ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth Podcast: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. In part two of our series, Clean Hands, Safe Salons, we continue our conversation with Leslie Roste, the beauty industry’s leading infection control expert.
ASHLEY: Looking ahead to the day where we can provide and receive services again, we’ll review specific recommendations to prepare our salons. Let’s grow together.
JAIME: It’s been two weeks since we recorded our first interview with Leslie. Welcome back. Please tell us what you’ve been doing recently.
LESLIE: Oh, well, what haven’t I been doing? I have answered thousands of our customers’ questions about everything from, can I spray Barbicide on my produce? To, can I put it in a fogger and fog the back of an ambulance? It has been, truthfully, an incredible couple of weeks in terms of the questions I’ve gotten. But I did develop a back to work plan that I’m ready to share with the world that really would give people an idea of what they need to do when they’re ready to go back to work. How do I get my place of business ready to resume services? And then, what might I want to consider doing going forward, which oftentimes right now would be above and beyond what a state might require of somebody.
ASHLEY: So, Leslie, you’ve mentioned a preparation plan, and I’d love to hear more about that, as I’m sure our listeners would, as we all try to wrap our brains around getting back into the salons and back into our businesses.
LESLIE: The good news is is that you’ll probably, well maybe it’s bad news, I don’t know, but the good news is, in my mind, that you’ll have a little bit of lead time. It’s not, you’re not going to wake up one day and they’re going to say, okay, go back to work. You’re going to likely have, three to five days where your municipality or your state is going to say, it’s okay for you to go back into this business, this business, this business and some day, your number will come up and it’ll be your turn to go back to work. And so this back to work plan gives you sort of a guideline. It’s a checklist, actually, for how do I do that? What’s the first thing I do when I open the door again and go back in and I’m getting set up. Tomorrow’s a day I get to open. Today’s a day I’m preparing. It goes through a checklist of everything from your front door, to your reception area, to the place that you take payments, to the restroom that you might have inside your own business. It covers literally every nook and cranny we could think of, in terms of, how do I make it safe? What do I need to do? Now keep in mind that what we know about this virus right now today about surface transmission is that while the virus will live for a long period of time on surfaces, like plastic, for example. Right now we’re saying four days they can find live virus. It does not appear that the virus at four days is viable for transmission. That it’s perhaps not as viable as we thought. It doesn’t mean it’s totally safe, but it might not be as viable as we thought. That there is the real, sort of commanding idea today that 90% of the transmission is viral or respiratory droplets. That it is just being too close to somebody else, shaking hands, that kind of thing. While I want you to go in and do everything properly and get everything situated for your clients to start coming in and feel safe, I also don’t want you to have anxiety that you’re missing a little nook or a little cranny because likely the virus that’s there is likely not active after we’ve been gone for so long. I want you to go in and get everything taken care of. Think of little things like the magazines that maybe you have in your waiting area. Those probably should be put away, or put in the trash, really, and let’s not put them back out for a while. Because that’s something that I might read and then I sit down and somebody else picks it up and reads it. And if somebody comes in, even after you’ve opened, that is transmitting this virus, you don’t want that to happen. Things like self-serve coffee or tea areas where people go up and get their own coffee or tea or water. That might be something where you now offer that. If you want to give that to someone, would you like some water? Can I get you a cup of tea? But you go and do it. You’re the only one touching the machine. You’re putting gloves on when you do things that maybe you weren’t before. Maybe you’re putting gloves on when you go to get somebody a cup of coffee. And then always considering that your consumer now is wiser than they were two months ago about infection control. Everything that you learned and your education about infection control just became so important to your ongoing business. I talked to somebody the other day who, he was embarrassed. He had sort of, if you will, snuck out and found somebody who would cut his hair. A barbershop that was relatively small, was willing to cut his hair, trying to stay open outside of the orders that were in place, the stay at home orders. And he said, I sat there ,and I noticed while I was waiting, how dirty the place really was. He said, I’ve never noticed things like that before. He said, I noticed everything that didn’t look like it was being done correctly. And I think that’s going to transfer to all the services in this industry. That people are going to pay attention to how we do our jobs now. This back to work plan tells you what to do before a consumer comes in the door. It has a sign that you can use to put in your window, or at your station, that says, here’s what I’ve done to make this a safer experience for you, acknowledging that some people may have fear. I think the best thing you can do, and I didn’t write this in the document, but I would say this to all of your listeners, is to acknowledge that a consumer may come in and have some hesitation, but may not be willing to share their concerns with you. They don’t want to embarrass you. They don’t want to embarrass themselves. So sharing with them what you’ve done, saying, wow, it was really, you know, kind of a little bit scary coming back in here and making sure everything was correctly done. I want to make sure that this is the safest experience that you can have. These are the things we’ve done. Just starting to figure out how you can have that conversation so that if somebody has a question, they can ask it, and not feel embarrassed about that question. I should say the other, the second part of the document is a, it’s called going forward. It’s what should we be doing every day. Obviously there’s rules in every state, but most of them are woefully inadequate for what we are going through right now. There are some best practices in there that are probably over and above, but I did have Jaime’s help. I sent it out to some of my most trusted people in each of the disciplines in the industry, and had them put their eyes on it and say, hey, did I miss something? And Jaime helped me with some things that I might have missed, or might have maybe not put in the best terms possible. So I’ve got an expert on it.
