Beauty and hairdressing - safe operation
Hand washing, using clean equipment, using safe procedures and keeping your premises clean can help to prevent the spread of infection to your customers. The Public Health (Infection Control for Personal Appearance Services) Act 2003 and the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services apply to hairdressers, nail salons and beauty therapists to help minimise the risk of infection. The guidelines provide information on:
- hand hygiene
- cleaning equipment and premises
- waste disposal
- sterilising equipment.
It is a good idea to keep a copy of the guidelines at your premises.
Handwashing is the most important measure in preventing the spread of infection. You must wash your hands:
- before and after each client
- before putting on and after removing gloves
- before contact with instruments that penetrate the skin
- after contact with blood or other body substances
- after contact with used instruments and jewellery
- after eating, smoking, going to the toilet
- whenever hands are visibly soiled
- in any other circumstance when infection risks are apparent.
Operators must not smoke while attending to a customer.
- Do not apply materials to a client if it has been applied to another person. Wax can be reused if it is treated correctly.
- Avoid cross-contamination by using a single-use applicator or dispensing sufficient material from original container into another clean container (to be used only on one client).
- Do not apply cosmetic testers directly to the face or mouth.
- Apply materials to a client by either using single-use equipment or equipment that has been effectively cleaned, disinfected or sterilised.
- Before using on another client, clean and sterilise instruments (e.g. razors, manicure instruments) that do not normally penetrate the skin but which may have been contaminated with blood and body substances. Find out more about cleaning methods:
Foot spas need to be cleaned correctly to prevent infections:
- Clean spatulas before re-using on another person or use disposable spatulas (wax can become contaminated by dipping the spatula into the wax pot after it has just been used on a client)
- Single use wax is preferable, however, the following steps are required if you choose to re-use wax:
- heat and strain re-useable wax to remove hair
- reheat it to at least 130°C for 15 minutes before it is used on another client (use a thermometer to check)
- leave the strained material in the waste container
- clean the strainer after each use
- clean wax pots and tongs daily to remove build up of hair etc.
Before carrying out electrolysis on a client, their skin must be adequately prepared to protect them from infection. This can be done by swabbing with an antiseptic solution. General procedures:
- ensure all needles used in electrolysis are sterile
- whenever possible, use single-use disposable needles
- if non-disposable needles are to be re-used, sterilise them in accordance with the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services before using on another client
- if a reuseable sterile needle is used extensively on a client in one treatment session, this needle must be disposed of in the sharps container and not re-used
- clean needle holders with warm water and detergent, then allow to dry.
After each client:
- clean and sterilise (where required) re-usable equipment in accordance with the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services
- wash your hands.
Cleaning hair cutting scissors
The best way to clean hair cutting scissors is to wear protective gloves, rinse the scissors in lukewarm water to remove hair, fully-immerse the scissors in warm water and detergent and scrub with a clean brush, rinse the scissors in running hot water, and dry with disposable paper towels.
Cleaning hair cutting scissors after accidental contamination with blood
Clean scissors as per Guideline 1.6, in the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services:
- disinfect the cleaned scissors with either:
- 70-80% ethyl alcohol-soaked wipe
- 60-70% isopropyl alcohol-soaked wipe
- cloth or tissue soaked in methylated spirits.
Cleaning electric hair clippers after accidental contamination with blood
Clean electric hair clippers immediately after accidental contamination with blood:
- disconnect the clippers from the power source
- remove hair from the clipper teeth
- clean the clipper teeth with a plastic brush dampened with 70%-80% ethyl alcohol, 60%-70% isopropyl alcohol solution or methylated spirits
- wipe over other visible accessible areas with a clean cloth dampened with detergent and water as per Guideline 1.6.1 of the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services
- allow clipper teeth and other cleaned areas to air dry
- clean the cleaning brushes and cloths as per Guideline 1.6.3 of the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services.
Treating clients with head lice
Hairdressers may treat clients who have head lice, however, they need to:
- use a non-chemical treatment (e.g. white hair conditioner and comb) or a chemical (insecticidal) treatment - follow the instructions on commercially available head lice products
- clean instruments used in head lice treatments (e.g. combs) as per Guideline 1.6.1, Method 1 of the Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services
- kill head lice and their eggs which stick to linen by using one of the following treatments:
- washing the linen in a washing machine using the hot water cycle
- placing the linen in a hot clothes dryer cycle for 15 minutes
- soaking the linen in near boiling water for 30 minutes.
After each client:
- sterilise re-usable equipment in accordance with Infection Control Guidelines for Personal Appearance Services
- wash your hands.
Check your compliance
You can use the operator checklist to check your business's compliance and test your infection control knowledge using the operator knowledge assessment question and answer sheets: