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Hygiene in Beauty Salons: Essential Guidance

Hygiene in Beauty Salons: Essential Guidance

Every business has a duty of care to keep their premises clean, tidy, safe, and hygienic for staff, customers, and anyone else involved with operations. But some work environments are naturally more hazardous than others.

The beauty industry is one that presents a higher risk to health and safety than others. Everyday operations in a salon involve blades and needles, corrosive chemicals, heat and even clinical waste which is far more risks than can be found in the average office space. 

Precautions must be carefully measured against these risks, not only for the safety of those working in and visiting the salon, but also to maintain licenses and stay on the right side of a number of health and safety laws.In this article, we’ll go over all the essential aspects of salon hygiene.  

Beauty Salon Hygiene and the Law

What is salon hygiene exactly? The meaning is different for every establishment. salon hygiene solutions need to meet the exact requirements of the business which is why the Health and Safety Executive precurses so much guidance by advising that a risk assessment will need to be carried out by the business owner before establishing protocols and rules. 

However, there are some pieces of legislation that all beauty salons must adhere to. beauty salon hygiene standards are built on a foundation of several fundamental pieces of legislation.

1. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (1981)

These apply to all businesses in the UK and require employers or self-employed people to take reasonable steps to keep their staff and customers safe from harm when on the premises or interacting with the business and to provide access to first aid.

To comply, employers must provide access to a workplace first aid kit and appoint a ‘competent employee’, a nominated person whose responsibility it is to ensure the business is compliant with health and safety laws at all times. 

A workplace first aid kit should be British Standard certified to prove that its contents meet standards of quality deemed necessary for providing first aid in an emergency. The Steroplast Workplace First Aid Kit is fully certified.

2. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

These regulations require all UK businesses to carry out risk assessments, provide and ensure completion of relevant training, report accidents, injury, and dangerous situations to the relevant governing bodies, and use equipment correctly and responsibly. The steps for businesses to follow in order to assess risks and level of risk are set out by the Health and Safety Executive:

  1. Identify hazards
  2. Determine those who may be harmed by the hazards
  3. Determine the level of risk of each hazard, including likelihood and severity, and establish necessary precautions
  4. Record findings and keep a record for all employees to access
  5. Regularly review and edit or update if needed

3. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

COSHH regulations require businesses to assess the risk of any potentially hazardous substances and take protective measures to keep safe anyone who might come into contact with them. In a beauty salon, the risk of dangerous exposure to hazardous substances is a daily one. These could include:

  • Naturally occurring irritants like dust or mould in treatment rooms where steam is used.
  • Biological substances such as saliva, blood, skin cells, airborne droplets, and aerosols that may carry pathogens or bacteria.
  • Synthetic chemicals used in treatments and cleaning protocols. 

All hazardous substances must be identified and their risks noted in your health and safety manual. Staff should be trained in procedures to minimise exposure to the chemicals and should be provided with the necessary PPE to do so. This could include gloves to prevent direct skin contact, aprons to protect clothing and minimise cross-contamination, and respirators to prevent inhalation. Staff performing treatments like fake tanning and tattoos should also wear protective goggles.

PPE to Protect Against Hazardous Chemicals

Procedures should also be put in place to minimise the use of hazardous chemicals to only when absolutely necessary, and all staff should be aware of how to properly store and dispose of them.

4. Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

All accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences that happen in the workplace or as a result of the workplace must be reported to RIDDOR by law. The HSE will assess the incidents and provide guidance on how to deal with a mitigate them in the future. If regulations are found not to have been met a business could face prosecution. 

An example of a situation that needs to be reported to RIDDOR could be a sprained ankle as a result of spilling on a freshly cleaned floor, or the onset of dermatitis on a hair stylist’s hands. 

5. Environmental Protection Act 1990

This act is in place to provide guidance and rules that protect and preserve the environment. Beauty salons need to manage their waste disposal operations responsibly to ensure they aren’t causing harm to people, animals and the environment. Salons should arrange a collection of hazardous waste with a licensed specialist disposal company and retain record of their last two years of collections at all times. 

General waste streams should be segregated from other types of waste which could include:

  • Sharp tools such as used needles or blades
  • Body fluids such as blood
  • Waste contaminated with body fluids
  • Hazardous synthetic chemicals
  • Recycling
  • Food waste

Clinical waste should be disposed of into a yellow biohazard bag, with sharp objects disposed of into a sharps bin. Any biohazard spills such as bleeding from an accident must be dealt with in the proper way. Using a biohazard spill kit is the best way to do this. Read our guide on how to use a biohazard spill kit.

Equipment for Disposing of Clinical Waste in a Salon

6. Personal Protective Equipment 2002 (PPE)

These regulations make it necessary for employers to provide personal protective equipment. In a beauty salon there is a range of different needs and different types of PPE required, here are two examples of the most common requirements for PPE:



Direct contact with corrosive chemicals, body fluids, or irritants.

