A 2020 Recap: 

Taking a Look at This Crazy Year in Cosmetology

The new year is so close we can almost see it. Just a few more days to go and we’ll all be crossing the finish line of maybe the most demanding, insane, chaotic, unpredictable, and hectic race we’ve ever collectively run.

If you don’t relate to that last sentiment, it’s probably because you feel like this marathon of a year was more like a dumpster fire than anything else, but no matter what metaphor is most fitting, we’re sure that we can all agree—this year was something else.

Though 2020 definitely wasn’t all bad (I’m sure many of us had exciting, rewarding things happen) and we don’t want to write the entire year off, it’s also super safe to say it was one of the most tumultuous times ever for our industry. When 2020 began, many of us were ready to go—we had goals, we had visions for growing our business, we had new ideas to implement to help our careers flourish.

But just two months into the year showed us that our lives would be changed indefinitely. When the pandemic hit the U.S., none of us were sure what would happen. The uncertainty and fear that wrapped around the country affected everyone—but even still, we couldn’t predict what would happen to the cosmetology and beauty industries.

How could we?

But the cosmetology industry—and the brave, talented people who make up the industry—proved something important—cosmetologists are resilient AF.

Our industry took an undeniably huge hit. With a pandemic running rampant and firm regulations locked into place, our jobs—our hands-on, up-close and personal, one-on-one jobs—suddenly became incredibly dangerous.

There were times when many people—even though the most optimistic cosmetologists—weren’t sure if our industry would ever return to normal.

And in a way, it probably won’t—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Though the pandemic is far from over, many states have opened back up, new regulations have been put into place, and our industry is collectively breathing a sigh of relief. Though none of us would choose the pandemic, we all undeniably learned several important lessons that can help us carry on through other types of challenges.

Let’s take a little look back on 2020 to get a better idea of what happened, how the cosmetology industry changed, and what big players in the industry did to counter the chaos.

An Uncertain Year: How 2020 Challenged the Cosmetology Industry

For the first time—maybe ever—the cosmetology industry’s most obvious benefit—job security—wasn’t a guarantee.  Shops, salons, and spas shut down—some for a few weeks, some for several months. Even now, there are waves of closures in states that are threatening another round of shutdowns for several professionals in our industry.

Even though the pandemic won’t last forever, it’s no secret that it’s permanently changed the beauty industry. As a result, cosmetologists of all disciplines were forced to change the way they did business to survive. And while the process of shifting toward a diversified income was by no means a pleasant one, in many ways, it was a beneficial change for many cosmetologists.

Industry professionals switched to no-contact, virtual offerings, DIY classes, Zoom consults, creating their own product lines, and other creative outlets for bringing in money when they couldn’t physically work with clients. That’s a trend that will likely highly impact the industry—and all those in it—forever.

Strict regulations became even stricter, forcing cosmetologists to implement stringent sanitation guidelines, provide the proper PPE, and take appropriate precautions to operate during the pandemic (such as masks galore, occupancy limits, and no-contact waiting rooms).

How The Industry Responded to COVID-19

Despite the shutdowns, the loss of income, and the strict regulations put in place, the industry proved resilient.

More importantly, the skilled professionals who make up the industry proved resilient, too. Though not every cosmetologist made it through the pandemic unscathed, many of them implemented career-saving measures to stand against the pandemic and ensure it didn’t turn their career or business into a statistic.

Individually, cosmetologists had to learn how to create positive environments in their salons all over again, reopen with new prices and new regulations, and students had to figure out new, creative ways to complete their education.

On a more commercial level, cosmetology businesses, foundations, and charitable organizations did their part, too. Tons of big-name beauty brands switched production to start creating masks, PPE, and sanitizer. Organizations like the Professional Beauty Association Foundation created the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help provide funds to licensed beauty professionals who were unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19. 

Even continued learning seminars and tradeshows adjusted their approach, many of them switching to virtual events. One of the most notable transitions in this category came from Elizabeth Faye—she transitioned her giant Hair Love Retreat event into a totally virtual event.

None of us could have predicted what 2020 would look like for the cosmetology industry, and as it comes to a close, even though we’re thrilled to leave this year behind, many of us are probably a little low-key terrified of what 2021 will bring. We’re here to tell you that—after a year like we’ve all had—that’s normal.

Keep the faith, keep working hard, and keep doing what you do best—being a badass cosmetologist. The rest, well, we’ll all have to figure that out together as we go!

Here’s to a happy, healthy year and a successful cosmetology career! You’ve got this, guys!