Welcome back to the Avenue Aesthetics blog page!
As I mentioned last time, I was recently enrolled in Oncology Aesthetics Foundation Training – that is, advanced aesthetic treatments for cancer patients and survivors. One of the highlighted segments of this training was the need for the salon/spa environment to adopt protocols for obsessive cleanliness, allowing the workspace to be germ-free for the safety of any immune-compromised client.
After being a salon owner for most of my career, I soon found myself back in my own business. Of course, I had to go through all the same start-up requirements to get a location, lease and license. The Alberta Health Services inspector checked everything very carefully and quizzed me on my knowledge of sterilization products. He told me that I was using a sterilization product that was probably a bit on the strong side and he recommended some that are just as acceptable and not as harsh.
As I am comfortable with the stronger product, I informed him that I preferred to continue using it, mostly because my clients are very important to me and I want to do everything in my power to make sure they are kept safe. Along with that, I also want to keep myself safe.
Next I took a refresher class for Brazilian waxing. I expected that the first part would involve the personal nature of the service and the need to make sure everything is clean, germ-free and that the service proceeds quickly and efficiently for the client. It’s not exactly a pain-free experience, you know.
During the class we discussed getting the client ready for the service, and then talked about sanitation practices. We got through the hand washing part okay, but things went off the rails when the instructor announced that since many aestheticians don’t like wearing gloves for waxing wearing them was optional.
But the worst part is that Health Canada also says it is optional!!!
Are you kidding me???
So I was teamed up with a new student who had taken one body waxing class and a manicure class. Uh oh, I’m thinking. I asked that she wear gloves while doing my wax (yes, we all got to be models as well as students) and told her that I would be doing the same. In my entire career, and through all the training that I’ve had, it was always impressed upon me that for safety’s sake there should always be a physical barrier between the professional and the client.
So ask yourself: would you be okay with your doctor doing an exam without gloves and just washing his/her hands prior to the exam? What if the last patient had Chlamydia or a yeast infection?
Aren’t we as practitioners in the same situation as a doctor? We’re performing a very personal service on a client. We all love our clients, and wouldn’t ever want to think they could be carrying some nasty infection that we could catch, but the reality is that some people have more relaxed attitudes about sexual activity and cleanliness and may have had encounters with infected partners that even they aren’t aware of yet. So when they come in to see us for that Brazilian wax suddenly we are exposed to it too, and maybe even our next client! Surely if there is no glove barrier, who knows where it will end? Not only is it a health issue, but if the infection is traced back to you and your salon, it could be a huge liability issue, possibly up to and including the closure of your business. Who wants to take that risk?
As professionals we are charged with the care of the public health as much as any doctor. I take my health seriously, and I wouldn’t dream of not wearing gloves. It’s just that simple.
What about doing pedicures without gloves? Many people doing pedicure services don’t know what a fungal infection looks like. I’ve heard many inexperienced technicians say it’s just dry skin. Then they apply a paraffin wax treatment to the client’s feet and – voila! – they’ve contaminated their paraffin supply with fungal spores. Why? Because Alberta has no legislation governing the salon/spa industry and some shops have staff that haven’t been properly trained. There’s a reason that some shops don’t charge much, you know.
My Alberta Health Services inspector told me that last year a diabetic who had a pedicure at one salon developed an infection that resulted in the amputation of some toes. That sort of thing is just a lack of training, a lack of legislation, and a lack of enforcement.
We in the aesthetics industry are charged with the care of the public health, and we all need to raise the bar again. Those of us who know better need to speak out. We need to teach and train, and form associations to reach out to the industry. Somehow we need to care enough about our profession that we want to behave like professionals and do things right.
But we have to walk the talk, and take action. If each salon made it a policy to devote even one day a year to sanitation and sterilization review for all the staff, it could go a long way to achieving this.