SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): For more than a year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Carista Heng and her family of three have not stepped into a hairdressing salon.
The last time was before the circuit breaker in April last year.
But the locks of the 39-year-old housewife, her husband and eight-year-old son are neat and tidy. They have been having their hair cut in their home at Pine Close in Geylang by a mobile hairdresser.
They are among a growing number of people tapping mobile hairdressing services, with some hairdressers reporting 20 per cent more business since the pandemic began.
"My son dislikes wearing a mask, so it's hard to get his hair cut at a regular salon. Now our family get our haircuts done at home. I find it much safer," said Heng, who engages the mobile hairdressing service provided by Jacklyn Tan, 59, every two months.
Tan has been offering mobile hairdressing services since 2016. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, she juggles salon appointments and mobile appointments from her studio - Jacklyn Tan Hair Studio. She has two outlets - in Punggol and Fortune Centre.
Heng learnt about the mobile hairdressing service through an Internet search and contacted Tan in July last year for the first appointment.
"When Covid-19 hit, I realised that there might be a higher demand for home hairdressing as people prefer to do social distancing. And it's true - more working adults approach me for haircuts now," said Tan.
Under phase two (heightened alert) measures, which will run until Aug 18, services that require masks to be removed - including facials - have been disallowed.
Tan said she offers her services only when the measures allow them. She is fully vaccinated, keeps her mask on all the time and sanitises all her equipment.
She also checks that her clients are fully vaccinated and limits herself to two home appointments each day as per current rules. She provides clean towels for her clients.
For some of the hairdressers, the mobile business is up 20 per cent, mitigating the drop in footfall at their hair salons.
A mobile haircut costs between $30 and $50, depending on the hairdresser, and does not include washing.
Tan Cindy, 40, has provided mobile hairdressing services under her salon Share a Cut, in Jalan Bukit Merah, since 2018. The salon provides professional hair services for the disadvantaged, the vulnerable and people with special needs, with sponsors paying for the haircuts.
"This business is my way of giving back to society - a haircut makes you look good and feel good. I want people who are unable to come to a physical salon to enjoy that feeling too," said Tan Cindy, who also serve clients with mobility issues.
Stephy Lim, 33, started her mobile hairdressing service Stephy The Mobile Hairdresser in 2014. The mother of a nine-year-old girl and five-year-old boy likes the work flexibility.
She only works while her children are at school.
"I'm able to work part-time and at the same time be there for my children," said Lim, who has worked for 15 years in salons here.
Brandon Chia, 24, usually gets a haircut at a barber, but Covid-19 restrictions have made it difficult for him to visit the barber regularly.
"As long as the hairdresser has good reviews, I wouldn't mind trying it out. I'd like to support small businesses that might need it during pandemic times," added the third-year communications student at Nanyang Technological University.
Last September, Jacklyn Tan had a booking to attend to an elderly bedridden woman, who was also wearing an oxygen mask.
Her last wish was to get a haircut at her home in Choa Chu Kang, and her daughter had made the booking. A few hours after the haircut, Tan was told the woman had died.
"I feel that my job is meaningful as I can solve their problems with a haircut. It makes me happy," she said. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network