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Attack Germs and Turn it to Your Advantage
Establish your own Antimicrobial Signature Service

Just how bad are germs and disease getting the best of us? The facts listed below are taken directly from section on Cleaning for Health:

  • Germs are most often spread by hands through person-to-person contact.
  • Germs can enter our bodies through the mouth, nose, eyes and breaks in the skin without our even knowing we've been infected.
  • Americans spend about $5 billion each year on their colds _ about $3 billion on doctors' visits and $2 billion on treatments.
  • An estimated 60 million days of school and 50 million days of work are lost annually because of the common cold.
  • Some 5.5 million visits to doctors' offices each year are due to skin infections.
  • Germs can be transferred from inanimate surfaces to hands and vice-versa.
  • Some germs can live on dry surfaces (such as toys) for several hours and moist surfaces (like bathroom sinks) for up to three days.

(Article written for Salon Plus November 2004)
Increase your bottom line $$
while protecting your client from head to toe

Skin is the first line of defense, a shield against potential infection from a variety of germs like fungus, bacteria, and viruses. Whenever there is trauma, injury, or inflammation involving our skin, it is compromised and can allow germs to multiple and create an infection. Infection caught from a salon or spa environment can be caused by a direct result of trauma experienced during a treatment or by inadequate disinfection and sanitation practices. Regardless of the cause, an outbreak of a major infection associated with your salon or spa can have serious consequences.


Hair stylists, barbers, and colorists are familiar with the volume of clients that have scalp problems: flaky, inflamed, red, bumpy, irritated scalp. While the origin of the problem can vary, there are always one or more germs affecting the scalp. It is important whether you have a client walk in with an existing problem or their scalp is irritated by a salon treatment such as braiding or chemical reactions from color dyes, relaxers, and straighteners, that you have an effective solution. You need a broad spectrum antimicrobial product that will eliminate a variety of infective germs while it hydrates and soothes to heal and restore the scalp. In the case of AQtiv PURE Scalp Treatment, you can apply it as a leave on conditioner or as a spot treatment which dries clear on the scalp without affecting the hair style. As you may discover a problem after you have performed a “fixed hairstyle”, it is convenient to have a product that allows you both the option to apply after shampooing or directly onto the scalp after your hair creation is finished. It is important the product be water soluble, non-oily, and fragrance free so you may minimize the risk of clogging pores and irritation. Only a doctor can identify whether a client suffers from Psoriasis, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Eczema and other skin conditions, but as the client’s trusted hair stylist or barber you can offer an over the counter solution that can bring noticeable relief and turn a potential crisis into a victory.

Another opportunity for potential infection is the problem of incidental / accidental cuts or nicks around the scalp, neck, and ears. It is important to employ a highly effective first-aid treatment to quickly address the problem with minimal or no pain to your client. Using a product like AQtiv PURE Hand & Body Sanitizer Gel, it can be applied immediately to the cut or nick to stop the bleeding and seal out infection with a clear product that dries in seconds. Make sure you use an alcohol free product to minimize any potential stinging or burning your client would experience.

Facial treatments like laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and the like leave the skin in a more vulnerable state. Clients need to be reminded to apply appropriate sunscreen protection to their face as they will be more photosensitive and prone to burning. Your client’s face should also be supported by broad spectrum antimicrobial products that protect the skin from possible infection. As the skin is compromised, it does not have the same level of protection to keep out germs. Using non-alcohol products like AQtiv PURE Skin Cleanser and Skin Healing Lotion you can arm your client with gentle solutions to accelerate skin healing and restoration. When selecting an antimicrobial product, it is important that it be gentle to the skin. Studies clearly show harsh and drying chemicals cause greater damage to the skin and actually retard wound healing. It should also be noted that lotions containing petrolatum or mineral oil can potentially worsen skin problems by clogging pores. As in the case of the Skin Healing Lotion, offer a product that can assist to minimize any potential scarring to the face during the healing process.


Laser, waxing, and electrolysis are popular forms of hair removal which can all generate sensitive, irritated skin. Irritated skin provides another avenue for germs to take up residence and cause an infection. Even if pustules do not form, redness, swelling, or bumps are quite common. You can look like a hero if you can provide your client with a lotion that provides fast, soothing relief. Although you find an infinite number of lotions that make moisturizing claims, the key to healing and restoring the natural balance of the skin requires the combination of antimicrobial killing action and emollients to keep the skin hydrated. Gentle enough for the face or body, AQtiv PURE Skin Healing Lotion provides relief from inflammation or irritation and works well as a post razor shaving or following other hair removal treatments. You will be able to maximize your shelf space and your budget by finding an antimicrobial lotion that you can add to a signature service and offer solutions to both men and women that suffer from a variety of problem skin conditions i.e. bumpy, itchy, dry skin suffered by people of color that are not a result of salon or spa treatments.


