Disinfection isn’t as sexy of a topic as, say, the latest trends in barbering. It is, however, as crucial a step in managing your reputation as the most Instagram-worthy beard trim or crewcut. Here’s how to play it safe with our complete disinfection guide for salons and barbershops.
What Happens When You Don’t Properly Disinfect?
In a salon setting, where shaving and cutting implements are in close contact with clients’ skin, it is of utmost importance to protect them and your staff to reduce the risk of infection during services. According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario, “Exposure to blood or body fluids can lead to infection with blood-borne pathogens including hepatitis B and C, HIV, and other human retroviruses, bacteria and other dangerous pathogens.”
What’s more concerning, according to Barbicide, an effective and well-known disinfectant in the industry, is that real risks now include “bacteria and viruses that can spread very quickly and be disabling or deadly within hours. We also have the added threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), which spread very easily, are difficult to treat and can be deadly.”
Another factor in the equation is that some clients with medical conditions, such as diabetes, or who are taking medication for asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, are at higher risk for infection because these drugs lower their immune system.
But just because a bug doesn’t threaten the life of a client doesn’t mean that it can’t seriously damage your business. Just think about how quickly news spreads like wildfire on social media.
Three Degrees of Cleanliness
As you might have already noticed if you’re a salon owner, Health Canada does not regulate your business or the industry—just the products and equipment entering the country. Disinfectants, which have an amazing track record of effectiveness when used correctly, are classified as drug products that must be approved by Health Canada and have a unique Drug Identification Number (DIN)—something to keep in mind if you are approached with an unknown product or brand.
However, the good news is that you are in complete control of the cleanliness of your tools and your station when using the products and technologies that have a proven degree of efficacy. According to Domenic Sgromo, president of AEMCO Sales, manufacturer’s representatives for the professional beauty industry, there are three ways that Barbicide can help salon professionals provide a clean, germ-free environment. “For things like shears, combs and brushes, immerse in the Barbicide solution for 10 minutes to ensure that the bacteria and germs are eradicated,” he says. Once the contact time is completed, remove the implements and rinse them with water or keep them in the large Barbicide glass jar on your counter for clients to see. For objects you can’t soak, such as a counter or chair, you can use the Barbicide spray and let the product remain, without wiping, for 10 minutes. “Again, notice the 10 minutes of wet contact time, which is vital for proper infection control,” reminds Sgromo.
BeautySafe for Best Hygiene Practices
According to Fiona Chambers, executive director for the BeautyCouncil Western Canada, “The lack of regulation poses a risk to consumers if cosmetologists are inadequately trained in the proper use of potentially harmful chemicals and equipment. This is the reason why we have just launched BeautySafe, a program designed for cosmetologists about best practices and legal responsibilities when providing personal services to protect both the beauty professionals and clients.”
BeautySafe incorporates standards recognized across Canada encouraging all hairstylists and barbers to be certified and maintain these high standards to reduce the spread of bacterial infections and communicable diseases.The certification must be renewed every three years. “Just as FoodSafe is mandatory in the food industry, BeautySafe should be mandatory in the professional beauty industry—it just makes sense,” emphasizes Chambers.
Hopefully, this new program will encourage other provinces to follow suit and auto-regulate the industry, to foster best hygiene practices in barbershops and salons.
3 Steps for Infection Control
Stamp out infection threats with these three simple steps.
Step 1: Clean or Sanitize
The first step in infection control is the removal of visible debris from an object or surface, such as washing with warm, soapy water, or using a chemical cleaner to remove hair product residue.
Step 2: Disinfection
The next step in infection control requires the use of a chemical disinfectant on nonporous implements like plastics and metals and surfaces only. When performed properly, disinfection is effective against bacteria in the salon or barbershop. However, always remember that the disinfecting product must have the proper concentration, mixing proportions and contact time.
Step 3: Sterilization
This final step destroys all microbial life. It’s not required in a barbershop, but it’s essential in the nail industry. This is always done with an autoclave machine that uses high heat and pressure to kill pathogens.
Review: 3 Quick Tips to Remember for Proper Disinfection
- Change the disinfectant daily, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure that you have the proper concentration of the disinfectant.
- Maintain a proper contact time of 10 minutes. This is the amount of time that an instrument must be in contact with the disinfectant to be effective against dangerous pathogens.