It's a new age for the beauty industry. Anyone who has been to the hairdressers since they reopened will know that the post-Covid experience is slightly different. Endless wine refills and magazines have been replaced with visors, masks and hand sanitiser.
The safety-first approach may take some getting used to, but at least some semblance of pampering is back on the cards.
Behind the scenes there are other changes happening in the industry too. In line with the trend towards sustainability across the sector, a new way of doing business is emerging that promises to put people and the planet first.
In March this year, just as it was forced to temporarily close all 10 of its London hair salons after the coronavirus outbreak, hair collective Blue Tit, known for its instagrammable interiors, achieved its BCorp Certification status, making it the first hairdressers in the UK and Europe to do so, and joining the likes The Body Shop and Dr Hauschka.
There are currently over 3,000 Certified B Corporations in more than 70 countries around the world across diverse industries, the likes of outerwear brand Patagonia and ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's are also status holders - yet it's a term most of us won't have heard of.
By applying for a BCorp status a company signs up to being vigorously vetted on how ethically, sustainably and transparently it runs its business. It is measured on its social and environmental performance focusing on five areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers, and then assigned an impact score of between 80 (to qualify) and 200.
"To achieve BCorp, we had to demonstrate commitment to purpose beyond profit and how we use business as a force for good," says Blue Tit co-founder and director Perry Patraszewski. "Certified B Corporations are redefining success in business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. We entered into BCorp to set a new standard for the beauty industry and we hope to see more of our industry join us."
In order to receive the accreditation, Patraszewski says the salon had to dissect its organisation (which includes over 150 staff) and give it a new structure.
"We switched all suppliers to ethical and sustainable ones, met our goals of reducing energy and water consumption and improved our retail offering to be able to offer haircare products delivered in plastic free packaging."
In practical terms this meant offsetting Blue Tit's yearly carbon emissions in 2019, and switching to the exclusive use of non-toxic Oway products (which are made from recyclable amber glass bottles), as well as setting up refill stations in all salons, a concept also introduced by neighbouring London sustainable salon Buller & Rice.
The salon also uses EcoHeads (eco-friendly salon showerheads), biodegradable hair towels and gowns made of corn flour (maize) for colour applications. "We recycle over 95 per cent of our waste and our aim is to become 99.9 per cent plastic free by the end of 2020," he adds.
As sustainability is a core component of the BCorp, the salon has had to make efforts to tackle the new PPE requirements in an environmentally-friendly.
"The reopening measures include supplying sustainable and biodegradable PPE wherever we possibly can and the majority of our single use products such as gloves and towels are already in this category," Patraszewski, adding that the salon has also opted for a plant-based anti-microbial and alcohol-free hand sanitiser and disposable gowns made of sustainable wood chips for customers.
In place of the usual free-flowing vino, the salon is providing canned beer from local independent brewery Five Points and canned cocktails from Bodega Bay. They also ask clients to bring water bottles to refill to reduce non-recyclable waste.
Other considerations for the BCorp, include workplace wellness and career development for staff, and Blue Tit offers schemes such as personal finance training, external training and access to counselling, among other benefits, as well as the opportunity to become a partner in the company.
"As a business we need to look into a sustainable future regardless of the cost," Patraszewski says. "People and the environment come first. We are only guardians of this planet for a little while and businesses have real power to change things for the better."