Nail technicians have been able to reinvent the manicure and pedicure with the perceived higher value products used in a spa manicure or spa pedicure which enabled you to move your clients to a premium service with higher margins. In this environment of concerns or fear of infection, the opportunity exists to position antimicrobial treatments as a new premium service to compliment your manicure and pedicure services. A complete antimicrobial service can offer you a way to differentiate yourself within the marketplace, proactively provide greater protection for your client, and also give you peace of mind with a way to stop or minimize the effects of any accidental trauma to your client’s nail and surrounding areas. By educating your clients on the benefits of using alcohol free antimicrobial products as an enhancement to their nail services, your clients will appreciate your desire to protect their health.

Begin your service by sanitizing your hands and your client’s hands and nails using an alcohol free sanitizer spray. Some antibacterial agents like alcohol strip away your body's natural oils, leaving your skin dry and unprotected. An alcohol free sanitizer spray, like the AQtiv PURE Hand & Body Sanitizer, will not only kill any germs present to avoid cross contamination, it will start to soften the skin in preparing the cuticle and hand for treatment. Having a bottle at your station makes this first step quick and easy. Second step, after nail plate has been buffed and cuticles have been pushed back, wipe off any dust or debris. Then spray area with antimicrobial sanitizer. Hepatitis and Mycobacterium are not common occurrences in the salon or spa, but it is common for a nail technician to be overzealous when buffing the nail or when working the cuticle which can leave these areas vulnerable to infection. It is important to sanitize the area before applying polish or placing acrylics on nails to avoid the possibility of a colony of germs beginning to grow under your newly designed acrylic nails. For those clients that have a tendency to get inflamed or infected cuticles and nail beds, it is suggested you have available for resale or recommend an antimicrobial nail solution the client can use in-between services. Many exist on the market, but few are odor free and offer a proven activity that kills bacteria, fungus, and other germs on contact. The AQtiv PURE line also offers an Antimicrobial Nail Solution with history in podiatric and beauty markets. The last step of an antimicrobial service would be to conclude the manicure or pedicure with an antimicrobial finishing lotion like the AQtiv PURE Skin Healing lotion. Massage on hands, cuticles, lower legs, and feet; anywhere touched by water or instruments. Remember the cases of infection caught from pedicures don’t always occur on the feet, but instead produce boils and other skin reactions on the lower leg. It is important to select a lotion that is a broad spectrum antimicrobial, gentle on the skin, and non-greasy. An antimicrobial finishing lotion can be especially valuable for your diabetic clients. Diabetics have a compromised immune system and tend to have skin problems on the feet and other areas. Products using Triclosan as an active ingredient will not provide you with the same broad spectrum protection as products utilizing Benzalkonium Chloride, an antimicrobial active used and trusted in hospital antiseptics for over 30 years.


Complimenting the new skin care line to support an antimicrobial treatment (FDA regulated OTC drugs) is the need for consistent disinfecting and cleaning practices of all work surfaces utilizing EPA registered, hospital level disinfectant cleaners. In an effort to maximize the number of clients serviced in a day, there are too many technicians that do not follow state Board of Barber and Cosmetology regulations and do not properly disinfect and clean whirlpool pedicure foot spas after every client. We must police ourselves and uphold the standards required to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. What are the typical excuses for lack of disinfection and cleaning processes? First, some professionals will say it costs too much to use these products. It only takes one client to contract an infection that leads to boils or pustules and permanent scaring that result in state intervention, law suit or closure of your business. In today’s environment with SARS, Influenza (flu), Hepatitis, E-Coli, and other infectious diseases, consumers are more educated on the need for personal sanitation to protect against disease causing germs. Today’s consumer is willing to pay the extra couple of dollars to have the proper EPA registered, hospital level disinfectant cleaners to prevent infections. Post your disinfection and sanitation policy in clear view in your front lobby and keep a copy at your workstation for your clients to read. Educating the client about your procedures and the products you use will give them peace of mind and increased respect for you.

