ASHLEY: Hey everybody, Ashley here. Before we jump into the episode, Jaime and I just want to thank you, all of our listeners, for the overwhelming response to Outgrowth and the positive feedback that we’ve been receiving since our launch in late February. Many of you have reached out to us behind the scenes and the overarching theme really seems to be one of community and feeling like you finally found like-minded people in the beauty industry.
JAIME: We agree and are very proud of what we’re all building together. And our plan is to take Outgrowth far beyond a weekly podcast. Our first exciting announcement is still a few weeks away, but we want you, our listeners, to be the first to know. Sign up at outgrowthpodcast.com/insiders to get the details before anyone else.
ASHLEY: Now let’s get back to the episode. Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. After investing in PPE and adapting to other restrictions, salon reopenings haven’t gone as smoothly as we hoped, and some have been reversed.
ASHLEY: We welcome back Leslie Roste, the National Director of Industry Relations and Education for Barbicide, to discuss what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what lies ahead for the beauty industry. Let’s grow together.
JAIME: Welcome back to Outgrowth, Leslie.
LESLIE: Well, thank you for having me back. I feel like a part of the group now.
JAIME: You are a most important part of this group. When we last spoke in early June, we might’ve expected to be beyond the first wave of this pandemic by now. Why are we struggling to make progress? Like, what is it about our current situation that concerns you most?
LESLIE: Well, my opinion, and back to this is always just an opinion, because as you know there’s very few actual facts anymore, mostly because the virus is still relatively new in terms of viruses. It takes time to learn about things, how they’re transmitted, all of those types of things, but I think that the one thing that we could have done differently is to have opened, instead of going from, I know it didn’t feel like this, but from an epidemiological standpoint, we went from zero to a hundred. We didn’t do baby steps, which is probably what we should have done. And the baby steps, probably in retrospect, should have included masks early on. Obviously, that did not happen. And so, I really think that we just moved a little too quickly and we didn’t move in any kind of a synchronized way, right? So, I’ll give you a really good example. Where I live there is a county or city that is considering closing bars, but to their point, it does not help them to close bars if the next county over has them open. Everyone who maybe lives in this county still goes to the next county to go to a bar, or go out, that kind of thing. So I think non-synchronous movement in all this was a bit of a challenge. It’s, it’s why we look at other countries who don’t have the division of individual states, and see that they have fared a little bit better.
ASHLEY: Right after our last episode, Leslie, the CDC posted guidelines for nail salons and nail salon workers. In your opinion, why do you think that there hasn’t been anything posted comparable for other beauty services like hair or skincare?
LESLIE: Well, what I can tell you is that I reviewed ones for other disciplines within the beauty industry about two weeks ago. So I do know that they’re coming. My opinion is that a lot of what’s coming out is very vague and sort of, I said it in the last one, I used the word wishy washy, and it is kind of vague. Everything feels vague to me, and I think part of that is because everything has become so politicized. A mask is a political statement anymore. And so, I think everyone’s sort of walking on eggshells around just what really needs to happen. I have no answer to your question why nails came out so far in advance of everything else, if the other piece was already in the works, or if there was a reaction sort of like you had which is, where’s everybody else? Where’s guidance for everybody else in this space? But I do know that it’s coming.
JAIME: Why I find that curious is that in our state, California, hair was allowed to open before nails.
LESLIE: Well, where we see the most injury outside of this COVID environment is in skin and nails. That’s traditionally, if you ask any state, what are the highest number of claims you have? It will always be for injury in those two areas. While hair takes up the biggest volume of the professional beauty industry in terms of the print media, the text books, the classroom hours, the real risk sits in these two areas that kind of gets overlooked at times. And so I don’t know if that was the rationale for letting hair open sooner than nails. Arguably, if you’re doing hands, in particular, there’s no way you aren’t touching someone and being close to them. At least with hair, I’m close to you, but I’m not touching your hands that you’re gonna put up to your face, potentially that kind of thing. I’m not in your airspace in the same way where we’re both breathing each other’s air as directly. So that could be it. I don’t know. I don’t know the rationale for that answer.
ASHLEY: Understood. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to guess at why the CDC is doing anything that they’re doing recently, but I digress. With the increased focus on wearing face coverings, masks, et cetera, do we need to be as concerned about possible COVID-19 transmission through contact with contaminated surfaces?
LESLIE: So you know they haven’t ruled that out entirely. And I think that if I’m looking at it from the viewpoint of what we don’t know versus what we do know, keep in mind that we didn’t wear masks for a long time, right? For a long time, we said masks weren’t necessary. That camel from the healthcare community, you don’t need to wear a mask. I believe one of our first Outgrowth podcasts we said you don’t need to wear a mask. That’s what they’re saying, and so I think to be cautious in all manners is to, in my opinion, just be safe across the board because what I don’t want to have happen is we say, oh, the risk is really low on a surface, and then six months from now, we go, oh, wait a minute. But on this type of surface, or in this type of scenario, or in this type of humidity, it is a higher risk. The reality is I think we’re going to have more and more surprises with this virus. I think that the fact that we’re seeing large numbers of children testing positive, but they’re not symptomatic. Those kinds of the things are surprises that we’re not expecting. So in my own personal world, I take all the precautions, the ones that we put in place in the beginning, as well as the current ones, and I just keep layering them on because we don’t know.
