How to handle unhygienic situations we are faced with at work is a topic that comes up often. We should not shy away from discussing it.
We’ve had some pretty strict rules laid down upon us by our respective state cosmetology licensing agencies (the “State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology” in California), and a lot of these rules deal with keeping our work environments and ourselves clean and sanitary. So when we are faced with a client or co-worker who doesn’t follow those same rules, it can be somewhat frustrating. Here is how we handle delicate situations at Queen Bee.
You just have to accept (this one took me a long time and perhaps I will actually never understand it) that some people just won’t ever share your idea of what clean is. This could be leaving dirty implements out, finding a random hair on your cart or God forbid a toenail in your workspace. We have room and cart check out sheets at Queen Bee. At the end of every shift, each Bee has to sign out that they have left the room in ship shape condition, so that if we did get a surprise inspection, we’d pass with flying colors. If they don’t, we have to issue a verbal warning (and this is only if the offense could be written up by an Inspector). If verbal warnings don’t work, I’m afraid that member of the team has to be written up. State Board is on the look out for anything and everything and their standards are high (although my staff would argue that mine are higher, but I was born with a case of the OCDs in tidiness and cleanliness!!). It is in each co-worker’s best interest to keep their area sanitary at all times. Remind teammates that if the establishment is fined, they will be fined too. Of course, beyond complying with our state governing agencies, we don’t ever want clients to come in to a dirty work environment. They’ll either leave or want to leave, never come back and will tell their friends about the unhygienic conditions. This is bad for everyone!
This is a tough one but I actually find it easy to handle. I’ve heard it said that because I have an accent I can get away with it, but I don’t agree. Here’s an example:
Client comes in for a Brazilian Wax. Once she undresses and gets onto the bed you notice that she has excess discharge, she has started her period or there is fecal matter on her behind. Here’s what I would do:
- If it really is quite the disaster down there and it’s clear no matter how many wet wipes you give her it still won’t be clean, you say to your client something along the lines of “[name] ……, we’re all women here and you’ve got some …….. on your skin. Even though I’m wearing gloves it’s not a good idea for you or for me if we wax you today. The wax won’t work efficiently and your skin will be compromised.” OR if you just want to go ahead and wax most of the area except the contaminated part (just a bikini line instead of a Brazilian) you could say “[name], in the future my dear, if you want me to wax your bottom, it has to be completely clear and clean ok? For hygiene reasons I just can’t wax that area today. It’s not safe for you or for me.” Don’t stare blankly into your client’s face with disgust whilst you are saying this. I keep one hand on their leg or arm whilst I am talking to them and I say it very naturally. Listen, they might not even know and I am sure they will be mortified! End it with “Don’t even worry, just pop home and take a quick shower and I’ll be happy to get you back in.” If your establishment has showers, offer this facility to your client. Do not in any way shape or form set out to embarrass them. It is wise to put yourself in their position and think about what you would like somebody to say to you.
- If we are just talking about a little discharge (and again, this is normal) feel free to hand over a wet wipe and have your client pop into the bathroom discretely. I would say something along the lines of “My dear, would you mind popping into the bathroom to have a quick wipe. Just a little discharge that’s stuck, normal stuff! Sorry, I should have asked you before we got started if you needed the bathroom.” Then as if nothing ever happened carry on getting the area ready for her, this way you’re not standing staring at her. By the way, I use similar words for men. They are not exempt!
I suppose what I am suggesting is that you really do treat these situations, although serious, very nonchalantly. However, if you have a repeat offender you must approach the owner or manager of the salon and let them know that this client needs to be addressed by them in person.
To potentially avoid this from happening you could always ask your fabulous front desk staff to discretely ask clients if they would like to clean up in the loo before their appointment. We do keep wet wipes on hand and ask clients not to flush them into the toilets, but dispose of them in a closed trash bin provided.
If you have any other questions, even if they seem small, please reach out to our us. We are here to help!