What to Expect During Your Next Visit to a Beauty Retailer Amid COVID-19

Hair appointments and trips to the nail salon amid the coronavirus pandemic aren't the only things that are changing post stay-at-home orders. Between face mask requirements, social-distancing, and a newly heightened awareness of hygiene, you can't deny that the shopping experience is going to look very different, especially in the beauty industry.

As beauty retailers begin reopening in a pandemic, there are quite a few adjustments and changes that need to be made in order for the experience to feel safe for customers and employees. If you're understandably curious about what your next trip to your favorite makeup retailer or department store will look like in this uncharted territory, keep reading to find out a little more information from representatives at Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Nordstrom, and SHEN Beauty.

What Shopping at Beauty Retailers Will Look Like Post Stay-at-Home Orders
Getty | NurPhoto

What Shopping at Beauty Retailers Will Look Like Post Stay-at-Home Orders

There are a number of changes you should expect during your next shopping visit post stay-at-home orders. For starters, there will be an increase in safety and health regulations that have been set by both the state and put in place by individual retailers. "Not only are we mandated by the state to have half of the allowed occupancy, but also each client will be required to wear a mask when entering the store," Jessica Richards, founder of SHEN Beauty, told POPSUGAR. "Staff will wear face shields and face masks at all times."

This goes hand-in-hand with an increase in cleaning and sanitization, contactless checkout, and daily health screenings for employees. You also shouldn't be alarmed if stores require you to have your temperature checked upon entering — it's all to help stop the spread of the virus.

In an effort to make customers as comfortable as possible, many beauty retailers created their own list of rules to put shoppers at ease. Ulta Beauty, for example, implemented the Shop Safe Standards and Sephora the Sephora Health & Hygiene Guidelines. "We spent almost 10 weeks developing our rigorous safety and client service protocols designed to protect employees and clients while safely and confidently providing support, expert advice and a welcoming experience for all," a representative at Sephora told POPSUGAR about the retailer's 48-item long list of procedures. "While the retail environment will feel different and many factors remain out of our hands, we've learned to embrace what we can't control."

Autumne West, the national beauty director for Nordstrom added: "More than anything we really want our customers and employees to feel safe in our stores." The retailer reopened select beauty services at its New York City Flagship on July 10 as a part of phase three in the city's reopening plan.

Some, But Not All, In-Store Beauty Services Will Be Back In Action
Getty | Presley Ann

Some, But Not All, In-Store Beauty Services Will Be Back In Action

If you're used to going to Ulta Beauty or the Nordstrom Beauty Haven for eyebrow touch ups or hairstyling appointments, you may want to check ahead of time if that service is actually available. While beauty retail stores have been allowed to reopen, not all personal care services have.

Sephora has decided at this time to not offer in-store treatments, while Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom's Beauty Haven have resumed select services. For the Beauty Haven, this includes dry-styling Drybar blowouts, Base Coat manicures, and Anastasia Beverly Hills brow shaping. "We're only offering beauty services in our stores where it's allowed by state and local ordinances," said West. "We are so happy we can offer our New York customers this selection of beauty services and look forward to offering more services when ordinances allow."

At Ulta Beauty, hair and brow services are also available. "Our salons are currently providing hair and brow services; some are even booked weeks in advance," said Kecia Steelman, chief store operations officer and president of international at Ulta Beauty. "We look forward to resuming skin services soon."

Product Testers Are a Thing of the Past — For Now
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Product Testers Are a Thing of the Past — For Now

As for product testers and samples — one of the main draws to shopping in-person for makeup — those will mostly be done away with, for now. This has made way for virtual experiences, instead.

"We know part of the joy found in shopping for beauty is being able to swatch and play." said Steelman. "To that end, we are excited to welcome guests to try GLAMlab, our virtual-try on experience in the Ulta Beauty App." GLAMlab allows shoppers to virtually try-on products in categories such as eyeshadow, eyeliner, brows, lips, mascara, foundation, false eyelashes, and even hair color.

A similar software is available at Sephora, too. The Virtual Artist feature in the Sephora app allows you to digitally try-on products, see swatches, and watch how-to's. The retailers also has the Shade Finder to help match shoppers with their closest foundation shade.

"While testers remain temporarily suspended, we have display-only versions of our testers available in-store, in states where local ordinance allows, and our Beauty Advisors will be available to assist clients via demonstration with these displays," said the Sephora rep.

At SHEN Beauty, store visitors are asked to refrain from touching anything — or at least use hand sanitizer first — and seek the help of an employee instead. "Testers will be handled only by the staff members and we will encourage people to ask for help, prior to touching anything to avoid any unnecessary passing of germs," said Richards.

"We know beauty shopping looks and feels a bit different now and we understand everyone has their own level of comfort when returning to stores," said Steelman.