Here’s What Happened When I Visited A Nail Salon During COVID-19
With stay-at-home orders lifting in many states, visiting a beauty salon for a mani/pedi is once again possible. But is it worth the risk?
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As soon as I heard that beauty salons would be reopening in my area on Monday, June 22, I made an appointment at my local nail salon for a manicure and pedicure for that very Wednesday night. As a beauty editor and someone who loves having her nails painted with Essie Wicked time and time again, making the appointment seemed like a no-brainer. I had to get in ASAP or else I’d continue to eat my cuticles.
When the day came and the afternoon turned to evening, however, I began getting anxious. As someone who’s kept a very tight circle of family throughout the coronavirus pandemic and hasn’t so much as gone to a store, this was actually a huge move. For the first time since March, I’d be inside with strangers for an extended period of time.
We all have a fear of the unknown, which leads to great anxiety. In writing this piece, I’m not trying to encourage anyone to do anything out of their comfort zone. But I hope sharing my experience with those of you who intend to resume your standing mani/pedi appointment may be helpful to lessen some of the trepidation.
Like hair salons (more on those reopenings HERE), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a protocol for nail salons to follow during this time. The guidelines include:
- Move, change, or adjust workstations to help workers maintain social distance of six feet (where that much space isn’t possible, they’re to install physical barriers)
- Remove chairs from the waiting area to make sure people don’t sit too close
- Screen clients for COVID-19 symptoms
- Stagger shifts, start times, and break times of employees
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces with at least 70 percent alcohol
- Advise employees to wear gloves and masks
- Provide disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer
- Use single-use supplies
- Limit the number of people in the salon at one time
- Encourage clients to wait outside the salon until it’s their turn
- Post signs and reminders about wearing masks
When it was time for my appointment, I went. I wasn’t sure if I would stay or get one service instead of the two I booked so that I could get in and out quicker. I arrived five minutes early wearing my tie-dye Sydne Summer face mask and was greeted by a technician wearing an N95 mask at the door. She took my name and told me I had to wait outside until my manicurist was ready for me. There was also a sign on the door that read, “Face mask required. By Appointment Only.” I peeked through the windows and saw that the salon was almost empty, so I decided to move forward with my appointment.
When I got inside, I noticed plexiglass barriers were placed at the reception desk and manicure and pedicure stations. The latter had cut-outs for clients to place their hands and feet. The salon was pristine (it usually is) and hand sanitizer was abundant. I was welcomed by the team of nail technicians, and it was wonderful to see familiar faces. You can tell people are smiling just by making eye contact, and we all were. They asked for my daughter (who I normally bring with me, but decided not to given the circumstances) and told me what it was like to be back at work. They were grateful to be open, and it felt good to be a part of my community — even in this small way.
Normally, the salon can work on 22 people at a time, but there were only six other customers with me. They were utilizing every other station, and the ones in between were marked with an ‘X’ as a reminder not to sit someone there. Besides the structural changes, I went in with an editor’s eye and noticed small changes, too, that made a huge difference in my comfort level. The salon was using individualized packets of exfoliant and lotion instead of the usual jumbo-sized tubs (using single-use supplies is on the list of guidelines from the CDC).
I follow several beauty salons that my friends own or work at and saw that some are going as far as to do temperature checks before customers walk in the door. While my salon didn’t screen me for symptoms, I saw them taking the temperatures of other clients before they walked in. They held a sensor thermometer to their forehead that didn’t even touch their skin. If they had taken my temperature, it would have been a homerun. But nobody’s perfect, and they were certainly trying. I guess I went in with faith that everyone in there was healthy — at least I really hope they were.
As I sit here typing with my fresh oxblood mani, I’m pleased to report that my experience was a positive one. The salon followed every single guideline listed above, which instantly put me at ease. If your go-to salon already had a clean and professional reputation before the virus and you’re interested in making an appointment, I’d say go for it. You can always turn around and go home if you feel uncomfortable. But, if you’re ready, it’s nice to support small businesses as the economy reopens.
I conducted an Instagram poll asking my followers if they were ready to go to beauty salons yet and 67 percent of them said yes. With that said, I completely understand that, for many, it’s not worth the risk. Take your time and do what feels right for you. Afterall, beauty treatments are far from essential.
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