Prior to the pandemic, getting a manicure and pedicure was a standard luxury. But now as states are slowly beginning to reopen, the question arises: Is it safe to get a manicure and pedicure? It's a bit more complicated than a yes or no answer, according to doctors.
Arguably, the most important factor regarding the question is where you reside. "I think definitely for those communities like Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Seattle, and Texas, where the numbers have not stabilized, you want to restrict it to really essential stuff like grocery stores, things you have to do," Dr. Lauren Powell, a family medicine physician in Atlanta, tells TZR. "I’d say if it's in a state where the numbers have been consistently low, then you can consider it."
Dr. Powell says the proper protocol entails wearing a mask, making sure the salon is limiting the amount of people inside at one time, ensuring that all clients are spaced out, and that proper hygiene and cleaning practices are happening between customers.
However, there's no centralized government mandate on whether or not you can get something done like manicure or pedicure, according to Dr. Darien Sutton, M.D., MBA, trained emergency physician. "They’ve actually left that mandate down to a state level," he tells TZR. He adds that states are navigating what's best for their areas. Some states, like New York, are implementing a policy to only allow the salon to have 50% capacity. However, in Kentucky, only 33% capacity is allowed.
And it's essential to do your research before deciding what salon to schedule your mani and pedi at. "If people insist on getting a manicure or pedicure right now, they should check with their salon to confirm safety precautions before heading in," Dr. Kristamarie Collman M.D., a family medicine doctor in Orlando, advises. "Find out if the salon is taking infection control measures such as social distancing, enforcing customers to wear masks, and properly disinfecting spaces."
So if you do decide to book an appointment, you'll want to know exactly how the salon is taking into account the safety of staff and customers. Below, TZR talked to some of the top salons in the country to hear exactly what measure they are taking.
Nail Salon Protocol: Signs Of Illness
"Follow CDC recommended precautions, and tell your supervisor if you are well, but someone you live with or have close contact with has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. Dr. Powell emphasizes that salons need to be screening employees, and they need to make sure they are healthy enough to work.
Salons are following this guideline from a customer standpoint, asking them to refrain from booking an appointment if they could be a risk. "We ask that if a client is feeling ill, has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms that they reschedule their appointment in respect to our 24-hour cancellation policy," Vivian Cardenas, operations manager at Vanity Projects in New York and Miami, tells TZR.
Nail Salon Protocol: BARBICIDE Certified
"All our nail artists, Chill Hosts, and service providers are all BARBICIDE certified," Yiota Kourtesis, director of people and dtore Operations at Chillhouse in New York City, tells TZR. This new certification is a free online course that educates salon, spa, and barbershop employees on infection control. The course covers how to disinfect in the workplace and educates on causes of contagious illnesses that impact humans.
Nail Salon Protocol: Checking Temperatures & COVID-19 Tests
Dr. Sutton says taking temperatures is a good precaution — with a caveat. "Having a temperature isn't the end-all to having the diagnosis of COVID-19," he explains. "If you look back at the SARS outbreak in 2003, over 98% of the people that had SARS had a temperature or fever, but we aren't seeing that with COVID-19. Up to 70% will have a temperature, but that means up to 30% may not." The CDC considers a person to have a fever when "he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, or feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish."
For example, Base Coat, a national franchise, requires clients to fill out a three-step form online before booking. This at-home process includes filling out a liability form, a symptom screening, and a health questionnaire. Tran Willis, owner of Base Coat, tells TZR that if customers don't fill these out beforehand, they are required to read and sign at their arrival.
Jane Hong, CEO of Paintbox in New York City, says the company is also testing employees for coronavirus before their shifts begin. "We temperature check every employee before their shift, and we have them test for COVID-19 before reporting to work by about three days so they have results before they start. They need to retest every 14 days to continue to work," she says.
Nail Salon Protocol: Barrier Shields
Just like the clear shields in grocery stores, pharmacies, and Ubers, many nail salons are also putting this barrier up between the employees and customers. According to the CDC, pharmacies are encouraged to use plexiglass in order to "shield against droplets from coughs or sneezes, install a section of clear plastic at the patient contact area to provide barrier protection." And nail salons are putting this up, too.
Nail Salon Protocol: Face Masks And Shields
At many salons across the country, face masks are required by both customers and employees. The CDC notes that employees need to wear cloth face covering in the workplace and in public where social distancing is hard to maintain. It adds, "if surgical masks or respirators are usually required for your job, do not substitute for cloth face coverings." And in some states, like California and New York, nail artists must also wear a clear plastic face shield. However, the CDC explains that "it is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles."
Nail Salon Protocol: No Waiting Areas
To reduce the amount of people in the salon at one time, many salons are eliminating waiting areas. "Our customers are being asked to report exactly at the time of their appointment. We do not want people lounging at reception, and if there are too many people at once, we ask them to wait outside or distanced inside at reception," Hong explains. For ease, Base Coat is using a texting service to let customers know when their nail artist is ready for them.
Nail Salon Protocol: Phones In A Bag
Salons like Base Coat ask customers to put their phones in a bag to reduce the risk of infection. If they want to use it, they must wipe it down with an alcohol wipe first.
Nail Salon Protocol: Limiting Capacity
Willis says Base Coats' capacity is 10 people, which includes four customers, four nail technicians, and one to two front desk employees. Chillhouse has also implemented a rule no longer allowing parties of four or more to be booked. "We will be operating at 50% capacity in our nail salon area, meaning three pedicures stations and four manicure stations in order to enforce social distancing with 6 feet apart," Kourtesis says.
Nail Salon Protocol: Cards Only
"As a further precaution, we will no longer accept cash as a payment method, nor for gratuity," Kourtesis notes of Chillhouse's policy, one that's similar in salons across the country. "This is in order to protect not only our staff and the families they go home to, but our clients as well." The shop will be accepting both credit and debit cards as well as Venmo for gratuity, but Kourtesis says Venmo is the preferred method.
Nail Salon Protocol: Cleaning In Between Appointments And Throughout The Day
According to the CDC, "use single use tools and supplies (like powder vials for dipping nails) where possible. For items that must be used for multiple clients, disinfect after each client (such as nail file, clippers). Or follow the rules of your local board of health if you are supposed to use single-use tools." Willis says Base Coat disposes of everything, but anything that does need to be re-used, like brushes, the salon follows the sanitation protocols.
High-touch areas should also be thoroughly disinfected, too. "Between each client appointment, we are sterilizing each chair with a UV light sterilization wand. We're disinfecting all side tables, front desks, the ATM, and polish bottles, as well as sterilizing the bathroom every two to three hours," Melissa Singer, director of marketing and corporate operations at Bellacures in California and Texas, tells TZR. "As always, we sterilize all of our nondisposable tools in between each client."
Nail Salon Protocol: Dry On The Go
The typical nail salon regimen of sitting and drying nails has changed, too. Willis notes that Base Coat's salons are taking further measures by removing the drying area; however, customers are allowed to dry in the outdoor seating area.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.