ASHLEY: I’m so excited to read that because you actually touched on several of the questions we had for you in this interview, just to kind of allay some of the fears that I know a lot of beauty professionals are having right now with, especially, that client communication piece. It can definitely be awkward when you as a client, go in for a service and ask questions about how things were cleaned and what steps the provider is taking to make sure you’re safe, they’re safe, et cetera. And, if anything, I think the situation is going to create a better dialogue, or maybe a more productive dialogue around that, and take away some of the stigma, the assumptions that can be made with having that conversation. So I love that that’s been addressed by some type of like point of sale card or something like that. So how does somebody get their hands on that plan?
LESLIE: So the plan just got finalized yesterday and certainly it will be on our website, which is at Barbicide.com. But certainly, I’m trying to get it out to different organizations who have a social media or website presence that want to post it. Really, it’s available to any organization that wants to post it, but it will definitely be on Barbicide.com so if you don’t have another avenue to get it, it will be there. I want to circle back really quick to what you said about the dialogue. If you’ve ever heard me speak, over the years, I have had this one part of my presentation when I speak to people, that I think is very salient right now. And this circles back to just how to get comfortable talking to consumers about what we do to protect them. And my mother had a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer about 15 years ago. And when they do a mastectomy, they remove, or a lumpectomy, we remove the lymph nodes that run through a woman’s, her armpit. If that woman gets any type of an injury in that hand, she can get, as many of you know, a condition called lymphedema. It’s a permanent condition. It causes excruciatingly bad swelling very frequently in that limb, whichever limb is affected. So when I was a nurse and we would discharge a patient who had had a mastectomy or lumpectomy, we would say, never let anyone stick a needle in that arm, no blood draws, no immunizations. Never let anybody put a blood pressure cuff on that arm. Never garden without a glove on that hand. We were telling that patient of ours, please protect this arm. And so when I entered this industry to do some education, whenever I would have anybody in front of me that did nails, I would say, you’re not going to ask every client that comes through here whether they’ve had a mastectomy or lumpectomy. But I guarantee you those clients are nervous when they sit down. Because my own mother, what I observed with her is, that was back at the day of everybody getting acrylic nails, and my mom had acrylic nails. And she came home from the hospital and she was terrified to go get her nails done and I said, have a conversation with the person doing your nails. Ask them what they’re doing to make sure that if you do get nicked, know, or get a little, the nipper clips your skin or whatever, whatever happens, that they’re not also introducing bacteria that could cause you to have lymphedema. And she was so hesitant that she just quit getting her nails done. And she was probably the most loyal customer. Every two weeks she was in that chair. Guess what? She just quit doing it because she was so uncomfortable asking the question. She did not want to make her nail tech feel uncomfortable. I think this will be no different. People want to ask you what you’re doing. They want to know you’re providing a safe service, but they’re too embarrassed to ask. It is on you to start the conversation and say, it made me uncomfortable to come back out in public. It made me uncomfortable, even to come back into the salon as I’ve been stuck at home and I feel safe there. We’ve all gotten to feeling safe there. I bet you feel the same way. But once I got going and I realized I was doing everything I was taught in school, and I was disinfecting everything properly and it just reminded me how important that is. I was always doing it, but I want you to know that I find that really important too. I think starting that conversation will help you to not get some attrition from people that might stay away cause they’re just afraid.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I think that’s super important, just to be ready for that conversation and have those answers in your back pocket. And offer that before you’re asked because it’s, everybody’s feeling this sense of unease right now and coming back into it, or they’re on the other side of the pendulum, swinging wildly, that they’re, you know, they’re still wondering why this is all even happening, or why we’re making such a big deal out of it.
JAIME: Some beauty professionals would start the conversation by having clients fill out a consultation form where they’re expecting the client to list medications, illnesses, other things that, in my mind, as a salon owner, I would be concerned about collecting because of HIPAA rules. Any concerns there, Leslie?
LESLIE: Well, I’m not a fan of consultation forms in this industry, for a different reason. The rules of HIPAA do not apply to anyone outside of healthcare. So if you work for a medical provider, if you work for an insurance that collects information, those types of things, HIPAA applies to you. In the rest of the world, I can ask you anything I want. I can ask you about your sex life. I can ask you about your drug use. I can ask you anything I want. If you want to answer me, awesome. If you don’t, that’s fine too. But the reason I don’t like consultation forms, and I always say it when people ask me this question. You need to think about the liability you’re creating for yourself when you ask those questions. If what you say to me is, what medications are you taking? And you’re looking for the three that might impair my immune system, or whatever three you’re looking for, or four you’re looking for, but if I write down 20 meds and you don’t know the other 17. Look, it doesn’t absolve you of that anymore. You asked me for that information and if I get injured and I’m sitting in the witness box while I’m suing you, and I say, well, I gave her all the meds I was on. And she says, well, I didn’t know these other 17. You asked the question. You’re now accountable for the information. If you asked me what diseases I have, what I’ve been treated for, and I write down something that you don’t understand, that you don’t know how that affects my immune system, or how that affects some part of my body, you’re still accountable. You asked for the information and you’re implying that you know what to do with it. What I would suggest in this industry is if you want to do a health consultation or a, health history, whatever that is you want to call it, iIs that you ask closed ended questions like this. Have you ever taken a medication, or are you currently on a medication, that a doctor or pharmacist told you would make your skin more sensitive to sunlight? That’s a good question. that tells you that that drug affects their skin, right? Have you now or are you currently taking a medication that your doctor or pharmacist said might make you more prone to infection? Those types of questions don’t ask for the exact drug you’re taking. They just say, what do you know about your health care? Or have you been diagnosed with a disease that might impair your immune system or your ability to fight infection? Those are yes/no questions that help guide you, but don’t make you have a liability for a lot of information that you probably don’t know what to do with. And I would remind people, look, this is all of your businesses are private businesses. You can turn away anybody you want. If somebody comes in and they look like there’s an open sore on them, even if it’s not in an area you’re working on, it makes me suspicious that something else is going on. You can deny a service. They might not like it. And if you are the employee and your manager might not like it. But it is the right thing to do if you are suspicious that somebody has something contagious.
ASHLEY: I guess looking into your crystal ball, do you anticipate any regulatory changes coming down the pike, just based on what we know now and everybody’s renewed interest in infection control?
LESLIE: So I was on a call at the beginning of the week with a lot of executive directors from about 18 states, their boards of cosmetology and barbering. They’re all having the same issues. You know, they’re all trying to do licensing while their offices are closed. They’re trying to do testing while their offices are closed. So getting to the place of what’s going to happen when we’re open is really not even in their crosshairs yet because they’re really just trying to figure out how to do the every day things that are still piling up on them in every single state right now. But I think as we go forward, you have to remember that about half the states require the legislature to change their rules. The boards can’t implement anything without a bill going through their legislature that changes their rules. So those states would be in a real slow mode going forward. The states that can implement change, they have the authority at the board level, I think we will see some things come out that will be very quickly implemented as soon as everybody goes back to work. There will probably be recommendations in the other states. I think the most likely things you’ll see are recommendations or rules to wear gloves, particularly in the nail market when you’re doing nails. Obviously, most people already wear gloves when they’re doing pedicures and pedicures are less of a risk than nails right now in the nail market. I think you’ll see recommendations to wear a mask in the nail market, both the licensee and the consumer. I think that that will be, probably, a recommendation. I think there will be a recommendation, certainly in the esthetics market, for masks to be worn by the provider. I think the provider will have to wear masks. Most of them already wear gloves, but I think there’ll be some more definitive recommendations with that. I don’t think that we’re very far off from just seeing a general recommendation. I would guess that by maybe Monday or Wednesday of next week, we’re going to see that the CDC and the World Health Organization are probably going to come out with recommendations, much like Los Angeles and New York, that we all wear masks when we go out in public, so that those mask recommendations won’t be that far off. One of the things I would like people to be more conscious of, whether there’s a rule or not, is that most people who are wearing gloves right now, including how cosmetologists were wearing them prior to this, is not correct. I want people to think about the fact that if, as a nurse, you would not want me to wear the same pair of gloves into your room, that I wore in somebody else’s room. You would know that that was wrong. If I walked into your patient room and I had gloves on, and went to touch you, you would think, well, that’s not right. She was just in the other room touching somebody else, or touching something else. So remembering that gloves, as hard as they’re going to be to get for a while, are a single use item. I bring my client in. I set them down for the service. I go wash my hands. Maybe they are going to wash their hands now, however that works out. Maybe they’re going to use hand sanitizer, whatever. And then I’m going to put gloves on, and I’m only going to work with that single client. And as soon as I’m done with that client service, those gloves are going to come off and go in the trash and I’m going to get a new pair of gloves. You know, I saw a lady at the grocery store the other day. She had gloves on and she was walking around touching everything. She was touching the apples, She was touching the cartons of milk. She was touching all these other things and she was touching all her groceries. You know, there’s no difference between that and just your regular skin except for the fact that now she has these gross gloves that she’s probably, by the way, from the look of them, had been wearing all day everywhere she went, and it makes us forget the importance of hand washing and changing your gloves for each new task you’re doing.
ASHLEY: Well, I’m wondering as well if we’ll even see regulation extend to common areas in salons, you know, as opposed to best practices with regard to one time use and disposables, but also creating the umbrella over the entire salon, as opposed to, maybe, just the workstation or the treatment room. But I’ve seen glove misuse even before this with having gloves on coming into the room, and then touching things like the light switch and the buttons on any type of machine you use for treatment, and then bringing those gloved hands over to the client and touching their skin and things like that, which I’ve always been that person to say, could you please put on a new pair of gloves? I even noticed that sometimes at the dentist’s office where if they’re not putting a shield over some of the machines they’re using and still touching it with a gloved hand, and then that gloved hand goes into your mouth.
