Health and Safety for Beauty Salons

Health and safety rules and regulations are procedures to prevent accidents or injuries in your salon.

Infection prevention and control is just one area of health and safety employers legally must manage in the workplace.

The following guide includes the procedures for:

  1. Legal and regulatory requirements
  2. Why are health & safety regulations important?
  3. Hazardous substances in the salon
  4. Tools and implement sterilisation
  5. Salon sterilisation equipment
  6. Disposable equipment
  7. Sharp disposal
  8. Waxing

Doctor throwing used syringe needle into sharps container on violet background, closeup

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the primary legislation covering occupational health and safety in the UK. It’s sometimes referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA. [1]

It sets out the general duties which:

  • employers have towards employees and members of the public
  • employees have to themselves and each other
  • certain self-employed have towards themselves and others

The above legislation applies to all businesses irrespective of size and covers all employees.

The importance of health & safety in salons

Adherence to health and safety in a salon keeps your staff and clients safe from risk and your salon business. Breach of H & S legislation can result in fines and sentences in the event of a conviction.

For the entire UK, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legislation states that:

  • Staff health, safety and welfare should be maintained at all times. The workplace should provide clean and hygienic facilities, including the availability of drinking water, changing areas where required and toilets and first aid rooms in larger organisations.
  • Both customers and employees should be protected against any risks due to activities on the premises.


Sterilisation techniques are a vital part of beauty salon operations.

Cleanliness, disinfection and sterilisation in beauty salons are essential in stopping the spread of viral, bacterial or fungal infections from one client to another.

In addition to the general hygiene procedures in a beauty salon mentioned on this page, rules and regulations specific to certain treatments are included.

Equipment must be sanitised before use on the next client.

Examples of tools that require sterilising are anything that isn’t disposable such as brushes, combs, ‘vacussage cups’, tweezers, scissors, cuticle nippers/pushers or any other tool or device that comes into direct contact with a client’s skin.

What is sterilising?

To sterilise is any process that deactivates all life forms, such as bacteria, fungi or viruses, on a surface, object or fluid.

Heat, chemical treatments, irradiation, high pressure or filtration can achieve sterilisation.

Methods used to sterilise equipment.

The equipment must be scrubbed with a soapy and solvent solution to remove grease, grime, skin, product or dirt.

This step is vital before sterilisation.

All fabric items should be washed regularly at a minimum of 60°C soapy using a professional non-bio washing powder.[2]

Please be aware that you should not use biological powder as this product is designed to be used at lower temperatures to keep the fabric cleansing enzymes active.

Although more energy efficient, the biological powder is renowned for irritating specific skin types.

Towels should be washed after each client, and disposables should be used, e.g. kitchen towels, couch rolls etc.

Treatments involving equipment that may accidentally puncture the skin’s surface, e.g. tweezers, comedone extractors, razors, clippers, cuticle clippers and scissors, require specialist sterilisation procedures.

Suitable methods include autoclaving, dry-heat oven systems, UV cabinets, and activated glutaraldehyde solutions.

Specialized beautician girl prepares for beginning of working da

Disposable Equipment

Disposable equipment is essential wherever:

  • the skin could be punctured as part of the treatment, e.g. electrolysis needles, microdermabrasion pads
  • the disposable item has been used on a client, e.g. wax strips, couch rolls, cotton pads and tissues
  • An item has the potential for blood, bacteria, fungal or viral pathogens to transfer from one client to another, e.g. nail files and buffers.

Disposable electrolysis and acupuncture needles, ear-piercing systems incorporating a disposable gun, and disposable lancets are now widely and cheaply available.

Electrolysis is a particularly high-risk treatment as far as the infection is concerned; therefore, disposables must be used.

Ensuring each client has a new needle at every appointment is required.

Allocating each client their needle, which has been sterilised between treatments but only ever used on that one client, is no longer believed to be completely safe.

Staff should wear a new pair of gloves for every treatment with the addition of plasters if a cut is present to avoid entry of infection.

