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Last updated: July 20, 2020

Outdoor Hair Salons? California Hairdressers Want To Take It Outside

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A barber from The Barber Shop in Santa Barbara, Calif. cuts a client's hair outside. Screenshot from Fox 11 KKFX News.

Calif. Governor Should Allow Hair Salons To Operate Outside, Stylists Say

When the California governor this week ordered salons to close—again—in 30 counties, the state offered businesses a way to continue seeing customers: They could remain open if they could modify their business to operate outside. Salon and barbershop owners quickly tried to pivot their offerings to outside-only service, but the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology says that’s against the rules.


The state board says its code “requires that all barbering, cosmetology and electology services be performed in a licensed establishment. Therefore, establishments that are within the specified counties must close immediately and not offer any services (including any outdoor services).”


July 20 Update: The state released new outdoor guidance for salons, barbershops and beauty services to operate outdoors. All prior guidelines for salons remain in place, with some additional considerations. The new outdoor guidance doesn’t include county health regulatory requirements and is not intended to be a substitute for any existing safety and health-related regulatory requirements.


  • Outdoor salon services may be conducted under a tent, canopy or other sun shelter as long as no more than one side is closed, allowing sufficient outdoor air movement. Salons must also create an outdoor reception area where guests can check in.


  • Salons and barbershops should not perform a service that would require a customer to have to enter the establishment.


  • Stylists and clients must still wear face coverings even if they are outdoors.


The guidance also asks salons to be careful using extension cords that could cause fire, electrocution or tripping hazards, and reminds stylists to use skin protection when not under shade. Finally, outdoor business operations should stop if there is lightning with 6 miles. Full guidelines can be found here.


July 17 Update: The California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency tweeted this: 



July 16 Update: At 1:13 p.m. Pacific time on July 16, the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology posted this: “The Board of Barbering & Cosmetology understands the effect the recent order has had on businesses and we are sensitive to that. As it stands at this moment, under current laws and regulations, the services cannot be performed outside. However, we are looking deeply into this issue and we’re exploring options. This is a fluid situation and we will provide updated information as soon as it is available.”



Hairdressers in the state are calling for Governor Gavin Newsom to grant a temporary waiver of the specific code to allow California salons to offer services outdoors during the pandemic. Orange County stylist Amber O’Hara (@amberoharahair) started a petition to also ask the governor to allow outdoor salon services. “The ability to pivot for most salons could be the difference between bankruptcy and staying in business,” Amber said on Instagram. The petition has over 5,300 signatures as of July 16.


Meanwhile, the Professional Beauty Federation of California, which works to influence public policy and regulations in the state’s beauty and barbering industry, has joined forces with some state lawmakers to also ask Gov. Newsom to help salons. The PBFC is also asking hairdressers in the state to contact their state legislators and ask them to support stylists working with the state board.


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also sent a letter to Gov. Newsom requesting a temporary amendment to state code to allow salons and barbershops to operate outside, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.



Hairdressers in the state acknowledge not all salon services would be available outdoors, such as anything that requires shampooing. Some stylists commenting on the state board’s Facebook page cited open-air barbershops in California during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.


Open-air barber shop at the University of California, Berkeley, during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Photo via the National Archives.


Others wondered why restaurants are able to pivot, but the professional beauty industry faces tighter restrictions. “How about an adaptation like the food and beverage industry for this industry which has been left in the dust when it has come to financial aid? A hard line, no outdoor services, is ridiculously intentionally financially injurious at this time,” one commenter said.


Previously, salons were mandated to close per Gov. Newsom’s statewide shelter-at-home order on March 20. Salons in some counties were permitted to reopen with new state board guidelines beginning May 25, with some counties never reopening at all, before the Gov. issued another mandate to close indoor personal care services in 30 of the state’s 58 counties on July 13.