Best working practices are essential to the beauty industry because service providers in this sector get quite intimate with their clients. Any beauty treatment you offer at your salon or spa, be it hair care, pedicure, manicure, massage, or waxing, you have to get physically intimate with clients. For this reason, their health and safety have to be your top priority. You must protect them from viruses and/or bacteria, infected tools, and harmful or toxic chemicals. Your job goes beyond making people look and feel their absolute best; you have to create an environment that boosts their mental health too. Clients should feel at home and safe in your salon if they are to come back.
Sounds like that’s a lot of work, doesn’t it? Well, it shouldn’t if you constantly evolve the working practices of your beauty salon. Here is how to pull that off:
1. Managing toxic chemicals
Most of the chemicals you use in your salon can be hazardous when handled poorly. They can have adverse health impacts on clients and staff members, including death in extreme cases. The job of preventing such from happening lies partly with the manufacturers you buy from and partly with you. As you wait for beauty products’ manufacturers to play their part, you can adopt the following safety practices to create a safe environment in your salon:
- Maximize ventilation in your salon by installing bigger windows and a good HVAC system. That done, normalize keeping the windows and doors open to improve the circulation of fresh air.
- Choose non-toxic or low-VOC hair products. Avoid products with high levels of formaldehyde or methylene glycol. For nail salons, avoid nail polishes that have high concentrations of methyl ethyl ketone, dibutyl phthalates, butyl/ethyl/methyl acetate, or toluene. While at it, choose pump spray products because they precipitate negligible chemical inhalation rates compared to aerosols.
- Buy enough PPEs for all employees. That includes neoprene or nitrile gloves and N95 respirator dust masks. Note that it’s wrong to ask employees to reuse disposable gloves and/or masks.
- Minimize product wastage. The smaller the amounts of a product used, the fewer the toxic fumes will be trapped in your salon. Even better, avoid offering services that put your staff and/or clients at high health risk.
- Ensure that all your products are stored safely and empty containers are properly disposed of. Consult Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) on the appropriate disposal methods for hazardous waste.
2. Evolving hygienic working practices
Cross-contamination is a real challenge in the hair and beauty industry. That is why you and your salon staff must maintain high standards of hygiene. You must ensure that the tools you use are cleaned and sterilized after every use, and stored in dry conditions. That includes tweezers, brushes, combs, clippers, rollers, and scissors. In fact, you should create a hygiene checklist as a constant guide on your set hygiene practices. Among other things, the checklist should have a plan for:
- Keeping the floor clean. Who cleans hair and nail filings off the floor after you are done with a client? Hair or filings building up on the floor can cause unwanted slips or spread harmful bacteria.
- Preventing water and chemical spillage. In case of spillages, have the floor cleaned immediately to avoid slippage.
- Cleaning the bathroom. How often and by whom?
- Who cleans salon furniture and how regularly? Note that the chairs and couches used in treatment areas should be cleaned and disinfected after every use. Buy PVC or vinyl coated furniture to make the cleaning job a little easier. While at it, be sure to choose non-toxic cleaning products.
- Treating bacterial or fungal infections. If a client’s bacterial or fungal infection is too advanced, or if they are wounded, it would be better to request them to come back at a later date. Always err on the side of caution whenever cross-contamination risks are elevated. However, be careful not to lose customers for using patronizing or offensive language.
- Personal hygiene. Give hygiene guidelines for you and your employees to follow. Discourage long and dirty nails, unkempt hair, poor hand washing habits, and dirty clothes. Don’t entertain any personal hygiene practices that can harbor germs.
3. Protecting client databases and salon financial reports
A few years back, cybersecurity concerns were regarded as problems for big corporations. Things have changed a lot now. Every business in the world, regardless of size and/or industry, has to be concerned about cybersecurity. You may think that your beauty business is too small for data thieves to be interested, but you’d be mistaken. The customer database, appointment records, and financial reports you store in your computers are all invaluable to hackers.
For starters, ransomware attack cases are on the rise. Hackers can easily encrypt your financial records and demand a ransom in order to give you access back to your records. Another breach possibility is hackers stealing customer data and using it to intimidate your clients, hijack their passwords and usernames, or even steal their money through credit card fraud.
Poor cybersecurity can even put your clients in physical harm- kidnappers can use your appointment history to track a client’s whereabouts. Malicious people can even use info from your customer database to mast-triangulate a client’s phone, read their text messages, and even eavesdrop on their phone conversations. What’s more, poorly-protected information can easily be damaged in a hardware failure or deleted accidentally.
Now that you understand the danger of not taking data security seriously, which security practices should you deploy?
- Invest in cloud-based salon software. Believe us when we tell you that your sensitive data is safer in the cloud than on the desktop. Cloud-based software backs up data regularly and encrypts it for an extra layer of protection. Cloud storages are also great because they give you access to your data from any device, from anywhere in the world.
- Ensure that your computer’s operating system is updated at all times. You can do that by turning on automatic updates.
- Ensure that your salon software has access restriction features for keeping trespassers at bay.
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone. You don’t know who your “trusted” employee will be working for tomorrow.
- Sometimes your salon employees will bring their own devices (BYOD). Train them on salon data security and their role in keeping the data they receive or store safe.
It is essential (a legal requirement, even) to maintain high standards for everything you do in your salon or day spa. Never compromise on standards. And because your employees can easily forget and relax, you need to take it upon yourself to enforce the health and safety guidelines you set. Don’t bulldoze though; explain the reason behind every guideline you issue so that everyone is happy and invested.