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Wednesday, 30 December 2020 09:07

Post-Pandemic Protocols: Sanitation & Safety in The Spa

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Welcome to 2021 – the unforgettable year of 2020 provided new and valuable lessons in the industry. While still going strong, spas have reinvented the way they perform services in order to continue being successful while also maintaining the highest level of safety. Skin care professional has all witnessed and experienced the effects of disease control on a much wider spectrum. Fortunately, professionals are already experts in sanitation, but it does not hurt to be reminded. Practitioners have studied for this, prepared for this, and have always had it in their daily practice. 2020 gave skin care professionals a master's course in perfecting this. The definition of sanitation is to promote hygiene and the prevention of disease by maintaining sanitary conditions. Updated guidelines have been issued in most states. For example, in California, there are inspections with fines and disciplinary actions as consequences of not following safety protocols.

Now more than ever, clients are watching sanitary precautions and actions. 2020 was a stressful time for most and some clients are not 100% comfortable coming back, but spas can help. Nowadays, state boards are focusing on the law and protecting customers. Licensing, examinations, and law enforcement is focused on keeping everyone safe.



One of the very first lessons in aesthetics and cosmetology school is sanitation and sterilization. It is extremely high in priority and examinations focus on this topic as well. It is critical to protect spa employees and clients from infection – it has always been this way.

Sanitation and sterilization means the removal of contamination or the debris seen from the surfaces of objects. This should be done first so that disinfectants can get past this debris and make it in to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. To sanitize means to clean, while sterilization is the complete destruction of all microscopic life on a surface. High-level disinfection and sterilization kills all vegetative microorganisms, mycobacteria, lipid and non-lipid viruses, fungal spores, and some bacterial spores. Sterilization can be achieved by a combination of heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration, like steam under pressure, dry heat, ultraviolet radiation, gas vapor sterilants, chlorine dioxide gas, and so forth. Bacteria can easily enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes, and skin causing infections, blood poisoning, and very serious illnesses like COVID-19. Antiseptics are used on the skin. Disinfectants are much stronger and are therefore used to destroy bacteria and prevent their multiplication. Many businesses use germicides – chemical agents designed to kill bacteria. Be aware that not all disinfectants are created equal. Look for Environmental Protection Agency approval, which means products kill the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions.



Each state varies in some details. For example, in California, the aesthetics curriculum is 600- hours. This includes 200-hours of technical instruction in health and safety. The subject of health and safety shall include, but is not limited to, the following techniques and procedures: training in chemicals and health in establishments; material safety data sheets, protection from hazardous chemicals and preventing chemical injuries; health and safety laws and agencies; and communicable diseases, like HIV and AIDS and Hepatitis B. It also includes chemical composition, the purpose of cosmetic and skin care preparation, elementary chemical makeup, chemical skin peels, and physical and chemical changes of matter. Electrical current, principles of operating electrical devices, and the various safety precautions used when operating electrical equipment are also covered.


Disinfection and Sanitation 10-hours of technical instruction associated with the subject of disinfection and sanitation. This instruction includes but is not limited to the following techniques and procedures: procedures to protect the health and safety of the consumer, as well as the technician. Proper disinfection procedures. These are a priority.

Disinfection shall be emphasized throughout the entire training period and must be performed before the use of all instruments and equipment. This does not include the other several hours dedicated to bacteriology and anatomy. Many states require continuing educational hours upon each license renewal as well. It is such a high priority to continue learning and being reminded of the essential steps to keeping services at the safest level. All sanitation and sterilization should be the same as the medical level.



It is essential to clean all tools in warm and hot water and soap before disinfecting them. Only use disinfectants that are Environmental Protection Agency-approved. These could kill tuberculosis and Polio – these two infectious diseases are some of the most resistant out there, so if the disinfectant kills these, it will also kill all most everything else. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sterilization Methods

There are different methods of sterilization. Dry heat is a process where the object is heated to a temperature of 320-338 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not safe for all equipment but is considered cost-effective. Ultraviolet sterilizers commonly used in treatment rooms and now in homes. UV-C light is lethal to bacteria and viruses because of its high frequency that scrambles and damages their nuclear material. UV-C is not just an eco-friendly and chemical-free sanitation alternative, it also acts as another layer of sanitation that can cover entire rooms when used, eliminating up to 99.9% of allergens, viruses, bacterium, and mold quickly and efficiently. Pressured gas and micro-encapsulated liquids and chemicals are also very effective. Steam autoclaves use moist heat. Chemiclave is the most time-efficient method with a processing time of about 20 minutes.


Spa Services and Spa Tools

There are several tools to consider depending on the types of services offered. Nowadays, disposables are widely offered to protect clients and businesses. While choosing to use disposable may cost a little more, it makes for quicker, more efficient and the safest of the protocol. Usually, it is a small difference in cost that can easily be added to pricing.