JAIME: There does seem to be a lack of information and certainly with regard to what happens in a salon setting, so much so that that case of the infected hairstylists working in Missouri, that case that’s now referenced in a study that’s posted to the CDC, was at first a cautionary tale when it came out. We were all aghast at like, look, this can happen. Someone could have COVID, and be working, and possibly spread it. And now it’s being held out as an example of the efficacy of masks, given, and I will quote, “the absence of apparent transmission to the clients,” and they were working while symptomatic. What are your thoughts about that, Leslie?
LESLIE: I really actually love that story. At the beginning, when I first heard it, you might’ve guessed the look on my face was like, oh no, like, I can’t believe this, you know, that people went to work sick, knowingly sick. Whether they were asked to go to work sick or whether they just chose to go to work sick, I don’t know. But these people went to work sick and potentially contaminated over a hundred people,140 people, whatever it was, in one town. But to your point, when the dust settled and nobody actually got sick out of that event, it was really, I felt like, it did point to the direction that we really do need to be adherent to that face covering. That said, I do worry that, again, we’re back to what we don’t know, which is, we don’t know who is more susceptible. Are there certain people that are more susceptible? Are there certain types of mild changes in that strain that make it more or less transmittable? Is there a point where your viral load, even if you’re symptomatic, becomes low enough that you wouldn’t transmit it? We just don’t know. And so not knowing, I think taking all the caution that you can wearing the face mask, keeping social distance, disinfecting surfaces, being cautious with all of those things is still, I mean, I think we have way more months with this ahead of us than we do behind us. I think there’s a much longer road ahead than what we’ve already put in our rear view mirror.
ASHLEY: That’s a very good point, again, and I think the overarching theme of all of these episodes together has been we don’t know what the future holds, but I think if we were to go back and listen to parts one through three, we would find them pretty prescient as far as just sort of reading the tea leaves and figuring out where the trend is going to go. I’ve been noticing that most practitioners in our industry are preferring to go for cloth face coverings. And I’ve been seeing some best practice information about wearing a cloth face covering, but I’d love to hear from you if you have any do’s or don’ts that we need to be aware of wearing a cloth face covering versus a disposable mask and the care of that.
LESLIE: So that’s a good question. In my opinion, any face covering is better than nothing. Obviously, there are, to your points, some best practices. There’s even guidelines on how to make the cloth ones so that you get two or three layers of fabric, that type of thing. I know that they’re quite warm and working in them all day, particularly if you’re in California and you’re working outside, wearing a cloth face covering it can be quite cumbersome. And the paper face coverings, what has happened, what I’ve actually visually seen happen, and what I hear people telling me has happened, is that they’re made so quickly to get them churned out and turned out that, quite frankly, what I see most of the time with the paper ones is that they aren’t properly fitted so they’re hanging down. That’s the one I’m most likely to see sliding under somebody’s nose, mostly because I think that the ear straps are getting stretched out, that type of thing. So, being really adherent to how does that mask fit, as well as, is that mask clean? If you’ve worn the same paper mask for four days, it’s well overextended it’s welcome. It has overextended it’s welcome to you and to me. If your cloth face covering is made in such a way that it just doesn’t, you know, all our faces, aren’t the same. Let’s be realistic. Some people have a much broader face, a bigger face, smaller face, narrower face, whatever. I wear a mask that doesn’t go around my ears. I wear one that sticks to my face and it just covers. It completely seals all around. I’m showing you with my fingers, which you can’t see, but, it seals over the bridge of my nose. It seals so no air gets out and no air gets in. And I do not consider myself a small person, but I wear a small in that mask. So finding something that really fits that you’re not fiddling with. You know, the more you’re touching that mask, the more you are exposing yourself to everything that’s around you. So washing a face covering, a cloth face covering, at the very least once a day. Um, ideally I’d like to see you changing it out several times during the day. Maybe bring four masks with you to work and take it off when, think of it this way, whenever you go to the restroom, or whenever you go eat lunch, those types of things. Take it off. Put on a clean one. Take them home and launder them if it’s cloth. If they’re paper, they really should never be worn more than a day. They’re really not meant for that, but like I said, there’s some other new kinds of things coming out like the one that I wear that sticks to my face. I think it’s a different way of looking at wearing a mask, and I do think that we’ll start seeing new and innovative things coming out of some creative minds in that area.
JAIME: Leslie, as far as best practices go and the requirements of local health departments, I’m going to give you a scenario.
JAIME: And if you would give us your opinion, I’d appreciate it. If a salon needs to close due to workers or clients who test positive, is it necessary to be closed for a certain number of days to disinfect the frequently touched and contaminated areas in the salon? Or could that salon owner just wait a certain number of days until the transmission is less likely and resume working without an extensive cleaning?
