How In-Office Treatments And Cosmetic Shopping Are Changing In The Wake of COVID-19
After months of quarantine, finally engaging in some “fine-tuning” is on the minds of many. Yes … facials, injections, lasers, cosmetic treatments, and anti-aging procedures have certainly been missed, along with shopping for our beauty essentials.
As coronavirus restrictions ease up, requests for cosmetic-related appointments are back in high demand, and the professionals we rely on to care for our skin and beauty needs are returning to their offices, stores, and clinics with a host of new safety and sanitation protocols in place.
From banks to beauty counters, hand sanitizer is a common staple. Sephora’s clean-up stations now contain hand sanitizer instead of makeup remover and cotton pads. Still, most disinfection practices go largely unseen by the general public. Per CDC guidelines, all high touch surfaces, such as countertops, door handles, and payment terminals require constant cleaning and disinfecting to kill the novel coronavirus. But, maintaining a safe and sanitary environment goes much further than that. As Bob Dylan wrote, “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” and here’s what we know so far.
PPEs For One And All
Practice protocols vary by industry, but most include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for providers and clients, including masks, gloves, and face shields. At Dr. Tess Mauricio’s M Beauty Clinic locations, patients no longer check in at the reception desk or spend time in the waiting room. Instead, they’re sent comprehensive pre-screening questionnaires in advance via email to ensure it’s safe to perform any procedures. Once on-site, patients call the office from the car to announce their arrival and are then escorted into the facility while wearing a mask. Once inside, they have their temperature taken and their belongings bagged; their hands are sanitized and gloved, and the staff wraps their phones in cellophane.
Dr. Tess, a board-certified dermatologist, has even created a comprehensive video for her clients to explain the newly expanded safety measures her clinic has implemented. Many of her clients say they’re “blown away” by everything she and her team have done to assure their safety. “We understand immunology,” Dr. Tess said, “and our patients love interacting with us, especially after being locked down, and 99 percent of them are grateful that we take their safety seriously.”
Dr. Kay Durairaj, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon based in Pasadena and Beverly Hills, wears a medical face mask underneath a face shield, which is said to provide even further protection to the mucus membranes where infection often occurs. When patients arrive at her office via strict protocols as mentioned above, she and her team ensure that there is absolutely no contact with other patients; this includes in the waiting room, while escorted into treatments rooms and upon exiting her practice.
Diving Deep Into Disinfection
As you’ve likely witnessed at grocery stores and other public places, cleanliness is a multi-stage process. All businesses that utilize shopping carts or any high touch equipment and countertops have adopted a disinfection process. Employees are seen spraying down carts with disinfectant and spacing them apart, so customers will know which carts are ready for use. Business owners and medical staff alike wear disposable gloves while cleaning countertops, tables and work stations with soap and water. Disinfection comes next and this is said to kill the germs that remain after an initial cleaning. Why do both? Because reducing germs initially enables the disinfectant to perform more effectively, and the CDC recommends that all businesses use an EPA-registered household disinfectant to ensure a safe and thorough process.
For medical practices that offer aesthetic services, injectables and cosmetic surgery, sterilizing patient rooms requires additional resources. Beyond cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, treatment rooms themselves must be sterilized. Dr. Kay Durairaj adds, “We sterilize our treatment rooms for 15 minutes with a UV-C lamp after every procedure.” The lamp is activated remotely in the empty room and emits short-wavelength ultraviolet light, which is said to disrupt the microorganisms’ DNA and sterilizes the room up to 99.9%. Additionally, she cleans and preps her patients’ skin with betadine before procedures to kill COVID-19.
Service and Appointment Reductions
While some providers have resumed services with gusto, many treatments are still high-risk and won’t be offered until more facts become available. Dr. Kay and many other providers have cut their patient load substantially, some even by 50 percent, to ensure the safety of their staff and their patients. Both Dr. Tess and Dr. Kay reschedule patients if their pre-screening responses indicate that any type of infection is a concern.
At Dr. Kay’s offices, rhinoplasty is off the table for now and procedures involving the nose and mouth require COVID-19 screening three to five days prior to service. Clients are asked about their coronavirus history via questionnaires and are then sent for physical screening at a local medical facility before they can undergo a procedure. As one of the industry’s go-to experts for that coveted come-hither pout, Dr. Kay says, “Everyone wants their lips done, so after their tests come back and they are safe to proceed, we can then schedule their appointments.”
Beauty Counters and Brand Name Stores Go Hands Off for Health
Consumers who enjoy the beauty experiences available at Sephora or department store beauty counters may be in for a shock when venturing out to shop. In an official press release, Sephora announced its testers would be off limits and used for display only. So, those free-wheeling days of swiping eye shadow, lipstick, and foundation on your arm are a thing of the past. Sales associates will swatch products on face charts, but only with disposable, single-use applicators. Additional close-contact services, such as mini-makeovers and lash applications have also been suspended until further notice. Given this new normal, online shopping and how-to videos have never been more necessary.
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Even though beauty as we knew it may have changed, online shopping is a safe alternative. Which changes have you implemented in your own beauty routine since COVID-19?