A LATE reprieve for the beauty industry offers Ballarat salon owners some relief in what they say has been a huge emotional toll for business and mental health.
The Victorian government relented to allow beauty salons in regional Victoria to re-open in step three in restrictions easing, having earlier been marked to stay suspended until at least late November.
This backflip follows a widespread petition and demand for salons to be acknowledged with hairdressing in restrictions for what was otherwise the one industry.
Forever Skinfit owner Peta Gray said in some ways, she would rather stay closed until there was certainty salons would not reopen only to have to close again in lockdowns much later. On the other hand, there was relief in being able to get back to some normalcy.
Beauty salons, excepting hairdressing which remained open, are now locked in a waiting game. To re-open they need regional Victoria's new COVID-19 case average to drop below five for 14 days straight and with no mystery cases.
But it will not be full body waxing and facials from the outset, either. Beauticians will be limited to working around clients' masks.
We're trying to get creative with what we can do...We'll take whatever we can get.Peta Gray, Forever Skinfit
"We're trying to get creative with what we can do," Ms Gray said. "I have a teenage client whose skin has broken out on their forehead, but I can still do a partial facial...We can still do eyebrows and tinting and IPL (intense pulsated light) hair removal.
"Most of our clients are sugaring or facial clients, but we'll take whatever we can get."
Ms Gray has also been working in the online space with skin consultations, attracting new clients from other cities like Melbourne. She said it felt like she was at least helping people, but motivation had been tougher in general this second lockdown.
Salon owners in Ballarat share a private group chat to support each other through good and bad days. Onyx Beauty's Melany Reddrop said technically they were all business competition, but without them she would have felt lost.
Ms Reddrop also opened a seperate hair salon Onyx Hair between lockdowns and said it felt cruel saying who could work when hair and beauty were otherwise considered the same industry with workers on the same award.
She said there was a sense of hairdressers' safety being devalued in working through. Onyx Hair opted to shut through the stage three lockdowns until this week.
Ms Reddrop said there had been an incredible toll in lockdowns, not just on the beauty industry but similarly in the gym industry.
It's not just about business but people's mental health...For some people, looking good can help you feel good.Melany Reddrop, Onyx Hair and Onyx Beauty
"At least if we can open a couple of months earlier, it's not just about business but people's mental health," Ms Reddrop said.
"In mental health, a lot has gone out the window.For some people, it's going to the gym. For others, its getting your eye lashes tinted.
"For some people, looking good can help you feel good, even if it's a little treatment and a half hour to yourself. We're looking forward to seeing our clients again."
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