Everyone has a story about lice. The kids brought it home from school. Or maybe everyone in the family got it after that one camping trip.
When Michelle Aloisio's kindergartner got lice, she didn't know what her options were. "I knew that there were other mothers out there who were exactly like me, who were somewhat uneducated on the lice removal process," Aloisio says.
Aloisio and her partner, Hillary Scofield, found themselves in need of help and didn't know where to look. So, like any entrepreneurs presented with a problem that has no immediate solution, they opened a business, and The Hair Angels lice removal salon was born.
"Lice removal salon" might make you think of something sterile, with white walls and face masks — more like a doctor's office than a salon. But at Hair Angels, the walls are bright blue, and the salon chairs and even the hair dryers are bubblegum pink. Framed kid drawings adorn the walls with messages like "No more lice," "Lice makes me itch!" and "Squash!"
Scofield says the idea was to make their salon look exactly not like a lice removal salon. "When children come in here, they have an experience like when they're getting their hair done," Scofield says.
For Scofield and Aloisio, anything to take your mind off the pesky bugs is a good thing. According to Aloisio, even though lice have been bugging humans since pretty much forever, there are still plenty of misconceptions about the tiny scavengers.
"We talk to people and we educate them that anyone can get lice," Aloisio says, noting that there's still a stigma attached to having them. "It has nothing to do with hygiene whatsoever."
The way most people get lice, Aloisio says, is simple enough: head-to-head contact.
But if you have lice, how do you do to get rid of them? That's where the Hair Angels come in.
"We're the only two girls you know of that have actually gone to lice school," Aloisio says.
Yes, Lice School, there is such a thing. Hair Angels is one of the only local businesses certified by Florida's Shepherd Institute, a training and certification program that teaches strand-by-strand lice removal. Aloisio says they use all non-toxic products and a special combing technique.
"We basically comb out 85 to 90 percent of the lice activity," Aloisio says. "Whatever the comb is not able to remove we have to manually pick out with our fingers."
Scofield says, recently, you might have heard some interesting theories on how it spreads. Some experts have pointed to an increase in lice outbreaks due to selfies.
Scofield says, yes, lice by selfie is possible — but who knows? "It crawls from one person's head over to another's," she says, "and when you see children, or teenagers or whomever it is, and they're gathered around in front of a camera, the likelihood of transmitting lice is very high."
Aloisio and Scofield say it's their job to provide information in an area where there's a lot of myth and misconception. For them, it feels good to relieve customers of their lice-related stress.
"...I think they leave here exhaling, breathing, hugging the technician who's worked on their child," Scofield says.