Let’s be real, being an aesthetician is super sexy right now. We are the goddesses of health and wellness on and off Instagram. We are making waves for celebrities on the red carpet. People would go without vacation rather than miss their monthly facial appointment. Alright, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch, but you get the picture. Our job is amazing! The fact of the matter is: our job encompasses so much more than just making our clients look great. There are rules and procedures we abide by in order to consistently and safely give clients stellar results that keep them coming back for more. How do we accomplish that? By practicing universal sanitation procedures. That means that no matter who is on our table, who is walking through our door, or what they are willing to pay, our sanitation procedures are written in stone. That part doesn’t sound sexy, but we can all agree it is way better than walking around spreading mercer or staph infections! Here are 10 things about sanitation I want you to think about with every move you make in and out of the treatment room.
- Wash your hands before and after every client. It’s such a simple and significant act. Even if I have a client whom I wore gloves for throughout the entire procedure, I wash my hands.
- Speaking of gloves, I religiously wear nitrile gloves for extractions, microchanneling, electrolysis, and waxing. It’s not only the law for some procedures, it is protecting you. Also, make sure you really are removing your gloves properly. If you’re not sure what I mean, look up “proper disposable glove removal” videos online. It’s not a bad thing to refresh yourself on, even if you’re an industry veteran.
- Don’t just think of sanitation as a critical step in our daily work that protects our clients. Sanitation procedures protect us as aestheticians from a multitude of germs, bacteria, viruses, and unwanted microorganisms. Our health is just as important as everyone else’s.
- Wipe it down. What do we wipe down? Everything! Use a disinfectant wipe to wipe down your towel cabinet door handle between clients and at the end of the day. Wipe down your steamer controls, arms, and nozzles and your stool handle. That’s a big one I constantly remind staff of. Just because you don’t see it, you should still wipe it down. If you touch it while in treatment: wipe it down.
- Make sure you are switching your broad-spectrum disinfectant formula (barbicide, fungicide, monosudecide) as your state and local boards require, in addition to the manufacturer’s directions. They do oxidize and have a finite number of dips. Be sure to wear gloves when you are measuring your broad-spectrum disinfectant, as they are quite caustic and super concentrated. Also, regularly empty and thoroughly clean the dip trays at your spa, as well.
- During flu season, don’t be abashed to post a very visible sign at your entrance that tells clients that have had a fever or other signs of the flu in the last 24 hours to please exit the building and call to reschedule their appointment. In the name of public safety, and once again back to my point in number three, our health and safety matters, too. On that note, if you are sick – I mean contagious sick – please stay home.
- Sanitation is an overwhelming part of our job, prepping and cleaning up after clients, but it is just as much a part of our actual treatments. I know a number of aestheticians that continue to wear disposable gloves after they have performed extractions because fluid and white blood cells can continue to weep, independent of them doing extractions, at the beginning, middle, or end of a facial.
- Before, during, and after treatments, go over what sanitary precautions clients needs to exercise post-treatment with specific instructions. For example, with microchanneling clients, reiterate to them throughout their visit they cannot smoke or touch their skin for at least several hours post-treatment, as to not introduce any bacteria that can cause infection in the vulnerable skin. Don’t be shy – say it again when you escort them out of their service.
- My Brazilian bikini waxing is interactive with clients for the sake of efficiency, personal boundaries, and client comfort. At times, I have clients assist me in maneuvering soft tissue as to get a better wax application. For example, in the event there is hair between the labia minora and the clitoral glans, I am not going to move the skin around the clitoral hood and glans, even with a disposable wax applicator and disposable gloves on. I place the client’s hand slightly lateral and superior to the mons pubis and instruct them to pull the skin up and out as I move their hands with mine. When we conclude the service, I lay a round wax removal wipe and two square hand sanitizing wipes on the wax paper. Whether I have seen the client for the first time ever or the hundredth time, I always say as I place the wipes on the table, “There is a wipe to get any sticky residual feeling off and the other two wipes are for you to wipe your hands clean. Here is the garbage,” as I place an open trash receptacle in a convenient spot for them. Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t it your job to make sure there is no wax and they are clean?” The answer is absolutely! I’m referring to that little glaze of wax residue that may be left behind, not chunks of wax sitting on the skin or around hair.
- Let’s start this last one with the statement, “I am only human.” I am also a very thirsty and mildly O.C.D. human, which means I always have a mug of tea or a glass of water with me in my treatment room. It took me a moment to realize years ago that I wasn’t getting a new mug or cleaning the handle between clients. That being said, I have a simple solution for those of you, like me, that like to (need to) stay hydrated during the workday: wipe it down between clients. Wipe it down. Wipe it down. Wipe it down.
Antonia Schreiber is a licensed massage therapist, cosmetologist, and electrologist. Schreiber established, owns, and operates The Windham Spa. As a sought after speaker and writer, she contributes to leading education firms and magazines, is a board member and consultant for the New York State Department of Education Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee, and is a volunteer educator and mentor to high school aesthetic and cosmetology students. Schreiber is currently finishing her certification program as a holistic aromatherapist. She recently became a certified mountain bike guide with the International Mountain Bike Association in order to continue volunteering with the Adaptive Sports Foundation.