Disposable, durable nitrile gloves; disposable aprons.

Irritation or contamination through airborne droplets, aerosols, splashback, or vapours.

Respirators, surgical masks, safey goggles, face shields.

The importance of hygiene in a salon also extends to your customers. Disposable gowns and capes are also importantfor protecting customers. Trolleys should be used to safety transport products across the salon and minimise the chance of slipping or spilling. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure PPE is of good quality, well-fitting, and stored and maintained properly.

7. Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010

These regulations apply to beauty salons that offer treatments using laser surgery, Intense Pulsed Light sources (IPLs), and blue light and UV therapies. They dictate that employers must take steps to protect the eyes and skin of everyone from harmful exposure to AOR.

If your salon uses AOR, consider these risks and ways to mitigate them:




  • Laser surgery such as hair removal, tattoo removal, scar removal, and skin tightening.

  • Sunbed tanning.

  • UV and blu light therapy treatments.

  • Photofacial treatments using Intense Pulsed Light therapy.
  • Damage to eyes from laser beams.

  • Damage to eyes from IPL.

  • Blindness.

  • Laser skin burns. 

  • IPL skin burns.



  • Shield people from AOR emitting equipment where possible using restricted access rooms, screens, and signage.


8. Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992)

These regulations are in place to ensure proper resources, training, and techniques are employed to minimise the risk of injury from heavy lifting in the workplace. In a beauty salon, lifting equipment, machinery, boxes of products, or even assisting customers in moving presents a risk of injury from lifting incorrectly. 


The Manual Handling Operations Regulations serve to eliminate hazardous lifting where possible and apply appropriate safety measures. This includes:


  • Conducting a risk assessment for heavy lifting and where it can be minimised. For example, moving heavy boxes closer to stations where their contents is used and keeping larger boxes closer to the floor in storage areas.
  • Training staff on heavy lifting techniques.
  • Supplying heavy lifting machinery where needed.
  • Ensuring staff always have the help of another person to lift when needed.

9. Covid-19 Risk Assessment

Employers must conduct risk assessments to determine protective measures for staff, customers, and others interacting with the business against Covid-19. Through a risk assessment, employers should:


  1. Identify operations that risk the transmission of Covid-19
  2. Determine who is at risk
  3. Determine the level of risk
  4. Identify ways to control these risks

Hygiene and infection control in a salon should involve providing the right PPE, regular handwashing, adequate ventilation, good cleaning practices, safe and hygienic working practices in a salon, and limiting the number of people in the premises by managing bookings, the staff rota, and limiting the number of customers who can enter at one time.

Principles of Hygiene and Infection Control in a Salon

If asked to describe two methods used in the salon to ensure hygiene, surface cleaning and sterilising equipment are probably the first to come to mind. But in order to maintain good hygiene and infection control in a beauty salon, it’s important to know how each stage of the cleaning process contributes to a hygienic environment. The principles of hygiene and infection control in salon operations should be:

  1. Tidying
  2. Sanitation
  3. Disinfection
  4. Sterilisation

With tidying as the most basic step in maintaining a hygienic environment, further stages apply to areas and objects depending on how much of a risk they pose to health and safety. 






Removal of visible debris.

All areas of the premises and equipment.


Hair clippings and consumables used in treatments should be disposed of. The premises should be routinely cleaned of dust and dirt.


Brooms, vacuum cleaners, dusters, proper storage space and equipment.


Reducing the number of germs on a surface to a safe level.

All areas of the premises and equipment.


Surfaces including dressers, nail bars, reception desks, chairs, floors, and walls should be sanitised.


Hands should be washed regularly throughout business operations, before and after any treatments, and after any cleaning tasks. Hand sanitiser should be used if there is no access to soap and water.


Detergent wipes, liquid detergent, hand sanitiser.


Killing most of the bacteria and germs on a surface (but not 100%).

Disinfection should always follow sanitation to ensure it is effective.

Non-porous tools after use.


Porous materials like uniforms and towels (these should be washed on high settings to kill bacteria).


Skin should be disinfected before administering an injection, making an incision, or carrying out a laser treatment.


Alcohol-free disinfecting wipes, 70% alcohol disinfecting wipes, alcohol prep pads.


Removal of all germs and bacteria from a surface including spores.

Tools and equipment that come into contact with body fluids. 


Tools used internally, for example, inside the body during surgery. 


Tools that break the surface of the skin.


UV sterilisers, moist heat sterilisers (autoclaves), dry heat sterilisers.

Methods to Ensure Hygiene in the Salon

Your risk assessment will reveal areas of business operations that present a risk to health and safety. Methods used in a salon to ensure hygiene should be relevant to these risks and their level of severity.

Who is Responsible?

Hygiene procedures in a beauty salon are the responsibility of everyone. Encouraging a culture of accountability helps to give every member of the team a sense of responsibility and involvement in the hygiene standards of the business. Although different roles apply to different people in the business, they all work towards the same goal:

The role of the business owner:

  • To appoint a ‘competent person’ and ensure they have all the resources they need to carry out their duties.
  • To ensure all staff have access to training and resources needed to carry out health and safety meaures.
  • To ensure the business is compliant with all relevant health and safety laws. 

The role of the competent person:

  • To carry out necessary risk assessments and put in place a salon hygiene policy that mitigates the risks found.
  • To compile and update a health and safety policy that all staff have access to.
  • To ensure all staff are adequately trained in hygiene procedures and health and safety measures.
  • To ensure the business is compliant with all relevant health and safety laws and communicate this with the business owner and report to relevant bodies such as the HSE.
  • To facilitate routine audits of the business.

The role of the employee:

  • To be responsible for their own training on methods used in the salon to ensure hygiene, and ask for training when needed. 
  • To carry out hygiene protocols and follow salon hygiene rules as instructed.
  • To report any accidents, injuries, or dangerous occurences to the competent person.
  • To maintain hygienic equipment and report equipment that needs maintenance or is faulty.
  • To take responsibility for client safety and hygiene during treatments.

Keeping Salon Furniture Clean

Salon furniture should be non-porous to help make cleaning and disinfecting easier. Beauty couches or chairs where treatments are administered should be disinfected between each use and a fresh piece of couch roll should be applied. If using towels, ensure they have been boiledor washed on a hot cycle beforehand and only even use a towel once before washing it again. 

Most salon chairs are made with PVC or vinyl which breaks down and cracks when alcohol wipes are used to disinfect them, compromising the flat surface and greatly increasing the chance of contamination. Use alcohol-free wipes to avoid this happening.

Chairs and tables in waiting areas should be cleaned and disinfected each day, along with reception desks, nail bars, and hairstyling units.

Cleaning Salon Floors

Stray nails, hair strands, dead skin cells, and powers from products can build up on the floor making it a source for cross-contamination. With your salon door opening and closing and people moving about all day, it’s easy for these light materials to get swept up into the air and inhaled.

Ask staff to sweep as they go, cleaning up after each treatment, and use a liquid detergent diluted in water to mop at the end of each day. Hair salon hygiene rules may include steam cleaning floors in order to lift hair snippings from difficult areas like tile grout.

Cleaning Salon Touchpoints

As part of your Covid-19 risk assessment you will need to be aware of the touchpoints on your premises in order to regularly disinfect them. Take a journey through your salon and consider all of the objects that staff and customers might touch on a regular basis to add a process to your salon hygiene and infection control procedures:

  • Door handles
  • Railings
  • Surfaces
  • Keyboards
  • Card machines
  • Pens
  • Telephones
  • Kitchen Equipment

Use a surface disinfectant to spray and wipe these areas or an alcohol wipe to quickly spot clean throughout the day. Considering nail salon hygiene, salons with nail bars should deep clean these areas each day, and carry out thorough cleaning between customers as they are high contact touchpoints.

Salon Equipment Cleaning and Hygiene

The cleaning tools and equipment between uses is of utmost importance and proper protocols of sterilisation should be adhered to. Tools used on one customer can easily transmit bacteria to the next if not cleaned and sterilised well. Tools that are kept together could all become infected easily if one dirty implement is put in storage with them. 

Following treatment, all tools used should either be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected. Equipment that has been in contact with body fluids will need to be cleaned and sterilised before use again.

Personal Hygiene in a Beauty Salon

Why is personal hygiene important in a salon? Trained professionals in the beauty industry will be aware of the high importance of personal presentation, hygiene, and conduct in a salon. As beauticians and stylists move between different areas of the salon they could act as carriers of bacteria and germs.

Using tools and equipment on one customer and making contact with that customer could lead to the transfer of harmful particulates that could not only cause an infection for the employee but be transferred onto another customer or member of staff. 

Personal presentation, hygiene, and conduct in the salon should be carried out with strict hygiene protocols in mind. Each member of staff should be fully trained in the importance of personal hygiene in a salon so they know how to properly conduct themself in a way that minimises the chance of cross-contamination. This includes: 

  • Wearing appropriate PPE for the task. For example, wearing disposable gloves and an apron when cleaning the salon at the end of the day, or wearing a face visor and respirator when using fake tan. 
  • Taking care to keep uniforms or work clothes clean by wearing disposable aprons where necessary and washing garments regularly on hot cycles.
  • Disposing of gloves between treatments before touching anything else and washing hands regularly.

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