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Friday, July 31, 2020

To all FACIAL SALONS: I am so sorry! (Covid-19)

I love that. Stay strong everyone!
Fellow aestheticians and small business owners have been on my mind quite a bit lately for obvious reasons. To say I dodged a bullet because I recently retired isnt really the truth. As some of you know my home was a total loss in the October 2017 North Bay fires after closing my Boulder salon and moving a few months before, but that is beside the point. I don’t feel like I dodged a bullet, I was ready and willing to close up shop and do a slow glide into retirement. But I am certainly glad I’m not having to deal with this pandemic as a business owner, initially being required to close the doors and then dealing with all of the new regulations being placed on the personal service industry and small (and large) businesses nation- and world-wide.

We’ve all been affected; I lost my “retirement job” walking dogs and am currently out of work. Like so many, I’m able to work, but in my case everyone is home with their animals (lucky animals!). It’s a loss, for sure, but it is nothing in comparison to those of you who are struggling to keep your salons and spas alive. Having run my business for 24 years, I am well aware of all the hills and mountains that need to be climbed—sometimes daily—to keep a business afloat. Add to that being willing but unable to open due to restrictions in place where you live and work, it’s just such a sad state of affairs.

Because I still hold facial licenses in 4 different states, I get emails from each state commissioner about the new rules and regulations for opening a salon back up—if that’s even possible—and how things won’t be going back to “normal” any time soon. I’m not a fan of the phrase the new normal, but in this instance I think it’s the only way to describe what will come out of this after all is said and done. There will be a new way of getting back to a normal way of doing business that simply doesn’t and won’t exactly match the way it was pre-pandemic.

In my salons, clients always thought they were my only client because it was a rarity that 2 people were in my office at the same time. I scheduled things that way intentionally because for me it felt like a best business practice. I loved it when clients would mention they noticed they were the only person in the office from the time they walked in the door to the time they walked out.

Now, with new restrictions, it is inevitable that most if not all clients in salons, be it hair, nails, skin, or waxingeven massage and acupuncture clinicswill feel the same way. Interesting that now this “best business practice that I employed perhaps wont feel as good to people since it will be a forced way of doing business. Hopefully there will be clients who like the anonymity and will take comfort in being so well-attended to without distraction.

No one, except perhaps epidemiologists, could have predicted this epidemic and certainly not on the scale it has become here in the U.S. Watching how salons are having to comply with federal and state mandates, opening then closing and waiting to reopen again, I can’t imagine how tough it is for all salon owners and facial employeeswithout the ability to do your jobs and see the clients that you love. And when you all can reopen, it will be interesting to see how those jobs will have changed and what they will look like going forward.
I was reading an article recently in Allure Magaine online (click here if you’d like to read it) about how facials in particular are being affected by Covid-19. In it, a dermatologist (Dr. Nada Elbuluk) was quoted saying she didn’t think now is a good time to get a skin care treatment. “A facial involves exposure to mucosal sites (eyes, nose, mouth), and prolonged contact between the person giving the facial and the person receiving it. It’s not possible for a person receiving a facial to be wearing a mask so it places that person at higher risk of exposure during the procedure.” How I see it, the risk goes both ways.

I can say for a fact I hated wearing a mask when I was giving facials. The only time I did—and I did it throughout my career—was when a client would come in sick and I had to wear one. I can also say without question that 50% of the time I would still get sick even after wearing a mask and being very careful to clean everything thoroughly once that person had left the office. Because client and aesthetician are essentially sharing air during a facial, I was adamant about people not coming in when they were sick.

Now wearing a mask will be the norm. Perhaps forever, no one knows, and because of this I feel for all of the aestheticians in the world. Maybe others aren’t so annoyed with wearing a mask while giving a facial, but for me these face coverings are hot and they move when you look down so you have to constantly adjust them during the treatment. And along with the muffled conversation while explaining things to a client, wearing a mask gave me a feeling of being removed from the intimacy of the service.

For an extra layer of protection, many if not all facial salons will also employ face shields. Having never given a facial with one but knowing how much I disliked wearing a mask, I can only imagine how strange (and certainly, possibly, uncomfortably hot) it will be for practitioners to be so covered up during a personal service. Necessary—absolutely, comfortable—doubtful.

Wearing thin rubber gloves could also become a part of the aesthetician’s new “uniform.” Yet another way to create a protective barrier between provider and client, yet another way to be once removed from the touch and feel of the wonderful sensory experience (for both giver and receiver) that is a facial treatment. I am so sorry for all of these changes.

From Wikipedia: This too shall pass is a Persian adage translated and used in multiple languages. It reflects on the temporary nature, or ephemerality [lasting for a short time], of the human condition.

Sometimes (always?) when someone dies, you’re not quite sure what to say to the bereaved. With this pandemic I think the same thing is true. This too shall pass, we’ll get through it, it’ll be over one day, be thankful for all the good in your life. I don’t know if anything said can really help the multitudes of people who are suffering through these times, but what I do know is life—eventually—will get back to a familiar, albeit different, “normal” place.

Another quote from the Dalai Lama keeps coming to mind: If a problem can be solvedtheres no need to worry, and if it cant be solvedworry is of no use. Its similar to The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Blessings to all everywhere and also to those who have passed away during this pandemic. My heart and thoughts go out to all of you.

For some hopefully helpful articles, see:
Absolutely!