Disposable sundries and tools

After each use, the following tools and sundries should be disposed of to prevent the spread of fungi and viral and bacterial infections.

  • nail files
  • wooden cuticle pushers
  • paper towels
  • cotton pads, buds and wool
  • Anything not made of stainless steel, e.g. wood, paper or wool


Sharp needles must be disposed of, mainly in yellow sharps bins.

The container must always be emptied when the level reaches 3/4 complete and never reach its total capacity. Any sharps stick out, risking a needle stick injury. Anyone in the salon who experiences a needle stick injury must report this event to the manager and call NHS 24 for advice.

Luckily, certain medications can successfully prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses if the individual seeks help within 24-48 hours.

When the sharps bin is 3/4 full, the lid must be securely locked, and a date, time, location, and initial should be written clearly on the bin.

The environmental health department within your local council will be able to advise you on the disposal requirements for this type of salon waste. Special disposal arrangements must be adhered to regarding sharps bins, as under no circumstances should this type of waste be placed with general waste.

Different types of salon waste

Infectious waste: waste contaminated with blood and other bodily fluids, e.g. wax strips, cotton buds, pads, and items potentially containing bodily fluids.

Pathological waste: human tissues or fluids, e.g. mole or skin tag removal

Sharps waste: syringes, needles, disposable scalpels and blades, e.g. electrolysis needles

Non-hazardous or general waste: waste that does not pose any particular biological, chemical, radioactive or physical hazard, e.g. food waste bags, lightbulbs, uncontaminated tissues etc.


The salon experience should be safe for you and your client, and that’s why contra-indications are so crucial to the success of your beauty salon.

Contra-indications describe any reason a person does not receive a particular treatment or procedure because it may be harmful.

Here are some examples of beauty therapy contra-indications you might be confronted with in a salon:

Sunburn; a client with sunburnt skin will not be able to receive specific treatments such as waxing, facials or spray tans. Sunburn is usually apparent, so don’t be afraid to mention your observations if your client doesn’t bring it up.

Sunburn can cause redness, tenderness, itching, blistering, peeling or swelling. Because waxing can take off the surface layers of the epidermis, this can cause more damage to already irritated skin.

Hair removal by waxing is one of beauty salons’ most popular and profitable treatments. Still, many health and safety precautions should be considered, such as preventing wax burns.

The hot wax may cause burns and scalds if the pot sets too high. Waxing treatments can also cause the accidental removal of surface skin. This produces a red mark at first, which turns brown hours later and can take weeks to fade. This cannot be very pleasant for the client. Remember that ingrown hairs may sometimes occur after treatment, too.

Contra-indications that would prevent a waxing treatment include:

  • Sunburn
  • Use of retinol products
  • Certain medications thin the skin, such as NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Chemical peels pre-wax

Wax pots should never be less than half full, as a safe waxing temperature will be difficult to maintain with less wax.

Always test the wax on your wrist before applying it to prevent scalding or burning.

Waxing strips are considered ‘biological waste’ and must be disposed of according to local authority standards in orange biological waste bags.

Under no circumstances do you dip a wax stick used previously to spread the wax on someone’s skin. This could spread skin infections to future clients. Blood, bacteria and fungi on the skin can be transferred into the wax point.

Waxing First Aid

Removal of surface skin

As the heat has been used, treat it as a burn and cool the area for 10 minutes. If the area affected is small, leave it open or cover it with an adhesive dressing (plaster), depending on the severity. Apply a dry, sterile, non-fluffy dressing and a crepe bandage for a slightly larger area. If a large area is affected, apply the dressing and seek medical attention.

If the wax is gradually removed and the client shows any predisposition to the skin coming away, the treatment should be postponed to a later date, and first-aid treatment should be.

Wax scalds and burns
  1. Thoroughly cool the area immediately for ten minutes (See ‘burns and scald’s section)
  2. Leave the wax in place and cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Do not apply a dressing to the wax.


The Health & Safety at work act: