Choosing the right beauty salon is always a bit of a headache — nobody wants to end up with a semi-permanent duck face, after all. But now, with COVID-19 raging all over the planet, there are many more important things to worry about, most of all: our safety. Getting our eyebrows threaded or our nails done now unfortunately carries with it a whole new level of danger that goes far beyond mild dissatisfaction with our reflection in the mirror.

To make things trickier, many of us don’t even know the extent to which the laws regulating beauty salons have changed, making choosing a beauty salon based on its good COVID practices that much more difficult.

If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, take a look at the list below to find out what questions you should be asking before your next visit to a beauty salon in order to stay safe. Who said you can’t help flatten the curve and look fabulous while doing it?

What safety measures have been taken in the salon?

According to the guidelines for close contact services, workstations should be at least 2m (6 ft) away from each other. If that is not possible, transparent shields should be installed between workstations so as to prevent direct contact between the clients being served. Fresh gowns and towels should be provided for each new client coming in. Staff must wear clear visors (antiviral face masks are optional) that cover their nose and mouth at all times, as well as disposable gloves they change after each client. A cashless policy should be implemented to eliminate the need for touching coins and banknotes. And, last but not least, there should be disinfectant readily available to clients, ideally both at the cash registers and in the restrooms.

Should I be able to read magazines and have a coffee in the waiting area like I used to?
No. Unfortunately, client waiting areas are places where it is all too easy to come into contact with all sorts of germs, what with everyone sitting together leafing through the same magazines, all while sipping coffee or tea. Currently, only client waiting areas where social distancing can be maintained are allowed, and even then, only water can be served to clients in disposable cups or bottles. Generally speaking, however, it would be best not to come in for your appointment too early in order to avoid any situations that increase the risk of infection. Or having to queue outdoors in the rain!

Do I need to wear gloves and a mask at all times?

Clients are not required to wear a mask when in the beauty salon, as the visors worn by the beauty salon staff are sufficient protection. When clients are not having a procedure, neither the client nor the employee are required to cover their nose and mouth, as long as they are 2m apart at all times.

Can I come to the beauty salon with my friend?

Enjoying some pamper time with your best friend at a beauty salon is not something that is likely to be very feasible at the present moment. While there are no regulations forbidding you to come into the beauty salon with someone, social distancing is likely to put a damper on the experience. Not to mention that being 2m away from your friend means you would have to raise your voice considerably to be heard…and raising your voice is inadvisable, as the louder you speak, the more respiratory droplets you expel into your surroundings.

Does the salon use the methods necessary to properly sterilize their tools and surfaces?

Any tools used during procedures and treatments should be either disposable or sterilized after every client using an autoclave, a powerful machine that kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. Tables, chairs and treatment beds should be wiped down with a disinfectant after every client as well. Furthermore, appointments should be appropriately spaced out so as to allow for the time needed to properly disinfect every workstation. Any beauty salon that puts quantity over quality at a time like this is not worthy of your (or anyone’s!) money!

How often are the surfaces and tools used being disinfected?

So the salon uses approved disinfectants and autoclave sterilization, good! The next question should be how often they do these things, because once a day is just not good enough anymore. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, surfaces and tools should be disinfected after each client. Door handles, light switches and other items touched by multiple people on a regular basis should also be disinfected regularly, at least several times a day. Even the visors worn by staff should be either properly cleaned at the end of the shift or disposed of.

Can appointments be made by phone, or do I need to make them in person?

Responsible salons will encourage their clients to call in ahead of time to make their appointments. This not only helps limit the number of social interactions both employees and clients have per day, but also allows beauty salon staff to screen potential clients. Screening should include a few basic yet important questions, such as whether the client or their immediate family members have experienced a fever, chills or difficulty breathing or have felt otherwise unwell over the past 24 hours. This information will help determine if a client’s appointment should be postponed until they are sure they have not contracted COVID-19.

How can I be sure nobody with COVID-19 visited the beauty salon before me?

As mentioned above, beauty salon staff should be conducting a short telephone screening with every potential client before making them an appointment. Provided this and the other abovementioned precautions are taken, the risk of contracting COVID-19 at a beauty salon should be all but eliminated. If, on the other hand, you call in to a beauty salon to make an appointment and nobody asks you any questions about COVID-19 symptoms, it may be a good idea to take your business elsewhere.

Is it okay to take my mask/gloves off when in the beauty salon?
It is undoubtedly safer to keep your mask and gloves on in public nowadays — research has shown that wearing a mask is useful in preventing us from passing the virus on to others, should we have it. There are, however, many cosmetic beauty procedures and treatments that would be entirely impossible for staff to perform on a client wearing gloves — take manicures, for example. Given a beauty salon pays sufficient attention to the sterilization process of all surfaces and tools, taking your gloves off for that long-overdue gel manicure, or your mask off for mesotherapy, should not put you at significant risk of falling ill.

Does the salon offer any samples I can try while I’m there?
Getting to try some free beauty product samples is always a fun experience that can lead to the discovery of a new favourite product or brand. Currently, however, in-salon client contact with samples should be minimised, with small, individually-packaged samples being given to the client to try at home rather than applied at the salon.

Beauty salons reopening in Great Britain is an exciting moment for millions of Brits. Let’s face it, we have all likely gained a new respect for beauticians after attempting to do our own nails! COVID-19 is extremely dangerous, but we know how to beat it. Now we all just keep the new safety regulations in mind we can come out of this crazy year alive, and with great eyelashes, to boot!


Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2020). Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services. Retrieved from