There is a risk of infection any time the skin’s integrity is compromised. Skin care professionals deal with puss, blood, sebum, and other bodily fluids in spa services. This is why they have been working under state board requirements for safety for many decades.

Safe Waxing

Waxing services can be a risk as it is. The use of high heat, the tearing of delicate skin, or extremely thick follicles sometimes bring blood to the surface and are all the more reason skin care professionals follow strict, sanitary protocols. If the skin is torn, especially in those delicate areas, it can lead to an infection. The state board works to ensure that cosmetologists and aestheticians follow state law and establish infection control standards. To easily avoid contamination, it is important to never double dip the waxing tools. A skilled skin care professional can neatly apply a decent amount of wax and remove larger areas of hair at a time. It takes practice to work cleanly, quickly, and effectively while maintaining the highest level of sanitation but it must be done. Currently, the savvy clientele will notice double-dipping as well. Save on a bad reputation by preventing infection and being reported to the state board by just saying no to double-dipping.



It is the law to wear disposable gloves during extractions – a new pair on each client. If allowed, disposable lancets are used and disposed of in the same way as they always have been. The protocol is one lancet per person and immediately disposed of in a separate, state-approved, labeled container with other “sharps.” “Sharps” is the medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. These can include lancets, needles, and syringes used for injections. Another common tool used for extractions is the stainless steel extractor. This must be sanitized with hot water and antibacterial soap prior to each use. Completely dry tools with a new clean paper towel. Then, totally immerse in an Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant with demonstrated bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal activity used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A common and smart business practice is to have several of the tools on hand. They can be placed in a sterilizer cabinet as well. This germicidal cabinet provides a clean, germ-free environment for the storage of tools, implements, and so forth.

Hot Tools and Treatments

Some of the most popular trends and services are microblading and dermaplaning, both using sterile, disposable blades. These are also disposed of in a separate, state-approved and labeled container with other “sharps” as mentioned previously.

Additionally, treatments with disposable tips are replaced after each client. This has never been an option. Because of this, businesses have adapted quickly and effectively since the industry has always had sanitary protocols at medical-grade standards. Tweezers are also commonly used tools to be sanitized after each client. They must be sanitized also with hot water and antibacterial soap first and completely dried with a clean paper towel. Then, the tweezers must be totally immersed in an Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectant with demonstrated bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal activity and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is preferred to have several pairs per room.

Crystals, stones, and face rollers are a little more precious. These must also be washed with antibacterial soap and hot water. It is acceptable to soak them in soap and water as well. Then follow with either an isopropyl alcohol spray or a colloidal silver spray – either one will kill almost any lingering bacteria. For added wellness after these steps, leave them in natural sunlight.


Linens and Laundry

Disposable sheets are used now more than ever for massages and facials. It is quick and easy but may not included the luxury feel some spas require. Laundry services are still a great option for larger facilities.

Both seem to not affect the cost of services. Mobile spas are benefitting from the disposable options, while larger day spas are still maintaining normal procedures of changing bedding after each treatment. Today, an extra sanitizing of counters and doorknobs is a must. Disposable caps and gowns are already used in many services.

It is important to check state boards’ websites. They have added new links to updates regarding COVID-19. New laws are in order and enforced and, as always, the states vary. It is up to skin care professional to know the most up-to-date information.

Room ultraviolet units have become quite popular. Ultraviolet light sanitizers work through ultraviolet, germicidal irradiation. It is a disinfection method that uses short-wavelength UV-C light to kill microorganisms or to inactivate them. It is done by destroying their nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA so they will not be able to perform vital cellular functions. They also provide an extra feeling of security to clients and staff. Do not forget to minimize and prepare in advance the sanitizing of touch screens, clipboards and pens.

Staying prepared and well informed will help a spa grow back to what is was prior to the pandemic. Some clients were ready to return when they were given the go-ahead but many stayed behind, unsure if it was safe. E-mail, call, or post on social media the steps taken to keep the spa business up to the highest standards and regulations of the laws. Post pictures of new sanitation units. Ultraviolet wands being used on doorknobs provide an image for social media, while most importantly, sanitizing.

Relaxation is healing. Stress weakens the body’s immune system. So, by getting clients back in and feeling safe again, spas can help them in more ways than one. In this new year here is to hoping everyone gets some rejuvenation and pampering to bring on a great 2021. Cheers to that.



Nicole Majdali 2019




Southern California native Nicole Majdali has worked as a makeup artist since the age of 18 years-old. She then studied aesthetics and became a licensed aesthetician. After working in spas for a few years she opened her own studio and began working with two German companies as a representative. Her passion for educating others on taking care of themselves, their skin, and health advanced her career as a speaker. She was certified twice overseas in Aachen, Germany with Janssen Cosmetics and continues to go back for education. She has been working for the two companies Janssen and Dr Schrammek in Midwest and Southern California as an educator and account manager for over 18 years. Majdali’s career has expanded beyond the aesthetics industry into the entertainment industry, but she incorporates her knowledge in wellness and beauty into both worlds.


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