Golden rules for session stylists under new guidelines

Things aren’t as cut and dried for session stylists as they are for hair salons. As the new guidelines come into force from 4 July for English salons, we look at applying the measures to session styling

When the government guidelines were released earlier this week there was a collective sigh of relief from much of the industry – until the reality set in that this wouldn’t be a cohesive opening, factoring in the whole of the beauty sector. The rules are clear for salon owners and stylists (at least in England currently), but less so when it comes to less fixed scenarios like session work, which rely on interaction with photographers, make-up artists and more.

Sheila Abrahams, founder of the Freelance Hairdressers Association, noted that session stylists “are almost caught between; they’ve got some of those commitments, because of working with clients, but they’re not in a salon scenario. It’s just a matter of making sure that you stay on top of everything, wiping down anything and everything that you’ve come into contact with.”

We’ve broken down the guidelines to show how session stylists will need to adapt to fit the new measures, starting with…


A face visor is required in terms of PPE requirements – the government guidelines specify a clear visor that fits the wearer and that covers the face and forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face.

There is no requirement for the models or clients to wear any additional protection such as a mask or face covering, when the practitioner is wearing a visor. Additional face coverings should be optional to models and clients who want to wear a something to make them feel comfortable.

Working on multiple models

You will need to use new PPE for each model or client you’re working on. Disposable gowns etc will help to limit transmission when dealing with multiple people, and if you’re unable to use separate seating areas for each model then you should clean these down thoroughly between each one. You must clean down your visor (if re-useable) or replace your visor at the same time. Gloves are not required, but hands should be washed frequently, particularly between models.


Tools will need to be cleaned between each model as well, or split into individual kits for use with each model – for example, you can’t use same brush on each without cleaning it in between. Keep used tools separate from unused tools, and the same goes for electricals. Blow drying is allowed, there are no restrictions (despite suggestions to the contrary) but hairdryers should be sanitised as with any other electrical tool.

The most effective methods of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 are still social distancing (where possible) and regular hand washing. These steps must still be followed as much as possible, even when wearing protective equipment.

A reminder that this is currently in England only, with Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all running on different timelines and no word on what safety guidelines will be required to be in place. Make-up artists are also not currently allowed to work, so it may be a while yet until session life will resume fully.