Doctors, Vets and Clinicians on Coping with PPE in Salons

by kieran / last updated October 23, 2020

PPE salon advice

Keeping clients safe when reopening salons has been a team effort, and has taken a lot of incredible strength and creativity from those working in the industry. One of the new and necessary realities salons have had to embrace is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which isn’t always the easiest to get on with.

To help salons keep up the fantastic work, we spoke to a range of professionals from different industries- doctors, vets, scientists, aesthetic practitioners who have spent years wearing PPE, in the search of some key tips and tricks for salons. We also received hints and tips from hairdresser Georgina Mullan from 81 Rose Garden in Newcastle under Lyme who is taking PPE in her stride.

Have your PPE in the salon fitted correctly

Using protective gear that fits comfortably is the first essential step to using it for extended amounts of time. Finding what’s right for you will likely take some trial and error.

“In my opinion- and I’ve tried them all- the glasses visors work best,” says Georgina. “Because there is no foam around the top of the glasses, they allow for a little ventilation and therefore don’t steam up and we don’t overheat!”

Veterinary nurse Teri Murtagh shared similar thoughts: “Make sure your face mask is a good fit and is placed securely so it doesn’t rub throughout the day. Good places to check for irritation are under the eyes and behind the ears, as that’s where an ill-fitting mask is most likely to rub.”

She adds: “I’d also suggest wearing cool clothing made from materials that naturally breathe as there’s no doubt wearing PPE all day makes you feel seriously hot.”

London-based doctor Georgia Hacke also had this tip: “If you find your mask slipping, use a paperclip to attach the back of the mask together. Some people also have headbands with buttons on that you can attach if it rubs the backs of your ears.”

Fighting skin-related problems

Due to the use of face coverings, ‘maskne’ (mask acne) has become a common issue among hairdressers, often leaving chaffed and irritated skin around the mouth, chin and jawline. This specific type of acne, named ‘acne mechanica’, is caused by friction and increased heat and/or pressure, and can lead to breakouts, blackheads and increased oiliness.

Working at a hair salon that doubles as a beauty salon, Georgina was able to offer an inside scoop on how the teamare best taking care of their skin.

“Our experts suggest looking for products with ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide,” she explains. “I use Tropic Skincare which is amazing for the skin. The Supergreens Nutrient Boost Oil protects the skin, and I also swear by the restorative overnight serum, which is all natural and really improves the complexion.”

Georgina also suggests a change in beauty habits which could help keep skin clear: “Obviously, there’s no need to wear any makeup at all because my whole face is covered, so I’m using this time to really care for my skin.”

PPE salon advice

Advice for keeping performance up

Hairdressing is an act of precision, and unfortunately protective wear can interfere with this. Jo Wells, senior consultant at Pulse Light Clinic Tottenham Court Road, shares this frustration for a similarly rigorous procedure:

“For laser tattoo removal, I find it particularly difficult to use both the visor and protective mask as it makes your breath steam up the protective eyewear. This gives you less clearly defined visibility,” says Jo. “Looking at some heavily faded tattoos through tinted protective eyewear is tricky at the best of times.”

To counter this in the world of hair, taking some regular, yet safely executed, checks throughout the process can mean the quality of your service never drops.

“If I’m colouring hair, I briefly lower my visor to properly assess the actual colour of the hair as the visor seems to make colours look a lot duller than they actually are and it’s quite reflective too.”

Scientific sales executive Stephen Pygott also had this advice to share: “As a spectacle wearer, my glasses steam up when I wear a mask. My top tip is to apply a thin layer of shaving foam on your glasses and then wipe it off.”

Take some necessary downtime

Using PPE can lead to low morale amongst the team with everyone feeling hot and unable to breathe easily.

“When it comes to breathing, it is very hard as the air steams up and circulates within the mask,” says Shanelle Blake, senior consultant at Pulse Light Clinic Bank. “Having breaks between treatments is like a kiss of fresh air.”

Making sure staff are taking regular breaks to maintain focus and enjoyment has never been more important since reopening.

“As we have established a ‘one in one out’ policy, rather than two clients at any one time, this gives us the opportunity to take regular small breaks, even during appointments, such as when colour is developing,” says Georgina.

A greater focus on time off may mean reconsidering the concept of what a ‘break’ is all together, and can actually boost how enjoyable the work experience can be.

“We have created dedicated seating areas outside to allow our staff to relax more easily during their breaks. All of the stylists at 81 Rose Garden are rather enjoying this way of working, and if anything good has come out of this forced way of working, it has encouraged us to slow down and give each client the time they deserve.”

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