LESLIE: So, you’re asking me a question that I don’t know, I mean, there’s a few more details that would be helpful in there so I’m going to make them up for you, and I’m going to just tell you what I think. If I own a salon and somebody came in, a guest, and they called me back the next day and said, hey, I just got tested. I am COVID positive and I was in there yesterday. Yes, at that moment, I would close the doors and say, sorry, we can’t see anyone else in here today. The first thing I would do is start doing my own contact tracing. I would start figuring out who was here yesterday, let’s say at two o’clock. Who is in this building at two o’clock and who came in from two o’clock until we closed? So I have an idea of who might have gotten it and then pass it on to someone else. As far as the people that were there, so let’s say all of my stylists that were there and my receptionist that was there from two o’clock on, all of those people would immediately, in my opinion, have to go home and they would not be able to come back to work either until they have been home for 14 days or they have a negative COVID test, which in some states can take 14 days. So, I would want to know that those people did not get it and are not going to pass it on within my place of business. That said, I would spend the rest of that afternoon, whenever, disinfecting the salon and making sure that I’ve gone over and above. I’ve done all the disinfection that I can do, and then, unless I was barred from doing so by either a county or a state regulation, I would open again the next day. Because what we don’t believe is that it lives for, if it does live on a surface that’s transmittable, it’s not for a very long period of time, but you’ve gone and done all your disinfection on all your surfaces, all your implements. Maybe in your best judgment you say, I’m going to keep it closed for two days while I get better air circulation. Cause we really don’t know if, if it is aerosolized, if it does live in the air, that in a manner that I can contract it. We aren’t actually sure how long that is, and we also aren’t sure of your own ventilation in your own system. Like we can’t accommodate for everybody’s ventilation system, but there’s no reason for that actual place of business to be closed for two weeks, in my opinion.
ASHLEY: That’s really good to know. There’s just so much conflicting information out there that people, out of an abundance of caution, are either closing for 14 days to a month or, or just going the entirely other opposite extreme, and really not doing much of anything.
LESLIE: I went with my husband the other night. We were looking for something that he needed for his work, and we happened to go to the most painful store to walk through in the whole wide world. I won’t say their name, but they have a blue sign and yellow letters, and you have to walk through the entire store to get from one end to the other. And I think you all know what store I’m talking about. And we got to the store, and like a lot of commercial businesses, they have shortened their hours drastically. So they used to be open, let’s say til nine, and now they’re only open til six or seven. And I look at that and I think what’s the point in that? Because all you’ve done now is squished down your hours so now you have more people in your place of business for a shorter period of time, window of time where you’re open. But now all the people that used to be spread out over eight hours are now squished down into four hours, which makes it more unsafe. So, I think sometimes thinking through what makes sense. In the example that Jaime gave me, there were a finite number of people in that space that could have gotten it, right? There’s a finite group of people that could have gotten it, that you would want to make sure don’t transmit it. And there’s a finite amount of space that you have to make sure is properly disinfected, aired out, all of those things, and then you’re good to go, as far as I’m concerned.
JAIME: Speaking of finite spaces, let’s talk about the option of working outdoors that has been given to licensees in the state of California who reside in counties that have increasingly high case numbers, and hospitalizations, and deaths. We realize that this doesn’t apply to the entire state of California, but it might as well because it does apply to nearly 90% of the population of California. So what are your thoughts on working outdoors, Leslie?
LESLIE: Well, I kinda knew you were going to ask me this question, and that’s okay, because I have given it a lot of thought. And the reality is that in any given day, if I were to walk into any state and go to a hundred, let’s say, mix of salons. If I’m an inspector in any state and I walk into a hundred salons, I am likely to find some percentage of those salons that don’t do infection control properly, or at all. Those are the people that I continue to visit. I continue to cite them. But the vast majority are falling somewhere between “I do it almost impeccably perfectly,” and ”I do it well enough.” The vast majority of the people that any state license falls into that category. I think the challenge for me with moving services outside is that, look, you’re taking care of what you perceive as one, your biggest problem, but you’re kind of throwing out the baby with the bath, if you will, because now there isn’t an adequate water supply, for example, to ensure that we don’t have risks from other things, bacterias and fungi, and those other things that you’ve been properly trained for. And the reality is the people that were doing it properly, the vast majority of people that were doing it properly indoors, would have continued to do it properly indoors. They’re going to try their hardest, but you’ve made it harder for them to do it by putting them outside. And you might have increased risks in other areas. While you decreased, perhaps, the risk of COVID, which kinda doubt that you did, but let’s just pretend that you did. Let’s pretend you reduce the risk of COVID by being outside. You might have increased their risk for other things that they were already working so hard to prevent from happening in their places of business. I also think when you get somebody outside, I mean, compared to outdoor dining, when you get people outside, they become way, way more complacent and less compliant. They sit at the tables next to other people because, oh, we’re outside. How bad can this be? We’re outdoors. And they take their mask off the second they sit down. They don’t wait until they’ve ordered, and their food comes, and they’re putting the food in their mouth. They have their mask off the whole time, because I might want a sip of my water. And I think that you run that risk in the professional beauty industry, that there is this complacency that goes with being outdoors, that actually might just wash away any benefit you have of moving outdoors. So it might have had the right intent. I just don’t know that It’s gonna play out to have made that much of a difference.
JAIME: All of our listeners, whether they reside in California or not, I think have contemplated whether or not that would even be possible, or if they’d be willing to do it, if that were their only option is to operate outside. So let’s assume that were your only option, Leslie. What would you recommend in terms of maintaining some sort of controls over safety and disinfection in an outdoor environment?
