ALLURE: HOW THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY IS AFFECTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Amid growing concerns at the time about the novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, in northern Italy, Miss Pop traveled to Milan Fashion Week to do her job — creating nail looks for the Prabal Gurung and Jeremy Scott shows. She left Milan just as news of the coronavirus outbreak hit, but as a precaution, she and her husband consulted their doctor, who advised them to self-quarantine.
When I reached Miss Pop, she was on day 12 of a 14-day voluntary self-quarantine. "Self-quarantine has been a minor inconvenience," she said. "It's been a bit boring, and I'm definitely stir-crazy, but luckily, my family and the Internet have kept me entertained. We haven't had any symptoms, but we still took the most prudent option after discussing it with our doctor." Later, she updated me on her status: Even after finishing her 14-day quarantine, the nail pro had yet to see a client after returning from Milan.
Miss Pop's job description includes sitting close to clients, holding clients' hands, and general physical contact. Nail artists and their fellow beauty professionals such as hairstylists, makeup artists, and aestheticians are faced with a potential threat to their health or livelihood if the outbreak escalates. Freelance beauty pros can typically create their own schedules; for in-house employees, workplace practices are as much of a concern as individual healthy habits. Then there are dermatologists — medical doctors who have a responsibility for their patients.
The information and status of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. are rapidly evolving, but we wanted to get a snapshot of how the beauty world is coping with the unprecedented challenge in our current moment. The primary takeaway: Times are hard, and they're only getting harder.
A makeup artist's job description includes many of the behaviors that we've been warned to discontinue, like touching of the eyes and mouth. The inherent health risks mean that some makeup artists are taking hygiene concerns even more seriously.
Sébastien Tardif, makeup artist and founder of Veil Cosmetics, points out that the intimate nature of the job means that he's already been practicing healthy habits. He tells Allure that his protocol includes washing his makeup brushes with shampoo each night and using an alcohol spray and alcohol wipes to clean makeup tables and other surfaces. Rather than using the same lipstick bullet, foundation, or skin-care jars for each client, he scrapes small amounts of product with a metal spatula and transfers it to an individual palette and works using only that.
Tardif also points out what not to do. "I have seen so many makeup artists — very high-profile ones, too — still to this day that blow on their brushes to get rid of excess powder before applying the makeup on someone's eyes or face, which is unacceptable." Instead of blowing on it, tap the brush to remove excess powder.
As of March 16, Tardif reports that "lots of events [are] canceled." His brand Veil Cosmetics, which he advertises on the Home Shopping Network, will show previously aired items, postpone its segments, or use Skype Live.
"ALL THE INDUSTRY IS TAKING A BREAK, THAT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO."
Gato, a makeup artist with Maybelline Spain, is currently under
Gato, a makeup artist with Maybelline Spain, is currently under Spain's mandatory 14-day quarantine, which means his schedule has been entirely postponed. "All the industry is taking a break, that's the right thing to do," he says. "The best thing we can do now is to stay at home."
At least one larger industry conference has come to a halt. The Makeup Show, a professional conference for makeup artists scheduled to take place in Houston on March 21 and 22, has been postponed until August. "Countless vendors, artists, and attendees expressed their concerns and withdrew from The Makeup Show Houston," says Shelly Taggar, owner of The Makeup Show. "We just couldn't provide the same experience in artists, education, presentation, and the amount of brands we promised."
As of press time, the status of Glamsquad and its network of traveling beauty professionals remains uncertain. "We are doing absolutely everything in our power to protect consumers and pros at this time," a representative tells Allure. " We are closely monitoring the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local governments and will prioritize health and safety above all else."
Many hair salons have sent emails to their regular clients with the location's updated health practices, or closed entirely. Starting on March 18, National blowout chain Drybar will temporarily close all of its locations until further notice. The previous week, when it was open, Drybar made efforts to prevent spread of infection, emailing customers with a list of increased hygiene measures, including frequent handwashing, hand sanitizer stationed around the salon, tools disinfected with Barbicide, and removal of unwrapped food like cookies or candy.
Before shutting down temporarily on March 16, a similar email from Brooklyn-based salon The Bird House also noted that some staff members have "compromised immune systems" and to please keep their health in mind before showing up for your appointment.