LESLIE: Yes, or pen to write a note about your treatment that who knows where that pen’s been and then they put, yeah, I totally agree with you. I think there will probably have to be some guidelines that come out for this industry on glove usage. I think another simple thing that may come out, there’s been conversation about it, and as simple as it sounds, it could be, really have big impact on transmission of particularly a viral illnesses, is I think states are going to start encouraging and, even parts of the industry like barbering, for example, where they don’t use an appointment based system, that these types of services all start to go to an appointment based system so that you do not have people sitting around waiting all in one area. So that now if you normally did a service that would take an hour, let’s say, instead of scheduling a 10 o’clock and an 11 o’clock, you would schedule a 10 o’clock and maybe like 11:15. That would give you time to actually properly disinfect everything before the next service. And there’s lots of conversation about just the staggering of appointments being something that could be really helpful in reducing how many people are in one place at a single time.
JAIME: I want to take that staggering statement just a step further. Should we be recording every person we work on? Should there be a record of who’s been seen in a salon?
LESLIE: Well it’s interesting that you would ask that question, Jaime, because one of the things that when you are tracking a virus becomes really important is knowing who came into contact with who. And when you start to look at industries where there is no tracking, let’s say in a grocery store, for example, you could go back and look at everyone’s credit cards and see who had been there, but there’d be people that paid cash and there’ll be a second person that’s with that person, that kind of thing. And it makes it much more difficult to try to find the people who have been exposed and ensure that they get quarantined depending on what the illness of the day is, that whatever has supposed to happen happens. I do think that there will be a push to start tracking who we’re seeing, just if nothing else with a name and a phone number, just in case. I think, I think that’s a good point. That could happen.
JAIME: I know these rules exist to mitigate risk, and I’ve heard you speak often enough to know that that’s one of the things that you talk about often, but from a health and safety perspective, will our industry ever be pandemic proof?
LESLIE: That’s the unfortunate thing about this industry. There is really no way to do any of these services with social distancing. And the reality is, is that any pandemic that, that sweeps the world, or even just North America, will always be viral. It’s just the nature of how bacterias and viruses work differently. First off, just a simple little primer is that bacteria in your body I can kill because I can develop an antibiotic or I can use an antibiotic that targets that bacteria. You’ve learned that back in cosmetology school, but just as a reminder that I can treat most bacterial infections with a medication, even when that bacteria is in your body. The problem with a viral threat is that viruses live in your healthy tissue. It’s why we can’t kill them. An antiviral drug only reduces the symptoms. It doesn’t actually kill the virus. The only thing that kills the virus is your own immune system. So every pandemic that we are likely to ever see in the world is always going to be viral. The vast majority of viral illnesses are spread through respiratory droplets. That distancing actually really does make a difference. I do think there will be some things that we will start to see change just naturally. I think handshaking, for example, will go by the wayside. When we all come back to whatever our normal ends up being, I think handshaking will go by the wayside, and Jaime has heard me speak enough to know that I would be happy as a clam with that. I am not a fan of handshaking ever, ever, ever. So I think we’ll see a few of the social distancing things stay in place. We’ll just all get so used to it. I said to somebody, I may have said it on this podcast, it’ll become like taking your shoes off at the airport. It’s just what we do. You know, it seems so weird the first few times you did it, but now you walk in and you wear the shoes that are the easiest to get on and off, right? Because that’s what we do when we go to an airport, and I think we’ll start seeing some of the things in the professional beauty industry start to reflect that. I think we’ll start to be accepting of I need to have an appointment. I think the licensees will start to be cognizant of I need to demonstrate what I’m doing to make somebody safe. We’ll quit shaking hands. We will probably figure out other ways to do payment. I’ve seen a few posts and people talking out there about paying in advance, like having an appointment scheduling system where I could go in and pay my appointment, you know if I was getting my hair cut and colored. It’s a set amount. I could pay it before you even walk in the door or after I’m done. Apple pay, I think, you know, I, I never used Apple pay to be honest, cause I was just too lazy to put it on my phone and I’ve been using Apple pay like crazy because now I don’t have to touch anything. I just put my phone right up there and I pay. I think that we’ll start to see some things there, but the actual services that you guys provide are really impossible with social distancing. This kind of is taking us in a different turn here, but I want to not forget it, and that is that, in every state right now there are bills being introduced to deregulate this industry in some way, shape, or form. And certainly in the nails and skin market, we see that hours have been significantly reduced to almost an unbearably low number in almost every state. And one of the things that is becoming problematic with this pandemic is the proliferation, if you will, on social media of professionals offering to give you kits to do your own things at home, whether it’s your color already mixed up with a piece of paper with instructions and you come pick it up and pay $25, and then you go home and color your own hair. I saw somebody recently putting dip, the nail powder, putting them in little small containers. You can come pick up your own, dip your own oligomer, I think is what’s used with that. I don’t know. Jaime will correct me, I’m sure, but whatever it is, but you pick up your own. I’ve seen facial kits where you pick up your own. The big problem here is that you aren’t the only one seeing that. There are lots of people out there seeing these social media posts. And one of the arguments I hear over and over again in testimony in states is, my wife can go buy a color kit at Target to color her own hair. She doesn’t get hurt. Why do you have to have a license to do this? And if, what all these professionals are doing is handing it out for anybody to do, then what you’re saying is, oh, I don’t have to be professional to do it. I don’t have to have gone to school there. It’s really not that dangerous. There’s no risk here. And I think it will come back to bite this industry when all of this settles down and all those deregulation bills start back up again. So I would caution anyone listening. If you know someone who’s doing that in your industry, if you see it on social media, to private message, that person and say, look, this just makes it look like anybody can do our job and that is not being lost on the people who want to deregulate this industry.