LESLIE: Of course, there’s a wide variation in terms of what services everyone’s doing. If I am providing let’s say men’s haircuts or women’s haircuts with no chemical services, I’m literally just cutting your hair, that’s a very different situation than me putting, let’s say, eyelash extensions on somebody, or even doing a nail service, because those things aren’t going to be significantly harder to do in a safe manner outdoors. I can’t remember. I think it was Good Morning America I was watching one morning, just last week, and they were doing a bit on a California operating outdoors and they were showing all these people getting hair color, like it was one person after another getting a chemical service sitting outside. And so I real quick went back and looked at all the documents I had, which I thought, I don’t think they’re supposed to be doing chemical services outdoors, but of course, that’s what they were doing. One of the people on the little segment said something about driving home and washing their hair. And I was like, well, how can that be safe? I have a chemical on my head and you’re sending me home to wash my own hair. You don’t know if I’m going to take a detour, go walk my dog. I might have the best intention of going home and getting my color or my chemical service off in the next 40 minutes or whatever the time frame is. Clearly, I’m not a cosmetologist. I don’t even know that answer, but maybe it’s 20 minutes. But if I don’t do that, what happens? Am I at a higher risk for chemical burn? I don’t actually know. What if I go somewhere where I put myself at a higher risk? And so I think that even actually just, how do you make that service work outdoors? I just, if I had to do it, here’s what I would say. It’s back to your question. I’m kind of avoiding the question, but if I had to do it, I would try to avoid using electrical implements. If I had to, that concerns me electrical safety, when you’re dragging extension cords across parking lots, and that kind of thing, particularly it’s the summer. Pop-up showers happen. We’re talking about water, electricity. None of that sounds like a good idea to me. From an infection control standpoint, I would be using everything I could get my hands on that was disposable. If I could find a disposable implement, I would be buying a disposable implement just because the whole system of you need to clean before you disinfect, not having to have running water. Now I’m outdoors. Everything is going to take longer. You would be forced into a situation, I think, of putting more time between appointments or perhaps coming up with some kind of a relay system. I thought about this other day, where somebody is taking things, that works for you, an employee, indoors, and disinfecting them, and preparing them for the next client so that you can keep your chair moving, one client after another, and someone else is disinfecting all of the implements that you might be using. But from an overall standpoint, weather is unpredictable. Humidity affects, I’m pretty sure, your nail services. And in fact, your facial services, for a fact, are affected by the humidity. I live in a very humid climate. It really wouldn’t work here, and it’s very hot and humid. I know it’s very hot in parts of California and your humidity can get very high so I would be probably in a position where I wouldn’t do it, if it was me, me, just me.
JAIME: I’m relieved to hear you say that, and in fact, part of the guidance specifically prohibited doing chemical services, not just the removal of some sort of chemical, but the application as well so that that news clip featured professionals doing something that was strictly prohibited does not surprise me, but also just goes to show that we’re not the best at compliance. And the point that you make about the heat, if we had workers, we’d be responsible for complying with the standards from OSHA for the heat illness prevention.
LESLIE: Yep, it’s a difficult challenge. Look, I don’t know that it was the best answer. I don’t even know how that idea came about, but what I would say is that I’m hopeful that you guys can get back into the salons soon and that everybody, when they get back into their places of business, we’ll continue to be adherent to what they know is safety. I’ve looked at the California, the board of cosmetology’s, their Facebook page, and read some of the comments that people have posted and I hear people’s pain. I mean, I hear the pain that this is how I make a living. I’ve invested everything I have into being a, whatever, for a nail tech or a stylist. I have invested my whole life into this, and now I can’t feed my kids, and that’s very real. And I think that maybe, going forward where we maybe could have done things differently across the country is to better educate a consumer so that if I go in to a closed business. I went and had a pedicure this morning, just to be clear. I went into a closed salon and had a pedicure this morning. And some of that’s on me, right? Like some of that should have always been on me to ask the right questions, to be adherent to what I know is safe. And so maybe what we should have done is better educated the consumer into what to look for, and we could have more quickly sort of ferreted out those places not doing it properly, and let the places that were doing it properly go about their business. Hindsight being 2020, we might have missed an opportunity to do some education with consumers, and we’re letting the popular media do it instead of this industry doing it, and that probably could have helped things all along, to have a consumer asking the right questions, to have a consumer driving where they go. If I walked in to your place of business and you weren’t doing it properly, I’d turn around and leave, or I’d ask some questions that, that let you know that that’s important to me, but we kind of missed that opportunity.
ASHLEY: I think consumer education is something our industry has struggled with for a very long time, and by extension, the education of our elected officials and what it is that we actually do from a day to day basis beyond men’s haircuts. So Leslie, if you were responsible for creating a timeline for reopening, where would you place beauty services relative to other activities like restaurants, bars, gyms, et cetera? Because we seem to be, in certain states, lumped in with those style of businesses and coming at it from being a member of this industry, and understanding that at the gym, really, the onus for disinfection is almost on the end user, which is the person walking away from the treadmill. And how often do we see people walk away from those machines without giving it a second thought of wiping their sweat off of the equipment? Versus places like restaurants and bars, where it may be up to the server, but it’s definitely not done, in common practice, after every single customer versus in the beauty industry. So I’m just really curious, where you would place us on that timeline?
