After what feels like an eternity, hair salons were finally given the green light to reopen last week. Hair stylists, having been largely out of work during the pandemic, were thrilled to finally throw open their doors, and they were welcomed back with packed booking systems and long lines snaking around the block.

For those of us lucky enough to score a session in the chair, it felt like our first real taste of post-lockdown life. A non-virtual appointment required consideration for things many of us hadn’t mulled over in months – like where exactly is the Myki card? Will wearing a non-elasticated garment feel too fancy? Will leaving the house for a period longer than two hours send our co-dependent pets into a downward spiral? But perhaps the biggest question we faced after so long was “What do I actually want to do to my hair when I get there?”

Obviously a solid overall refresh was the primary concern for most, but according to local salons, many of us also wanted a stark departure from our pre-lockdown looks. Some asked for an entirely different aesthetic, while others had come to embrace their hair’s natural form during lockdown, now preferring a subtle textural tune-up instead.

With an eye to the impending Covid-normal summer (fingers crossed), we spoke to six reopened local salons about the cuts, colours, styles and treatments that Melburnians are asking for this side of the second wave.

Studio Meta

“Since we’ve opened this week we’ve seen a big move towards clients asking for low-maintenance cuts that require minimal effort,” say Lauren Mackellar and Alex Newman of Armadale salon Studio Meta. “We’ve noticed a movement towards wanting a more simplified way of living – people have realised there are better ways to use their time on things that are important to them, and that definitely flows on to their hair and beauty routines. Now they’re after a more natural, laid-back approach with wash-and-wear cuts.”

In terms of colour, Studio Meta is seeing people embrace their natural tone. “People have grown accustomed to how their hair looks without regular salon visits, and rather than asking for full-coverage colour for a big overhaul, they’re leaning towards techniques that highlight and accentuate their natural colour,” say Mackellar and Newman. “This goes for grey hair too! We’ve been able to use the colour fading that has happened naturally over the lockdown period to our advantage – it’s like having a blank-canvas approach to the service rather than a colour correction, which is a huge bonus for those wanting to go lighter in time for the warmer months.”

Delilah Hair Studio

Delilah is a dry-cutting salon, so it’s always been about texture. “Bobs, bangs, shags, anything with maximum volume,” says Adrian Panayiotis, aka “Mr D”, owner of the beloved Brunswick East studio. “It’s all about the natural movement, with texture, afros, natural curl and easy, wearable styles.”

When it comes to colour, Panayiotis says many clients now favour a casual approach that feels “lived in, natural and beautiful”.

“People want to feel like they’ve had a colour enhancement,” he says, but without losing their hair’s original personality. He suggests a long-lasting blonde for “a soft, subtle change – or a fantastic vibrant copper.”

The Blow Australia

Apparently, we’re all after big, bouncy, classic blow-dries post-lockdown. “Everyone is after our Mane Event hairstyle because it’s got so much body and movement, says Phoebe Simmonds, founder of Sydney and Melbourne-based blow-dry and dry style service The Blow. Women are wanting big, bouncy, long-lasting volume – all the things that you can’t often do for yourself at home – for a complete transformation.”

But right now the Melbourne salon isn’t just getting styling requests; it seems we’re all keen for a little TLC, too. “Never underestimate the power of having someone else wash your hair! We’ve had a lot of clients requesting our scalp scrub and massage, which is a deep clean and a bit of extra pamper time at the basin.”

Boda Hair Boutique

At south-side boutique Boda, change is on the menu. “Curtain bangs have been very popular, and blunt cuts in general,” says owner Martha Kourtidou. There have also been requests for some dramatic colour changes.

“People want to feel different after such a long lockdown, but so far it’s been very divided. Some clients have requested massive colour transformations because they’re so over their regrowth, while others have wanted to embrace a more natural, lived-in look, where we’ve created more depth through the top and the back of the head and have finished with a bold face frame.

“Everyone is feeling a little flat, so big colour lifts will no doubt help raise their spirits.”

Joey Scandizzo Salon

When it comes to the guys, those who unintentionally grew their hair out in iso seem to be more inclined to keep the length. “I would say ‘change’ has been the most requested thing post-lockdown. Everyone is embracing change and something new; they want to look different and they want to feel different,” says Joey Scandizzo, owner of a busy South Yarra salon and co-founder of haircare and lifestyle brand Eleven Australia. “Most of our male clients, now having longer hair than before due to lockdown, ask to keep the length, so we’re just shaping it for a more clean look. It’s worked out perfectly, because guys have gone through that awkward ‘growing my hair out’ phase in private with nowhere to go – and now they’ve emerged with a whole new look and they love it.”

Rizo Loco

At Moonee Ponds salon Rizo Loco, clients are planning ahead. “We’ve been having a lot of requests for low-maintenance hair, such as hair that grows out into a manageable shape,” says founder Jo Gray. “We’ve also had a lot of people going much shorter than usual, in case it will be a longer period of time between haircuts.”

She says at-home attempts to cut and colour may lead to a trend toward relaxed styles in 2021. “I feel that a lot of people will be rocking a more natural, loose, effortless hairstyle this year. Many people have attempted to cut and colour their own hair during lockdown, so the new trend is going natural and low-maintenance – just in case! We’ve also had many people going short with their cuts to remove the colour they had and embrace their natural or silver hair. It’s all about easy, grow-out, self-manageable options in our salon.”