Return to Work Guidelines for Nail Technicians

by | May 11, 2020

British Beauty Council in consultation with Advisory Board member and industry nail expert, Marian Newman and Doug Schoon, internationally-recognised scientist, author and educator with over 30 years’ experience in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry, share guidance for nail technicians, salon owners and clientele. The guidelines set out clear processes and procedures covering four categories, including specifics for mobile and home salon experts.

ALL hair and beauty businesses must stay closed for now. Beauty services such as nail salons and hairdressers are considered retailers and spas considered hospitality, and therefore at this point in time, are still to remain closed to the public. However, the British Beauty Council is investigating as quickly as possible for a consolidated update with Government which we’ll provide on Beauty Bytes. A provisional date for “personal care” to return to work is set for July 4th at the earliest see Plan to Rebuild post. Please check in often for regular updates.

To arm nail specialists and staff in the preparation for return to work, we’re sharing a comprehensive and exclusive breakdown of this guidance with you here on Beauty Bytes. Read on for a full overview:

  • Hand cleanliness & hand treatments
  • Foot treatments
  • The cleaning of tools (both metal and other) and brushes
  • and the cleaning of working areas, including desks and hard surfaces.

Image source: Unsplash

Hand Cleanliness & Hand Treatments
Nail technicians are to:

  • Wash hands between every client treatment
  • Wear gloves which are to be changed frequently
  • Have a good supply of brushes and a ‘contaminated box’ for used ones
  • Disinfect the brushes and container/box every day.

Whilst clients should:

  • Wash hands with liquid soap and warm water upon entry
  • Dry using a disposable hand towel
  • Not touch face or any personal belongings
  • Use clean/disinfected brush with soap and warm water to clean beneath the nails, wash for 20 seconds
  • Dry with a disposable hand towel.

Foot Treatments
Nail technicians are to:

  • Not touch feet until they have been soaked in the bowl
  • Dispose of paper towels and pedi-slippers, safely, after each treatment.

Whilst clients should:

  • Remove shoes, socks, tights, etc. upon entry and place on a paper towel
  • Use pedi-slippers, then wash hands and dry with a disposable hand towel.

Tools (non-metal)
Nail technicians are to use single-use files, buffers etc. and dispose of these safely. Whilst clients are asked to observe properly cleaned implements are used and no files are reused during their treatment.

Specialists should ensure that:

  • All tools that can be cleaned and reused are sterilised / disinfected (strictly following manufacturer instructions) using products that are tested to approved standards
  • Clean tools are kept in a clean environment until use
  • All used tools are stored in a specially marked closed box until cleansing
  • Autoclaves are properly maintained according to manufacturer directions and spore tested once per month to ensure they are functioning properly.

Nail technicians are to clean brushes after every client and store them in closed boxes. Brush handles are to be cleaned between clients and the outside of all containers are always to be kept clean. UV gel brushes should be cleaned with IPA, whilst L&P brushes are to be cleaned with the liquid monomer and their handles with IPA.

Desks & Hard Surfaces

  • Items on desks are to be kept to a minimum
  • All hard surfaces should be cleaned after every client
  • All stations should have a good supply of paper towels.



Uniforms: salons should ensure staff wear freshly laundered uniforms each day that have been washed at 60 degrees Celsius.

Face masks: all nail technicians must wear suitable face masks, following manufacturer instructions for regular cleaning or disposal. Masks should be changed at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer. Marian recommends disposable face masks of N95/FFP2 or better. Clients should also wear disposable masks if possible. * Updated: Visors have been advised in government guidelines dated July 9th 2020.

Gloves: clean gloves should be worn for every client and for cleansing afterwards. These should be powder-free nitrile gloves in the case of latex glove sensitivity.

  1. DUST
    For all services involving:
  • Enhancement nail treatments
  • Use of an e-file
  • UV gel polish with ‘builders’

Nail technicians are to have an efficient desk-top or ‘at source’ dust capture to the side of their station. These should be cleaned frequently, strictly following manufacturer instructions.

When it comes to natural nail treatments: technicians are to keep nail filing dust to a minimum by disposing of paper desk towels after treatment.

In all cases, windows and doors should be opened to maintain adequate air circulation.

    Distancing guidelines cover:
  • The service space
  • Appointments
  • How to deal with infections
  • And the use of masks, gloves and screens.


  • For salons with more than one desk, these should be spaced 2 metres apart
  • Do not move around salon more than necessary and maintain a distance of 2 metres from other clients
  • Clients should be clear they need to abide by salon instructions on the distancing measures put in place.

When it comes to the use of screens, Marian and Doug maintain that these should be considered as to whether they are an essential investment. Bear in mind they will be very restricting, attract dust and become another surface to clean. However, if deciding to use them, all other protocols must still be abided by. Screens do not provide any extra safety to clients and could in fact be unsafe if not cleaned and disinfected properly between appointments.

Image source: Eric Rothermal for Unsplash

Appointments & Payment
Nail technicians are to:

  • Not permit walk-ins and operate on an appointment basis only
  • Only service one client at a time per nail technician
  • Allow for time between clients for cleansing, e.g. minimum 15 mins
  • Always have precleaned/disinfected or sterilised implements and tools ready
  • Operate on a no-cash basis, having a credit card machine available and a tool for pressing buttons.

Whilst clients should:

  • Only enter when the previous client leaves
  • Arrive on time and alone (this includes not bringing children)
  • Leave immediately after receiving treatment (even if nails are wet)
  • Should only bring a credit / debit card – cash will not be accepted.

Salon staff should check with clients before their appointment that they have had no flu-like symptoms for the last 7 days, including members of their household. Clients must comply and provide the salon with this assurance.

Marian also offers additional advice on top of the above, for mobile nail technicians and home salons, both with and without a dedicated room outside of the home environment. For those without a dedicated treatment room, they should not reopen until all restrictions on visitors to the home have been fully lifted, and avoid family contact with the visiting client. Whilst mobile salons should always:

  • Ascertain that no one in the household has had any illness symptoms for the past 7 days
  • Wear disposable shoe coverings
  • Wear a mask, visor, gloves and protective clothing on entry and dispose of all items before the next client.

As with fixed salons, customers must provide their technician assurance that no one in their household has had symptoms for the last 7 days.

As always, we will continue to publish and update guidance as developments are made.

Marian Newman has been a nail professional since 1987. During that time she has worked in every aspect of the professional world. Salon owner, brand educator and teacher, developing occupational standards for the UK Industry Authority, product development and beyond. She is the author of The Complete Nail Technician and has co-written three other textbooks.

These suggested guidelines reflect an industry that wants to return to work safely and have been created with experts in each industry field and are advisory only. They are also suggested in order to give the consumer confidence to buy our services and goods. If you require more information or have any questions please get in touch by emailing British Beauty Council at
The British Beauty Council will review and update these suggested guidelines regularly and accordingly based on government guidelines and a review of our partners specific guidelines.
These guidelines do not constitute legal requirement, have not been agreed with the UK Government and do not imply or incur any liability to the British Beauty Council. These guidelines are written with a view of protecting our partners, their staff and customers with their health & safety being the number one priority and are based on expert and public knowledge as of 07.05.20. Businesses should continue to check local government websites and guidelines for the most up to date recommendations.

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