ASHLEY: That’s really good to know and I agree with you. I think that there’s quite a bit of scrambling happening and everyone’s just trying to figure out what crack they can settle into in order to continue some semblance of normalcy. But giving out professional product to a client to, to do it at home, it, it absolutely cuts you out of the equation as the professional. And that’s incredibly discouraging, but it also, it’s correct. It’s what should be done, or you wouldn’t do this under normal circumstances. So kind of on that vein, what do you find to be the most encouraging and discouraging aspects of this situation? What have you personally seen and what do you want to share with our audience and beyond as sort of guiding principles as they move forward?
LESLIE: So I’ve seen a lot of encouraging things in this industry, certainly in our, all of our own personal lives. And I think what I find really encouraging is yesterday I was on a call with a lot of leaders who are trying to prepare,as crazy as it sounds, for America’s Beauty Show in 2021. And there is a disaster relief fund that PBA has started for people who have lost their businesses or may lose their businesses through this. And I see that the leaders of the industry are really pulling together to try to do what they can to help the professionals out there who are just trying to like make it through. And I’m encouraged that I see communities coming together. I personally had an appointment to get a pedicure about a week before we all went on our lockdowns and my mother lives with us, and so I wasn’t really comfortable going out and I called the salon and I said, I’m not going to be there. But I do want to pay for my service. I budget for this service, and I want her to get her money. So I want to pay her and I want to give her a tip, like I would if I came. And at the end of the week, my husband had a haircut appointment and I did the same thing. And my mom posted it on Facebook and she said she was so proud of me. Interesting thing is how many people told me that they went and did the exact same thing because they’d never thought of it. It was an idea they hadn’t thought of. And people are trying to figure out how to help their neighbors and that I find very encouraging and I find that this industry, it will come back and it will come back so strong. We did a Zoom happy hour last night cause my daughter finished nursing school yesterday and so we’ve got the whole family on and they were all making fun of each other’s hair, how long it was, and the colors that were starting to come out. And I showed my toenails to somebody. I know one of my kids. And I think that we’re all ready for these services to come back and I think that everyone who works in this industry should be encouraged by the fact that you’re not going away. And if anything, everybody really respects now what you do for them, how it makes them feel, to look good and feel good. And the lines are going to be long, and you may be working seven days a week all summer long to make up for this, but it will be there. The business will be there. People haven’t forgotten what it feels like to have a good service done. People will be back in droves. I think the discouraging thing that I find is that there are not enough people who are being adherent to these stay at home orders. There are people that are taking it lightly and it will drag it on for all of us. Somebody posted it’s like having all the kids get time taken off their recess for two unruly children, and that is what it’s like. If you are in a community where there is not a stay at home order, that you can’t stay home, please do. If you’re in a community where there is a stay at home orders, stay home. Don’t let your kids go out and play basketball with five other kids that live in five other homes. We all need to be behaving like everyone who lives in our own home is one person. And if, if any of us leave, it’s like we all left the house, right? There’s no cheating on that. We can’t cheat on it, and the sooner we all get on board with it, the sooner this will all be over. In states where they have really gotten on board with it, and it’s interesting if you’ve seen on the news lately, they’re tracking all of us by our cell phones, seeing how far we’re all moving. In the states where the average citizen is moving less than two miles a day, and they’re watching that on our cell phones in those states, the numbers are starting to level out. It is working. It just takes time. So, going forward, I would encourage everybody to follow the rules of your state that are in place. If you know something as a best practice, even if it’s not in the rules, just do it. Do the right thing. It makes you feel better and makes your consumer feel better. Don’t wait for a rule to do the right thing.
JAIME: We’re licensed as beauty professionals, not medical professionals like you are, Leslie. How do you feel about efforts to extend our scope of practices beyond what they were originally intended for, which were beauty services? I’ve seen a number of people say, well, don’t worry about what I do. I’m taking all these extra precautions. I’m following best practices, and yet I fee,l from my perspective, they are crossing a line from beauty over to medical where we’re not licensed to offer those kinds of services.
