Much has been made of the new norm as businesses begin to open their doors to the public. We have already experienced significant impacts on our modified behaviour in examples such as self-distancing lines at checkouts, no return policies, enforced wearing of masks, interacting with staff behind shielded plexiglass and other containment measures.
“The hands-on services and treatments provided by hairdressers, aestheticians, manicurists and massage therapists are going to be especially challenged to adopt similar restrictions in an effort to protect their staff and clients,” states Jeff Alford, president of The CBON Group, Canada’s largest supplier of professional infection control products.
“One thing consumers do know is that they will likely be encountering a very different world when salons and spas start once again to take appointments,” continues Alford. The professional beauty industry is in turn going to be welcoming back a very different kind of client, one that is more aware, more educated and more scrutinizing of workplace environments and sanitizing practices in place to keep them protected. “The new norm in the age of coronavirus is going to be accompanied by social awareness where consumers assume greater responsibility for their own physical safety and personal welfare”.
The general public has witnessed protective measures imposed on them by retail stores, restaurants, banks, transit, etc. However, they have also exercised their own personal safety responses by wearing masks and gloves, shopping online, avoiding busy store hours or simply just staying at home. When salons and spas do re-open, consumers can continue taking measures to reduce the risk of infection when getting a haircut, manicure, facial or a massage.
Here are tips from Alford that he suggests the public can look for as they return to their favourite salon or spa.
Advanced Awareness of Salon/Spa Policy Changes
- Even before you book an appointment, you should be aware of what measures your salon or spa are taking to keep you safe while in their care. Their website, social media channels or email notifications should be announcing changes in policy that might include, required use of face masks, restrictions in services (like no hair drying), reduced (or extended) hours, no walk-ins, no waiting areas, no outside food or drinks, etc. Become familiar with those policies and make sure you’re comfortable with them before making a booking. You do not want to become a social media sensation by causing a scene when you show up and are potentially taken by surprise.
Communicate with Your Professional Beauty Facility
- Perhaps your local salon or spa isn’t all that tech savvy with making updates through digital media. You can also give them a call when booking your appointment and inquire about changes in policy. You can ask if staff will be wearing masks, what additional cleaning and disinfection practices are in place and whether they are undertaking any screening measures (e.g. checking for flu-like symptoms, temperature taking or filling out forms). This knowledge will give you the confidence to continue with your booking or contemplate an alternative destination. Safety is not only about you, but the practices enforced upon the people around you as well.
Before You Enter…
- Before entering your salon or spa, you should see notification of any changes communicated through signage or posted letters at the door or window. This will let you know that policies are being universally applied to everyone. Remember, the risk of infection does not just come from within the facility but also from other patrons.
Reception, the First Line of Defence
- A salon or spa’s primary objective during this outbreak is to prevent the introduction of viruses that can lead to infection. Larger establishments may have a designated greeter at the door who can screen clients before they enter the premises. Smaller salons or spas should have a physical barrier or reception desk that prevents clients from freely entering before being processed. Hand sanitizing gel, availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves, disposal of outside coffee cups, form-filling, etc. may all be part of the new norm. If these measures are not in place, you may need to ask yourself why and what other precautionary steps are not being taken to keep you safe?
Social Distancing is Possible
- While maintaining distance may not be possible when obtaining professional beauty services, your salon or spa should still be taking measures to respect the 2-meter separation rule whenever possible. This may include removal of waiting areas, limiting capacity and by-appointment-only service to avoid over congestion. It may also involve removal or decommissioning of every other workstation, shampooing sink, blow drying area, etc. to ensure distancing. If your salon or spa do not have these precautions in place, you may be exposing yourself to a higher risk of infection through exposure to other customers in close quarters.
Getting Ready for Your Appointment
- Your professional beauty provider should clean and disinfect their workstations and treatment areas between every appointment. All disposable items used with a client should be discarded. Any manicure/pedicure tools should be high level disinfected in a soaking tray. All points of client contact including work surfaces, chairs, treatment beds, face cradles, magnifying lamps, etc. should be disinfected with a Health Canada approved hospital grade disinfectant for the requisite contact time. Some products may take as long as 10 minutes to do their job, so you should be prepared to wait in between appointments. If your salon or spa has fast client turnover that does not allow for proper sanitizing protocols to take place, you should be aware of the heightened exposure to infection you may be facing.
Ask Your Professional Beauty Practitioner
- The coronavirus outbreak has required beauty professionals to brush up on their germ and infection prevention knowledge. Some may have already had sanitizing best practices in place prior to COVID-19, but additional training and education may now be required. There are numerous online courses available to the cosmetology trade with opportunities to receive certification. So, you should be able to engage with your professional and have them address any health-related questions. Better still, he or she should start your appointment by letting you know what measures they have in place to keep you safe prior to the commencement of any treatment or service and conclude with “do you have any questions or concerns before we get started?. If your facility is not doing this or is unable to respond to your infection prevention questions, how safe should you feel?
In the new norm, social awareness will play an increasingly larger role to ensure you’re using the services of a salon or spa that is well positioned to protect you from the risk of infection. This is true during a pandemic like coronavirus but also during seasonal flu outbreaks or to prevent everyday infections associated with the spread of viruses, bacteria and fungi in personal care establishments. Social awareness will not only be practiced at a facility but also through word of mouth, online reviews, social media engagement, etc. to ensure your friends and family also have the same level infection prevention knowledge and monitoring. Only then, can we all know and be confident that we’ve done everything possible to contain the risk of an outbreak resurgence and keep everyone safe and protected