LESLIE: It’s a great question. Look, I want to go back to one of the things you said at the beginning of that question, which is, educating the government or governing entities on what you do. One of the things that I find really challenging is that I see a lot of people being opportunist right now, a lot of companies being opportunist, trying to figure out a way to make a dollar off of this industry. People that weren’t involved in this industry, had nothing to do with it a year ago, want to be a part of this industry now, and they want to try to come in and, in my opinion, play on everyone’s fears and make money off of it. And the first thing I do when somebody asks me about helping them with that is I look at, how are you engaged with this industry? Because, to your point, most people only can see it through the service they themselves get. If I’m a man, I only see it through a men’s haircut world, right? That’s all I can see. I don’t know what really goes into somebody getting, let’s say, a nail enhancement put on, whether it’s a gel, or whether they’re getting eyelash extensions, or whether they’re getting a facial. I can’t see what that risk is because I don’t know. I just look at my daughter, my wife, the woman I work with and I go like, oh, your nails look nice. I don’t understand what went into that. So I do think there is some education, even when you talk about like the CDC, do you think they employ any stylists there at the CDC? Do you think they employ any nail technicians at the CDC? And I’m not actually sure who else besides myself they asked to look at these guidelines, and I would be the first one to tell you, my area of expertise is infection control. It is not how you do this particular technique of your service. So what I would always want to do is apply safety to what you’re doing. And I think that that makes it a challenge when we have lawmakers that don’t understand all the techniques, when we have governors, and we have all these people that are making rules for this industry that don’t actually understand how it works, and aren’t willing to say, I don’t understand. For me, that is how I try to always position myself with people in this industry. I don’t know how you do your job. Like the tech, I’ve seen it a million times, but I do know if you show me how you do it, I can make it safer, right? I do know that. But your question was where I would put it on the timeline, and I would be more likely to put you in the same category as, for example, like a dental hygienist, somebody where if you think about a dental hygienist. I just saw a report recently that the highest risk profession to reopen is dental hygiene because obviously that person has their mouth open the entire time. There literally is no way to do that service with their mouth even shut. And so I wouldn’t say you’re at the same risk as a dental hygienist, but what I would say is from a control standpoint. To your point, in a salon environment, it’s the controls that the salon and the individual licensees put in place that protect both the licensee and the consumer. I, as a consumer in your place of business, I have to follow your rules or you can tell me, see ya, get out, right? You can’t have a service here. Where in a bar, the whole concept is, let’s say I’m a bartender, and I’m told people have to stand six feet apart unless, let’s say they are a couple and they live in the same house, or their family members live together, what am I going to go ID everybody and see what their addresses are? So to your point, a lot of the things that you’ve been lumped in with are places where there is no control over other people. It’s almost impossible to control when people sit down at a table and are even in a restaurant. I don’t know if they all came from four different homes, and they’ve all been in four different social scenarios, and they all came together, and now I have kind of a mess sitting at my table, or if they all live in the same house. I think that that’s really how we should have looked at reopening is, is there a gatekeeper that can provide some controls for safety? And I think in the salon environment, you do have that. If you can empower people to be really good gatekeepers, to how the infection control is practiced, who comes to the door. I think one of the problems, in all fairness, that I think one of the problems that we saw early on in this industry, was there was a segment of the industry that did not want to be gatekeepers. They did not want to make appointments. They did not want to leave time between clients to properly do infection control. I sat on a call where people called in and I was told that in one state, the rule read, the guideline rather read, that upon entry, a patron had to wear a face mask. And do you know what they all told me? Well, yeah, they make them work upon entry, but then when they got in, they let them take it off. If you have that kind of stuff going on, if this industry can’t police other bad players in the industry, then I think what comes to the surface is we see behaviors that make everybody anxious and nervous, and so I think I would have given you guys credit for being able to keep control and then gone out and seriously look for the people that weren’t doing that.
JAIME: I’m hoping that we still can get credit for that in order to get us open indoors sooner. I know for the short time that I was open, I didn’t need a bouncer because I was working by standing appointment only as I had before and not accepting any new clients. I already knew who these people were and their circumstances including their health risks.
LESLIE: Well, I will tell you my, you know, my husband is a therapist. He’s a family therapist, and in his office, he is the only one that wears a mask. And he requires all of his clients to wear a mask. And he had a client that came in, I mean, they’re sitting, you can imagine what a therapist office looks like. You’re a good distance from that person, but he did have a client call him one day and say, I have tested positive for COVID. I’m very, very sick, and he felt really relieved that he had done that all along, but again, nobody else in his office was doing it. And none of the other people that work in that office were doing it, and that was really unfortunate. And my comment to him was, well, you need to make them do it, like you need to make them do that. You need to be the gatekeeper in this space that you’re in. You need to be responsible for not only yourself, but the other people that you bring in. So, Jaime, it sounds like that’s a plan that you already had in place, but I’m sure you can think of at least five or six places that might not have done it that way. They may have been more inclined to say, well, if you don’t want to wear a mask, I’m not going to make you that. Everybody was hungry. Everybody needed their business back. They were dying to get out of their house. They were dying to go get back to work. Work gives you a sense of being normal. It gives you a sense of normalcy. And the mask is a reminder that life isn’t normal right now. That reminder, right there in front of you, making appointments in a business that normally didn’t have appointments is a reminder that life isn’t normal. You may have heard there was a representative from Texas that was on the news yesterday saying, this is the first time in history we’ve punished people who aren’t sick. And I had to listen to it twice, like I reran my TV, and I had to listen to it a second time, and I was like, what do you mean punishing people? Nobody’s getting punished. Everyone is doing something that, if it works, can be a game changer, and if it doesn’t work, so what? We got put out a little tiny bit. We had to make an appointment. We had to wear a mask. We had to stand further apart than we really wanted to from other people. But on the outside chance that any of it works, it could be a game changer. And so to your point, you don’t need a bouncer. You already have a really well designed system, but even for people that didn’t have that before, I think there are simple ways they can make it better, and perhaps California is the testing ground for, okay, we’ll let you go back, but you’re all gonna have to do it in that similarly safe format.
ASHLEY: Well, and do we have a grand tradition of punishing people who are sick?
