Cleanliness became the new luxury as salons reopened after their shutdown. There were detailed schedules assigning regular and visible wiping downs of surfaces, new technology to help systems go touchless, a ready box of masks for clients to grab at the front desk and more space as salons socially distanced.

Even with all the precautions salons took, there was fear that the inside air was acting host to virus molecules—what you couldn’t see could terrify you.

Solution to the invisible enemy

“We’ve constructed a new paradigm in sanitation,” says Terry McKee, owner of the Nuovo Salon Group in the Sarasota, Florida, area. “Many of us were pretty conscientious about our cleanliness before Covid, but I think we’ll remain even more so. For all three of our salons, we invested in air cleaning systems. We studied freestanding units but chose a system that is integrated in the HVAC. We told our guests that now the air was filtered even more than it had been.”

It was still early in the pandemic when Jeff South reopened his three Intrigue Salon locations in the Atlanta market after five weeks of being closed. Like McKee, he concluded that an air cleaning system would best protect his staff and guests. The peace of mind didn’t come cheap, but $50,000 later all Intrigue Salons had clean air provided by Synexis. 

Synexis is a bio-defense system that will knock out anything—microorganisms like influenza, Norovirus, Coronavirus, and mold,” South says. “It continually cleans the air with hydrogen peroxide, which our lungs naturally contain. The Synexis crew comes in and tests the walls for microbes from floor to ceiling to let you know whether you have germs in your place. For us, the level was nearly zero.”

Intrigue was the first salon group in the world to install Synexis, which was gaining favor with hospitals, schools, and restaurants. South promoted the new layer of safety to the salons’ guests, telling them that the air was filtered even more thoroughly than it had been before COVID.

Layers of protection

The “layer” aspect is important to South—making sure clients know that the salon prioritizes safety in every way possible.

“We’re seeing 110-120 clients/day,” South says. “That’s a lot of people in and out.” While they may not be able to see the air being cleaned, they can spot all the rest of the safety precautions.

“We have a cleaning service coming every night just as they did pre-pandemic, but now they do more than just sweep and clean up,” South notes. “Our stylists wipe down their stations after every client, including the neck spots on the shampoo bowls. In an old-school twist, we keep a timer that dings every 45 minutes, signaling it’s time for our front desk people to wipe down the doorknobs and surfaces. We also have lots of sanitizer dispensers activated by foot pedals.”

As data rolled out about the transmission of the virus, South relaxed a bit of the regimen. “At the beginning we went overboard,” he recalls. “We put a different cape on every client, and our whole team wore gloves.”

With that initial fear in the past, South feels good that the air cleaning system seems to be doing the job.

How it works

Synexis Vice President Russ Stephens says the company’s patented Dry Hydrogen Peroxide (DHP) technology is key to the effectiveness of the Synexis system.

“Synexis essentially creates an immune system for a controlled environment to reduce airborne and surface microbes, generating low concentrations of dry hydrogen peroxide in a pure gas form,” Stephens explains. “We take the ambient air and humidity that is already in the environment, rip it apart, and put it back together at 5 to 25 parts per billion. Wherever air goes, the system goes and decontaminates—24/7, 365 days of the year. DHP becomes part of the environment and starts to combat the pathogens as soon as they enter the building, even if they’re in hard-to-reach areas. It is a simple process with a big output, an organic technology that provides a continuous solution within an environmental strategy.”

South is convinced by the results. While he can’t be sure whether individual clients have had the virus, South says his salons have not had a single outbreak of Covid-19.

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