I’ve been teaching infection prevention and control (IPAC) for the Lash Industry for several years, and though my higher-than-the-average-bear standards have been making some headway in lash salons globally, it was still a bit of an up-stream swim at times. If someone would have told me in 2019 that a global event in 2020 would result in throngs of people suddenly contacting me to help them up their IPAC game, I would have thought I was being Punk’d. I am, however, so happy to find this silver lining in the dark pandemic cloud. As our industry gears up to reopen our doors to clients, here are five things to consider before reopening.
Are you in good general health? Are you high risk or live with someone who is? If you are not a low risk individual, or are very concerned about reopening, you may want to think about delaying your reopening until things stabilize a bit. Just because you are allowed to reopen, it doesn’t mean you have to right away if you don’t feel ready. As always, you, your staff, colleagues and clients should stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness.
If you rent or work at a salon, are there individual rooms, or is it an open concept? Is there enough space to create enough distance between lash tables so that your clients, colleagues, and staff can still be at least 2 metres away from each other at any given time? Do you have an abundance of non-essential items in your space, like fluffy pillows, rugs, magazines, brochures, and other decorative items that are difficult or impossible to disinfect? Now is the time to declutter such items before reopening. Your furniture should be made of a non-porous, easy to spray and wipe-down material.
Your Existing Protocols
Now is a great time to look over your current infection prevention and control protocols. Do you already routinely wear a mask? How about gloves? Are you disinfecting your tools in the appropriate level of disinfectant depending on what it is used for? Do you use the same tile of lashes for multiple clients, or do you dispense only what is needed for each client? If you are already operating at the highest standard protocol, then there are not very many changes you’ll need to make to your existing procedures, because you are already operating with routine practices. If you have not been taught the highest standard of protocols, or if your routine needs an update, there are courses you can take to brush up and set yourself apart from your competitors, not to mention better protect yourself and your clients. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Here’s where I shamelessly plug my infection prevention and control digital course. Email [email protected] for details. As a rule, always check with your local health authority’s guidelines and either meet or exceed them.
Your Potential Temporary Protocols
As I am writing this article, only a few states and provinces have started to reopen, and since eyelash extensions are such a close contact service, here are some extra precautions to consider putting in place before reopening, in addition to your impeccable and updated IPAC protocols (some may become required by your health authority in order to reopen):
- Booking clients with ample time in between to perform a thorough and complete disinfection of all tools, equipment, furniture, and surfaces.
- Operating by appointment only – no walk ins.
- Removing all non-essential décor.
- Spacing out your work stations at least 2 metres apart.
- Restricting extra guests from coming with your scheduled client.
- Disassembling your waiting room, or rearranging seats to follow social distancing rules.
- Decommissioning tester units and discourage excessive touching of retail products.
- Having your client wait in their vehicle until you text/call/indicate that it is safe to approach the building to lessen the chance of meeting other clients.
- Having all your clients and staff wash then sanitize hands immediately upon entering the premises.
- Refraining from hugging or shaking hands with your clients.
- Installing a plexiglass barrier at your reception area between the receptionist and clients.
- Providing a mask for clients to wear during their visit to your premises.
- Providing disposable shoe covers or slippers.
- Having all clients/staff fill out and sign an extra health questionnaire asking about cold/flu symptoms, out of country travel, and exposure to someone with symptoms.
- Scanning body temperature of all clients and staff. (some places require this, and some places don’t allow it unless you are a health professional)
- Keeping a log sheet with name, contact information, date and time in/out for anyone entering your establishment in case of outbreak.
- Decommissioning any food or drink dispensers and offering sealed, individual bottles/packages instead.
- Wearing a plastic shield while servicing clients.
- Wearing an apron or smock that is either disposable and changed between clients, or reusable, and laundered between clients.
- Using hair nets for clients and enforcing all staff’s hair be tied back and out of the way.
- Contactless payments.
- Virtual staff meetings.
As you can see, there are quite a few new items you may need to purchase before reopening. Some are currently hard to find, as well as hard to find at their regular, non-inflated prices. Most of you haven’t been working at all during lockdown but have had no relief from your commercial rent and utility payments. You will be booking longer appointments to ensure ample disinfection time, probably operating at only 50% occupancy to allow for safe distancing, as well as providing PPE to your clients. Now might be a great time to recalculate your cost of service and raise your prices accordingly.
As mentioned earlier, we are still in the beginning of reopening our industry globally, and so this list is a suggestion and educated guess, compiled from researching other countries’ reopening protocols. Always research to meet or exceed your local government or health authority’s requirements. Remember that the health and safety of you, your staff, and your clients should always be of utmost priority, for health is wealth. Stay safe, healthy and awesome!
Emily is an Award-winning Esthetician and Lash Professional from Vancouver, Canada. She is an International Judge, Educator, Lash Mentor, and a Multi-Media Content Creator. Emily’s hopes and dreams are to help the industry grow with a more consistent, higher standard. Emily believes in being integrous, uplifting, fun, passionate, and most importantly, she believes in being the change.