The cosmetology industry is arguably one of the most prepared industries for dealing with infection control and the safety of clients and service providers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic than any other.
Although current projections forecast reopening to occur in early to mid-May for the majority of the country, there will expectedly still be concerns for service providers and their guests. So how do we safely move forward once we reopen?
Owners and service providers need to prepare now by notifying clients and staff of how their businesses will take all of the necessary precautions going forward and how the business will operate once they reopen. Begin emailing your clients regarding the new and updated policies and procedures for cleaning, disinfecting and safety to create a bond of reassurance for when they return.
In addition to the guidelines we have always followed for infection control, we will find new ways of servicing clients that is efficient and safer for everyone in the salon. The cosmetology industry is already strongly regulated and we as owners, stylists, etc. follow strict guidelines for sanitation and safety for ourselves and our clients. (When I took my state board many years ago, the majority of my test covered those topics.) Now is the time to be proactive and implement even stronger policies for boosting the safety and infection practices of your salon. (CLICK HERE to review Barbicide's list of recommended procedures for cleaning prior to reopening.)
For instance, as stylists we’re taught to always use a new comb taken from the Barbicide glass container for every client, and if we drop that comb it is cleaned and then immediately put back in the disinfectant and a new comb is pulled from the Barbicide container. Consider cleaning and disinfecting your shears, brushes and any other tools used while your guest is in the chair, so they see you physically taking every precaution to keep equipment disinfected while they’re in your care.
If your salon disinfects tools and utensils in the back, or in a location that is not visible, disinfect your tools and place them in a clean, disinfected container or plastic bag that is sealed and not opened until your next guest is ready for their service. Seeing you remove the disinfected tools from the sealed container will provide an additional level of trust and reassurance between you and your guest that you’re looking out for their wellbeing. Make it known to your clients and the general public that your salon takes every precaution that a doctor’s office or hospital would take to keep surroundings safe for everyone.
Consider creating and posting a Guest & Salon Manifesto at the entrance and throughout your salon. Make it clear to all who frequent your business that you require the staff to follow these procedures and what specific procedures the salon follows to keep everyone protected.
As part of the new rules, consider placing stations and chairs six feet apart from each other if possible, or seating guests at every other station. Implement that staff will need to wear gloves for all procedures and a mask until restrictions are lifted. Although it may take some getting used to in order to cut and style hair wearing gloves, it can be done and in very short order will become second nature.
As a matter of fact, I would recommend you start now. Practice wearing gloves while styling your hair or the hair of those who live with you, and of course and wear them when cutting any hair as well. Bonus, if you have a mannequin — practice, practice, practice! Wearing gloves while working on the mannequin will give you a major leg up.
Implement a cleaning procedure for every chair and station following every guest. The entire chair, station, and all tools and products that were used and touched will need to be cleaned and disinfected to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
When you visit a doctor’s office the exam table is covered with new paper to keep the surface sterile between visits. We can easily clean every chair with the proper disinfectant before and after every single guest that walks into the salon.
You may want to consider a no walk-in policy and take guests by appointment only so that you are able to maintain the number of guests in the business to a minimum. Rather than having guests who receive more than one treatment switching chairs, consider having them remain in one single chair for their entire appointment. If they are getting a color and then a haircut the guest will only be in one chair — other than the shampoo chair, which will need to be immediately cleaned after every guest.
Consider finding either disposable capes or have enough capes so that every client gets a new cleaned cape for their visit. Try not to reuse a cape until it has been washed. Continue to enforce the policy that any client or team member who is sick or has any symptoms whatsoever cannot be serviced and will need to rebook for a later date after they have fully recovered and in no way a potential health threat to anyone at the salon.
My salons were always cleaned nightly by a crew. Floors were mopped, counters were cleaned, mirrors done. This should be a priority for every owner to follow, even if this means doing it yourself rather than having an outside crew come in. Make it clear and known to all clients that the business is cleaned thoroughly every evening in addition to all measures taken throughout the day.
At the front desk, the credit card machine should to be wiped down with a disinfectant before and after every client uses a credit card for payment. Currently there are businesses that are no longer accepting or handling cash for fear of it being exposed to the virus. This is something that can be enforced as well, although the popularity of cash in salon may make this tricky, so at the very least the front desk staff or anyone who closes out a guest’s service should be wearing gloves and a mask at all times.
These are simple steps that need to become the norm in every salon, and it should become the norm in every business going forward. We as salon owners will become what is considered an Unconscious Competent, meaning we will no longer need to remember to take these steps every minute of every day as it will be so ingrained in our DNA that it becomes a part of us and something we do automatically without having to think about taking these steps.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and let’s keep our world beautiful!
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