LESLIE: Well, I certainly have a thought on that. And writing for the textbooks, one of the things that I have really been going to the mat for on curriculum, in general, in this industry is to reduce the amount of medical knowledge that we’re putting in there: how to recognize this skin disorder. Because my fear is that we are just making people a little bit dangerous. That we aren’t giving you enough information to do a job that is medical in nature. And the perfect example I give people all the time is, when I’m doing a presentation, I play this game called service or refer. And I show slides of different conditions, and I say, do you want to give a service to this client, or do you want to refer them to the doctor? Say, hey, I can’t provide a service. You need to go; go see a doctor. One of the slides that I show, probably get about 50% of the audience, and in fact, crazily enough, the longer someone’s been around in this industry, the more likely they are to say, I’ll do a service. That looks like a wart that looks like a mole. I’ll do the service. But in fact, the picture is a malignant melanoma. Somebody will die if they do not see a doctor. I do not want you diagnosing people. I do not want you to think you have enough education to diagnose people because, if I go to the dermatologist who does it all day every day, you never walk in and have the dermatologist go, yep, that’s malignant melanoma. What does the dermatologist say? The dermatologist says, well, let me look at it. He gets out his little magnifying glass and his light, and then he says, I’m going to take a scrape and I’m going to send it to the lab, right? We’re going to send it so someone else can look at it under a microscope and tell us what it is. So even that person who has all that medical training and does it all day, every day doesn’t try to diagnose people. And what scares me a little bit is that we give you enough information in cosmetology school to make you think that you can make a diagnosis. And if you miss that, if you’re trying to diagnose whether it’s a wart, or a mole, or malignant melanoma, you may just kill somebody. I would rather you look at somebody and say, I don’t know what that is, but they should go to a doctor. I don’t know is okay to say. And when I come in for a beauty service, I do not expect you to diagnose me. I do not expect you to tell me that what is on me is okay or not okay. I expect you, if you notice something that you think maybe I don’t see, to point out to me so that I can make a decision whether or not to go to a doctor. But nothing scares me more than to have this industry lapsing a little bit into medicine because if you miss something, it could be enormous, particularly in the hair market where I cannot see the top of my head, I cannot see behind my ears. I cannot see the back of my head. I’m counting on you to say something looks amiss here. Go see a doctor. Not to just say, oh, I guess it’s a mole and let me go.
ASHLEY: Touching on what you were saying about beauty school curricula and the amount of medical information that we’re given, on the flip side of that, Leslie, do you think there’s going to be, in the next few years, a renewed focus on infection control and the Holy Trinity of cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization? And what do you think that’ll look like, especially as someone who is so well known for creating that curricula?
LESLIE: So here’s what I would love to see. I would love to see us take out stuff that I feel like is not useful on a daily basis. So take things out like memorizing all the bones in the body or memorizing all the names of muscles. Knowing those names does not make you a better professional and, or safer for sure, in any way, shape, or form. I have challenged boards across the country. How does that make somebody safer at their job to know the name of a bone or the name of a muscle? I want you to know how muscles work. Awesome. I want you to know that, but I don’t want to waste your time on what their names are. There’s no way you can retain it. You’re not using it enough. And what I’d like to see it replaced with is a really renewed focus on what you call the Holy Trinity of cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization. What can be cleaned. What can be disinfected. What can be sterilized. When is it appropriate? As a side note to that, chemical safety, because one of the things we’ve not spent enough time on, in my opinion, in this industry, is talking about safe use of chemicals, particularly when it comes to infection control. How do I read a label? How do I know what I should or shouldn’t mix together? I literally got an email yesterday from an esthetic student who, her instructor, who’s been an instructor for over 30 years, told them to make their own wipes using equal parts of Barbicide, alcohol, vinegar, and Fabuloso.
LESLIE: Literally, my eyes almost fell out of my head when I read it. I thought, who thought that was a good idea to mix all these chemicals together? If we have instructors that are out there telling people that that’s okay, we have a big problem. I mean, we are not being adherent to the rules of safe use of chemicals, of reading labels. That deserves much more air time in our schools and in our textbooks than memorizing the bones in the body. I just, I cannot make an argument for that, but I can surely make an argument for making you safer with the chemicals that you have to use every day. And helping you to understand, when do I need to use a chemical and when is it okay not to? I had somebody yesterday who wanted to spray their couch with Barbicide. I’m like, can’t disinfect your couch and you’re just gonna ruin the fabric. You know, there are some things that you, you just, you have to understand the difference between what can be cleaned and disinfected and what might need to be sterilized. So I agree with you. That could be my favorite new topic in curriculum.
JAIME: Sounds like a good followup topic for another podcast because we could spend hours talking about removing the information that’s not pertinent to what we do on a daily basis because it’s not so much learning about something, but actually changing people’s behaviors and when students become licensees, ensuring that they’re complying with the rules and doing those best practices every single time, even if it’s expensive or time consuming.
LESLIE: Yes. I would actually like to see the state board exams be modified in such a way that part of the exam is demonstrating that you know how to read a label, that you know how to use a chemical safely. You know how to mix it safely. That you understand the difference between what can be disinfected and what cannot. Because quite frankly, if I’m going to be really honest, so many schools I go into to present, I feel like the instructors, maybe. You know, here’s the deal. If you didn’t learn it correctly, you’re not going to teach it correctly. And so, for that instructor that mixed together all the chemicals in her little mixture there, look, she’s been doing it for 30 years and 30 years ago, she might’ve been instructed by somebody that that was okay. But the reality is, there’s quite a list of things that if you mix vinegar with it could kill you. Bleach is one of them. If you mix bleach and vinegar together and it’s chlorine bleach, it will kill you, the gas. So it’s not, to me, a waste of time to make people more cognizant of the things they’re doing that do create a safety hazard and quit trying to diagnose people. Just send everyone to the doctor, and start really honing in on those aspects of science that are really applicable and how do we apply them, to your point, every single time we do a service, and I do think that your consumers will start driving that to some extent now.
JAIME: We’ll never have to explain what PPE is again.
