Thanks to COVID-19, a salon is not someplace that many of us have been recently. Instead, we’ve cut our own hair, done our own nails, and shaped our own brows. And now that salons are opening up again, some people may be relieved to have these tasks in the hands of true professionals again. But there are some precautions you’ll need to take if you want to safely visit a hair or nail salon right now.
Considering COVID-19, a salon can present some serious coronavirus risks for you and your hairstylist or nail tech because, when you get a procedure or treatment at a salon, you’re intentionally spending a lot of time in close proximity to someone you don’t live with. So, before you book an appointment, really consider just how essential a salon visit is for you. For some people, it may be a very much needed mental health boost, Lindsey Gottlieb, M.D., director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai Morningside, tells SELF. But for others, it may not be as necessary.
If you do decide that you’d like to get your hair cut or your nails done at a salon while the new coronavirus is still out there, here’s how our experts suggest protecting yourself—and those around you.
Please, please, please wear a mask.
Perhaps you heard about the curious case of the two hair stylists in Missouri? They both tested positive for COVID-19 and saw 140 clients between them while infectious last month. But thorough contract tracing revealed that none of their customers tested positive for the infection.
How did this happen? Well, we don’t know for sure. But we do know that the salon had taken some important steps to reduce transmission, including having all their stylists wear masks.
This case proves just how “effective it can be if everyone is wearing a mask,” Humberto Choi, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. The coronavirus is spread mainly when an infected person coughs or sneezes. That causes them to release respiratory droplets containing the virus, which may land in the mouth, nose, or eyes of people around them and cause more infections. A mask is helpful because, even if an infected person coughs or sneezes, the mask will prevent them from reaching another person. And this situation suggests that it really is a highly effective way to prevent transmission.
Check to see what the salon is doing to keep its employees and customers safe.
Because you won’t necessarily have control over the greater salon environment, it’s really up to the business owner to implement strategies that will keep employees and customers safe. That likely includes things like requiring employees and customers to wear masks while inside, staggering appointments so there are fewer people there at one time, spacing out salon chairs, or even installing barriers between salon stations, and demonstrating good hand hygiene.
All of these basic strategies will help keep everyone safe, Dr. Gottlieb says. And many businesses are advertising the kinds of precautions they’re taking online or they’ll make their safety procedures clear when you make an appointment. But, if you’re not sure what the deal is, you can always call and ask before you go.
Opt for treatments and procedures you know will take less time.
When thinking about your risks, remember that it’s not an all or nothing situation. “Each activity is a small potential risk exposure,” Dr. Gottlieb says, and you don’t have to do everything at once. So, it’s important to take the time to really think about which procedures are the most essential to you and weighing that against the potential risks.