LESLIE: The crux of what has going on at this point is that everything has become political. In my mind, a mask, public safety, public health have nothing to do with politics. And if your belief system is such that, one of the people in my husband’s office, they had a new client coming in and my husband heard him in the waiting area, and the client said, should I be wearing a mask? And the person that worked there said, well, no, I’m of the belief that masks make it worse. I’m like, what are you talking about? First off, because where we live, not only is it a rule or a law, mandate, that you have to be wearing a mask in a public place, it’s just common sense in my head, and it’s not putting anybody out, and yeah, your belief now maybe puts me at risk. We don’t punish people for being sick. A mask in my mind is not a punishment, nor are any of the other things we’re doing. It’s just being respectful of the people around you.
ASHLEY: You mentioned earlier the opportunists that you’re seeing coming to the different industries with some sort of product-based solution. I don’t understand the technical aspects of this, but I’m hoping you can explain it to me. I saw a lot of the conversation coming out in the last few days about hand sanitizers made with methanol or wood alcohol, and in my mind, that was a result of things just being rushed to market. But why is that such a serious risk? And how do we guard against that?
LESLIE: So methanol and some of these other things you’re talking about are actually very dangerous if they’re ingested. Most of these would not have been approved through the FDA. Most of them might not have. None of them would have been approved, but in a rush to help people get things faster, hand sanitizer being a perfect example. If you’ve gone to get hand sanitizer in the last three months, which, you know, you got was not that nice gel that you got a year ago that stayed on your hand and absorbed in your hand. You’re quite likely now to go and get a splash of what feels like water, stinky water, all over your hands. If you go to the grocery store and they have a container out, most likely, it’s that, a puddle of this, most of the time, kind of pungent smelling hand sanitizer. And it’s because the FDA reduced some of the requirements in terms of how it was made. So you’re seeing things that are made in what I would consider to be a relatively rushed and unsafe manner. We’re seeing some of that in masks as well. There are some masks that the paper has formaldehyde in it. I mean, you guys are from an industry where OSHA posted for years about keratin blowouts, the risk of a blowout. And now people have masks on where some of the paper has formaldehyde in it. So, any type of urgent situation like we have in the United States today, there will be people that are trying to make a few bucks. I have been inundated with requests for people to ask me about ultra violet light for disinfection. They want to buy this light box. They want to buy this light wand. They want to, you know, all these things and, it’s another example of sort of opportunism into this world. The first thing I tell people is it’s probably not allowed in your state for disinfection. So that’s the first thing, because it’s not allowed expressly in any state. Every state has rules for how to properly process implements, and none of them say, oh, or your ultra violet light. And part of that is because ultra violet light, I think we talked about it in one of the other episodes, is very specific in terms of the environment in which it’s done. Do I think it will get better and it will get more useful, and it will come down in price, and you’ll be able to in a high-end salon, maybe be able to afford you use it in some aspects? I absolutely think that will happen. The people that are doing these things correctly will really hone in on it and get it done right. But you’re going to see a lot of charlatans in the meantime. You’re going to see people telling you that you can spray something on a surface, and it will be safe, safe, safe, safe for 14 days or something, that, that somehow there’s something you’ve sprayed on there that’s going to kill everything that comes into contact with that surface for some extended period of time. I think, use your head. Think through things, and think whether it makes sense or not, and whether it’s even allowed in your state.
JAIME: Preparing for this episode, Leslie, I noticed that your title changed to National Director of Industry Relations and Education, which might better explain the scope of your work because we know that you do consult with state boards and governments across the country. What questions are state governments and those regulatory boards asking you about currently?
LESLIE: So I think most of the states right now are, I mean, honestly, just trying to play catch up from all of the time they spent working remotely. They’re trying to get testing back up for students. They’re trying to figure out distance learning, cause remember most state boards, there are a few where that doesn’t fall underneath the jurisdiction of the board, but most state boards have jurisdiction over the learning piece for cosmetology and barbering. So there’s a lot of that right now, but now I’m starting to get a lot of inquiries from people with, what’s next? What does the next set of rules look like? What are we missing that we needed to add in? And which, most importantly, I guess the question they’re asking is, which of these guidelines that we laid over, or on top of the rules that we already had, but they’re only guidelines? I think we talked about that in the last podcast is that everybody came back with guidelines, but nobody actually went into rulemaking. District of Columbia, DC, is one of the few states that is actually pursuing rulemaking right now, but most of the states are just, they have their rules in place and then they have these guidelines, and the question is, which of these need to now become hard and fast rules? I do think we’re going to see a huge cleanup of rules in states. It’s always been kind of, um, not an afterthought, but cleaning up the rules is a lot of work. And I think we’re going to see both a cleaning up of the rules, but also a broadening of the rules to be more inclusive of all the different disciplines within cosmetology and barbering that were never really addressed fully. In very few states address, for example, eyelash extensions, which we know are a really popular service today. Very few states are very encompassing in talking about waxing services, or even esthetics is always kind of a, hey, just follow the same rules as cosmetologists. But we all know that esthetics has a whole different set of products they use, implements they use. It’s a whole different set, so it’ll be interesting to see how those rules change in the next year or so.
JAIME: I know some estheticians who will be very glad to hear you say that.