LESLIE: No. PPE, or disinfect, or even contact time. I’ve heard people say contact time recently on TV and I’m like, oh, someone just said contact time. I’m so excited. It is great because everybody in our nation is getting an education on cleaning versus disinfection, and not so much sterilization cause that’s not really being talked about but, because we’re all trying to do it in our own homes, on a grocery cart, you know, those kinds of things, we’re all becoming much more aware of it.
JAIME: I want to give you this opportunity to address UV light and products that are marketed as a sterilizer that use UV light.
LESLIE: You probably have heard me say a million times that UV light is not appropriate for disinfection and certainly not for sterilization in this industry. The thing with UV light, first off, UV light in the United States is only approved for disinfection in large volumes of water. So that might be in your water treatment plant, for example. There may be a big blue light going through it, and that’s all right. It’s not approved for anything like a salon setting, and likely never will be. I saw the other day on TV that they’re trying in hospital rooms to use UV light. Aand the way that UV light would work, if it were to disinfect, is it would have to be a proper watt of bulb. It would have to be the proper distance based on what it’s trying to disinfect. It might be a shorter distance from the bulb to a piece of plastic, an even shorter distance to a piece of metal. It would be varied based on what you’re trying to disinfect. It would have to be for a specific amount of time that may be much longer than, let’s say, 10 minutes of using a disinfectant that you might already be using. There will never be a single box you could put everything in, in this environment, that would be a.) cost effective and b.) time effective, for us to use in disinfection. One of the things I run into all the time is people saying they use autoclaves, which that’s awesome if you use one, but if you use one and you’re using it properly, you know that it takes a very long time to do a small number of implements, right? They have to run the whole cycle and they have to cool down. And so you have to have lots of implements to make that work. And disinfection, if it ever came about with UV light, would be much the same way. So while we might figure out a way to do it in healthcare where they can afford the cost of doing it, it will almost likely never come to this end of the market. That said, I could go right now and type in on my Google search engine, salon UV sterilizer, and 500 results would come up, of things I could buy that say on them, sterilizers, super duper sterilizers, sterilizer 5,000 whatever they say on them, implying that they are a sterilization or disinfection item, and that is just absolutely not the case. That is the reason that the most popular new rule in states is to ban UV light boxes in their entirety. Most states won’t even let you have one. States that have written these rules will not let you have one, even in your place of business, because what some people will say is, I’m going to disinfect and then store my implements in there. And they don’t even want you to do that because it confuses a consumer. If it says sterilizer on there, and what you do is pull out a plastic pouch, and tear it open, and it looks like you just are getting ready for surgery. You may have confusion with your consumer thinking, oh, these implements are sterile when in fact, if you haven’t disinfected them before you put them in there, they may not even be clean. So we’re seeing lots of rules around getting rid of UV light boxes, just because they do imply something has happened that definitely has not happened.
ASHLEY: Oh, I could talk all day about those toaster ovens but what key takeaways would you say that Barbicide has made during this pandemic? And how will it really drive the company’s mission moving forward? Are new products coming out? Is there an increased demand in specific things, or anything that’s surprising?
LESLIE: Increased demand, definitely. We sold more hand sanitizer in one day last week, or two weeks ago, then we sold in five years, and we are selling, every day, the same number of wipes that we typically sell in two months, we’re selling every day right now. It’s been very difficult to keep up, and in fact, about a week ago, we switched our plants over and we are only selling it to health care right now. So we’re selling into five different hospital systems. A lot of it’s being donated. I should say that some’s being donated, some’s being, is being sold. It depends on how things work out in the different health care systems. Because most of the salons around the country are shutdown. So, while those businesses are our main, bread and butter, if you will. While that’s shut down, we are selling into health care. We are going back to retooling so that we can sell back into the salon environment, probably within the next week. We are going to try to develop some kits so that somebody could just buy a box that has everything they need to go back and open up their salon. Like literally, if they don’t remember what they had, they don’t remember if it’s expired, maybe they used it all before they left, it would be ready to go. One of the new products we are coming out with is a hand sanitizer. So what happened was the FDA sort of loosened up on the rules around hand sanitizer, just so more of it could get out in the marketplace. For example, here there’s a distillery that makes, I think they make vodka and gin, and right now they’re making hand sanitizer and if you get their hand sanitizer, it’s very watery. The old FDA standards would not have allowed for a watery based hand sanitizer. It would’ve had to been more of a gel. But you’re going to start seeing more of these liquidity types of substances because of the loosening of those restrictions. And so one of the things that we are developing, which actually kind of came out to be a cool thing, is these dispensers that you would put hand sanitizer in, that the bottle sits upside down, almost like a soap dispenser in a bathroom, and you just stick your hand under and you just get a mist of it. You just get a little mist of it. So instead of you having to pump something to get gel out, now you’re just getting a mist of hand sanitizer on your hands in a predetermined amount. So those are kind of cool that I think might work out well and, for example, like in nail salons where your client could just stick their hand under and get enough hand sanitizer to make their hands ready for you to work with. We are seeing a ton of demand and hopefully we’re going to be able to keep up and make sure everybody has what they need to go back to work. Barbicide certification, I think on your last podcast we talked about it. We’re doing about, we usually do about 10,000 of those a month. We’re doing about 10,000 a day right now on our website. It’s free of charge. It takes about 40 minutes for most people to do it. It’s, it’s a refresher on, am I doing the right things? But it does give you a certificate you can print out at the end that you might want in your salon now for someone to look at and say, hey, they did this extra thing. We also just ordered in an extra 30,000 of the window clings that you can put on your window that say your Barbicide certified sort of like you would, you know, I accept Visa or MasterCard, whatever it is you put on your door, into your place of business. These would go on saying that your members of your salon had become Barbicide certified. So that’s another thing that distribution, I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to happen, but certainly if you check with Barbicide on our website, Barbicide.com, we can, we’ll be getting those window clings out to people.
