Health and safety procedures required for beauty salons

Although salons are places that embellish the hair, nails, and face, they are also health hazards waiting to happen, if not careful. Are you observant when combs, scissors, or other equipment are used on you? Imagine how many people use the same salon every minute. Since the salons are unavoidable, at least the diseases can be preventable.

Ritah Abatesi recalls how she entered a certain salon in Remera to have her nails done. She wanted to have them filed and painted. Accidentally, her nails were cut deep, inside the flesh, and she started bleeding. Her worry was, what if she got an infection, tetanus, or even HIV because the same equipment was used on another client.

When she went to the hospital for a check-up, she was okay. The wound took about two weeks to heal.

This, however, kept her mindful. With time, she found a salon that has a variety of equipment that they clean before working on the next client.

Iddi Nuwagaba deals in manicures and pedicures at Inshungu Hair Salon, Gisementi, with a working experience of more than 15 years. He explains that he consulted the doctor on a few health tips to guide him while working on clients.

He says, he uses a variety of nail equipment and makes sure that they are sterilised once they have been used on a client.

For Nuwagaba, sterilising isn’t enough, as it is advised to dry the tools before use, even if they are sterilised. This, he says, makes the equipment thoroughly clean, and safe from germs.

When asked why he wears gloves and covers his nose with a cotton cloth, he says, gloves keep him and his clients safe from unnecessary harm. But also, it keeps the client comfortable, knowing that the person working on them is sanitary.

While observing him for about one hour, he has two gloves. He wears the cotton pair of gloves first, and then he wears the clinical gloves to avoid the cotton gloves from getting wet, while he washes clients’ feet and hands.

He covers his nose with a cotton cloth protector to avoid nail powder or particles from entering his nose.

Nuwagaba says that nail polish remover is the best medicine on someone who is cut in the process. However, he warns against using surgical blades to cut nails, as they might go deep in the skin.

Dr Joseph Ryarasa Nkurunziza, the chairperson of Health Development Initiative, notes that environmental health standards worldwide require places that many people visit, like salons, to follow certain health and safety standards. Inadequate adherence to health and safety standards can render a salon a hazardous environment.

He emphasises that sanitation and hygiene are key, which is why the use of clean equipment in the salon helps in maintaining a clean environment. For instance, reusable equipment like scissors, brushes, mixing bowls, hair rollers, electric razors, tweezers, nail clippers or combs should be disinfected and sterilised. In case of non-reusable materials, they should only be for single use. These include cotton balls, tissues, sanitary paper, neck strips and emery boards.

“A person can easily slide and fall on wet floors, salons should be clean and dry, all the time. Clean towels or paper should also be used to cover chairs and headrest to avoid disease transmission,” he urges.

Nkurunziza says that there should be suitable ventilation. Since salons use chemicals that release formaldehydes, among others. These chemicals can be harmful to human health. So, it is important to have a well-ventilated environment to enable sufficient atmospheric dispersion of chemicals.

He calls upon salon operators to train staff so that they are conversant with basic safe procedures.

In addition, infections and diseases that can be transmitted in salons, especially where instruments are not sterilised and disinfected, include; blood-borne bacterial, fungal and mostly viral infection, warts, Hepatitis B and C, STDs through waxing (chlamydia and gonorrhoea), acne, rashes, herpes from sharing of equipment like towels, nail fungal infection, among others.

He adds, dermatitis (skin disorder that causes redness, itchiness and swelling and blistering,) can also be another disorder acquired in dirty salons. This is caused through contact with water or detergents that irritate the skin. Or an allergic retort to chemicals. It is, therefore, important and safe for salon workers to wear disposable non-latex powder-free gloves while doing anything that may expose them to the risk of dermatitis. They should also change gloves while working on different clients.


Your health is your responsibility, there is no harm in carrying your own tools, or inquiring about the disinfecting procedures. If your salon expert doesn’t use gloves, it is your duty to request them to use them.

Seek medical attention and consult if you get a cut, or notice any type of rash or redness after a salon visit.

Salon owners must make sure that each container must be properly labelled so chemicals and other ingredients are not wrongly mixed or stored. That is to say, some hair colour mixtures have a short life span, which is why, they must be thrown away immediately after use.

Having a fire extinguisher at the salon is a great idea. Fire extinguishers and other fire protection equipment should be positioned where they can be accessed easily. Electric appliances such as blow driers, flat irons or curling irons should be placed in safe places and should be plugged out when not in use as they might cause a fire.

Salon operators should read the product information and Material Safety Data Sheet before applying a product, treatment, oil, to be aware of the risks and safety measures for the product.

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