LESLIE: Well, it’s not my most comfortable place to be in all of honesty. I rely heavily on estheticians when people ask me about those questions because I want to get that right. And the esthetics field is so broad. Earlier on in the podcast, Ashley said something, how do we get away from everyone thinking it’s just a men’s haircut? Well I’ll tell you what, all you have to do is walk into an esthetics salon or an esthetics business, and walk into a room, and see all the different things, all the modalities that they have available to them. And you know it’s no longer just a man’s haircut, right? You know that there are a lot of things that are complicated and could be risky to somebody if they weren’t done properly. It really is in my, moving forward, it has been for awhile. I’ve been trying to push states to do more with skin and some of the other disciplines. If you’ve been to our website, you know that I got to the point where I had been interviewed so much during this that I thought it would be fun to start interviewing other people. So I’ve been interviewing people that do kind of jobs in this industry that sometimes never get talked about at the rule level, things like somebody who does weaving, someone who, I’ve talked to people who do all kinds of different services that have never really gotten talked about at this level. I talked to a barber who’s, I think he was on this past week, and he has a barbershop with a clinic in it. Blue Cross and Blue Shield put a clinic in his barbershop to try to help address some of the preventative health issues in his community. So, hopefully we get a broader scope when we go forward of, what do we regulate? What regulations need to go away because they’re just out of date and not necessary anymore, and what do we need to add?
JAIME: Has there been any state that’s impressed you with their reopening process? Impressed you positively, I should say.
LESLIE: Not really. Not really. Mostly because everything came through governors’ offices. And in the states that I interacted with, there was no real clarity of where the governors got direction from. Who was telling them that this was a good idea? Who was telling them this is the way it should be done? My perception was every governor wanted to have, you know, there’s an old saying jack of all trades, master of none, and in all of these reopening plans, guidelines, you should have been relying on those people that know it the best. They know it from the inside, not just the guy who cuts your hair or the woman who does your wife’s nails. There should have been this sort of culling of the experts and the people that could apply that safety background to it. You know, as much as I hate to say this, I do think the whole thing, back to Ashley’s saying, it’s just a man’s haircut, like that theory, it’s just a men’s haircut, I think that all of this became an afterthought. And so I don’t know that I love how any state approached it, but then again, I wasn’t involved with every single state. So there might’ve been some state that I missed that did a great job, but I don’t know who they are. They certainly aren’t the state I live in or the state you live in.
ASHLEY: So knowing what we know about how state governments operate and how they operated particularly around offering and disseminating those guidelines, I have a two-parter for you. The first part being, what regulatory changes, if any, do you expect moving forward? And then how will the actions of salon owners now, and beauty professionals of course, impact efforts to deregulate as well in the future?
LESLIE: So the first part of the question is what do I think will change in a regulatory manner, and I’m just going to say that I’m not sure. The reason I’m saying that is, depending on how this all turns out in the long run, depending on how protracted, is this going to be a long a couple of years that we’re in for? Are we going to see a real significant light when we have a vaccine that is promising? I think that may change it. What I would hate to have happen is that we get to let’s say this time next year. Let’s say we have a vaccine in place. People are getting vaccinated. We feel comfortable about it, and then we all just let out this collective sigh of relief, and we just leave everything as is. And we don’t take what we learned here, and apply it into rule, and into education so that we don’t take the opportunity to be prepared for the next time something like this comes along. And I think what we’re doing now that, I mean, yeah, really your two parts of your question actually go together. And I think that what we’re doing now really will be impactful going forward. As everyone knows, there was a huge, huge push to deregulate in this industry, all across the country. Various organizations were proposing bills left and right everywhere to deregulate. And it was sort of that sentiment of, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s a bad haircut. There’s no safety risk. And then COVID hits and we start doing things that would potentially reinforce that argument. We start selling hair color at the doorstep of our salon and saying, we’ll give you instructions. We have shows on TV. There was the one I think I talked about in the last episode where a stylist to the stars would call them over Zoom, and tell them how to color their own hair at home, and things like that, things that really said, sort of in a very blatant way, well, there’s not really that big of a risk, right? I’m just going to sell you your hair color or I’m going to give you all the chemicals for your facial. You just drive by and I’ll, I’ll sell them to you, and then I’ll tell you how to do it. And if that is the case, if it’s really that simple, if I don’t really need to go to school to learn safety, what that implies is that all I’m going to school for is to learn technique. And that’s great if you want to go to school to learn technique, that is awesome. I want you to be good at what you do, but it doesn’t require a license because a license is all about being safe. That’s why you get a license. I’ve said it a million times. You get a license because you are safe. I think one of the other things that has started to happen as this has gone on longer, and I think we’ll see it really start to get a big push as we go into the fall, is that we’re starting to see states really giving way on distance learning so that a cosmetology school that may be in a state could only have some very small percentage of their education be distance learning, online, whatever, what have you, and certainly that could not include the practical part, actually cutting someone’s hair or actually doing someone’s nails. Well, you’re starting to see states sort of let that line go a little bit, and letting it be a higher percentage can be online. And you as the school get to decide if it’s practical or if it’s theory, and you can see that we’re starting to wash away that line of, no, you have to come in here and prove to me, you can do this and you can do it safely. What argument does the state have really when medical schools are teaching surgeons, to some extent, online, right? I mean, what argument do you really have? But I do think all of this, we have to be thinking forward, and know that all of this could come back and circle back to really the detriment of the industry, and licensure in particular.
JAIME: Leslie, as much as this industry values Barbicide products, they’ve been in short supply. Early on, Barbicide focused on supplying the medical field. Is that still the case? And has that demand increased with all of the increase in hospitalizations?
