinyoureyebrows #selfcare #browmakeup #beauty
A post shared by Browtiste (@browtiste) on
Not only was Tammy Fisher, owner and founder of Browtiste, fearful about her company shutting down, but she also wasn’t sure if her business would survive. “I was fearful that our clients who I’ve spent the last 20 years acquiring would be afraid to receive our services again since we’re in such close contact with them,” she says. “After learning more about the virus, I knew that as long as we took proper safety measures, we could presume with our services once we were able to open for business again.”
Opening up her brick and mortar location in Manhattan, PrimpNYC, she has followed all the guidelines, such as wavers, temperature checks, proper sterilization, distancing, wearing face masks and protective gear, we all would be safe. “We are currently operating out of one location while launching a new service providing in-home services and are finding that most people want everything delivered directly to them in the comfort of their own home which feels safe and convenient,” she says. “We’re happy to see that the demand is there and excited to launch.”
“My hope is that this time being away from each other has helped people understand how much we need human contact.”
As a hairstylist who works in theatre, film and television, licensed cosmetologist Daniel Koye, saw everything come to a total halt in April 2020. “It’s really been isolating since I’m used to the constant interaction with my clients or my actors on set,” he says. “I love wigs and luckily don’t need people to work on them so I got to take out a lot of creativity on my wigs and even wrote a book on wig making.”
He started doing more wigs and toppers for his clients to get them feeling gorgeous during the lockdown. While he definitely acknowledges that the future involves more COVID training, as a licensed cosmetologist, he is already trained in dealing with transmittable diseases. “The biggest difference and adjustment I think is definitely going to be getting used to wearing our PPE like masks and shields.”
“Clients are ready to connect and be touched.”
View this post on Instagram
Missing our famous professional enzyme mask in our service at the spa? Book the FaceTime Facial!! It’s an at home version that Molly will walk you through – You’ll get a questionnaire beforehand PLUS 10% off your next DMK order! . . . #dmk #facetime #facial #virtual #virtualskincare #skincare #notopenyet
A post shared by M O L L Y 💙 L A M B (@skinbymolly) on
In the wake of the pandemic, Molly Lamb, esthetician and owner of Skin By Molly, had no choice but to close her facial studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and lay off 7 of her employees. To stay afloat, Lamb sold $20,000 worth of retail products online within the first few months and asked clients to buy gift cards to use later. She also started offering a virtual facial called The Facetime Facial. “It was a great way to stay connected, and let clients know I can still care for their skin,” she says. “In hindsight, I’ll admit that I needed the forced break from running a business (with two locations at one point); however six months is a long time to go without income or a feeling of purpose in your day to day life.”
Working from home, she takes COVID safety extremely seriously. “The safety of my clients and community comes first,” she says. “The biggest difference is the two masks I wear plus a shield, and the smell of bleach in my apartment all the time, but this is a small price to pay for the safety of myself and my clients.”
“The hardest part was feeling like I am breaking the law; scared of repercussions if I got caught.”
View this post on Instagram
🅴🆈🅴🅱🆁🅾🆆 transformation 🙌🏻 #browlamination can really give you your best brows e v e r !! I love how these turned out✨💋 @mysalonbae @baebrowsandeyelashes @sinful_lashes @sinfulbrows #makeupartist #browsonpoint #browshaping #salonprofessional
A post shared by 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘁𝘁𝘆. 𝗙𝘂𝗻. 𝗬𝗼𝘂. 💋 (@robynfishermakeup) on
As a single mother with two elementary-aged daughters, makeup artist Robyn Fisher was not only dealing with her salon being shut down, but she was also having a difficult time acclimating to remote learning. On top of everything, the fear of catching Covid-19 was paramount. “I work in such close proximity to clients’ faces, so I did not think I would be returning as a makeup, brow and lash artist for a very long time,” she says. With few options left to her, she started making house calls in June 2019, which she says was the best thing she could have done. “In short, it made me implement the best safety practices early on, acclimate to wearing gloves, masks, frequent hand washing, and having clients agreements on our mutual expectations before seeing each other face-to-face,” she says. “Because I have taken such precautions, word spread about me and my safe practicing business and my clientele has grown significantly.”
“When you love what you do and build relationships with clients, having to stop is a punch in the gut.”
View this post on Instagram
Closing a chapter is never easy. It is with true sadness of heart to share that my private studio Shannon Irene Beauty will not be reopening. I truly have cherished running my own business and working with incredible clients over the past ten years. I pray one day I will be able to reopen and safely work on clients again. It has been a joy and a privilege to have a clientele that has trusted me to help treat their skin and aesthetic needs. I treasure each one of you and send health, safety, blessings, and love always. If you are interested in a referral for a new skin specialist in the Los Angeles area please do not hesitate to direct message me and I am happy to help guide you. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all. Having my own studio has been an incredible part of my journey that I will always treasure and never forget. #shannonirenebeauty
A post shared by Shannon Irene (@shannonirenebeauty) on
Shannon Irene, skincare specialist, makeup artist, and founder of Shannon Irene Beauty, had to close her private skincare and beauty studio in Los Angeles in June—one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make professionally. “I’ve had clients I’ve been treating for over 12 years and having to share the news of closing my practice was beyond heart-wrenching,” she says.
