How to disinfect in the beauty salon

How to disinfect in the beauty salon

Everyone in the beauty field has hopefully heard of barbicide solution, but a worryingly large amount of beauticians refer to this as sterilizing. This isn't sterilising it is disinfecting. They are very different things. I strongly believe everyone working in a beauty salon needs to keep their infection control training up to date.

Three points to always remember when using Barbicide solution in the beauty salon:

1. Contact time - tools must be in the solution at least 10 minutes for it to destroy pathogens (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease)

2. Correctly follow manufacturers instructions. Keep out of sunlight. Mix the correct ratio with water.

3. And that the solution has to be changed daily.

If you haven't done these three things you aren't disinfecting correctly and destroying pathogens. Barbicde has a free online course. I suggest you do it.

Porous items can't go into Barbicide. Don't put nail files in there. These are seen as a single-use item. To cut back on single-use. I often just give these items to the client and factors those costs into the treatment.

How long do items need to be in Barbicide before they disinfected?

10 minutes

After wiping down couch how long do I have to wait till the next customer?

2 minutes.

How often do I need to change the Baricide solution?


What is the ratio of water to Baricide do I need to do?

1:16. Read the bottles, not every brand is the same.

What other brands are available?

HS EuroSept Plus Instrument Disinfection, Ultraclean Instrument Disinfection, Bomix® plus Instrument Disinfectant... loads if you get googling "Instrument Disinfectant".

Sterilization is for tools that come into contact with blood. This is done in an autoclave under pressurised heat. It destroys things like Hep B and HIV. I would definitely recommend this for salons that offer pedicures and more invasive treatments. Autoclaves are best practice.

barbicide solution

Cross infection control policy

Cross infection control policy in the beauty salon

Cross infection in the salon can be mitigated primarily by two methods. Chemical-based disinfection and heat-based sterilisation.

Disinfection is not the same thing as sterilisation. Disinfection is the process of killing "most harmful microorganisms" whereas to sterilise, is to kill ALL microbes - whether harmful or not - and their spores. Disinfection does not destroy any spores that might be present.

At my Norwich beauty salon infection control is extremely important to me which is why I believe in a sterilisation routine, not just disinfection.

I use a Glass bead sterilisers for my beauty tools. I specialise in eyelash extensions so not an invasive treatment.

glass bead steriliser for beauty tools
Glass bead sterilisers for smaller items. Meat probe to check it's reached temperature.


I use alcohol wipes on the surfaces in my beauty salon and non-metal items are placed in Barbicide. I use an oilcloth which is wiped down between clients on my beauty couch and disposable couch roll.

barbicide norwich


Best practice - use an autoclave

For best practice, you need a very expensive autoclave. Autoclaves sterilize tools by heating them up to 134 degrees centigrade under high pressure, these are the machines which are used in hospitals, dentists, GP surgeries and tattoo studios. To ensure that the tools are completely sterilised and clear of all diseases and bacteria they instruments need to reach this temperature for a specified amount of time, usually 3 minutes, just chemically disinfecting them is not enough.

These machines are not cheap, so you will find out on enquiry that most of the Norwich beauty salons will soak their tools in Barbicide. This only disinfects and doesn't sterilize their instruments. I don't know of any mobile or home-based salons who have one, but hopefully this will change in the future and more salons will purchase autoclaves.

cross infection in the salon
Cross-infection in the salon

Treatments such as pedicures and cuticle work during manicures can be invasive treatment and those instruments must be sterilised between clients, not just disinfected. Never visit a 'foot specialist' or chiropodists, if they don't have an autoclave.

Due to my past experience of working in dentistry, I have years and years worth of training on infection control in the surgery.

Any clients who have infectious diseases such as cold sores must wait until it has cleared up before facial treatments. Same with conjunctivitis and eye treatments.

Autoclave need to be regularly serviced by Steve Crane in Norwich and follow manufacturers instructions on cleaning it. Cycles are recorded and tested.

In a lot of countries people do actually take in their own nail tools to be used by the beautician, so they can be assured their tools are only used on themselves especially important in countries with high cases of HIV and Hep B.

Next time you see a ‘cheap manicure in Norwich’ on gumtree or similar remember to ask questions about their disinfection and sterilisation policy. Do ask them if they use an autoclave and what they do to prevent the risk of passing on infections from one client to another.

autoclave logbook
Beauty salon autoclave log book


Test stickers change from yellow to purple/blue when the autoclave has reached the correct temperature. I purchase these from 'rosiebee1804' eBay shop online. Rosie is local to Norfolk and recommended to me by Steve Crane.


Infection control in the beauty salon at Elizabeth Smith Beauty in Norwich