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A New Standard in Beauty: Hygiene Takes Center Stage, Part One

Bounce Back After COVID-19 With These Expert Tips

As parts of the country begin reopening spas, salons and retail stores, consumers will be keeping a close eye on sanitation practices to ensure their own safety. Hygiene will be more important than ever in the beauty industry on the heels of COVID-19. According to a late-March report in Insider, one million beauty industry providers have been impacted by the recent pandemic and the effects will undoubtedly reverberate in the months, and perhaps years, to come. Therefore, it’s crucial to plan carefully before opening your doors and set forth strict guidelines that reflect the new normal for beauty businesses.

From enhanced communication and education to stringent hygiene protocols, we’ve broken down some of the best practices from beauty professionals around the country to set up your business for success.

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Preparing to Reopen

Leslie Williams, health professional and owner of Woo Me Beauty, recommends that employers should provide training, educational materials and reinforcement on proper sanitation, handwashing, cough and sneeze etiquette, using personal protective equipment (PPE) and other protective behaviors. “Before opening, thoroughly clean and disinfect all tools, surfaces and chairs; the reception area and workstations; and the restroom floor, sinks and toilet,” Williams advises. “Remove all unnecessary decor and items such as magazines, newspapers, service menus or any other unnecessary paper products.” She also suggests restocking supplies, such as soap, hand sanitizer, gloves and face masks, and ensuring that handwashing signs in the restroom are up-to-date.

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) offers updated cleaning guidelines for beauty pros, outlining proper procedures for cleaning everything from chairs to hard surfaces like counters, door handles and retail areas. Simple steps, such as nixing tester items and investing in single-use tools and applicators, help prevent cross-contamination, while strategically placed signage can help communicate to clients the extra steps you’re taking to provide safety. With proper planning and painstaking follow-through by staff, beauty businesses can make certain they’re operating in the safest manner to protect both clients and employees.

Working with Clients

Manicure

From donning protective equipment to implementing policy changes, there are numerous ways to minimize risk when catering to clients. For example, Williams believes that beauty professionals should wear a face mask, splash shield and gloves, while asking each client to wear a face mask as well. “Ensure that both employees and customers are diligently washing their hands before and after each service, advise customers to wash their hands once they’re checked in and to disinfect their phone and keys,” Williams says. “Employees should frequently wash their hands after using the phone and computer or engaging in a cash or card exchange. If you can, avoid using cash, cards or other contact payment methods, and wipe the surface between each check-in and check-out of customers.”

The PBA also recommends adding hand sanitizer at strategic spaces throughout the facility (reception areas, individual stations and restrooms), and possibly upgrading to touchless faucets or hand dryers in the restroom. After each client, clean and dry any laundry items, and disinfect shampoo bowls and pedicure tubs. “Your disinfectant product must be EPA-registered and labeled as bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal,” the PBA reports. “PPE products are single-use and must be changed after each client, washing hands with soap and water after removing gloves.”

At Silhouette On Site, a hair and makeup service provider in Charleston, South Carolina, owner Laura Pascazio notes that certain small changes help customers stay safe: using disposable applicators, applying hand sanitizer before each step, and wearing puff pads on the pinky finger so that if the professional needs to rest her hand on the client’s face, she doesn’t touch the skin directly. “It’s very important to clean brushes and liners, and lay down a cloth on any surface for extra protection,” Pascazio says. “We even offer virtual one-on-one classes to show customers how to apply makeup, customized for their face, during a video chat.”

Here are some additional changes that can boost safety for your business:

Gloves, Mask, Hand Sanitizer

Updated Policies: There are policy changes that can help minimize health concerns at your store, salon or spa. Williams recommends limiting the number of people inside at any one time; making services by appointment only, with no walk-ins allowed; maintaining a safe social distance of six feet, when possible; and encouraging booking appointments online, with a questionnaire that asks about any symptoms such as cough or fever (or if they have been around anyone with these symptoms).

Staggering Appointments: The PBA suggests staggering appointments to allow for upgraded cleaning procedures and reduced congestion in waiting areas; avoiding shaking hands upon greeting; encouraging masks to be worn inside; and researching electronic payment options to reduce touching screens or card readers.

Top-Level Sanitation Practices: As a cosmetic tattooist and owner of Yama Studios in Honolulu, Hannah Maruyama is already accustomed to top-level sanitation practices, always wearing a mask and gloves—but she too plans on taking extra precautions. “I will sanitize my studio even more frequently, use a mask from the time a client walks in until the time they leave, and require they wear one as well,” Maruyama explains. “I will no longer permit guests, and now I plan to offer customers masks if they forget their own. This shows that I care about their personal well-being and increases their satisfaction with my services.”

Communicating with Clients

Gloves, Mask, Hand Sanitizer

Put your Clients at Ease: As clients have been accustomed to lockdowns in recent months, they’ve also gotten used to doing their shopping (and DIY salon services) at home. To win them back, Laura O’ Connor Chawke, owner of Makeup Scholar, notes that stores, spas and salons will need to take safety precautions seriously and ensure that they communicate these precautions effectively. “Your customers are not mind-readers—they won’t just assume that it’s now safe to get regular treatments,” she says. “Exploit existing marketing and communication channels (social media, regulars’ phone numbers and emails, etc.) and provide a detailed description of all of the safety precautions you’re following. You could even offer a free one-time service, such as removing gel nails or covering grays, with another purchase, to entice customers back.”

Communicating with customers is key during these unprecedented times. For example, Salon Maxime in Beverly Hills, California, recently emailed customers to detail its strict safety protocols, created under guidelines from the CDC and WHO. “Our stylists each receive up to 50 hours of training on topics like health and hygiene, sanitation and disinfection,” the email explained. “We’ve increased the hours for our cleaning staff to dedicate even more time to continually sanitize and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, door handles, and shared amenities throughout the day.”

By clearly outlining cleaning procedures and other precautionary efforts, salons, spas and retail stores will help ease their customers’ concerns. “We emphasize that our team is all licensed and that sanitation is even more important than ever before,” Pascazio says. “Finally, I think investing in marketing and advertising is key to spread the word that you’re open and providing services.”

Though the industry may never look the same, beauty professionals are known for their incredible adaptability and willingness to go above and beyond when caring for their customers. With these expert tips, beauty businesses can bounce back and ensure that services are safer than ever!

Keep an eye out for our next blog in this series, which will detail everything you need to know about keeping your makeup and makeup tools clean, and the final installment, covering the increasing importance of single-use and disposable applicators.

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