She since has resorted to doing Zoom tutorials and helping with product protocols and regimens, texting and emailing clients with questions and skin issues and helping them from afar. “As an esthetician, it’s in my nature to help and heal so not physically being able to have been a new challenge,” she says. Because she cannot work in the state of California without an outdoor space to do so, she is currently focusing on maintaining relationships with clients and helping them with product suggestions.
“The hardest part was not knowing when I could open my business again.”
As a small business owner, having to shut down her salon was immensely stressful for New York City trichologist and hairstylist, Penny James. She sent out emails to all of her clients offering to drop off shampoo and conditioner and even create DIY Color kits for home use. “This was far from paying my rent or a way to make a living (do realize shampoo is only $30.00!), but it gave me purpose,” she says. “I made a few videos on how to do at-home scalp treatments and emailing this out to clients keeps my clients engaged.”
The next step for James was to stay focused. As a member of two prestigious trichology organizations, they set up weekly webinars with leading scientists and doctors around the world (who normally would be busy working) and she tuned into a group of lecturers and chats about all areas of hair loss and scalp problems. Since returning to her salon in July, she has been determined to keep things safe and clean. “My day starts with steaming the salon with Lysol and doing a tough cleaning on all chairs, stations bathroom door, door handles floors are washed down,” she says. “I only see about 4-5 clients a day and deep clean in between their arrival and departure.” Her biggest hope for 2021 is to be able to pay her bills and not live in fear that we are about to go into another lockdown.
“I feel like I’m coming back to work with a whole new fire and drive for success.”
When the salon that celebrity hairstylist and colorist, Kyle Hennesy, worked in, B2V Salon in West Hollywood, California, closed in April, she was in absolute shock. But the break from mainstream society proved to be beneficial for her. “I came out as transgender and started estrogen treatments a couple of months before quarantine started so it’s been kind of a blessing to go through this wildly awkward stage in life similar to puberty quarantined in my house,” she says.
“I started beauty school at 14 and was full time in a salon at 17 so at 30 I’ve never known life outside of the salon and photoshoots besides maybe a two-week vacation.” On the plus side, quarantine gave Hennesy some much-needed time to clean and organize, discover all sorts of new interests and learn new things. She also got a pet rabbit Sheila-Lynn and had the time to dedicate to litter training. During all this time, she has been active on social media so her clients have been able to keep up with her. She’s very much looking forward to getting back to work and hopes that she can do so safely, make money, help businesses stay afloat and get back to thriving.
“I’m making a superhuman effort to overcome my fears and get on with my business.”
After a 22-year career in makeup and brow styling, it wasn’t easy for Ramy Gafni, beauty expert and creator of Ramy Cosmetics, to adjust to the new normal. “I never imagined there could be anything that would make me not want to see clients or do promotional appearances to promote my product line,” he says.
His goal: to do things that would not just keep his business afloat, but that would also help his clients and customers. The first step was to create a Youtube video on how to maintain your eyebrows at home during the lockdown. Next, he offered virtual Brow Coaching sessions and makeup sessions via Zoom or Facetime. “The Brow sessions were particularly popular and I discovered that doing virtual sessions are not only surprisingly effective, but I can do them with people from all over the world!” he says.
He also launched his Emergency Eyebrow Kit and created a new vegan, chemical-free natural products. Since reopening, the business has been booming for Gafni. He sees no more than two or three clients per day and spaces out appointments so there is no overlapping. “I pack and ship web orders, design email blasts, post on social media, work on product development and plan to keep busy writing my next book,” he adds.
“I look forward to making people feel good again. It’s my job.”
As a union makeup artist that had a full-time position at CBS and NBC, a bustling private clientele and bridal business, Vinnetta Scrivo had a hard time when everything came to an abrupt halt in late March. “I went from working 6 days a week to nothing, which was devastating, to say the least,” she says. “I made it my mission to assist some of my other artist friends to get the unemployment and other resources available to stay above water.”
While many of the shows she was working on got canceled, she started doing Zoom and FaceTime consultations on self-care and skincare. “I found that people were stuck at home, but the need and desire to take care of oneself was even more important,” she says. “I also model and was lucky enough to do some work from home hair modeling and skin care tutorials.” She’s now getting back to the swing of in-person consultations and has remained hyper-vigilant when it comes to staying sanitary. “Things move a bit slower that way but we are keeping everyone safe and trying to get back to being productive.”
“I want to feel comfortable that every time I try to make money, I’m not risking my life.”
View this post on Instagram
Almost a year to the day that I made my first appearance on @fox5dc #gooddaydc. Covid kept me out of the studio this year, but grateful for the opportunity to work with @erinecomo again. Clip from the broadcast in my bio! #zoommakeup #beautytips #skincare #fall #skincaretips #makeupartist #makeup #dmvmakeupartist
A post shared by Mindy Green (@mgbeauty) on
The hardest part of the pandemic for makeup artist and founder of MG Beauty, Mindy Green, wasn’t only the uncertainty of when the world would reopen, it was whether or not she would want to do makeup again when it did. “I know some people did continue to do services underground, but I was too worried about being exposed to COVID,” she says. “I was also worried about a client not disclosing they were positive, just because they wanted their hair done or face done.”
When clients started calling, she decided to be very selective. “I speak with them to get a feel for how serious they take COVID and if they seem to understand how serious it is, then I explain the parameters of how I can perform the service,” she says. “If they agree, then I can move forward with sending them a COVID waiver.”