JAIME: I did that process yesterday, and it was less than 10 minutes.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s cause you’re really smart.
JAIME: Leslie, to clarify, the products themselves don’t have an expiration date, is that correct? And then Barbicide uses distributors to send out product. Consumers and salons can’t order directly from the Barbicide website.
LESLIE: So Barbicide concentrate does not have an expiration date. It has no shelf life, so you can use it. You still have a bottle you bought 10 years ago. Open it up, concentrate it correctly, and follow the 10 minute contact time, you’re good to go. Wipes and hand sanitizer do have expiration dates. The wipes will probably dry up before they would expire. Hand sanitizer has an expiration date that is set by the FDA, so those two products do have expiration dates on them. We do sell to, through distribution. We do not sell direct. I will say, about the time the news started talking about this virus potentially starting to spread and spread around the globe, we did start selling our wipes direct online. We are also selling the student kit, we call it. So you’d go do the Barbicide certification. At the end, when you pass your test, it gives you an option to buy a kit. I think it’s like $30, 29.99, something like that, that has a little bit of everything in it to sort of get you started. We called it a student kit cause it’s mostly students buying it. That, that is also sold direct. I am not sure how this situation, this crisis will change how we go to market. It could be that we do start offering more things direct online and our online store simply because, one of the things that has happened for everybody, food, and everybody else, is that supply chain weaknesses have become very, very, much magnified in this crisis. So if you have any sort of issue in your supply chain, it becomes a huge problem. And one of the issues that we have in our supply chain right now is that we make it in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we send it to a warehouse. But if no one’s at that warehouse to accept the shipment, I mean, it doesn’t get to anybody’s stores. It doesn’t. You can’t go and buy it because the warehouse is closed. So one of the benefits of us allowing people to buy it directly from us may be that in a crisis like this, that we are better prepared to send things out directly to consumers when the supply chain has some missing links in it in a situation like this.
ASHLEY: So I guess kind of as a wrap up, Leslie, if you could just share with us, in your opinion what you think one thing every beauty professional can do to better prepare their spaces, their services, their businesses for safety, moving forward.
LESLIE: My biggest key takeaway is when you first go back into your salon, the first day you go back in, there’s no customers there. You’re just getting prepared to go back to work. It’s just you. Take an assessment and just look around. Take a moment and think, what are the areas I haven’t thought of before? What are the things that are high contact areas I’m not thinking of on a daily basis because I’m so busy? What are things I can do that will mitigate, not only the risk for my client that comes in, but for everybody who works for me? That if everybody in your salon gets sick, then you’re closing your salon again. That’s not beneficial to anybody. I think that that would be my biggest takeaway is to really just take a moment. Don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t take the time to really assess what needs to happen in your place of business to make it safe, whether it is simply cleaning things on a regular basis, or disinfecting your hard, nonporous surfaces, or even using your autoclave for things that you might not have used it for before, you know, that kind of thing, if you have an autoclave. So I think just take a breath. Know that this will all come back and you, you have to go in with the renewed belief in why you do infection control. You have to believe that it’s valuable, and by believing it’s valuable, you will do it correctly.
JAIME: Based on the notes I’ve been scribbling throughout both interviews we’ve done with you, Leslie, I certainly hope that you’d be willing to come back and follow up with us on these other issues we’ve discussed, even after this is over.
LESLIE: Well, I, I don’t know. Of course I will. I love education. That was my favorite part of being a nurse was taking something that was complicated and trying to make it so that I could talk to a whole family at once and everybody would feel comfortable with the information. And I do love working in this industry. It was a while in the making, but in terms of me feeling uncomfortable, but I do feel comfortable in the conversations that I want to have with people and also in what I’m promoting in terms of changes in curriculum, and that type of thing. I do feel comfortable that what I’m saying does make sense in the, in the bigger scheme of things. So I’m always happy to talk about it.
ASHLEY: Well, I’m thrilled with all of this information. I know our listeners will be as well. Leslie, you are such a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of this and I wish it wasn’t in such a net negative situation that you are shining for us and, and being such a great beacon of knowledge and action for everyone in our industry. So thank you for this and for your time, of course. And I look forward to many more interviews and much more conversation.
LESLIE: Yup. Thank you so much for having me.
JAIME: We’ve covered lots of information in this podcast. Please check our show notes for the links that you’ll find most useful. And also, please subscribe, rate, and review Outgrowth on your favorite podcast platform. It helps us reach more listeners like you. Until next time.