New York City salon Whiteroom has made the difficult decision to close. A statement posted to Instagram reads in part, "The health of our staff, clients, and the community that surrounds us is the most important thing to consider as this situation unfolds. We feel it is our responsibility to do our part in protecting one another."
Prior to their temporary closure, as recently as March 12, Whiteroom had actually seen an increase in appointments. "I have noticed we are busier during the day because people's offices are closed, and since they aren't sick, they have free time to get things done that they would normally have to save for the weekend," Leary told Allure last week. As the salon's closing statement makes clear, Leary has decided to forego any similar further profits for the health and safety of her clients and staff.
“WHEN ONE PERSON GETS SICK, IT SEEMS. TO ALWAYS SPREAD PRETTY QUICKLY.”
While salons deal with dozens of people per day, large-scale productions like television or film shoots that put hundreds of people in close daily contact have largely been shut down. According to Indiewire's running list of closures, production on films like The Matrix 4, Fantastic Beasts, and many more have been suspended.
Los Angeles-based hairstylist Jessica Elbaum worked on Modern Family, where she worked closely with individual stars and is often surrounded by large numbers of cast and crew. "We work very closely with one another, like a family," she says. "When one person gets sick, it seems to always spread pretty quickly."
Hygiene practices at nail salons are often quite varied. Hopefully, you're already going to a nail salon where the technicians sterilize equipment, disinfect surfaces, wear face masks, wash their hands, and ask you to wash your own, all while taking other health precautions.
As a nail artist who works in close contact with her clients every day, Miss Pop was already vigilant about health. "Especially since my chosen career has so much close contact, I do not work even if I just have a cold," she says. She washes her hands between each client, uses sanitizer on her clients and her table, and uses either brand-new tools or metal tools sanitized in Barbicide for each manicure.
Sundays, a nail salon with three New York City locations, decided to close for Monday, March 16 through the end of March. In an email sent to customers, founder Amy Ling Lin wrote: "This is definitely not an easy decision for us, as we really want to continue being your oasis to get a moment of relaxation after your many daily stressors...on the other hand, your and our employees' health and safety are the most important things to us."
Working from home herself, Ling Lin has started a "7 Days of At-Home Wellness" series on Instagram to bring some of Sundays' peaceful energy to her clients from afar.
Similar to makeup artists, the job of an aesthetician means spending hours within inches of clients' faces. The intimate nature of the work should already involve intense hygiene practices like pre-treatment handwashing and sterilized equipment.
Even pre-outbreak, facialist Candace Marino had a flexible appointment policy: If a client is sick, she allows them to cancel their service at no charge. "I know that if any of my clients were feeling sick, they would reschedule. The same goes for me, if I even have a tickle in my throat, I'm canceling my clients until it goes away," she says. "I've had to do it before and no one was upset, the response is always 'thank you.'"
Clients who do come in will find autoclave-sterilized tools, medical linen sheets and towels, and surfaces that have been disinfected with hospital-grade solutions.
Some facialists, like London- and New York City-based Teresa Tarmey, already wear a mask to go about their work. "The mask is something I've worn and make my staff wear all the time for pure hygiene reasons. As a client, I find it uncomfortable to feel, let alone smell, someone's breath on my face," she tells Allure. "As a therapist, it also feels more comfortable to be so close to someone's face."
“AS A THERAPIST, [WEARING A MASK] ALSO FEELS MORE COMFORTABLE TO BE SO CLOSE TO SOMEONE’S FACE.”
Before her New York City salon closed on March 16, she described her space as "couldn't be a cleaner environment to be in," and she had been asking clients to use hand sanitizer when they entered the treatment rooms.
Tarmey has closed entirely; Marino is, at press time, continuing to see clients with heightened precautions; and Texas-based facialist Renée Rouleau has canceled all travel plans for the near future. However, more than worrying about her own health, Rouleau is most concerned with taking care of her employees.
"We have told all office staff to work from home, so they can self-quarantine. For our customers, we are still running the same operations day-to-day," she says. "The only change we have made is to our My Skin Rx-Virtual Consultations. Occasionally we do have clients who prefer to do these in our Austin office, but we have stopped the in-person consultations for now in an effort to minimize outside visitors."