LESLIE: So glad you asked me this question, because I think there was a misconception that maybe I didn’t state very well early on that we supplied the medical field. What actually happened was that while salons were shut down and we had nowhere to ship product to, we would ship product into healthcare, but were always prepared for everybody to reopen. When everybody was ready to reopen, we were ready to send it, and that happened for a very, very short period of time that we did that. I would say maybe a month, probably middle of March to middle of April, when still everybody, literally everybody, was shut down. Since that time we have been running our plant, I mean, we have been producing every day producing, producing, producing, producing. And one thing that I would say is that either nobody was disinfecting before at all, and now everybody is, or somewhere people are feeling anxious about it and there’s a little bit of hoarding going on. Low-level hoarding, across the board, makes it harder for everybody. But we literally, I mean, just keep churning it out, kept churning it out, kept churning it out, and shipping crazy amounts of it all over the country. Now we have a new wrinkle. I think there was a press release. I don’t know if it was released yesterday or if it’s being released today. There is another little wrinkle in manufacturing of disinfectants across the country. There is a chemical called tertiary amine that is required to make most household or type of disinfectant. All the disinfectants, for the most part, that you would use in a salon environment require this tertiary amine. The almost sole source of that chemical comes out of China, and there is a restriction on the ability of North America to get it. So, again, there will be times where you will see plentiful supplies for the most part, and then you’ll probably see it slow down a little bit. That makes me frustrated because I feel like that just drives that hoarding instinct in people, that I want to get more, and more, and more because if it does slow down, I don’t want to be caught without it. But I would encourage people to buy what you need. Locate what you need in terms of disinfectants, but don’t take more than you need because all of the companies, you know, you think about how toilet paper. I still struggle finding toilet paper where I live. I still struggle with it, and it’s just a paper product. There’s plenty of paper out there, right? There’s plenty of trees that can make toilet paper out there. That I’m still struggling with it says to me that there are still people that every time they go to the grocery store, if they see it, they buy it because, oh my gosh, it might get, we might run out again. They probably have 800 rolls of toilet paper at their house, but they’re never going to run out. And I think we have tried very, very hard and the selling into healthcare stopped back probably around the 15th of April, and we have worked every day to. There were days that we were shipping out triple what we had shipped out even the week before, and we’re just in huge numbers, and there seems to be a never ending need for it. So I applaud everyone if you’re one of those people that maybe wasn’t doing it properly before, and now you are, I applaud that, but it’s really putting a strain on the system.
JAIME: I’m both encouraged and discouraged by what you just said.
LESLIE: Well, you and me both, I will tell you that we will always have the ability to make Barbicide at the level we’ve been making it up because, you know, that’s how companies work. We forecast from the years before to the next year. So we look at what we did in 2018, and what we did in 2019, and that’s what we plan for in, let’s say, 2020. We buy that amount of raw chemicals. We buy those amount of containers. That’s how every business works. If you didn’t work that way, you wouldn’t have a business for very long. And so like everybody else, you planned for one thing and ended up with something totally different. Everyone’s working together to try to get more supply into our supply chains, and to make sure that everybody can go to the grocery store or to the beauty supply, and get what they need.
JAIME: That does make me feel better and now I know what to send you in a care package.
LESLIE: That’s right. You don’t need to send me that. I’ll send you that in a care package. I sent somebody that lives in a very high-risk area right now who has a high-risk situation in their home. I sent them two canisters of Barbicide wipes, and I came home a week later, and I had flowers delivered to my house, and I was like, what the heck? I got flowers? I called my husband. He’s like, not me. Wow, Barbicide wipes and I got flowers delivered to me. So who would have known that they would be that valuable?
JAIME: Well, we certainly do appreciate you, and your time, and expertise, Leslie. Thank you again for a really informative episode of Outgrowth podcast, and we have to say that you are our most popular guest for a reason.
ASHLEY: By far.
LESLIE: Oh, you know what? I got this new found popularity, at the expense of all of North America it seems like, but you know what? If it can make a long lasting change and the next time something like this happens we’re all better prepared, so be it. So thank you for having me.
ASHLEY: Every time we speak to Leslie I feel like my brain grows a size.
JAIME: We’re so fortunate to have colleagues in our industry that have this expertise, and are willing to come back, and join us as these situations evolve.
ASHLEY: Absolutely. Thanks again, Leslie. We’re very excited for everyone to listen to this episode. And if you haven’t heard parts one through three of Clean Hands, Safe Salons, I highly recommend you go back and listen to those as well.
JAIME: Just a reminder. At the top of the episode, we introduced an announcement that we have something big coming. We want to make sure that you, our listeners, know about it first. Visit the website outgrowthpodcast.com/insiders to sign up for an email so you get notification before anyone else.
ASHLEY: Definitely do that. Please subscribe, rate, and review Outgrowth on your favorite podcast platform. It helps us reach more listeners like you.
JAIME: Leave us a review on Apple podcasts, and we might read your review on our next episode. This comment comes from Kelly through Facebook. “Your content is so relevant and exciting. I really feel after I’ve listened to the show like I’ve got the upper hand on what’s going on within the beauty industry. I have deep respect for the both of you.”
ASHLEY: Ah, thanks Kelly. One of our great supporters, Kelly, and we love reading the feedback so thank you for taking the time to comment. As always, you can follow us and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: Ashley, this has been another great episode. Thank you again.
ASHLEY: Thank you. Well, everybody until next week.
JAIME: Be smart.
ASHLEY: Be safe.