When it comes to keeping your clients safe, hygiene is absolutely critical. As you learned earlier in this course, eye infections can be very infectious, and with proper hygiene, you can cause serious damage to your clients. In addition to the spread of infections, many of your tools present risks, and so do products like lash glue and glue remover. The basics of hygiene include correct handwashing, using disposables and high standards of cleanliness. As you will have read in the hygiene guidance provided by Safe Work Australia, good hygiene requires everyone in the workplace to:
⦁ Cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a clean tissue (no hankies!) and dispose of tissues hygienically
⦁ Avoid touching their face, eyes, nose and mouth
⦁ Wash and dry their hands completely before and after smoking a cigarette or eating
⦁ Clean and disinfect equipment after use
⦁ Maintain good personal hygiene (wash body, hair and clothes every day)
⦁ Hair tied back to prevent it from touching the client
In addition to hygiene basics, effective sterilization and sanitization in your treatment area is an absolute must.
Sterilization, sanitization and sanitation
Sterilization refers to any process that removes, kills, or deactivates all forms of life, which includes germs, bacteria and any other nasties. Sanitization is the reduction of bacteria to safe levels (set by public health standards) to decrease the risk of infection. Sanitation is defined as the act or process of making something sanitary, i.e. a sanitary workspace.
For general cleaning, you will want to follow these steps:
Depending on what you are cleaning, warm soapy water may do the trick – for example, cleaning work benches, wiping down your lighting or cleaning your storage trolley. For tools that are in close contact with clients, sterilization is a must. To sterilize equipment, there are a few methods you can use. All methods of sterilization will require heat. The reason for this is to completely kill off any bacteria; heat must exceed 121°C (250°F).
|UV light||UV lights have become a popular sterilization method as it is relatively inexpensive and effective. There are specific UV sterilization machines that are purpose-built for a beauty salon environment. Without getting too technical, UV sterilizers basically use the power of UV lights to kill free-floating organisms, such as viruses.|
|Moist heat||Moist heat sterilizers are also referred to as autoclaves, which use steam to kill any nasties. These are often used in medical settings and are very effective. However, make sure that your tools are heat resistant before putting them in an autoclave!|
|Dry heat||Dry heat sterilizers are the most popular option in the beauty industry because the process works and does not destroy tools with moisture as autoclaves can.|
You might hear some lash artists say that they soak their tools in boiling water, so they are sterilizing them. Yes, boiling water has a heat component, but soaking tools in boiling water is actually considered to be a sanitation method. The reason for this is boiling water reaches 100°C, and as you learned earlier, to completely kill off any bacteria, heat must exceed 121°C (250°F).
As a lash artist starting out, it is unlikely that you will have access to an autoclave. You can pick up dry heat sterilizers for under $100, but soaking tools in hot water with a cleaning agent such as Barbicide or a bit of bleach will be a good option until you can afford sterilization equipment. If you are using cleaning agents or bleach in your sterilization process, then be sure to rinse and air dry after soaking.
Sanitation in your workplace is an absolute must, and you will be sanitizing your work area and tools throughout your treatments, after each client and at the end of your workday. To keep your work area and tools clean, you will need to use a combination of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting – but aren’t they all the same? Actually, they are not. Let’s take a look at the differences:
|Cleaning||You will clean your workspace and tools regularly to remove dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs. In your cleaning process, you will usually use warm water and cleaning agents such as soap, glass cleaner or floor cleaner. Cleaning will make your surfaces visually clean, but it will not eliminate all germs.|
|Sanitizing||Sanitizer comes in many forms, including gels, sprays and even powder form. The aim of sanitizing your work area, hands or tools is to lower the number of germs to a safe level. Before you sanities something, you should always make sure it has been cleaned first. For example, skipping washing your hands in favor of just sanitizing them may result in germs still being present. Sanitizers are generally safe on your skin and are often used in hospitality environments as they are safe around food.|
|Disinfecting||Disinfectants are designed to kill germs on surfaces and objects and will usually come in the form of bleach or alcohol solutions. For disinfectants to be most effective, you will usually need to soak items or leave them overnight so that they have time to destroy germs. Disinfectants tend to be slightly stronger than sanitizers.|
If you drop a tool on the ground during a lash service, you cannot pick it up and use it on the client without cleaning and sanitizing it first! Practicing good hygiene and sanitation keeps everyone safe and will also help your reputation. You must clean and sanities after each client and then allocate time at the end of each day to clean your floors, bins, tools and any frequently touched surfaces.
Given the rise of viruses spreading, Safe work Australia has excellent guidance for routine cleaning in response to viruses but can be applied in your daily setting. The guide linked below explains which sanitation method to use in terms of detergent (cleaning) and disinfectant for different materials and depending on how frequently they have been touched. If you are interested in learning more about sanitation, read the articles linked below: