Beauty in the age of the Corona virus outbreak
The Corona virus outbreak is worrying a lot of people. Here's our perspective on the pandemic and how it will shape our lives moving forward both as practitioners in the beauty and cosmetic industry and as the average person still needing those beauty routines.
By now, I'm sure everyone is aware of the Corona virus. I'm sure you already know and understand what it is, how it is quickly transmitted and how deadly it can be. I'm not here to do a recap of the virus nor will I tell you that buying toilet paper is the smartest thing to do right now. The Corona virus is here and it is definitely changing more things than just how we interact with people. It's shaping our daily routine, how we look at ourselves and how we are making certain sacrifices for the sake of survival. So let's talk about how the Corona virus is changing the beauty industry because, after all, you can't look too pretty during an apocalypse right? Or can you?
I travel a lot every year to do pro bono work and to help train other practitioners. I was in Vietnam for six weeks and returned to the US in early December amid the early outbreak in Wuhan. I remember reading about it in the news and thought to myself, "this is just like that movie Contagion" and kind of laughed it off. Flash forward three months and supermarket store shelves are empty and people are punching each other in the face over toilet paper. As ridiculous as things may seem, that is the new reality we are facing. Businesses are closing, airlines are facing bankruptcy and the price for toilet paper and hand-sanitizers are skyrocketing.
This is my local Walmart taken on March 19, 2020. Normally the meat aisle is filled to the brim, but not in the age of the Corona Virus. Stores are limiting their hours and staff are short on patience as people hoard items so expect to purchase limited quantities and expect long lines when you do go.
The Corona virus is described as a much more intense version of the flu that is more contagious because its incubation period is much longer. It can infect a lot more people because most carriers do not show signs of contagion. In this day and age of social media, mobile phones and free wi-fi everywhere, bad news travels fast. Unlike SARS or the Ebola virus a decade back, our social media, press and global communications have made things a lot more viral (no pun intended). We get our news (whether it's credible or not) easily, fast and through a variety of sources. It strikes fear much faster than previous pandemics and people react much quicker.
As a species, we've faced much worse and survived. Whether it's the Spanish flu, the measles, H1N1, AIDS or anything else that will come after the Corona virus, we will pull through, learn, adapt and move on. These are trying times, yes, but it's also a time where we change for the better or worse. There's nothing like fear to change a person and their habits. When you have to make a choice between food on the table or getting your nails done, most people will obviously choose food. But is that really even an option?
I would say no. Things usually seem worse than they are when everyone reacts to bad news. Pandemics are worse when it's in a more populated city and it's rightfully so. But those of us in suburban or more rural areas with lower populations, life usually just goes on.
What it means for the average person
Whether it's day 1 or day 30 of the self-imposed quarantine, everyone has to continue on with their daily lives. We still need to shower, get our nails trimmed and our hair cut. While many small businesses will certainly close, there will still be others that will adapt and provide different products and services. We still need our daily fix of beauty and cosmetic products and services.
Changing Your Routine
Of course it's always better to get a professional to do it. If you normally get your nails done at the salon, now is the time to try to cut and trim it yourself and try something different. Certain things such as a hair cut and color, you will need someone professional to do it. While many are closed, there are a lot of providers out there that work on appointment only. As long as you know they are clear and safe, there's no reason to not book that appointment for a haircut or a facial. Most salons and spas are sanitized and cleaned on a daily basis and is fairly safe anyways.
Getting a tan in the age of the Corona virus means you may have to get creative.
Try Out New Products
You will be amazed with the amount of great beauty products out there. Many of us go to beauty spas and get facials or our pores cleaned, but the reality is that many of those "professional" products aren't much different from those that you can buy on Amazon or Walmart. You're basically paying someone else to do it for you. I'm not saying that you should stop doing facials altogether because there are benefits from having a professional do it. What I am saying is that now is a good time to try out different things and see what works. I am a man and, prior to getting in the beauty industry, never thought twice about using things like lotions and skin moisturizers. But now, as I do it as a profession, you understand how important it truly is to treat your skin better. I will do another blog post for some good recommendations that have worked well, but for now, try out some different skincare and basic beauty products to save yourself a trip and protect yourself.
Don't Lose Your Identity
There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good. It's an inherent quality all humans strive for. Who doesn't want to look good or better? As we face changes due to the Corona virus, we have to remember that it shouldn't change how we do things. We should learn and adapt to those changes, not give up on things entirely. Taking care of our hair and skin should be a given - we just do it differently now.
As a practitioner in the beauty and cosmetics industry, I can tell you that a lot of things have changed, not just for myself, but for many friends and peers in the industry - some for the better and some for the worse. Some microblading artists are closing up shop for social distancing, and others are closing because they couldn't afford rent and already struggling to get clients. For me personally, I feel blessed because I'm booked through the next month. I've had several new client cancellations here and there, but get new ones constantly to make up for those lost. The more interesting thing is that existing clients have booked more now because they are familiar with my usual procedures and what it entails. When you're required to stay home for several weeks and not see anyone, it's an opportune time to get any cosmetic work done during the down time.
Cosmetic Procedures are Safe By Nature
Beauty and cosmetic practitioners are generally safe by nature for several reasons. We are already required to practice safety by the Health Department and industry standard as a practitioner who deals with bloodborne pathogens and skin diseases. Those standards include:
By Appointment Only
I work by appointment only. Without talking or communicating with a potential client, no booking is made. Only when you talk to someone and understand their unique situation and needs can you truly help them with your product or service.
One on One
Once an appointment is made, whether it's for a consultation or a procedure, it's just me and that client only. No other receptionist, secretary or any other help staff or client. Also, due to the nature of the work, most people prefer discretion.
Both before and after every procedure and appointment, all surfaces are properly cleaned and sanitized with medical grade sanitizing solutions. We clean everything from the client chair to all table surfaces, equipment, door handles and anything that comes into contact with a client, both before and after.
Everything we use is already single use - from tattoo and microblading needles, gloves, masks, headrest and chair covers. All equipment is wrapped with plastic and disposed of each time and the surface is then sanitized again. We are required to properly wash our hands before and after each procedure and wear face masks and goggles as well.
Social distancing does not apply to what we do because, as practitioners, we would have already interviewed and gone through a medical background with the client or potential client. Like any doctor, we ask the questions that matter prior to any procedure to make sure the procedure is right and that they are in good health.
What the Corona Virus means for beauty practitioners
The Need for Change
You've heard it before, but sometimes it takes drastic measures to enforce change. As a result of social distancing and isolation, pollution levels around the globe have dropped drastically in the last few weeks. People are spending more time with their family and we are forced to think about our work and careers and how we interact with one another. As practitioners in the beauty and cosmetics industry, we are also faced to look at how we have done things in the past or how we will move forward.
We learn and adapt and that's what makes us unique. If your local gym is closed for social distancing, start working out at home with some push-ups and sit-ups. As a practitioner, I usually prefer in-person consultations so I can see the client's problem areas and skin conditions. I now do video-conferencing through phone apps and it works just as well. And, to be honest, I actually like it better because it saves much more time to travel and set aside time against a procedure booking. Every client I meet, I do a thorough check of their medical background and history to make sure each procedure is a good fit. This should be done with every client, but it's more important now than ever. As a practitioner, you should learn and adapt to the changing needs and situation to meet your client's environment.
They say that the strong survive and it's very true, especially in this field. If your quality of work is not good, you typically won't get that many customers or clients. It's even more true when people become more selective with their choices during a time of crisis. As practitioners, you should always be practicing and trying out new ideas. Now is the time and opportunity to do so. Whether it's practicing on silicone skin to perfect your microblading technique or taking better photos, now is the time to practice and practice some more. Clients will be more selective moving forward and having better skills can make all the difference.
While it may take some time, everything will eventually work itself out. Whether it is weeks, months or years, things will go back to normal. Some things will change for sure, but we must be ready to adopt the new standard. As practitioners, it may mean that we must take better precautions and adjust our routine of accepting clients and provide better screening. Adapting to new changes to better fit your practice will be crucial as new clients become more and more selective about getting cosmetic procedures done.
With any sort of change, there will be new laws, rules and regulations that will change our industry. You must keep up with the latest news and laws to make sure that both you and your client are safe. This should already be obvious, but sometimes it takes something like the Corona virus to make us remember that we deal with people on a daily basis and that having safe practices will benefit everyone in the long run.
Everything will sort itself out over time. Many non-essential services such as hairstylists, nail salons, restaurants and even entertainment, such as movie theaters and amusement parks are feeling the brunt of the Corona virus effect. Now that everyone is forced to stay in, use that time wisely and do the things you've always wanted to do. Whether it is learning a new skill, trying out a new food recipe, learning to play the piano. . . like Nike, just do it. Money you can always make back, but time, once it's lost, it's gone. We will get through this no matter, the only question is how long.