It could be hard to get an appointment on short notice at a local dentist or hair stylist in the Walla Walla Valley.

Business has picked up lately, a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to to completely shut down for about three months in 2020. But now, especially with masks coming off and the state fully reopened as of Wednesday, June 30, it seems everyone is scrambling to freshen up their look.

That seems to mean a clean smile and a fresh haircut for many people. The Wall Street Journal has called it The Great American Cleanup.

“There’s several articles in some of the journals, as well as what I’m seeing personally, where there seems to be a resurgence of aesthetic pursuits as far as dentistry is concerned,” said Dr. Dan Laizure, the lead dentist and founder of Walla Walla Dental Care here on South Howard Street. “Bleaching is probably the most common aesthetic improvement or change we’re using for people because when we get into some of the other issues, it’s dramatically more expensive.”

Truth is the costly treatments are necessary for a lot of patients after so much time between visits, Laizure said. But for now, many of those returning to work or getting ready for summer events seem to want the quick temporary makeover.

An appointment at at hair stylist might also be on the list.

Misbehaven Spa + Salon, downtown on West Poplar Street, offers a variety of cosmetic services: skin care, nails, massage, makeup, waxing, etc. But owner Jeanese Marie Humbert says hair appointments have really filled up their hours of operation.

Many of the stylists at Bella Salon, on East Main Street, have also had to stretch their respective appointment calendars.

But in the meantime, this recent focus on personal beauty has hit retail stores across the country. Cosmetics are not exactly flying off the shelves, no report of shortages — like toilet paper and hand sanitizers last year according to Fortune magazine — but the sales are said to be up.

SmileDirectClub, a company that makes teeth whitening and straightening kits, has reported a 47% increase in sales this year. And the Wall Street Journal says large retailers have seen a high demand for perfume and nail polish (not to mention deodorant, as well as condoms).

Steve Wenzel, who manages the local Safeway on East Rose Street, reports their cosmetic and self-care aisles remain well-stocked. They have experienced an increase in purchases, he said, only it’s been all around the store.

Same for the Rite Aid in Milton-Freewater.

But as for the recent national binge on teeth whiteners and deodorant, the Wall Street Journal also stated it coincides with the more familiar shopping trends this time of year: sunscreen, swimsuits, luggage, etc.

A year after the pandemic took away almost every traditional summer event and limited travel, it appears life is getting back to normal.

Hector del Castillo can be reached at hectordelcastillo@wwub.com or 509-526-8317.

Hector writes stories about local sports, helps produce the daily section and updates the web site. A lifelong sports nut having grown up in Maryland, he joined the U-B with more than 15 years experience in journalism.

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