Coronavirus advice for the beauty and aesthetics industry

Re-opening your business in Back to Business

10 August 2020

With a British Beauty Council study revealing ‘how to wax eyebrows’ and ‘how to remove gel nails’ were among the top Google searches during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s clear there’s a real demand for the professional beauty and aesthetics industry to return.

The UK Government has released guidance on how the beauty and aesthetics industry can work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. Here, AXA gives you a summary of the guidance to help people working in the beauty industry become ‘COVID secure’.

When can therapists and artists get back to work?

While many essential businesses have remained open, the beauty industry, including tattoo studios, nail bars, facial aesthetic clinics, tanning salons and massage parlours have had to close under new coronavirus rules. The timelines, criteria and guidance as to when the beauty and aesthetics industry can get back to work is different across the devolved administrations of the UK. 

It’s always a good idea to check the advice where you live and the advice for the specific treatments you offer before you reopen. And even if you do get the green light to open up shop,  the government can impose local lockdowns if infection rates spike in certain areas.

At a glance: What could your salon, spa, clinic or studio look like?

  • Perspex screens between chairs, beds or other work stations
  • Therapists, practitioners and artists wearing PPE
  • Contactless payments and payment in advance
  • Appointment only; no or limited walk-ins
  • Temperature checks upon entry
  • One-way systems
  • Virtual consultations
  • Social distancing floor markings
  • No tea, coffee or magazines

Advice for salon and spa and owners

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and it certainly won’t be business as usual for salon, spa, shop and clinic owners. Here’s what you’ll need to do before you can reopen your premises as well as some hints and tips to help you along the way. 

COVID-19 risk assessment

You'll need to carry out a COVID-19 Compliance Risk Assessment before you can lift the shutters and get back to business.

If you employ fewer than five people, your risk assessment doesn’t need to be in writing, but it’s always a good idea to prepare a written copy to be on the safe side. You might want to get your employees involved in the preparation of the risk assessment so they’re up to speed with the latest guidelines and can feel confident to get back to work.

There are three main aims of a COVID-19 risk assessment:

  1. Contact points should be avoided or minimised
  2. Social distancing should be maintained whenever possible
  3. The correct PPE should be used when social distancing is difficult or impossible

Therefore, during the risk assessment, you should examine and investigate:

  • working and staff recreational areas
  • floor layout
  • customer footfall
  • contact points between employees and customers
  • whether face-to-face contact can be avoided entirely
  • whether PPE (like face masks and gloves) is required
  • employees and customers who are ‘shielding’

COVID-19 secure poster

After completing your risk assessment, you should display the government poster in your premises to show that you’re COVID-19 secure. You could also share it on your social media channels and website as well.

Download the poster

Hand hygiene for staff and customers

It’s more important than ever to maintain strict standards of hand and repository hygiene. Everyone working in your salon or shop should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and use an alcohol-based sanitiser regularly. If your customers can see that everyone is washing and sanitising their hands regularly, it’ll give them extra reassurance and they’ll feel more comfortable when they’re getting their treatments.

It's also a good idea to have hand sanitiser at the front door so customers can use it as soon as they enter your premises.

(Please note – hand sanitisers must have active ingredients effective against COVID-19 or contain a minimum of 60% alcohol).

Cleaning and disinfecting

You will always have disinfected your tools and equipment, but the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) suggests you’ll need to do so more often and check the disinfectant you’re using is suitable for combating the virus.

The British Association of Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology has created a guide which suggests creating a comprehensive cleaning and disinfection timetable and checklist to include:

  • communal areas
  • storage facilities
  • treatment rooms
  • workstations
  • tools kits
  • equipment
  • stock

Top tip: If you have cloth seats, you might want to cover them in plastic so you can clean them more easily.

Staggered appointments and extended opening times

As you’ll need to allow for extra cleaning time between appointments, it’s a good idea to stagger your appointments and consider extended opening hours, at least at the beginning when you initially reopen. The fewer people in your premises at one time, the easier it will be to allow for social distancing.

If you’re not sure where to get start, the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) has created a guide to help you with appointments and timings.

Advice for therapists, practitioners and artists

With concern over government grants and self-employed support, beauty therapists, aesthetics practitioners, make up and tattoo artists have felt the effects of the coronavirus lockdown particularly hard. And even though many can now reopen their doors to customers and resume treatments, there’s the added stress of following the strict government advice for ‘close contact services’.

PPE and face coverings

For many people working in the beauty and aesthetics industry, wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is second nature and they’ll already be using and wearing what’s required of them under COVID-19 recommendations.

However, where a two-metre social distance cannot be maintained, particularly when providing a treatment, you might want to consider wearing further PPE in addition to what you already wear or use. 

When discussing PPE for the beauty and aesthetics industry, this typically includes face masks, face shields/visors, gloves and aprons. The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) recommends wearing a clear face visor/shield that covers your entire face when working with clients and suggests a face mask or covering isn’t a suitable alternative. To avoid skin contact, the British Beauty Council suggests gloves; particularly for nail bars and tanning salons.

The other PPE workers in this industry use will depend on the government guidelines in your country and your own requirements determined by the COVID-19 risk assessment.

For more information about PPE, visit the government’s website here or check out the British Beauty Council’s guide.

Virtual consultation

To reduce the time you spend with each client, you might want to consider carrying out a consultation before they come in for their appointment. A quick video chat is an easy way to carry out a virtual consultation and it’ll give you a better idea of any contraindications which is especially useful if you’re working with a new client.

A virtual consultation is also the perfect opportunity to let your clients know what to expect when they visit your premises and check they haven’t been ill during the last 14 days.

Mobile working in people’s homes

Working as a mobile therapist, artist or practitioner poses a different set of COVID-19 risks. You should only agree to work in a customer’s home if they haven’t shown any coronavirus symptoms in the last 14 days. Similarly, you can’t go back to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Top tip: If you’re working in this way for the first time, you’ll also need to check that your insurance covers you for working in your clients’ homes.

Travelling to your clients

Under certain restrictions, you may be advised to avoid public transport if you can. For mobile workers in the beauty and aesthetics industry, you’re probably more likely to be getting to and from jobs using your car. That’s why it’s important to wipe down your car after visiting every client; paying particular attention to handles and other areas where surfaces are regularly touched like the steering wheel or radio.

Where possible, you should travel alone or with as few other people as possible. If you need to travel with other people (for example another make-up artist or hairdresser) you should maintain good ventilation in the car by leaving the windows open.

What to ask of your clients

When you’re a mobile worker it’s important to remember that your clients have a role to play when it comes to health and safety.

  • No other people in the room – To give you added peace of mind and further protection, you could politely ask that your client’s family members or children aren’t in the same room you’re working in. If you ask sensitively and explain why, your client will understand that it’s to protect everyone involved. 
  • No COVID-19 symptoms – Before you enter your client’s home, remind them of the coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a persistent cough and a loss of taste or smell) and check that nobody in their household is displaying signs of having the virus.

This article was written on 23/07/2020 and guidelines were correct at the time of upload. For the latest coronavirus advice for the beauty and aesthetics industry, please visit the government’s website for ‘close contact’ services and check the guidance from the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Working hard to support your business

These are unsettling times for everyone, and we want to do everything we can to keep you updated with the latest government guidelines. Check out our coronavirus-specific help and advice section.