Government officials and hospital administrators are urging doctors and patients to cancel non-emergency appointments. New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner tells Allure that he is no longer seeing non-emergency dermatology patients. "For the next several weeks, we will be seeing only emergency cases in the office," he says. "We are in the process of developing a system to treat patients through teledermatology."
Before his office closed to non-emergency appointments on March 13, Zeichner noticed one side effect of COVID-19 fears: patients have gotten hand rashes from washing. "It is important to treat these rashes, because, in addition to being itchy, inflamed or raw skin is at risk for developing an infection," he says.
"[Closing down] is the least we can do to decrease the spread and flatten the curve," Boston-based dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling, who has decided to close her office for at least two weeks, tells Allure. "Was it a hard decision? 100 percent. But it's the absolute right thing to do and we will come out stronger on the other side."
“[CLOSIING DOWN] IS THE LEAST WE CAN DO AS A MEDICAL PROVIDER TO DECREASE THE SPREAD AND FLATTEN A CURVE.”
Another piece of news in the dermatology world is that the 2020 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, originally scheduled for March 19 to 23 in Denver, was canceled. "This decision was made to protect the safety and wellbeing of not just our meeting participants and staff, but their families, colleagues, and patients, as well as the Denver community at large," dermatologist and AAD president George J. Hruza tells Allure.
Before the decision was final, dermatologists and members of the media struggled to decide whether to make the trip. "I booked a flight to attend AAD, then canceled it the next day," says Daley Quinn, a freelance beauty writer in Boston. "My gut was right."
Zeichner was planning to attend before the event was canceled. "It is unfortunate that it had to happen, but I applaud the decision of the board of directors as it was a necessary decision for the sake of public health," he says.
Dermatologists who do go into the office are protecting themselves with common practices, like handwashing, avoiding handshakes, and not touching one's face. That said, doctors expect their patients to be considerate of their medical practitioners' health as well: If you're feeling ill or wary of visiting a dermatologist in-person, Hruza points out that some offices are starting to offer virtual teledermatology visits in lieu of in-person appointments.
THE REST OF US
If buying skin-care products helps you cope, you'll have to temporarily turn to online offerings from Sephora and Ulta. On March 17, Sephora announced it will shutter all its stores until April 3. Previously, on March 11, Sephora announced that it was suspending all in-store services such as makeup application, skin-care services, and classes. Under the newest version of its policy, Sephora will waive standard shipping fees for online purchases, as well as accept in-store returns starting 30 days from whenever the store reopens.
In a press release on March 17, Ulta announced that stores will close all its store locations beginning on March 19, until at least March 31. " However, most stores will continue to be outlets for buy online and pick up in-store as allowed by local and state regulations, and all guests can continue to shop through the Ulta Beauty app or visit ulta.com," the statement reads.
As of March 13, Glossier shuttered its storefront locations for two weeks with the plan to adjust that timeline as needed. "As a business leader and CEO, I’ve been asking myself how Glossier can continue to bring joy to our community, especially during these darker moments, while respecting calls for social distancing and helping promote public safety," founder Emily Weiss explained via Instagram.
“THE BEST THING WE CAN DO NOW IS TO STAY AT HOME.”
As many founders and beauty business owners are pointing out, the move to shut down or modify practices is especially pertinent to beauty workers who see many clients each day. "The risk is really for the operator," says Catherine L. Troisi, an associate professor in divisions of management, policy, and community health and epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. "Unless it's a really big salon where there are lots of operators and clients together at the same time, both operator and client should be able to practice social distancing [three to six feet) from others in the salon. Since the client isn't coming into contact with many people, the risk to him or her should be very low."
That said, Troisi highly recommends that "everyone wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and sneezes, and the operator should disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs several times a day."
As the rest of us adjust to 20-second handwashing and constant sanitizing, beauty professionals have already long grown accustomed to the health risks of getting close to others. Even amid the fears of losing work and threat of virus, each and every beauty professional we spoke to insisted that their commitment to health and safety is top-of-mind.
As a client or patient, beauty lovers can rest assured that their providers are aware of the latest health precautions. Only you can know if you should cancel that facial or press pause on booking a Botox appointment. Whatever decision you make, do so with your own health and the health of others in mind.
This article was originally published on allure.com.