As the country continues to reopen in the COVID-19 era, beauty industry professionals say they have made the adjustments to protocols and procedures, and clients should feel safe to return to spas, salons, and barbershops, once they are given the “green light”.
Coronavirus has impacted every industry since the first case in The Bahamas was confirmed on March 15.
The beauty industry, which is an intimate one, is just one of many industries that has been forced into changes in the way business is conducted, especially as it is one of those businesses in which touch is essential.
Personal services such as hair care and nails are scheduled to reopen during phase four of the country’s five-art measured plan for reopening.
Carlethia Thurston, spa manager at Amber Spa at Warwick Paradise Island, says they have adjusted their protocols in the new normal to ensure safety of clients and staff during the coronavirus global health pandemic, but she says the recommendations were what they were always taught. She says they are now being reminded and reinforced with the heightened protocols and practices.
“This is just going to reinforce that we do everything that we were taught to do,” said Thurston. “What is going to change is we’re going to be using PPE [personal protective equipment] in areas that we didn’t normally use them in before.”
At the boutique spa on Paradise Island, she says massage therapists will be wearing masks when they reopen. They will also determine if they wear gloves during service, but says if a client requests a therapist wear gloves, they will have them available. Massage therapists will also be wearing disposable or reusable aprons as an added precautionary measure during service to avoid client contact with the therapist’s clothing.
Nail technicians have always worn gloves and masks during services, but when they reopen, Thurston says their PPE detail will also include shields and goggles, while aestheticians will make use of shields, goggles, masks and gloves as they’ve always done when doing extractions.
Amber Spa will also implement the use of disposable manicure and pedicure kits, which arrive at the facility packaged.
“As a therapist and educator, this is just going to reinforce that we do everything that we were taught to do,” says Thurston, proprietor at Thurston’s Institute of Massage and Aesthetics, who also taught at Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
She says spa protocols for clients have also been improved upon. Guests entering the facility can expect a cleansing hand ritual with alcohol and a hot towel and to have their temperature taken. And only persons with an appointment will be allowed into the facility. They have also installed sanitation stations throughout the facility to allow for disinfecting every step of the way.
Amber Spa has also done away with the 10-minute back-to-back service and has instituted a 30-minute rule between each service to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of facilities.
They have removed all magazines, but will still offer its tea and beverage service, which they said will be personalized, rather than help yourself. Thurston says one person will be designated to doing the beverage serving, and not therapists.
The spa also now requires every guest to fill in a COVID-19 intake form, which Thurston says is now standard procedure and can be contactless by filling out online, or done in-person at arrival.
While protocols and practices have changed, she promises the same comforting, relaxing, ambiance to be had for guests.
Alexce “Lexx Brown” Brown, proprietor of Lexx Brown Mobile, who also operates out of Rising Stars Beauty Salon in the Mall at Marathon, says the coronavirus global health pandemic forces beauty professionals to take a closer look at their hygiene practices and improve upon them.
“This should have been happening all along,” said Brown. “But sometimes people didn’t always take the necessary precautions. For instance, they put naked capes around people’s necks and don’t put a neck strip around the neck first. You should not have one person’s sweat transferring from client to client on a cape without a neck strip. Right now, for this era that we’re in, we should be using a different cape per client. We should use one cape per person – even gloves at this point-in-time,” he says.
He says he has a good stock of capes but will increase the amount to ensure he sticks to his one caper per person rule in his effort to avoid having anything transferred to anyone else.
Brown, who says he has always been a champion for good hygiene within the industry, says he plans to make the heightened adjustments recommended to ensure that not only his clients are safe, but that he is safe as well. And that means stepping up his sanitation protocols to another level.
“I won’t be able to take clients as fast as I did, because I’ll have to take a break in between to do the necessary sanitization – washing hands, Lysol the chair, wipe it down, spray the [disinfectants]and the clippers and those stuff, need at least a good 10-minute contact time with disinfectants. We want to take the proper methods in cleaning and disinfecting, and want to separate the used and dirty from the clean. Even if we wear gloves, we want to wash our hands after each client, and make hand sanitizer accessible to all clients that come into the store. It’s very necessary at this time.”
Prior to COVID-19, he says he took clients by appointments, which he said will continue, but going forward, they cannot bring an entourage with them. Only the person being serviced will be allowed in.
Brown says he will also be wearing a face mask to protect himself as well as his clients but says when he has to shave clients, they will have to remove their masks.
He’s ready for business once they are given the “green light” to operate.
Surinder Kahlon, Sandals Royal Bahamian general manager, says at Red Lane Spa the health and safety of all their team members and guests have always been a top priority, and in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, is even more so.
They have since introduced their Sandals Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness, which include temperature checks, hourly cleaning of all common areas and enhanced cleaning of treatment rooms and saunas with medical grade sanitizers and disinfectants; storage and transportation of used linen to mitigate contact and mandatory utilization of applicable PPEs by all team members.
“These new protocols cover all areas of our resort operation to include spa facilities and will fully reflect all stipulations as outlined by the Bahamian government to include applicable trainings as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),” said Kahlon.