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Is It Safe To Go To A Salon Right Now? How To Protect Yourself During COVID-19

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Around the country, salons offering all kinds of beauty services are reopening their doors following statewide shutdowns. Nail techs are back in the chair, hairstylists are getting the flat irons going again, estheticians are back on the waxes, and lash artists are back in business. And while the opportunity to be glam again is appealing, is it safe to go to a salon right now?

According to guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to increase safety measures, salons are advised to "move, change, or adjust workstations to help workers maintain social distancing of at least six feet between each other and customers that they are not servicing"; increase sanitation practices; and mandate cloth face coverings. And while these are just a few of the many instructions laid out by the agency, depending on your salon, and your state, whether these recommendations are enforced varies.

But the question remains: If you and your salon are in fact taking all the steps necessary to protect yourself from COVID-19, are you still at risk? We found out from the experts whether salon safety measures are enough, and how to properly protect yourself if you do decide to make an appointment in the upcoming weeks.

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According to Dr. Arielle Levitan, M.D., an internal medicine doctor in Illinois and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, how safe your experience is depends on both you and the salon. "I think that the biggest thing is to be looking for the ways that the business is taking precautions," she says. "There's really no concrete answer when it comes to safety, so the patron and the salon need to be doing as much as they can to protect themselves." Levitan says that to best do that, both parties need to wear masks, and in some cases, a face shield. "We don't know exactly how to protect ourselves from the virus other than wearing masks," she says. "We can't say that it prevents COVID-19 100 percent, but we know that it reduces transmission significantly. Some of the salon employees are also wearing face shields along with their masks which is a great method of reinforcement." This is especially true for services that render you face-to-face with your tech.

Another extremely important factor is the disinfecting of stations, and anything established to separate contact between individuals. Before getting situated, it's essential to verify that the space has been disinfected thoroughly immediately prior to your appointment. This includes chairs, plexiglass, tools used to execute the service, and most importantly, the hands of the stylist.

Levitan also insists that those more at risk of contracting COVID-19 given pre-existing conditions or age should avoid salons. "The last thing you want to do is unnecessarily expose yourself," she says. "So if you're at risk, staying away from non-essential activities is your safest option."

And while the debate of the safety of indoor interaction continues to come into question, outdoors is undoubtedly the safest bet, so see if your salon offers outdoor servicing options. "I actually have seen some salons doing portions of their services outside," Levitan says. "Not necessarily the whole service, but for example, if someone is getting their hair colored, the stylist will have the customer sit outside while their color processes. That's yet another way to play it safe."

One frequently asked question is whether taking the temperatures of clients is useful. Surprisingly, this practice isn't incredibly effective, as a whopping 25 percent of COVID-19 carriers do not experience a spike in temperature, according to the experts.

So ahead, check out just a few of the practices you should look for when visiting a salon.

Nail Salon Safety Precautions For COVID-19

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Before stepping foot in a nail salon, ensure that plastic partitions have been installed at manicure stations that separate face-to-face contact between the customer and technician. However, that doesn't mean that masks are no longer necessary. Wearing facial protection must still be mandated as yet another means to avoid the spread of germs.

Additionally, no two clients should be serviced directly next to each other for neither manicures or pedicures. While partitions for pedicures may not be possible for functionality, avoid leaning forward to speak to your nail technician. Another practice many salons are offering is providing patrons their own nail maintenance kit of a nail file, buffer, nipper, and nail clipper that they may take with them after their service.

Hair Salon Safety During COVID-19

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Frédéric Fekkai Salon in New York City is doing everything possible to maintain the safety of their clients and staff. "Every other styling station remains vacant," the brand's CMO, Said Dabbagh tells TZR. "We've also incorporated plexiglass separators at the wash stations." And while the Fekkai brand prides itself on customer service, many luxuries have been temporarily paused for safety reasons. "We're not offering coffee, tea, and magazines anymore," Dabbagh says. "There's less touch points between the clients and the staff and stylists."

The salon, which already had a strict disinfectant policy for hair tools and stations, is taking even more precautions to ensure that no cross contamination between clients occurs. "Everything is much more strict and structured," Dabbagh says.

Waxing Guidelines For COVID-19

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While these practices should have been in place before COVID-19 in any waxing facility, there should be fresh paper lining on the waxing bed, changed from the previous client. Additionally, both parties should be wearing a mask and the esthetician should be wearing gloves, as close contact may sometimes be inevitable.

Most important is that there's no double-dipping into the wax. For every wooden applicator that is first placed into the wax and makes contact with skin, proper disposal should happen immediately after. While possibly not the most eco-friendly, it's a must to prevent the spread of bodily germs from client to client.

So while there's unfortunately no black-and-white answer to practicing safety inside of salons, the ultimate decision lies with you. Before making an appointment anywhere, inquire about their safety practices, ensure that they are aggressively social distancing and wearing masks, and avoid any unnecessary contact. "Everyone should be as distanced as possible at all times," Levitan says. "Opt for salons that stagger their clients, ensuring there are never too many people in one place at one time."

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.