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Beauty industry under pressure over client requests for home visits

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Leading salon owner Mark O'Keeffe has asked people to stop putting pressure on stylists for home visits during the global health pandemic.

Mr O'Keeffe, who employs more than 100 staff, said he understands the need to maintain appearances but warned it could help spread the virus.

He said it was the responsibility of the client not to ask staff to go to their house to do their hair.

"Stylists are being put into positions where they feel uncomfortable because they have been doing a client's hair for so long," he said. "It is vital that we practise social-distancing so we come out of this quickly but if stylists are going to start going to people's houses and risk spreading the virus, this is going to go on even longer."

Mr O'Keeffe said his staff were asking him if such visits were OK.

"That's not my responsibility, so I think the onus is on the client not to ask staff," he said. "It's the wrong thing to do."

He warned that people must prioritise: "What I love about this industry is that we are able to provide a service that makes people feel great and I love the fact that no matter what, people still want to get their hair done.

"That's why we were able to get through the recession - it's a fantastic way to feel good. But I suppose, for the first time since the Spanish Flu at the start of the 1900s, the fear out there is real, so people have to respect that."

He promised to open seven days a week if he could once "all this is over".

Mr O'Keeffe owns Brown Sugar, Sugar Cubed, high-end barbers Sugar Daddy and the tanning, brows and nail salon Sugar Coat.

He described the heartbreak of letting 115 staff go last Monday for an unknown period.

"It was incredibly emotional. I am really concerned for my staff. I have a big knot in my stomach over it," he said.

Asked to give tips for women who will be turning to home dyes, he said: "Always do a patch test before you use it, that's vital, then get a colour that's a shade lighter on the box than your own hair, because it's always easier to go darker but I would advise people to use a 'root spray' that you can get from supermarkets for the sake of a few weeks - home dye can take a long time to repair."

Meanwhile, Patricia Molloy, owner of the Derma Clinic which specialises in lasers and medical aesthetic treatments, has urged women to avoid buying injectables online or turning to untrained therapists advertising home visits over the internet during the outbreak.

"Please don't," she said. "There are too many things that can go wrong. I am a trainer and I know the amount of training that is needed.

"You should only have a medical professional administrating any of these treatments, and please do not buy anything online because you don't know where it is coming from or what it is made of.

"If anything goes wrong, there is nobody there to look after you." She added: "We will be here when it all goes away and we will do extra hours to look after people; we will only be too delighted."

Sunday Independent