Ask Dr. Tessa: Client Masking


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Q: It’s difficult to treat my clients when they’re wearing a mask and many find it uncomfortable during their appointment. As long as I’m wearing one, is that adequate enough protection?

It’s important to remember that we wear face masks to protect other people from our respiratory droplets. We rely upon other people wearing masks to protect us. Recent studies suggest a significant portion of individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, or never show symptoms. The virus can spread between people in close proximity when they speak, cough, or sneeze—even if they don’t appear sick. Understanding that some services, such as facials, may not be possible with a face mask on, I would still recommend that you advise your client to wear the face mask until the portion of the service in which it is necessary to remove it. After that portion of the service, ask them to place the face mask back on.  To avoid an awkward conversation during their appointment, communicate the expectations to your client ahead of time in the pre-session interaction and again at the doorway upon arrival as recommended in the ASCP Back to Practice Guidelines.  

If the service doesn’t directly involve the face, then I would definitely make it clear to your clients that your business expects that masks be worn at all times. I have experimented with a variety of masks and have found that the most comfortable is a simple, no-sew, single layer fleece mask. A variety of no-sew patterns are available on YouTube. You could consider offering a cloth face mask to your client and then after their service, they could be instructed to place it in a bin to be laundered in hot water with soap. This option would communicate to your client your desire for them to be comfortable, but still protect you from their respiratory droplets.


  1. Rothe C., et al. (2020) “Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany,” The New England Journal of Medicine 382, no. 1, 970-971.
  2. Li R., et al. (2020) “Substantial Undocumented Infection Facilitates the Rapid Dissemination of Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2)". Science.
  3. Bai Y., et al. (2020) “Presumed Asymptomatic Carrier Transmission of COVID-19.” JAMA.


Please be sure to always work within your scope of practice as determined by your state and to adhere to all local and federal rules and regulations regarding COVID-19 protocols. To learn more about returning to your practice or to access free resources to assist you with reopening, access the ASCP Back-to-Practice Guide!


About the Author:

Dr. Tessa Crume is an Associate Professor in the Epidemiology Department at the Colorado School of Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her research focuses on the development and utilization of public health surveillance systems to understand the burden of disease. She has been an academic researcher since 2011, before which she worked for a decade as an applied epidemiologist at the state and federal level, analyzing surveillance data and evaluating public health impact. Dr. Crume has taught the core epidemiology class at the Colorado School of Public Health for nine years.


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