The disinfectant cleaner must demonstrate bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal activity. It is important to educate yourself on the types of disinfectants that exist on the market today. Although Sodium Hypochlorite (active ingredient in bleach) is approved as a disinfectant and is cheap in comparison, it is known to be very harsh on the internal structure of whirlpool pedicure chairs. It also generates a strong, offensive odor which would leave a very unpleasing environment for your client. As state regulations require both disinfecting and cleaning, you must confirm if the current product you are using performs both requirements or if you will need to buy two products instead of one. Keep in mind you cannot omit the use of a cleaner even though you have an EPA registered, hospital level disinfectant, unless the disinfectant label also identifies the product as a cleaner. Many technicians use essential oils in whirlpool pedicure chairs for aromatherapy. Without a proper cleaner to lift the oils off the internal and external surfaces of the chair, you will leave a wonderful environment for colonies of germs to grow. To maximize your time and your dollars, we recommend using a two in one product. Do not be fooled with nice looking marketing information. If the disinfectant is not EPA registered then do not buy it. If the label does not specify it is a cleaner, then you must buy a second product. If the label claims to be a virucide and does not give specific use directions and clean up instructions for use on viruses like HIV, HBV, & HCV, then do not buy the product. If you do not see specific use directions for fungus or mildew then again you know this product is not following EPA guidelines and may not really be an EPA registered product. There are a number of products on the market now that are in a tablet or powder form that make claims, but are not EPA registered, so buyer beware.

For tools disinfection, your greatest value will be to dilute your own mixture following the disinfectant manufacturer’s dilution directions for tools disinfection. Your state regulations will describe different procedures based on the type of instrument and circumstance faced: non-porous instruments used on intact skin, non-porous instruments used on non-intact skin, porous instruments used on intact skin, and porous instruments used on non-intact skin. When reviewing the steps required it is important not to confuse “sanitize” with “disinfect.” When a step requires you to sanitize it means you are going to wash the instrument with soap and water to remove surface dirt and debris. When you disinfect, you are required to use alcohol, bleach, or EPA registered chemicals that are designed to eliminate virtually all germs (microorganisms).

Turning a necessity into a signature service can elevate your reputation and provide high quality protection for your client’s health and welfare. Celebrate the disinfection and sanitation process in your salon. Keep your number one priority to protect your client’s health and preserve their natural beauty, and you will gain the trust and respect of your clients which turns into repeat and referral business.

- Alcohol sanitizers compared with Napalm

Below are portions of an article written in Forensic Nurse August 2004 and can be found at the following website:

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers, A Blessing or Hazardous Material?

By Marian Beck Clore, RN, BSN, ICP

“ Healthcare providers are recognizing that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an effective alternative to washing hands with soap and water. When alcohol-based hand soap dispensers are conveniently located, more frequent hand cleansing is encouraged, less time is required and better compliance is promoted. Some facilities support the idea of mounting liquid hand sanitizing containers onto walls between patient rooms, near patient beds, in dirty utility rooms, etc. Bottles of hand sanitizers are kept in other easy-to-reach places, such as patient bedside stands, or healthcare workers (HCWs)' pockets. The problem? Alcohol-based gels, foams and liquids are extremely flammable and are classified as hazardous materials.”

“ Inquiries to the local fire department revealed that the fire codes approve hand-sanitizing products that are packaged and labeled according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. These products should be stored as any other flammable liquid would. Fire department officials were extremely surprised to hear that liquid hand sanitizers were so widely used, and at the same time, so highly flammable.”

“ While not statistically validated, experimentation was performed using six bottles of hand sanitizing gels, foams and liquids. The MSDS sheets for these products listed the flammability ratings of "3" and "4" (extremely flammable). Ignition testing produced the following results: Instantaneous combustion occurred; there was visible heat radiation, with no actual flame; and boiling was evident and visible. The facility fire inspector stated that he compared the combustion of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to that of napalm, as both have very similar ingredients and burning patterns.”

Marian Beck Clore, RN, BSN, ICP, is the infectious disease/safety coordinator for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Duane L. Waters Hospital in Jackson, Mich.


Resources: - American Society for Microbiology hand washing campaign - Kansas Department of Health & Environment Wash Em’ UP brochures, posters, stickers - September 19-26, 2004 National Clean Hands Week Resources - Soap & Detergent Association programs, facts, and resources - Posters, facts and guidelines