Editor's note:  Is it safe to get back to the life you knew? As services come back, we’re asking our doctors and other providers to help answer those questions in a series called Navigating COVID: Back to life. You’ll find those stories, and many others, here. Got a question? Email healthyheadlines@novanthealth.org.

Dr. Harriet Davis

Ready for a haircut? Make that: Are you desperately in need of a haircut or stylist? And what about those nails? As we all think about venturing back to services that have been shut for a few months, Dr. Harriet Davis of Novant Health Mint Hill Family Medicine offers advice on staying safe and potential red flags for hair and nail salons and barbers. Social distancing, when possible, is a given.

What are the top three precautions to take if you go to the salon?

  • Wear a face covering when you go out or are around others.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Wait in your car until the stylist is ready to start your appointment.

What are the top three precautions you need to take if you get your haircut or colored, or you go to a nail salon? 

  •  Consider taking goggles to prevent water from splashing in your eyes while getting your hair washed.
  •  Make sure you are being draped with a clean cape (single use capes are ideal).
  • Make sure the nail technician uses single use applicators, brushes, nail files, etc. Take your own nail polish.

What should your expectations be for salons?

  • Temperature checks: Touchless infrared thermometer for temperature screenings should be used.
  • Screening questionnaires: Have you had a cough? Have you had a fever? Are you living with someone who is sick or quarantined?
  • Employees should be wearing and using personal protective gear (masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, capes, smocks).
  • Reception area: All magazines, books, etc. should be removed from the waiting room

Are there particular warning signs or red flags that the site is not safe, or that it’s poorly run?

  • Workstation surfaces are not being cleaned and disinfected after each client.
  • Workstations and chairs are too close together (not 6 feet apart).
  • Employees are not washing their hands frequently, especially after using phones, computer, cash register and credit card machine.
  • Too many patrons are in the salon or barbershop at one time.

What are good safety questions to ask those in charge?

  • What precautions are being taken to ensure client and staff safety.
  • What are your new and updated policies and procedures for cleaning, disinfecting and customer safety?
  • What is your new bathroom policy? Will the bathroom be disinfected after each use?

Are there any extra steps I can take to protect myself and my family?

  • Consider using a Q-tip for keying in PIN numbers on credit card keypads and then throw it away.
  • Do not bring food or drinks into a salon or barbershop.
  • Make sure you observe the cleaning practices in the salon and barbershop.
  • Do not visit a salon or barbershop if you are feeling sick.
  • Don’t rely on the business to provide personal protective gear. Take your own if you feel it is necessary.
  • Change your clothes after you leave the business if it feels like they're falling short on protection measures.
  • Consider skipping the blow dry to reduce the amount of time you're exposed to others.